Sin and Salvation.
Genesis 7-8, Matthew 4
From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near. – Matthew 4:11 NLT
Sin had become so rampant in the world and the wickedness of man, so prevalent, that God had to take drastic measures and destroy the world He had created. We read in chapter six of Genesis: “The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart” (Genesis 6:5-6 NLT). The single sin of Adam and Eve had ushered in a flood wave of sinful behavior that had escalated to such an extent that God was forced to act justly and righteously, wiping out those whom He had made in His own image.
What does this passage reveal about God?
But God showed favor. He offered an invitation to Noah and his family to enter into the ark. There they would find safety, provision and protection from judgment. We must be careful that we do not misinterpret this passage and assume that Noah was saved by God because of his righteousness. The invitation God offers to Noah would seem to indicate that he somehow deserved to be saved. “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation” (Genesis 7:1 ESV). But this is a statement based on comparison. Noah’s righteousness was not meritorious. In other words, his actions were not the cause of his salvation by God. It was just that Noah, when compared to those among whom he lived, was a relatively righteous individual. “It is not that Noah’s works of righteousness gains him salvation, for none is cited. Rather, his upright character is noted to condemn his generation, which merits death” (Kenneth A. Mathews, Genesis).
No, it was God’s grace that saved Noah. It was God who came up with the idea for the ark. It was God who gathered the animals together in pairs. It was God who gave Noah and his family the skills to take on a construction project of this magnitude. And it was God who closed up the door of the ark once they were all inside. The story of the flood is not simply a story of God’s wrath and judgment against mankind. It is a glimpse into God’s unfailing grace, mercy, love and faithfulness. I personally believe that Noah was saved because it would be through his descendants that the Messiah would come. Luke’s gospel account gives us the genealogy of Jesus and includes Shem, one of the sons of Noah, in the list. The salvation provided by the ark would preserve mankind in order that the true Savior of the world might be born. In a way, Noah’s righteousness, like yours and mine, was based on his association with Jesus. His salvation was due to Jesus, not himself. His righteousness was imputed, not earned.
Chapter eight starts out with the words, “But God remembered Noah…’ What a wonderful statement of the mercy of God. He never forgot about Noah and his family. The ark wasn’t intended to be permanent, but was simply a temporary respite from judgment. God had a more permanent plan for Noah and his family. He would preserve them from destruction, then place them back on the earth, promising to never use a flood to destroy mankind again. “I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood. I will never again destroy all living things” (Genesis 8:21 NLT). Nothing had really changed. Mankind was still evil, even though, at this point, it was just Noah and his family. The ark had preserved mankind, but there had been no transformation. Sin was still a problem. They would still need a Savior. And generations later, He would appear on the scene, preaching, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near” (Matthew 4:17 NLT). This descendant of Adam and Noah would come to bring true salvation from sin and deliverance from the curse of death. He would provide not only forgiveness from sin, but freedom as well. Jesus is the ultimate “ark” provided by God so that we might be saved from the destruction to come. All those who place their faith in Him will be saved. God will deliver them from death and provide them with eternal life. In the story of the ark, we have a glimpse into the redemptive heart of God. He longs to preserve and protect. He desires to restore and redeem. Through the ark, He did for Noah what Noah could not have done for himself. And through Christ, He has done for you and me what we could never have accomplished on our own.
What does this passage reveal about man?
Man is deserving of punishment and death. The verdict is clear: Man has a serious sin problem and God must deal with it. As God, He cannot simply overlook our sins and act as if they never happened. We are in open rebellion against God, and our very existence brings dishonor to His name as God. As His creation, made in His image, we are an affront to His character. So God, being righteous, holy and just, must deal with our rebellion justly, or He would case to be God. And there is nothing we can do to remedy the problem. No amount of good works or attempts at changed behavior will ever change our condition or soften our condemnation. If we are to be saved, it will have to be done by God. If we can’t satisfy His just demands, then He will have to somehow satisfy Himself. And that is what He did by sending His Son to earth as a man, a descendant of Adam. Jesus would live on this earth as a sinless human being, accomplishing what no other man had ever been able to do. He would live in perfect obedience to God – with no sins or sin nature to separate Him from God. And it was His sinless life that would make Him the perfect sacrifice, giving His life on the cross as payment for the sins of mankind. He would pay the penalty for our sin in order to satisfy the justice of God. And His death would provide deliverance from coming destruction. In Noah’s day, man was in need of saving. God had to destroy them because of their sin. And God would have to save them if anyone was going to survive the flood that was coming. The same is true today. Man is in need of saving, and if anyone is going to escape the destruction to come, it will be up to God. He alone can provide salvation, and He has done so through His Son, Jesus Christ.
How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?
I have been saved so that I might live a life that is holy and set apart to God. I belong to Him now. But I have to constantly remember that my righteousness is not of my own making. I did not deserve to be saved. I was a sinner just as much as the next guy, but God, in His mercy and grace, showed me favor. He offered me an invitation to step into the safety of His ark, Jesus Christ, and find protection from the flood to come. I am covered by His righteousness, not mine. I am preserved because of His holiness, not my own. And now I am called to live as one who has been saved by God. My response to His grace and mercy should take the form of willful obedience out of gratitude for all that He has done for me. I am to live like one who has been given a new lease on life.
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience — among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the bodyand the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. ButGod, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved — and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:1-10 NLT).
Father, thank You for providing salvation for me. I am so grateful that You placed me in Christ so that I might enjoy protection from the wrath that I deserved. I did nothing deserving of Your grace, mercy and love, and yet You saved me. I have no reason to boast or brag. But I have every reason to rejoice, because I once was as good as dead because of my sins, but You have made me alive in Christ. Amen.
Ken Miller Grow Pastor
& Minister to Men email@example.com