Starting Over

Chapter 7

In the days of Noah, a double curse was resting upon the earth as a result of Adam’s sin and because of the murder committed by Cain. Though there were some evidences of deterioration, the earth had changed little in appearance. Magnificent trees covered the hills and fragrant flowers sweetened the spreading plains with their delicate fragrance.

The human race still retained much of its original strength, and man’s life was measured by centuries. Had people of that day given themselves to the service of God, they would have fulfilled His purpose for giving them life. Failing to do this, however, they gave themselves over to evil to a degree that was in keeping with their skill and genius. The many and rich gifts God had given them they turned into a curse, fixing their affections upon the gift rather than the Giver. They used His generosity to glorify themselves, spending their long lives in rebellion against His authority. They rejoiced in scenes of pleasure and wickedness. Choosing to leave God out of their thinking, they soon came to deny His existence, worshipping nature in place of the God of nature. They glorified human talent, idolizing the works of their own hands, and taught their children to bow down to graven images.

In large groves of evergreen trees, they set up the altars of their idols. Surrounding these groves were beautiful gardens through which wound long avenues decorated with statuary, providing all that could delight the senses or minister to the sensual desires of the people, encouraging them to join in the idolatrous worship.

God had given men His commandments as a rule of life; but they violated His law, and every conceivable sin was the result. The wickedness of men was open and daring, justice was trampled in the dust, and the cries of the oppressed reached unto heaven. “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually . . . . The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.”

The world was in its infancy; yet evil had become so deep and widespread that God could no longer bear with it; and He said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth.” He declared that His Spirit should not always strive with the guilty race. If they did not cease to corrupt the world and its rich treasures with their sins, He would destroy them and the things with which He had been pleased to bless them.

A hundred and twenty years before the Flood, the Lord revealed to Noah His purpose to destroy the earth and directed him to build an ark. While building the ark, he was to preach that God would bring a flood of water upon the earth to destroy the wicked. Those who would believe the message and would prepare for that event by repentance and a change in their life would find pardon and be saved. During his life on earth, Enoch had repeated to his children what God had shown him in regard to the Flood. Methuselah, Enoch’s son, who lived to hear the preaching of Noah, assisted in building the ark.

God gave Noah the exact dimensions of the ark and explicit directions in regard to every detail of its construction. Human wisdom could not have planned a structure of so great strength and durability. God was the designer and Noah the master builder. Constructed like the hull of a ship that it might float upon the water, in some respects it more nearly resembled a house. It was three stories high, with but one door, which was in the side. Light was admitted at the top, and the various rooms were so arranged that all were lighted. The material used in the construction of the ark was the cypress, or gopher wood, which would remain untouched by decay for hundreds of years. All that it was humanly possible to do had been done to make the work perfect, yet the ark could not of itself have withstood the storm which was to come upon the earth. God alone could preserve His servants upon the violent waters.

“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” Hebrews 11:7. As Noah began to build that enormous boat on dry ground, multitudes came from every direction to see the strange sight and to hear the earnest, fervent words of the unusual preacher. Every blow struck upon the ark was a witness to the people. While giving his warning message to the world, his works confirmed his sincerity. It was thus that his faith was perfected and made evident. He gave the world an example of believing just what God says. All that he owned, Noah invested in the ark.

Many at first appeared to accept the warning, yet they did not turn to God with true repentance. They were unwilling to give up their sins. The time that passed before the coming of the Flood was a time for testing their faith. Having been overcome by the widespread unbelief, they failed to withstand the trial. Some were deeply convicted and would have heeded the words of warning, but there were so many who scoffed and ridiculed that they partook of the same spirit. Finally they joined their former associates in rejecting the solemn message. These who had at first been convinced of the truthfulness of the message, but who resisted the invitations of mercy, were soon among the boldest and most defiant doubters. None are so reckless and go to such lengths in sin as do those who have once had light but have resisted the conviction brought to them by the Spirit of God.

Surrounded by popular contempt and ridicule, Noah distinguished himself by his integrity and unwavering faithfulness. A power attended his words, for it was the voice of God speaking to man through His servant. Connection with God made him strong in the strength of infinite power. For one hundred and twenty years his solemn voice fell upon the ears of that generation, warning them with regard to events, which, so far as human wisdom could judge, were impossible.

The passage of time, with no apparent change in nature, convinced men that Noah’s message was a grand deception. They reasoned that if his message were correct, nature would be turned out of her course, and that this would be contrary to God’s method of working. They showed their contempt for the warning of God by doing just as they had done before the warning was given. They continued their daily activities, plunging even deeper in wickedness and defiant disregard of God’s requirements.

Noah had faithfully followed the instructions which he had received from God. The ark was finished just as the Lord had directed and was provisioned with food for man and animals. Now the servant of God made his last solemn appeal to the people. With an agony of desire that words cannot express, he begged them to seek a refuge before it was forever too late. Again they rejected his words and raised their voices in jest and scoffing. Suddenly a silence fell upon the mocking throng. Beasts of every description, the fiercest as well as the most gentle, were seen coming from mountain and forest and quietly making their way toward the ark. A noise as of a rushing wind was heard as birds flocked from all directions, their numbers darkening the heavens. In perfect order, they passed to the ark. The world looked on in wonder, some in fear. It was a mystery that they could not understand. By their persistent rejection of light, men had become so hardened that even this scene produced but a momentary impression. As the doomed race beheld the sun shining in its glory and the earth clothed in almost Eden-like beauty, they rejected their rising fears by noisy merry-making. They seemed to invite upon themselves the visitation of the already awakened wrath of God.

God then commanded Noah, “Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.” Though Noah’s warnings were rejected by the world, his influence and example resulted in blessings to his family. As a reward for his faithfulness and integrity, God saved all the members of his family with him. What encouragement for parents to faithfully follow a right course!
Noah and his household entered the ark, “and the Lord shut him in.” There was a flash of heavenly light, and a cloud of glory more brilliant than lightning descended from heaven and hovered before the entrance of the ark. The massive door, which it was impossible for those within to close, slowly swung to its place, closed by unseen hands. Noah was shut in, and the rejecters of God’s mercy were shut out. God had shut it, and God alone could open it.

For seven days after Noah and his family entered the ark, there appeared no sign of the coming storm. During this period of waiting, their faith was tested. On the outside, the world triumphed. The apparent delay confirmed them in the belief that Noah’s message was a deception and that the Flood would never come. They gathered in crowds about the ark, mocking Noah and his family inside with a daring violence that they had never attempted before.

Upon the eighth day, the sky began to fill with dark clouds. Lightning flashed and the rumble of distant thunder could be heard. Soon large drops of rain began to fall. The world had never experienced anything like this, and men thrilled with a nameless fear. All were secretly questioning, “Can it be that Noah was right, and the world is doomed to destruction?” Darker and darker grew the sky, and faster came the falling rain. Animals were roaming about in the wildest terror, and their cries seemed to moan out their own destiny and the fate of man. Then “the fountains of the great deep” were “broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.” Water appeared to come from the clouds in great sheets. Rivers broke away from their banks and overflowed the valleys. Geysers of water gushed from the earth with great force, throwing large rocks hundreds of feet into the air; and these, in falling, buried themselves deep in the ground.

Some in their desperation tried to break into the ark, but the massive structure withstood their best efforts. Some clung to the ark until swept away by the surging waters, their hold broken by violent contact with rocks and trees. The firmly made ark trembled in every fiber as the fierce winds beat it, flinging it from swelling wave to wave. The cries of the animals within expressed their fear; but amid the raging elements, it continued to ride safely, guarded by angels that excel in strength.

One spot after another that promised safety had to be abandoned as the waters rose higher and higher. The people fled for refuge to the highest mountains. Often men and animals would struggle together for a foothold, until the rising waters swept them away.

From their temporary refuge on the highest peaks, men looked abroad upon a shoreless ocean. The solemn warnings of God’s servant no longer seemed a subject for mockery and scorn. How they now longed for the opportunities which they had spurned and had no use for but a little time before! Frantically they pleaded for one more period of trial, one more opportunity to choose; but the sweet voice of mercy was no more to be heard. The relentless waters swept over the last retreat, and the despisers of God disappeared in its black depths.

“By the word of God ... the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: but the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” Peter 3:5–7. Another storm is coming that will again sweep the earth, destroying sin and sinners. The sins that called for the destruction of the ancient world by a flood are common today. Men no longer retain a respect for God, and everywhere His Law is treated with indifference and contempt. That which is lawful is carried to excess, and the vast majority of society indulge their passions without restraint. Integrity is sacrificed for gain, and bribery and fraud are practiced with impunity. Atrocities are so common as to scarcely solicit comment. The state of society in the modern world is already rivaling that which Inspiration pictures as calling for the destruction of the ancient world.

The great and educated men of Noah’s day were able to prove to their satisfaction that it was impossible for the world to be destroyed by a flood of water. They found out too late that all their boasted wisdom was but foolishness. So today, when religious teachers are presenting smooth teaching, removing all fear of God’s judgments from men’s thinking—then it is that “sudden destruction cometh upon them, . . . and they shall not escape.” 1Thessalonians 5:3

This chapter is based on Genesis 6–7

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