Not Many Wise -

Faith and spirituality in a modern world

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[6] Knowing God doesn’t always mean an easy life

A hammer.
The Lord came close to Noah in making a Covenant with him.
From that moment on, Noah started on building the Ark which meant that he began the longest sermons ever!
Knowing God doesn’t always mean an easy life.
Every thump of the hammer, every cut of the axe, was his sermon to the people around him to repent, because the judgement of God was coming.

This went on for a hundred years, and in between all that activity, you can be sure that Noah spoke to his neighbours, because he earned the title in Peter’s 2nd letter, as a ‘preacher of righteousness.’

Now, thankfully, we are not all called to be preachers of righteousness.
I believe it is not good to ‘preach’ to people at work, or your friends, and family. Because that tends to push people away.
Preaching is supremely important, and is still in the centre of God’s purposes. Paul wrote:

And how can they believe in the One, of whom they have not heard
And how can they hear, without someone preaching to them?
And how can they preach unless they are sent?”
Romans 10:14

It is interesting Paul did not say: ‘And how can they hear without someone sharing Jesus to them.’
Preaching ought to be the combine harvester!
But it doesn’t work, to preach at people when they are not in a group. We need to follow Peter’s teaching:

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.
Always be prepared to give an answer, to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
But do this with gentleness, and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”
1 Peter 3:15

It’s good to know that in these situations, the Lord says: “I am with you in a special way, I will not forsake you.”

So Noah finally finished building the Ark.
Noah’s witness is at it’s climax and the Lord speaks these words of encouragement; ‘Come inside.’

Come inside!

The Lord then said to Noah, “Go into the ark” Genesis 6:22
I personally like the New King James translation here:

Come into the ark”

‘Come’ seems much more appropriate than ‘Go into the Ark.’
Because that would be in harmony with other passages, such as in Isaiah , where the Lord says:

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.”
Isaiah 43:1-2

It is as if the Lord was saying: “Noah! You are entering the unknown, something you have not experienced before, but I’ll be with you, so come! I am with you. You and your family who are entering the Ark, you are My witnesses.”

The words: ‘I am with you’ are such a comfort to all believers when they are in a tight situation.

I expect they had to walk up the ramp, and into the Ark amidst intense mocking, and sarcastic comments. They had to ignore the ridicule.
How did they do that?
Because they knew that the Lord was with them.
May that be an encouragement to us, to stand as a Christian in this fallen world.

Yes, Noah was entering a huge unknown.
He was probably anxious, as the Ark jerked upwards by the rising waters, and then was turned around by the force of the swirling ocean.
Perhaps he was feeling that the Lord was saying: “Noah! I will never leave you, or forsake you.”

I will never leave you:

He also says to us: “Believer! I will never leave you, or forsake you. Trust Me! I haven’t forgotten you. I am faithful, I will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.”
It says in Hebrews:

God has said; ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence; ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What can man do to me.’ ”
Hebrews 13 :5-6

Christians being burnt at the stake.
Christians being burnt at the stake.

If we are not careful, when we hear these sort of verses, we can drift into unreality, a place where there is no pain, no suffering, and no hardships!
The promise of God’s Presence, isn’t a guarantee for an easy life.
In fact, life can become more tough at times.
Peter tackles this, he wrote:

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.
But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed”
1 Peter 4:12

..if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.” (verse 16)

Notice this is talking about troubles hitting us, which are a direct result of us being a Christian.
Whenever I looked up a verse, which was talking about the Lord promising that He wouldn’t leave us, or the verses mentioned a special closeness, I noticed that they were related to our witness as Christians.
The Apostle Peter tells us that:

If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory, and of God rests on you.”

Matthews gospel finishes with Jesus saying:

And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.”

We can recall this verse as a ‘pick-me-up’ when we are down, and it is true that the Lord is always with us, that we are in Him, and that He is in us.
But to put the verse in context it is to do with our witness.
Because prior to that Jesus says:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Jesus is encouraging us, by telling us that He is with us in a very special way in a witness situation.
Even the sending of the gift of the Holy Spirit has this main purpose. Jesus said:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be My witnesses.”
Acts 1:8

Images: thanks to The Pictorial Dictionary published by The Educational Book Company, London

Peter Reason

January 2012

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