1-30-23 The God Who Perseveres

This week’s reading: Genesis 7:1-16

Hi Friends, 

     The Flood and the Ark. We touched on these last week and will go into some more details on these topics in the coming weeks. Like the Good Father He is, God is upset with His selfish children, because none of the ways they are acting is what is best for them. Human’s self-centered actions do not display God’s Love and Kindness and Humility and Holiness and…and well, sinfulness does not reveal any of the wonderful traits of the Immaculate Character of God, but instead, shows the complete opposite of Who our Creator is. We are not only hurting ourselves when we choose to attempt to be the lord over our own lives, but we also grieve God. He is grieved when we do not trust Him with our lives. He is grieved when we do not feel like His Way is the best way for everyone on this planet. He is grieved when we do not think His Grace is sufficient in strengthening us to persevere through whatever challenges this fallen world might present. God was grieved then, but He is grieved now as well. This certainly does NOT mean He goes around sad all the time! NO! When God feels any emotion, He feels it deeply, but then moves on. He never allows any of what we call “negative emotions,” to keep Him down and out! God is Joy and so He approaches everything He thinks, says and does with Joy at the center. In other words, even when God is grieved, He is not helpless or hopeless. And praise God, we do not need to be either. So for the good of Humanity, God sees things are not going the way He desired, and makes a move to lessen the destruction we humans tend to generate. We are in the Book of Genesis, chapter 7, verse 1 through verse 16. Now listen to God’s actions:

“On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark. They had with them every wild animal according to it’s kind, all livestock according to their kinds, every creature that moves along the ground according to its kind and every bird according to it’s kind, everything with wings. Pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life in them came to Noah and entered the ark. The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God had commanded Noah. Then the Lord shut him in.” Gen 7:13-16 NIV

     100 years. As we said last week, it takes Noah 100 years to build the Ark and be ready to accommodate all the living creatures that will occupy the area for who knows how long. Ok, maybe it was not exactly 100 years, probably more in the range of 50 to 75 years, since Noah was 500 when his wife gave birth to their third child, and he was 600 when they all went into the Ark…anyway, my point is, it was a really long time! It took a great deal of perseverance to get the job done. And moreover, I do not believe that Noah fully grasped God’s whole plan before he entered the Ark. I don’t believe he had any idea of the magnitude of what he was doing, nor the reckoning God was about to bring over the face of the earth. Yes, God told Noah that, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.” (Gen 6:13) Yet did Noah think that, literally, the whole earth was going to perish? But I do know that the one thing Noah was certain about was that God is Good, and this is all he needed to obey the instructions God gave him, one step at a time. This is an important lesson for us, my Friends. If we believe God is Good, no I mean really believe, then what stops us from simply obeying whatever He puts on our hearts to do? You see building an Ark was crazy, especially since I have heard it speculated that he lived nowhere near water. And have I mentioned that it took anywhere from 50 up to 100 years to construct this mega-ship!?! You and I get tired after trying to accomplish something much less monumental if we have to be at it for more than two or three months. For example, I just read an article that stated the sad reality is a good 2/3 of people who make “resolutions” at the beginning of each year have stopped working on them by the end of January! Just think about the commitment, the devotion, the endless effort it must have taken Noah and his sons to build this enormous vessel. And it was huge! If you have never been to the “Ark Encounter” in Williamstown, Kentucky, I highly recommend it. (I put a link in this article for more information about it, and by the way, I get no compensation from any of the links I put in my articles. They are simply things that have enhanced my walk with God, or I have found very interesting, so I am encouraging you to check them out too.) But this “Ark Encounter” is well worth your time to see in person, if you can. What an incredible display of ingenuity and such well thought out design this project is! And how much more impressive must have been the Ark Noah created, especially since we do not know for sure the amount of sophisticated equipment they had? It is a site to behold, and I hope it leaves you in more awe of the God Who designed it all, just to save life as we know it. That was the point of the Ark, you know? To save what God had created and allow His Creation another opportunity to live and thrive. The Ark was a sanctuary to protect this world from extinction. And just this one human, Noah, out of all the peoples of the earth, was righteous in the eyes of God. So God saves him and his small family, as well as each kind of animal that walked on, or flew over, the earth. Please see this as God’s enduring Mercy and Love for His Creation. Once again, as the Good Father He is, God must put Humanity in another “time out,” so that we may know He is God and He will not be mocked.

     Reverential fear. The Bible encourages believers to “fear not” 365 times, one for each day of the year I have heard. Also the Lord has impressed on my heart many times since I became His that, “Child, if you fear Me, then there is nothing else to fear.” So are we to fear or not? And what kind of fear is God talking about? You see, when the Bible says we ought to have the “Fear of the Lord,” it is not talking about a cowering, “run away from God” type of fear. It is however, urging us to have a respectful awe of Who God is. This is one of the many reasons this first Book of the Bible is so vital that we read through and meditate on. God created all that is seen, and unseen, with His words. He calls the earth and heavens into existence, then begins with an empty and formless lump of matter, the earth, which He then creates into the inhabited and ordered and beautiful home we can experience here on this planet. We should be in awe of all He has done…and even in more wonder that He graciously puts up with each rebellious human that He placed on earth! My point is that God is MORE THAN worthy of all our respect and admiration and reverence and high esteem and…and my Friends, God is well worth our wholehearted devotion and full surrender of every solitary part of our lives. But do we fear Him? Because if we really did appreciate Who God is, then we would do all we could to obey every single thing He commands us to do in the Bible. So when someone offends us and God commands us to forgive that person, we would immediately forgive that person and move on, treating the offender with love and respect…and if not for their sake and ours, then certainly for God’s sake. Yet do we obey like this? First, let me emphasize again that instructions like “love your enemy” are commands, not friendly suggestions. Everything in the Bible is a command…God is saying because I have forgiven you, you must forgive others. And if we have a growing reverential fear of God, then we obey, period. Side note: forgiving others never says what they did is ok, but it does display the Mercy of God that we have received. And so like Him, we choose to not allow what they have done to us to interfere with our relationship. Second, consistently obeying God out of respect for Him is a growing process. The more we mature in Christ, the more “Fear of the Lord” we will have and the more we will desire, freely and willingly, to obey everything God has commanded, as well as the individual leadings the Holy Spirit places on our hearts. An example of this last urging of the Holy Spirit would be to go apologize to your spouse after you have had an argument, whether you were to blame or not! The whole point to obeying God is first, because we love Him and are eternally grateful for how He has saved us. And second, for our own benefit because, everything God has commanded in His Word as well as all the leadings of the Holy Spirit, is meant for our good, so we may have, enjoy and share the Abundant Life. None of it is to hurt us…well, at least not forever. If you think it doesn’t hurt like mad to go apologize to my husband after he did something to upset me, then you have no idea how mortifying obedience can get! It does hurt, but it hurts the Flesh, that Prideful, MMI old sinful person we used to be…I call mine Jezebel. Yes, it hurts Jezebel, but as I grow, I can see more and more, that she was an awful human being! I do not want to act like her anymore, so this “pain” is good for me. It keeps me from acting like her, and moves me towards God, so I can act more and more like Him. The more we respectfully obey God, no matter what we think, feel or want, the more God transforms us into the loving, gentle, patient, gracious humans were should have always been. The more we live by this reverential Fear of the Lord, the more fulfilling and satisfying our lives get. We sense the righteousness He has granted us at Salvation and it makes this life, even in the midst of the chaos and darkness, well worth living. And this is what God is doing here with Noah and the Ark. He saves this little family, as well as each kind of animal that walked on, or flew over, the earth.

     According to its kind. While there are so many different variations of dogs, there is only one kind of animal that may be considered a dog. While there are so many types of birds, those that can fly and those that cannot, there is only one classification of animals known as birds. My point? As I remind us that the Bible is NOT a science book, I do stress what these passages in our reading this week mentioned eight times, that the animals came to the Ark each according to its “kind.” We can safely surmise then that there was no need for the Ark to have all 340 known breeds of dogs on this ship, for instance. Just like God probably began this earth with one or two types through which all others evolved, so too God could begin and multiply each kind of animal in this New World after The Flood. And if anyone has a problem with me using the word “evolved,” please understand I mean this to say how each species, within their kind, will adapt to the environment around them. I am NOT talking about humans spontaneously coming out of monkeys. No. Listen to what Paul says, “Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another.” (1Co 15:39) “Evolve” is not a dirty word, but it is one of the many ways God helps His Creation transform to their current situations. By God’s Grace, we are able to adapt to our environment, and this very well may be how many variations can came from one kind of animal. It stresses the point that God is not done with Creation yet. He is still developing it all. Think a Polaroid picture here. Again, God did not only create the World and all life, but He continues to create it all too. This is another reason why knowing God as our Creator is vital. Many years ago, God clearly said, “Child, I did not create you, I AM creating You.” Again, God created it all and He is continuing to create it all. Praise God that He is not done with any of us yet! But back to the animals. Some argue that the Ark, even though it was ginormous, could not possibly hold all the animals of the world within it. So understanding this concept of “according to its kind,” is the key. Again, I point you to the folks who made the “Ark Encounter” who are much more educated in this area of how all of this could possibly have been achievable. One more time, the Bible is NOT a science book because its main focus is God. The purpose is to teach us about His Love and Grace and how we may use our Faith to trust in Him and be saved forevermore from our sinful, doomed state after The Downfall. And all the rest of the details are merely speculations. No one but God knows for sure how any of this happened logistically. But again, Faith tells us we do not need to know all the details. All we have to do is trust The One Who knows. If we are able to understand, God is Faithful to explain it. But if we cannot fathom with our tiny human brains the how’s and when’s of it all, then we trust and move on. The nerd in me sometimes wonders if there will be any “classes” in Heaven that will give us clear explanations of everything we simply cannot understand this side of Heaven. But then again, in the actual Presence of God, the awesome beauty of Heaven, will we even care? Probably not. So please, my Friends, do not use our lack of comprehension to be a reason not to believe in every word of this precious Word of God. Living by Faith means we will not know it all this side…and it also frees us to know deeply that which we can know, especially coming to know God’s Immaculate Character and learning to work with Him so we may reflect it, more and more.

     And the animals came. Here we have another area where some would like to cause disputes. How did Noah gather all these various animals together so they could go into the Ark? What we need to keep in mind is that this was God’s Work here, not man’s. All the Bible says is simply that the animals “came to Noah.” (see Gen 7:9) All these events are supernatural phenomenon which means we cannot explain them according to our limited understanding of nature, because what do we humans really know for certain? For instance, do we fully grasp the migratory behavior of birds? Once again, all we can do is speculate about how the animals came, but ultimately this is God doing what only God can do, move His Creation to obey His desires, and all without infringing on the Free Will of mankind. Because of his reverential Fear of the Lord, Noah chose to obey God’s instruction to build this Ark and gather into it the animals that came. What I am afraid some people are forgetting nowadays is that, animal kinds are NOT human kind. They were NOT created in the Image of God. Their behaviors are based on instincts, so if God gave some animals a sense that doom was coming, those animals He stirred would have responded in order to survive. And having His Creation survive was a big part of what God was doing with The Ark. While all humans that were on earth at that time, except Noah, were evil and full of wickedness, which means they were all selfish, self-centered and self-absorbed…hmmm, that sounds familiar…anyway, while all of them and every living creature would die in this Flood, it was God’s Mercy to save some in order to begin the world over again. God saves, that is, He spares some humans and animals, both clean and unclean, so that He may repopulate the New World, if you will, that will come out of the cleansing of that old, sinful world. Problem is human nature was still broken, but I am getting ahead of myself. The point here is that God is not being cruel, He is bringing justice to a world that completely ignored Him and chose to try to rule their own lives apart from the Creator Who lovingly gave them all they had. Judgment is not God being uncaring and brutal. Judgment is God being Holy and Loving. A Holy God cannot live in communion with sinful humans. A Loving God cannot allow those He loves to continually go astray because it will only lead to a life filled with blatant immorality, horrible torment and devastating heartbreak. God Loves us way too much to allow this, my Friends. And in His Love, He also saves the animals who help in so many ways. Check out this article here that talks about how animals help the environment. In addition, animals can teach humans about compassion and caregiving, as well as being wonderful companions to us, and a clear display of the creativity of our God. Animals are important, but they are not humans. You and I, my Friends, are made in the Image of God’s and are to be His representatives on this lovely planet. And this often takes a lot of perseverance. 

     Perseverance. This is a word that might make some people cringe, but it is a necessary and highly valuable character trait. I love this quote from Charles Spurgeon, “By perseverance the snail reached the ark.” Every day, in some way, shape or form, we humans must exercise a “steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.” That’s the literal definition of perseverance. This week, we can see that with Noah, as he and his sons build the Ark God commanded. We can see this with the animals that came when God called them, from wherever they came, so that they could get onto the Ark. And I Hope we can see this lovely virtue with God Who continues to, lovingly and patiently, endure all that His humans have, and continue to put Him through. Like the Good Father He is, God regularly has, and will always, grant each of us opportunities to come to Him, to draw us into His Presence, so that we can know Him, know the Love He has for us, and know how to persevere in this life as we await the Eternal New World that will come. Just like God brings forth new life from the judgment of The Flood, so too He is bringing about New Life from the trials we face in this life. This has certainly been, and continues to be my experience, and as I sense God working it all together for my good, I can remain content in His arms and live this life to the full, as I Hope in the Everlasting Life to come. Want that too? Then won’t you join me?

     Until we meet again, keep lifting your eyes to God, He’s closer than you think.

<>< Peace, Diane

“Basic Types of Animals and Their Characteristics”: