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"As in the days of Noah..." (2)

By Rev. Daniel Holstege. Previous article in the series: "As in the days of Noah..." (1)

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The second subject I would like to treat from the days of Noah is that he found grace in the eyes of the LORD (Genesis 6:8), and by the faith which God graciously worked in his heart, he prepared an ark to the saving of his house (Heb. 11:7). 

What a wonder for Noah to find grace in the eyes of Jehovah as he stood in the midst of a wicked world doomed to utter destruction in the flood! How amazing to see revealed in the eyes of God what lay deep inside God's heart toward him, an attitude of pure saving grace! “It would be difficult indeed,” writes Homer C. Hoeksema, “to conceive of five words concerning Noah - or any other man - and his place in history more important than those words. There is no more blessed and no more significant statement to be made, not only about a man’s personal history, but also about his place in history as a whole, than that he found grace in the eyes of Jehovah!” (p. 291, Unfolding Covenant History, Volume 1). 

“Why me?” Noah must have thought, “I too am a sinner, and by nature no better than all these ungodly men around me, because I too think evil thoughts and have evil desires in my heart! Why me, O Lord?” The Arminian would answer him, “Noah, the reason is that you have made yourself to differ from those evil men around you by the superior use of your free will! God offered his grace to you, and you accepted it, unlike them! Moses will write about you that he was “a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:9). That means you made yourself better than others by freely choosing to follow God. That is why God shines the light of his countenance upon you! But Noah would have been repulsed by that answer. 

The Reformed would answer him, “Noah, the reason God smiles upon you is that before the foundation of the world, God determined in his decree of election, according to the sovereign good pleasure of his will, to bestow the riches of his grace in Christ Jesus upon a certain number of persons who by nature are neither better nor more deserving than the rest of the sinful human race (Canons of Dordt I.7). You are one of those persons whom God has graciously determined to elect in Christ. That is why you find grace in his eyes. That is why you have faith in your heart, why you believe in God and hope for the promised Messiah. That is why you experience that you are righteous before God by faith in that coming Messiah, and by faith alone. That is why you walk with God in thankful joy and strive to live a life of justice and integrity in the midst of this wicked generation. The reason is that God elected you out of mere grace and according to his free good pleasure. Give all glory to God, Noah!”  

The pure and mighty grace of God explains why God warned Noah of things not seen as yet, the looming flood that would soon destroy all flesh on the face of the earth. It explains why God instructed Noah to build a huge ark of gopher wood as the vessel in which he would save him and his family through the flood. It explains the fact that Noah believed this mind-boggling divine revelation concerning phenomena he had never seen before. It explains the fact that Noah did not sit down and wait passively for God to build that ark, but set himself to the massive task and labored faithfully for 120 years until it was finished. Grace motivated him to build because he knew that he didn’t have to build in order to obtain that grace, but he already had it and would never lose it! What soul-liberating and heart-motivating gratitude that gives to the believer! Grace empowered him to build because if left to himself he could not have cut a single gopher tree or set one board upon another, but God was perpetually there in his heart working and preserving his faith. 

Homer Hoeksema: “When God establishes his covenant with Noah, the result is not that Noah becomes what we would call an antinomian, or a passive “stock and block.” He does not assume the attitude, ‘If God does it all, then I can sit down and do nothing but wait until the flood comes.’ On the contrary, Noah becomes of God’s party… Through the grace of the covenant God, Noah and his family are God’s people… And they have a calling that follows from the very fact that they are God’s covenant people, a calling that they can fulfill only as his covenant people: the calling to manifest themselves as the friend-servants of God in the midst of a world that lies in darkness. So Noah must be busy in the work of the Lord, the work of faith…” (p. 306, UCH, Vol. 1). 

May the sweet taste of God’s amazing grace and the light of his ever smiling face motivate and strengthen us to build our ark by faith, to strive to live the Christian life, to build families, to maintain schools, to send missionaries, and to abound in all the work of the Lord.

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