Question: How can an ancient bible tale like Noah’s ark enrich my Christian walk today?
Answer: Greetings friend. That’s a great question—especially since we Christians have a greater volume of Old Testament to look through than we have New Testament, and I have to admit that some of those older accounts aren’t the easiest to connect to our lives today. Fortunately, the account of Noah and the flood provides plenty of lessons and applications for today’s believers. But one in particular screams at us. Noah is a hero! A hero of faith. He made the cut in the book of Hebrews. It is a delight when the Bible acts as its own commentary, and in Hebrews we have just that: The New Testament interpreting the Old Testament. Noah’s journey (both actual and metaphorical) was all about faith.
“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. ” (Hebrews 11:6–7, ESV).
Faith—and only faith—is the coin-of-the-realm in the Kingdom of Heaven. Any good works, even those that advertise as faithful but are accomplished outside of faith, weigh for nothing in eternity.
“On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:22–23, ESV).
By way of contrast, even the smallest of faithful acts shall be remembered by God.
“And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:42, ESV).
As you can see, it's important to get this right...and Noah got it right! He was faithful—but how particularly? And what might we contemporary Christians learn from his works of faith? First, Noah remained faithful in spite of a wicked environment, and we have the same playing field as did Noah. Today’s Christians live in a world that, where it counts, is exactly like the antediluvian world.
“The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5, ESV).
God had given their “humanism” (if you will) an adequate chance to work. But instead of any productive enlightenment, the antediluvian world produced only wickedness and violence—and so much so that God deemed it non-fixable, worthy only of destruction! But Noah persevered in faith. Imagine the faith it took to labor at building an ark for about 100 years. What was he up against? Remember that he lived in a world that did not value God. He’d have been mocked—just as we are often mocked when we overtly act out our faith. Noah kept his family on the job, too, laboring at a seemingly endless project. That’s the formula for weariness—even burn-out! As his family’s spiritual leader, Noah probably had to step-in to bolster their sagging spirits quite often; that’s part of leadership. Christian leaders can take that example. The Apostle Paul encourages Christians not to grow weary. We must remember that there is indeed a harvest, and we should continue to perform our faith-driven works even when the world around us deserves a good smack from God.
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
(Galatians 6:9, ESV).
“As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good.” (2 Thessalonians 3:13, ESV).
I'll close with my favorite lesson from Noah: Do not expect that you’ll usually have the natural advantage in numbers, money, or resources. God continually works with a small number of faithful people—a remnant—and not with great numbers.
“But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;” (1 Corinthians 1:27, ESV).
Only eight people made it through the flood!...and those few were enough to serve God’s purpose. So, take a tip from the people of Noah's day: It is far better being few and working for God than it is being many and treading water.