Our most recent family pic with only Andrew missing

Friday, May 6, 2016

God's Faithfulness: And God Remembered Noah

                                                              Picture sourced here

On Tuesday 24 November 2015, just 3 weeks after we arrived in Norwich, God gave me the most beautiful rainbow that I have ever seen as I was leaving the Norwich library. I took a photo with my mobile, but before I transferred it to my computer I lost all my albums (longish and irrelevant story). However, I found this pic taken by Hayley Brasnett which, unsurprisingly, is much better than the one I took. Today I am looking at the Faithfulness of God, as we continue our series, The Nature of God.

If you want to take a wonderful journey through accounts of God's faithfulness, below is a list of links that will inspire you ... especially if I don't.

It's probably obvious which story I've chosen ... the story of God's faithfulness to Noah, which comprises 4 chapters of Genesis, but we'll only read Genesis 8:1-5

And God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded. Now the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens had been closed, and the rain had stopped falling from the sky. The water receded steadily from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down, and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. The waters continued to recede until the tenth month, and on the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains became visible.

Now, an important part of this story is to remember how long Noah was in the ark ... don't shout the answer aloud! If you say 1 year plus 7 days, you are correct; if you say 354.36 days ... you are also correct; if you say 370 days ... you are also correct; it all revolves around whether we use the lunar year or the solar year. Be that all as it may, if your answer was 40 ... well, then your answer was 40, we'll say no more.

My point is ... it was a long time ... and my text is:
And God remembered Noah
and my one sentence sermon is: And God will remember you.
Whatever your flood, whatever your hopelessness as you just float on events, whatever it is that you just wish it were over ... whatever cross you might feel nailed to and whatever tomb might be enclosing you ... God will remember you, because God is faithful.

And God remembered Noah
Few words and simple ones, yet a world of meaning for our souls is in them. Remember, Noah hasn't heard a word from God for almost a year since the Lord had shut them in (Gen 7:16). Convinced he was in the Lord's will ... but no word from God ... silence from God, even in the midst of the storm.

But God remembered Noah. Even when we seem lost to everything else we are not lost to God. If you think of the story of the ark as the graphic pages of Genesis set it out, we might easily suppose that Noah might have thought himself forgotten ... and I say this because I know many of us have felt this way. And though he could tell himself that God had once spoken to him and given him His promise of protection, nevertheless, where was God now - now, when the grey days and black nights went by and wherever he looked there were only the empty waters and the sky that seemed to hold no hope?

So ... many folk, many of us, have in many different times found themselves cut loose from their moorings, with the familiar landmarks gone, adrift in a world from which God Himself, so far as they can see, has vanished. The flood which has carried them, and I'm sure many of us, away, is sorrow, or loneliness, or a moral failure, or the sense that some great adventure to which they were committed has meant only long disappointment which will end perhaps in despair.Watch even the most faithful folk at the funeral of their child, or the breakdown of their relationship, or when they bring the retrenchment notice home and you will see the place Noah was in.

Then they will be saying, like the Psalmist, "I am so troubled I cannot speak" and "Has his unfailing love vanished for ever? Has his promise failed for all time?" (Psalm 77:4-8).

And God remembered Noah
This great story does not end on a note of hopelessness. The Flood did at last go down. The mountain top of hope appeared, and then one day the earth was habitable. Faithful folk in every generation have discovered at last that God did remember and that His purposes would not fail. Perhaps they've sung or remembered a hymn we had in our hymnbook as a child:
I know not where His islands lift
Their fronded palms in air;
I only know I cannot drift
Beyond His love and care. 
(find the full hymn here)

And God remembered Noah

As the flood waters went down there were still days when Noah had to continue to be patient; my experience is that the last days of waiting can be the hardest. Noah opened a window and sent out a raven and a dove, but at first there was only disappointment. The raven vanished; and when the dove came back to shelter in the ark he knew it meant the waters were still too deep for her to find rest. More waiting ... more weariness of postponed hope. Seven days went by and he sent her out again. This time she returns with an olive leaf.

Wherever you find yourself ... look for the olive leaves. One leaf might not have seemed of much significance, but it meant a lot to Noah. He couldn't eat it and couldn't do anything else with it that was useful; but it made the whole world look different. It was a sign that the waters had receded and that out of death and destruction life was again emerging. That is a good thing to remember in times of crisis. There are times when everything that is familiar seems to have come to an end. Find encouragement in the little things. Thank God for one leaf, for one small but certain sign that there are living and creative forces which God has not allowed to be completely swept away.

When the contrary signs seem so much more prevailing it takes courageous faith to believe in the little signs of promise, but in the strength of these, we, like Noah, must take heart and ride out the rest of the storm.

And God remembered Noah
Perhaps it was hard for Noah to think so. With the wild emptiness of the waters around him, shut in by the grey curtains of the pitiless rain, waiting day after day while nothing happened, it might well have seemed to him that God had forgotten. We are often tempted to think that way ... thinking we are left to face impossible conditions we might even believe God has created and about which God no longer seems to care. Moses in the midst of the exodus cried out: "Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? ... I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me.Numbers 11:11-14
Habakkuk cries out: "How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?Habakkuk 1:2
The Psalmist: "Why do you hide your face and forget our misery and oppression?Psalm 44:24

But the ultimate message of the Bible, of the prophets, the psalmists, all the great figures of its history, is that God does not forget.

Cling to that truth; God remembered Noah on the flood; God remembered Joseph in Egypt; God remembered Jonah in the belly of the fish, Daniel in the lions' den, Daniel's friends in the furnace; God remembered Jesus in the tomb; Peter in his despair; Thomas in his doubting.

God remembers you, look for and with courageous faith, believe in, the little signs of promise He sends.

And God remembered Noah

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