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When Faith Looks Stupid…Until It Rains

by Bob Russell

(from www.bobrussell.org Feb. 17, 2019)

 

     This past weekend I preached for my son Rusty at the New Day Christian Church in Port Charlotte, Florida. He requested that I preach on Noah and the flood as a part of a series he’s doing on “Heroes of the Faith.” Since I didn’t have a suitable “road sermon” on Noah, it was back to the old grind of writing a new message which I titled, “Noah – The Man Who Dared to Be Different.”  That sermon included a thought I’d read in a devotional recently: “Sometimes faith looks stupid…until it starts to rain.”

     Genesis 7:7-9 reads, “And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood.  Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God had commanded Noah.” 

     Noah didn’t have to trap these animals. They instinctively came to him. There are two things no one can fully explain about animals: migration and hibernation. How do geese intuitively know where to go for the winter? How do bears know it’s time to gorge on food and then sleep through the winter while their body organs slow down? It’s just instinctive.

     A select few animals in Noah’s day somehow sensed an impending disaster and instinctively came to Noah. The people of Noah’s region had to be astonished (and nervous) when they saw the odd sight of two of every species voluntarily parading into the ark. Up to this time, Noah was undoubtedly the frequent target of ridicule and harassment. The Saturday Night Live skits and the late-night comedians must have had a field day mocking him and the huge yacht he had constructed in the middle of nowhere.

     But the peculiar sight of those animals marching up the ramp and boarding that massive ship must have given the scoffers second thoughts. The Bible says Noah was a preacher of righteousness. What if all his rants about the need for repentance from sin and God’s impending judgment were true? What if their spiritual defiance had invoked the wrath of a holy God?

     Genesis 6:3 quotes God as saying, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever…” Even God’s mercy has limits. And His patience with the wickedness and violence in the pre-flood world was exhausted. Once the animals and Noah and his family were safely in the ark, the Lord closed the door, and it started to rain. The opportunity for salvation was over; the time for panic had begun. Faith sometimes appears stupid, until it starts to rain.

     Remember a little over a year ago when spiritual skeptics scoffed at Vice President Mike Pence because of his belief in the sacredness of marriage? When the Vice President publicly stated that it was his policy not to spend time alone with any woman other than his wife, the late night comedians and political pundits had a field day mocking his prudish position.

     But several months later the “Me Too” movement gained momentum, and dozens of prominent public figures were accused of sexual harassment in the workplace. Many who had played loose with their marriage vows lost their credibility and their influential positions because of inappropriate behavior. Suddenly the Vice President’s convictions didn’t seem so foolish after all. Faith looks stupid until it starts to rain.

     Simon Peter wrote, “… God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it, only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ”. (1 Peter 3:20-21)

     When Noah and his family entered the ark, it must have looked really silly to the skeptics in the world at that time. When you decide to accept Jesus as your Savior, and you enter the waters of baptism, it might look foolish to the world. However, “… the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom.” (1 Cor. 1:25) And faith sometimes looks stupid until it starts to rain.

     Your friends might ridicule your “religious” beliefs until they are diagnosed with cancer and then they’ll ask, “Would you pray for me?” Some parents may think you’re too strict with your kids because you don’t let them go to unchaperoned parties. But when their child gets arrested for a serious offense, they wish they had given their children more oversight.

     No one was ridiculing Noah when the flood came. They now realized the old prophet knew what he was talking about. Simon Peter warned, “…in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’ But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word, the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly” (2 Peter 3:3-7).

     Sometimes faith appears stupid until it starts to rain. So, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…” (Hebrews 3:15).

 

               Bob Russell is retired Sr. Minister of Southeast Christian Church, Louisville, Ky.

                                                              www.bobrussell.org

 

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The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 10:10