The imagery of God as portrayed in the Bible is that He is forgiving, gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love. While this is absolutely true, the same Bible also tells us that when wickedness abounds, God can be very unforgiving. This was the case in the time of Noah. We are told that at that time, “every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. …So the LORD said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them” (Genesis 6:5-7). When God created man, he did so with the purpose that man will live in righteousness. Therefore, for a man to live in sin is an aberration. At that time, God was willing to restart life on the earth if only to bring in righteousness. Of all that were living then, only Noah and his family were found righteous before God.
When God judges, he looks at the heart more than anything else. We could always project before men a semblance of righteousness but it is what transpires in the heart that matters to him most. And because “the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure” (Jer. 17:9), it took God himself to make the final judgment on the fate of Noah’s generation. While every living being was to be destroyed by the flood, he provided a way for Noah and his family to be saved. He commanded Noah to build an ark. Being a righteous and God-fearing man, Noah obeyed him and proceeded to build the ark, huge as it was. Noah could have been a laughingstock then, and could have been perceived as a fool by the people around for building such a huge ark on dry ground. Nevertheless, Noah was undeterred and focused his effort on building the ark.
Was it easy for Noah to build the ark? It was not! It was a costly project and entailed a lot of work. He surely had hired people to help him – people who did not believe in his cause but were willing to do the work for money. When Noah finished the ark and finally entered it with his family and the pairs of animals with him, the neighbours could have burst into laughter and mocked him even more because there was not even a drop of rain to justify such action. After seven days, however, the flood came to deluge the earth and only Noah and his family were saved. His neighbours and the hired labourers must have been sorry that they did not heed Noah’s preaching and secured for themselves a room in the ark.
Similarly, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by God because “the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah [was] so great and their sin so grievous” (Gen. 18:20). Abraham tried to intercede for Sodom and Gomorrah but there were not enough righteous men living there to make God change his mind. Only Lot and his family were found righteous. On the night the cities were to be destroyed, the angels of the Lord commanded Lot to get his family and his sons-in-law out of the city. However, his sons-in-law thought that he was joking and refused to go with him. They might have looked around and saw that there was no clear and visible reason to run for their lives. So the angels commanded Lot: “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished” (Gen. 19:15). When he hesitated, the angels of the Lord grasped his hands and those of his wife and two daughters, and led them out. It was when they were completely out of harm’s way that the Lord destroyed the cities.
These two incidents were used by the apostle Peter to remind us that God has a plan of salvation for us. Peter said, “The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment” (2 Peter 2:9). Indeed, God will deal with us according to our deeds – the righteous will receive his salvation and the wicked his wrath. Therefore, we need to guard our hearts against the works of the sinful nature. Let us heed the warning of the apostle Paul: “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19-21).
This being the case, we need to work double-time in building our ark – our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus was the one sent by God to be our “ark” so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. We need to be ready for his coming for he said, “No one knows about that day or hour ….As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be…” (Matt 24:36-37). Therefore, let us incline our hearts towards God and not towards evil so that we will be saved. Hallelujah!