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Noah’s Steadfast Faith
Fall Quarter: God’s World and God’s People
Unit 2: God Destroys and Re-Creates
Sunday school lesson for the week of October 7, 2018
By Dr. Nita Crump
Lesson Scripture: Genesis 6; 8:19
Key Verse: Genesis 6:22
To realize that God’s call is an invitation to faithful obedience.
In the first chapter of Genesis, God calls creation good. At the end of his work, God called creation very good, even supremely good. Even after sin entered the world through the actions of Adam and Eve, God’s grace was present in abundance. While humans were put out of the garden, they were not left destitute or alone. God was still providing, even in those times, as evidenced by his provision of clothes and the fact that he cursed the snake and the land, but not the humans. Life was hard after leaving the garden, of that there is no doubt. But God and his grace were still present in the world.
Despite God’s continued presence in the world, sin took hold and spread quickly. If you’ve ever watched the movie “I Am Legend” or a zombie movie or “The Walking Dead” on television, you know what a fast-moving virus can do to humans. People can become walking hosts to a virus that destroys all semblance of humanity, leaving only a shell behind. Sin works in much the same way, destroying our humanity and leaving us with a heavy heart, a despairing soul, and an empty shell for a life. When the story we’re considering in this lesson starts, we find a world filled with such people, people so far gone into sin that God is willing to allow them to experience the full consequences of their sinful lives – death without redemption. “God was willing to destroy that which had already destroyed itself.” (from the Teacher’s Edition)
The human heart had become so wicked that every thought, every action, was inclined toward evil. In 6:13, the description of the situation is that people have “filled the earth with violence.” (CEB) Violence is a general term that can mean everything from international conflict to social injustice. Basically, people had lost the willingness to care for their neighbors, whether near or far. The commentary I’ve been reading to prepare for these lessons states “sin had reached critical mass.” The flood comes and recreates the watery chaos of the early stages of creation. It is a story of judgment. It is also a story of grace.
But there was one sign of God’s continuing grace at work in the world. Noah. God considered Noah “moral and exemplary” (CEB); “a righteous man, blameless in his generation.” (NRSV) Noah wasn’t righteous because of his own acts. Righteousness is a gift of God given through grace. Faithfulness is a response to God’s grace. Faithfulness is what God noticed about Noah. Noah’s refusal to conform to the sinful culture around him was faithfulness in action. And once again, God demonstrated grace. As a result of God’s continuing grace, Noah was offered the opportunity to be spared from death and was called to be God’s instrument of salvation for the rest of creation. And what did Noah do? Genesis 6:22 records Noah’s response to God’s call. “Noah did everything exactly as God commanded him.” (CEB)
While this story begins as a condemnation of the world of Noah’s generation and the sinfulness into which that world had descended, it ends with an example of hearing God’s call and following in obedience. And the rest, as they say, is history. Or perhaps I should say the rest is his story and her story and my story and your story. Because without Noah’s obedience, we might not be here today. Perhaps God was prepared with a Plan B just in case Noah refused. The good news is that we’ll never need to know because Noah responded to God’s call.
I remember a story that I’ve used as a sermon illustration. It’s a story of a conversation between God and one of the archangels. God the Father is explaining the plan of God the Son being born on earth to be one with the people and lead them into a healthy, loving relationship with the Father. The angel is doubtful of the efficacy of God’s plan and expresses his doubt that humans will respond even when God himself becomes human and lives among them. The discussion ends with the angel asking God to explain his Plan B and God responding that he doesn’t have a Plan B.
In the story of Noah, we discover that Noah was God’s Plan A. We also discover that Noah was willing to be a part of God’s plan. Today God invites all of us to be a part of his Plan A. We are invited to hear the call and respond to God’s invitation with faithful obedience. How are you responding to God’s call? I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying, “It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.” God called Noah to do something that every other living human being most likely considered absurd. What would you have done? Christians today are called to live and love like Christ despite how absurd it may seem to love others as much as you love yourself. Will you follow Noah’s example and do what God is calling all of us to do? Will you respond faithfully to God’s call?
(Information in this article was drawn from The New Application Commentary, Genesis, From biblical text…to contemporary life
, John H. Walton, p 304 – 338 and the Teacher’s Edition of the Adult Bible Studies, Uniform Series, International Bible Lessons for Christian Teaching.
Dr. Nita Crump serves as Director of Connectional Ministries. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.