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07 Feb 2021

Lockdown Faith [Genesis 8]

Overview

Noah was the 1st man issued with a SHN (Stay Home Notice)! God had issued a "circuit-breaker" to break the cycle of sin by sending the flood in judgment. And Noah had to learn to trust God in the ark. 1. Noah waited. He waited for 382 days. No TV/internet/food delivery. He waited not knowing when he can be out. He waited amidst noisy and smelly animals. Sometimes we are called to wait- for a job, a spouse, a child, a ministry, or to get well. It is not easy. But faith trusts God and waits patiently. 2. Noah walked. He walked out not when he saw that the land was dry, but only when God said so. It's easy for us to act based on what we can see or reason, or what we want. Wisdom and faith acknowledge God in all our ways. 3. Noah worshipped. The 1st thing Noah did outside the ark is to set up an altar and offered a burnt offering. He worshipped God for His grace and salvation. He understood that God will send an ultimate sacrifice for His sins. May this sermon help you to learn about real faith.


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Now, as a church, we've been going through the Bible, and we are arriving at Genesis, chapter 8. It's a long chapter that you've just read, but I just want to remind you that really the narrative so far, is that man has rebelled against God.

Adam and Eve chose to sin against God. And now that sin is like a virus, it begins to multiply upon the face of the earth, through people who are born into this world. And that sin began to deepen and spread widely, until we read about a couple of months back, in Genesis, chapter 6:5, "That 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."

So this sin disease, this spiritual disease has really worsened. It's corrupted man utterly. Now, in our day and age, today, we struggle with the COVID-19 virus. It has spread widely. It has spread deeply. Countries all around the world are trying to curb this problem, but there was no curbing that problem in those days. This spiritual disease is spreading so profoundly, until it had to be destroyed.

And so we read of the story of Noah's ark, and how there was a huge flood that destroyed every living creature that walked on the face of the earth, except for eight people in Noah's ark, together with the animals. So this ark was a protection from God's judgment. And Noah and his family were gloriously, graciously saved by God, because out of the whole world then, only this family believed in God.

We read in Hebrews, chapter 11:7, "By faith, Noah being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen ...", that is the flood, "... in reverent fear, constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith." So Noah believed in God, he was a man of faith, together with the rest of his family, and they were saved.

Today in Genesis, chapter 8, we're going to continue looking at Noah's life and how he is to be an example of faith for all of us. And I hope that you will see lessons of faith that you can apply for your own life. Today's sermon will be short, so you can ... I ... whenever I say, "Short", it doesn't always end up short, I know.

But I think today's sermon should be short and sharp. Alright, so let's look at this subject of "Lock down Faith". What do you mean by "Lockdown Faith" in Genesis 8?

[1] Faith in His Waiting
Well, I'd like you to see first of all - Noah's faith in his waiting. Now, we all know waiting is not an easy thing to do, right? I'm a very impatient person. I hate to wait. Maybe today, you're waiting for something in your life. You're waiting for a new job. You're waiting for a new phase of your life. You're waiting for a spouse. You're waiting for girlfriend, boyfriend. You're waiting for conception. You're waiting for a kid because you've been praying for a long time now. Maybe you're in a bad situation and you just want to get out, you can't wait to get out.

All of us are familiar with the experience of waiting because we are not satisfied. We don't want to stay where we are. We ... we are longing for the day things will change. And we know how difficult waiting is especially in our day and age.

Now, by the way, Noah is the first person to be issued SHN. You know what's SHN, right? Stay Home Notice. He had to stay home in his ark. He's the first person, first lockdown patient, whatever you want to say, because it was a circuit breaker in those days. It was a circuit breaker for sin. It was a lockdown away from ... from sin. He had to be in the ark, he was served "Stay Home Notice".

Now, we in our day understand 'Stay Home Notice' very well in Singapore. We have this order and 'Stay Home Notice' is not easy, you know. And that's why the government gives very strict rules and punishment for those who violate SHN. You know what's the cost of violating SHN? If you don't know, I'll tell you so that you don't violate if you should be issue one.

If you violate a SHN, you are liable for a fine of up to ...? $10,000. That's a lot! Or six months jail or both. Or if you are a PR, you may have your PR status revoked. Wow! You don't break SHN easily but you know it's not easy to wait at home. It's not easy not to get out because I read about people who break SHN.

Singaporean, 22, allegedly breached SHN to buy bubble tea and visit friend, later tested positive for COVID 19. Now, this person I read was found guilty and was sentenced to 7 months jail - just to drink bubble tea. Amazing!

Not only this Singaporean, but Briton charged with breaching SHN to meet Singaporean fiancee who booked room in same hotel. This is crazy! If you think this is just the one or two guys, I read last week or this week, about 367 COVID-19 SHN breaches and 130 quarantine order violations so far.

Now, what does that tell me? It tells me it is never easy to wait, even though it was only for two weeks. People cannot wait! Do you know Noah was issued SHN, it was ... and it was not for two weeks. Do you know how long he had to stay in the ark? Anybody has any clue? We read Genesis, chapter 8 and when you read through that, it's like wah, it's so much details!

But let me try to crystallize something for you. Noah entered the ark when he was 600 years, two months and 10 days old. The following facts you can just remember, I'm sure you can do too much out of it, but I'll just let you know what they are.

7 days later the rain began to fall and the rain fell for 40 days, 40 nights. Maybe those who are mathematicians may start to add things up now. The ... the flood covered the earth for 150 days. That's a long time! 74 days later, the tops of the mountains were visible. 40 days later, Noah sent out a raven. Noah then sent out a dove on three occasions. The third time it did not return. 2 weeks later, he saw dry land. Noah stayed in the ark another 57 days until the Lord told him to leave.

So Noah entered the ark when he was 600 years, 2 months and 10 days old. He left the ark when he was 601 years, 2 months and 27 days old. So he stayed in the ark for a total of ...? You already saw it - 1 year and 17 days. This SHN is super long, man! It's not easy at all, isn't it?

I mean, can you imagine how difficult it is? In those days, there's no internet; no Netflix; no TV; no food delivery. You want to drink bubble tea also cannot. I mean, this guy has to be here for a long time. And by the way, he doesn't even know how long he was going to stay. I know he doesn't know how long it was going to be because he was eager to send out the ravens and the dove. If he had known he wouldn't have to send out, he would just wait, because God told him a certain number of days, God didn't tell him apparently.

So it is not easy to wait a long time and it is not easy to wait for an indefinite period of time. And by the way, he had no creature comforts. In fact, the only thing he has is the poo and the pee of all the animals in the ark. Can you imagine that? You ... you ... you smell all that every day. You're stuck in the ark! The ark had only one window, one door. Is it one window, I can't remember, but maybe many many windows, I can't remember, but certainly only one door.

So all that smell, all the animals cries, I'm sure the animals must be noisy. You think they're like perfect human beings, living there quietly. It must be an irritating place to be in, I suppose the ark, no matter how big it was. But Noah patiently waited in the ark.

We don't hear, we don't read of him complaining. And he was never in a rush in a sense to get out of the ark until God said it was time for him to do so. I thought it's a simple lesson of how sometimes God allows us to wait in our lives, isn't it? Maybe while waiting in a messy smelly situation. We can't ... can't wait to get out, but faith says, "I will trust God. I will not leave until he tells me to.

And that may apply to a particular situation in your life today." I just like to encourage you about Noah, and how he recognized God's mercy, that whilst everyone was wiped out, he is mercifully saved. He will not complain. He would trust in his God. He patiently waited, no complaints.

[2] Faith in His Walk
Like I said, this is a short sermon. So let me go to the second point. The second thing I'd like you to notice is - the faith in his walk. What do you mean by that? What do you mean faith in his walk? Faith in the manner he walked out of the ark because it's very interesting to me to notice that, verse 16 says, "Then God said to Noah, "Go out from the ark ..."' And then verse 18, it tells me, "Then Noah went out."

Do you realize that Noah didn't walk out when the land was relatively dry? He could have! I would have. I mean, if I see there's some dry land, I say, "Ho, Ho! It's time to get out! 'Chiong' [hurry up/charge in Hokkien dialect] ah!" Ay! But this Noah was amazing, you know, because we read, "Noah sent out a dove on three occasions, the third time it did not return." You know, when he sent out the doves, he's trying to test, if there is any dry land out there.

If the dove had to return, it means that it could not find any dry land. But now, the dove doesn't return and there were no predators to eat the dove. So he knew that there was dry land, but he did not step out. Two weeks later, he saw dry land, but Noah stayed in the ark another 57 days until the Lord told him to leave. To me, that is so remarkable!

He was doing things not because of what he saw, or what he considered, or what he could figure. He did things only as the Lord had told him. He stayed in the ark faithfully, even though it has been for a year. He stayed there till the Lord said it was ready to go.

So how often it is in our lives, we don't operate by faith, we operate by sight? We choose; we do; we commit to things not because we have sought the Lord but because I figured that this is what I want. Not Mr. Noah, he had faith. He had faith to wait and he had faith to step out only as the Lord has told him to.

I'm reminded of a scam in the Bible. You know, there are scams today, people who trick you - phone scams; sex scams, whatever scams, Carousell scams. There are scams all over. And I read about a scam in the Bible in Joshua, chapter 9. You know that scam?

Israel had just entered the Promised Land, they were all victorious, they took down Jericho and so on. And so there was fear amongst the people for Israel. There was this group of people. They were called the Gibeonites. They were near Israel at that point of time, and they knew that if they did not do anything, Israel will wipe them out. So the Gibeonites came up with a ploy, they came up with a scam. They pretended that they came from afar, they brought old moldy food, tattered clothes, and they came to Israel.

They said to Israel, they said to Joshua, "Oh, we have come from afar. And we've heard about your great power, God being with you. And we want to make an alliance with you. We want to serve you, you just don't attack us." Now, they know that God has allowed Israel to make alliances with people who are far off, but not people who are near them. So the Gibeonites scammed Israel, pretended to be people from afar when they are actually near.

And this is the problem with Israel, this is the problem with the nation at that point of time. "They took of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the Lord." [Joshua 9:14] Now, this verse has always stuck with me. It's very interesting, because the author, Joshua here is clearly trying to convey to all the readers that the reason why Israel fell into the scam is because they trusted their own senses. They trusted their sight. They trusted their touch. They trusted their smell. They trusted their reasoning - "Oh that this Gibeonites must be from afar!" But they did not ask God.

So how often is it in your life, that you make decisions because you trusted in your own reasoning; your own senses, and you never really trusted the Lord, you never really sought the Lord, you never waited upon God? Now, the Bible is clear, that we should, "Trust in the Lord with all our heart and not lean on our own understanding, in all our ways, we are to acknowledge Him, and He will make straight our paths." [Proverbs 3:5-6]

Now, I don't want you to think that this is something formulaic. This is not a formula - like I pray three times, I read three times means God will lead me. It's not like that! God is not a vending machine, you put in some coins of prayer, some coins of Scripture, and He would dispense an instruction for you.

But this does tell us, this has to be the basic posture of our heart. That I don't know what is best for me, but God does. And the best thing for me to do whilst I certainly am not wrong to send out some doves and send out some ravens, ultimately the decision making process in my life has to be one where I have sought the Lord, where I have to acknowledge that God is the One who would direct my paths.

Well, this is what Joshua was told by God that, "He has to meditate on God's Word day and night." [Joshua 1:8] The way for me to trust, not in my senses but in God's leadership is to be sure that my mind is saturated with God's Word. That I must read the Scriptures. That I recognize that my decision making process is flawed because I'm a sinful man. But it can be renewed as I meditate on God's Word to be transformed by the renewing of my mind.

Isn't it so that the Bible says, that, "God's Word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path." [Psalm 119:105] So often we say this, but we don't actually believe this. We believe what we see is the path but don't believe that the Word of God is actually the One that guides my path.

So let's learn to wait upon God in prayer; in Scripture. And maybe today, you're waiting for some thing in your life - job, ministry, family. And it's so easy for you to decide purchases based on what you see alone, but I think it's worth the while, it's definitely necessary to learn from Noah, to patiently wait and to seek Him in Word and prayer.

So, Noah's Lockdown faith! Faith is not just about, wow, many things you do outside. Sometimes faith is seen in the patience in your waiting and patience in knowing when to walk out when God wants you to walk out.

[3] Faith in His Worship
And finally, the last thing I want to impress upon you about Noah's faith is about his worship - his faith in his worship. Let me ask you, if COVID-19 is truly over, alright, we're all waiting for that, right? Hoping that it will be over. If COVID-19 is over, what will be the first thing you do?

Chiong ah? Party ah? KTV ah? I think KTVs are not allowed to operate now, right? Yah, so what would be the first thing you do? Wah, go have a big feast! Wah, go celebrate this! You know what Noah did once his lockdown was over? Play football? Go barbecue? What did he do?

It's very instructive that the first thing he did when he got out of the ark, was that "He built an altar to the Lord." [Gen 8:20] Now, that is amazing, because many of us will be planning for holidays, "Let's go Hong Kong, man! Let's go U.S., man.! This is what I've been looking forward to!"

Not Noah, you know! He's dying to, I'm sure he's dying to get off the ark please. One year in the ark with all the animals, wah it's, it must be difficult. He must be dying to get out, but the moment he got out, he remembers God. He honors God. He puts God first.

This is the first record of an altar for worship in the Bible. Previously, we hear about sacrifices, but we don't read about an altar, but here it is. "Noah built an altar and he offered the burnt offerings on the altar." [Gen 8:20] God was first and foremost in the Noah's mind. He's a man of faith. No doubt about it!

It's interesting that for the ... I read commentators and they say that, "There is also a Babylonian account about the flood." You know, there's a Biblical account and then they say, "In Babylonian records, they also talk about the flood." But in the Babylonian flood records, they say that, "The flood stopped, because the gods were hungry, and they needed sacrifice."

Very interesting, right? So the gods wanted someone to sacrifice, so they say, "Okay, let's stop the flood, let them get out and offer the animals to me again, to us again." But you know, that's not what the Bible is all about! The Biblical account, not the Babylonian account is that God is merciful to save. And the people who are saved, recognized God's grace, recognized God's mercy upon their lives.

And so the first thing they did when they got out, was to offer the burnt offerings as thanksgiving to God. I think that's what worship is. Worship is not trying to bribe God with my animals, not trying to bribe up with 'pacham kai' [poached chicken in Cantonese dialect], or my 'sio bak' [roasted pork in Hokkien dialect], or trying to bribe the deity to give me something, like, "I don't have enough, I want more!"

You know, the worship of the Bible is the complete opposite. I worship God not because I want more, I worship God because He has given me so much. He has saved my life, He has saved me from His wrath, and now I just want to offer my worship, my life to Him, and that symbolized in the offering of the animals.

See, this is what the New Testament says. This is one of the most important verses in my mind, for the Christian life, "I appeal to you therefore brothers, by the mercies of God to present your bodies as a living sacrifice." [Romans 12:1]

Worship is inspired by the mercies of God. The reason why you and I would worship God is because we understand the mercies of God in the Gospel - how Jesus was sent to die for our sins when we can't save ourselves. And when we were heading to damnation, we were heading to face the fierce wrath of God, God intervened. God sent His Son, God poured out His Spirit into our hearts to help us recognize His Son, believe His Son. And because of His mercies, we now say, "Present ourselves, a living sacrifice."

It's the complete opposite of the Babylonian style, of, "Oh, my god wants me to worship him because he needs me, to give him something." No! God doesn't need anything from us. He is all sufficient! He's the all existent; self sufficient God! It is because of His mercies, we have been given so much, that we now want to worship Him.

And I hope that sets the right context for you in your worship to God in praise. We worship God, we sing praises to Him, not because he's so needy of my praise. Oh no! He delights in praise, sure, from the heart of men, who knows Him. But we praise Him because He has given so much to us, in Jesus Christ.

And let us also understand that this is the context by which we do good and we share. The reason why we give to others, we help others, we serve others, is because God has first given so much for us.[Hebrews 13:6] So that is what worship is all about. It's following the pattern that has been set by Noah, he worships God, because he recognized he has been saved by God.

So, "The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma ..." [Gen 8:21] So the Bible, Moses, gives us this interesting fact. He somehow knew God revealed to him, that God was pleased with the offering of Noah. And He smelt that pleasing aroma, He was pleased and as a result, He said, "I will never again curse the ground because of men for the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth." [Gen 8:21]

Now, you've got to understand that this is a general statement. Is not that God will never curse the ground anymore, because we know that there will be judgment to come. But it is clarified later in Genesis, chapter 9 that it will not be destroyed the same way as it was during the flood. That's what it means.

But this offering meant something, this offering here, the ... the author, Moses is trying to convey that because of this offering, because of something that is pleasing to God, God is going to change the way, He's going to deal with this world.

And I'm sure you could see that this offering is a kind of a picture, a kind of a foreshadowing, a kind of a pointing to an ultimate burnt offering for us. I think the Bible is clear that it's not about animals, about bulls or doves, but it's about the Son of God Himself.

"Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." [Eph 5:2] This very first burnt offering is to be a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ, who will be burnt up or sacrificed for us.

And Noah recognized that I think! He knew that there will be a sacrifice for his sins, just as God skinned the animals to provide a covering for Adam and Eve. There will be a sacrifice for his sins, and because of his recognition of that, I believe God is pleased. Faith recognizes the sacrifice that is needed for our sins.

I ...I just want to close with this - that ... that sacrifice was absolutely necessary to save men from sin. Why? The Book of Romans tells us that, "We are justified by His grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood." [Romans 3:24-25]

Now, that's a long sentence. And I know that people have been confused before. But let me just put it this way. In these two verses, you could see the three descriptions with regards to a man's salvation. They are all of the same thing, in a sense. It's all about salvation, but they're portrayed in different angles so that you appreciate God's saving work more completely.

There is this word, 'justified'. Well, that's a ... that's a legal term. Someone standing before the judge - guilty or not? He's justified. That's the word, 'justification' - just as if I have not sinned. That's the first word there, 'justification'. That you are pronounced just because of Jesus. Amazing! "I am guilty, you know. I'm guilty of my sins, but because of Christ, I'm justified. I'm pronounced innocent. I will not be held accountable for the sins I've committed against God."

The second word there, is the word, 'redemption', redeemed. And that word is used in the slave market, where there were slaves there, and if you pay a certain amount of money, you can set the slave free from that previous master to serve you, or you may choose to set him free. That's redemption - you pay money to set him free. We are saved in the sense that we are justified, we are not seen as guilty before the Holy God anymore. We are saved in a sense that we are redeemed. We used to be slaves to sin, but now God has paid the price to set us free.

And then, there's this third word, 'propitiation'. Now, I studied English for a long time, in my primary school; secondary school; JC school days, but I've never come across the word, 'propitiation' until I read the Bible. So I'm pretty sure many of you will be struggling, what in the world is 'propitiate'? Some of you may 'pro-pi-pi-tiation'. No, it's 'propitiation! Alright.

But what is 'propitiation'? It simply means - to appease, to appease. Somebody is very angry, and you want to propitiate him, you want to appease, bring appeasement. You want to satisfy his anger and wrath. That's the word.

So, Jesus is the means through which we are justified, redeemed, and propitiated. Because you see, the Bible speaks about God's wrath against sinners, and that holy wrath must be satisfied. It is satisfied when Jesus bore that wrath for us on the cross.

So very masterfully, skilfully, the apostle Paul weaves these three-word pictures into an understanding of salvation: there is justification in the courts of law, there is redemption in the marketplace, and there is propitiation in the temple of God.

Because the word there is 'hilasterion' which is actually referring to the mercy seat in a temple. So it's temple language. But I really just want to say this, "That the offering of that burnt offering by Noah was an understanding that there must be a sacrifice that will appease the holy wrath of God." And a man of faith understands this, and believes this.

And my friends, I want to say to you, "I know all that I just said in the past three to five minutes must be confusing. "What in the world are you saying? What propitiation, hilasterion, wah!" But I just want to say this, "The Bible says that God is holy, and because of Adam ... Adam and Eve, we have all been infected with the sin disease. And we become rebels against God. We are so corrupted and so diseased. We hate God. And because we are sinful and corrupt, there is nothing you and I can do by ourselves that can satisfy God's holy judgment."

But this is the amazing central message of the Bible. The Good News of the Bible is Jesus Christ. He was punished as guilty, even though He was innocent. He laid down His life to be the price of redemption. And He bore the wrath of God for us on the cross, so that if you today, repent and believe in Jesus Christ, you can be saved. And I pray, you will want to be saved. You will come to Jesus to be saved.

So Noah, well, Genesis 8 is not an easy chapter. But what a glimpse into this man's heart. He didn't do a lot in chapter 8. He did a lot in the building of the ark! But even in that one year, plus time in the ark, I could see his faith. I hope you will see his faith. He had faith to wait. He had faith to walk out at just the right time, not trusting his own senses, but in the Word of God. And the first thing he did was to offer a sacrifice to God, recognizing God has saved him from his sins, God has saved him from the flood. And he just wants to give his life to God, symbolized in the burning of the offerings.

Would that be you, in your season of life today? I pray that is what faith will look like, for yourself. Let's bow for a word of prayer together.

Faith is not just intellectual understanding. Faith is a kind of power, really. Faith enables you to see what others do not see. To be convicted of things that others who do not have faith are not convicted about. And therefore faith will be evidenced by a changed life. Faith will be seen in your works.

Maybe like many people, you're waiting for COVID to be over so that life becomes normal. Maybe you are waiting for a job. Maybe you are waiting for a spouse. Maybe you are waiting for a baby. Maybe you are waiting to get out of your sickness. Maybe you're waiting for some change in your life.

People around us may be complaining and murmuring but the man of God trusts God, and does not murmur nor complain. He patiently waits. And he does not step out too early, he does not resort to his own senses; his own reasonings, but he waits upon the Lord. He trusts the Lord, he seeks the Lord until he is relatively confident that God has spoken and revealed to him the next step. He does not rush into decisions. He waits upon the Lord.

And a man of faith, well, is a man who worships God with his life. He puts His life on the altar as it were, because he recognizes that God has put His Son on the altar for him. What a glimpse of faith! And I pray today, you will not be crushed as you see Noah's faith, but you will, you'll be inspired, you'll be encouraged to say, "Dear God, grow me in my faith as I turned to the Scriptures, as I look into the Gospel. Fill my heart with conviction and confidence and faith. May my life glorify Your Name."

If you're here today and you do not know Jesus. Hey, let me tell you the Good News of the Bible! The Good News of the Bible is not that you are good or that you can do good. The Good News of the Bible is that when we are evil and hopeless and nothing we do will ever be good enough for God, there is Someone who is good enough for God. There is Someone who has lived a perfect life. There is Someone who then gave up that perfect life, so that He may give you, He may credit to you His perfect righteousness. That man is the God-Man, Jesus Christ.

The Bible commands men everywhere to repent and believe in Him. And the Bible does say, "Whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved." I invite you; I implore you, today that you will call upon the Name of the Lord that you would be saved. The whole Bible is really about this sacrifice that God has promised right from the beginning - Jesus Christ.

So Father this morning, we are thankful that even thousands of years ago, there was a man like Noah, who has been blessed with faith from on high, who trust You. Father, we pray that this will form a kind of a reflection for our own selves. That we might be reminded to live a life of faith and that we might rejoice in how You have given Your Son, Jesus for us.

Once again, I pray that we will be a church that would be growing in faith. I pray that sinners, guests who may be here today would also turn to Jesus Christ, by faith. Lord, teach us to trust and obey. For indeed there is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey. Bless Your church, we ask in Jesus' Name. Amen.

 

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