Do you sometimes feel like no one is listening? When you share your faith—when you try to pass on to others how real God is and how incredibly good; how important it is for us to stop sinning and trust Jesus—do you sometimes get discouraged because you see no response? Well then, imagine how Noah must have felt, because—if you think about it—he converted no one in the perhaps seventy-odd years he was building the Ark!
“If He did not spare the ancient world when He brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others…if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment.” (2 Peter 2:5, 9 NIV)
Noah is famous, but most of us remember him as the builder of the famous biblical Ark, not a preacher. Yet this is how Peter identifies him. Noah didn’t just spend all those years constructing that big boat according to God’s instructions, so those who trusted Him would survive the coming judgment; he preached to the masses who saw this overwhelming, seemingly nonsensical project progress. He warned them; he told them about the God of the universe who was about to judge their sin; he emphasized how important it was for them to repent, believe, and get onto that boat!
Yet how many people did that in the end? After all his preaching and pleading those many years—besides his family, how many people were actually saved? None. Noah was 100% ineffective. Wow! Even the worst of us tend to do better than that! In all fairness to him, though, the pre-Flood world had become so evil that people would not repent.
We homeschooled our first two children. In our studies we read about the mythical Cassandra; Wikipedia explains that she, “was a daughter of Priam, the King of Troy. Struck by her beauty, Apollo provided her with the gift of prophecy, but when Cassandra refused Apollo’s romantic advances, he placed a curse ensuring that nobody would believe her warnings. Cassandra was left with the knowledge of future events, but could neither alter these events nor convince others of the validity of her predictions.” This has been called the Cassandra predicament or dilemma. Sometimes I feel like she would have. Why?
Well, because she knew the truth—she knew what was going to happen. More than that, she tried to warn others; she didn’t stay silent with what she knew. Yet no one listened, no one believed her, no one acted on her warnings.
This is not unlike what happened to Noah. Think about it: he was constructing a monstrosity so huge there was probably nothing like it. Furthermore, there had never been rain before. Scientists speculate the earth was covered with a thick canopy of mist or water that subsequently came down when God flooded the world. Yet up to that time, no water had fallen from the sky. There was no precedent for such an eventuality, and no one believed Noah.
Noah’s story is a foreshadowing of salvation through Jesus. Just as those who believed God and entered the ark were saved from destruction; so now those who believe God and enter the safety of Christ Jesus—who place their faith in the forgiveness we receive through Him—are saved from the coming destruction. But we must believe, and we must act—we must respond, not just think about it and leave it for “another time.”.
Just as speculating that what Noah said would happen might actually happen wasn’t enough to save the pre-Flood world—they had believe enough to physically walk into that ark—so wondering if perhaps the message of forgiveness through Christ could be true, but not actually believing enough to repent and change our lives, will send us to our destruction. We have to act on our faith or it is worthless. Remember—our actions will always reveal what we really believe! That’s why Hebrews equates obedience with faith:
“See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end…Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.” (Hebrews 3:12-14, 16-19 NIV)
God did not allow the disobedient Israelites to enter the Promised Land because of their unbelief, which resulted in disobedience. It was the same for the unrepentant pre-Flood world, and it is no different now; a lack of belief in God’s warnings to repent result in a life of disobedience, ending in forever destruction. But for those who listen—for those who believe the message—their belief will result in obedience to the Truth, and God really will save them!
Dear Lord God,
Please don’t let my words—really Your words, because the warning is from You—fall on deaf ears. Please help everyone reading them see their sin, repent of it, and trust in Jesus our Savior for forgiveness, acceptance, love and life! Amen.