Origins Series: The Origin of ProtectionAdrian Holloway on June 27, 2010 with 0 Comments
Genesis 7:6-24 – Preaching from ChristChurch London’s Sunday Service
So far in the story of Noah, we’ve highlighted two themes.
First, the Origin of Judgment! God sent this massive flood as a judgment upon people who rebelled against him.
Then last week, we looked at the Origin of Faith. Noah built a boat – miles inland. Noah built a boat that was one and a half times the length of a football pitch. Even today, Noah’s ark is still considered to be the largest wooden boat ever constructed. It apparently took Noah 120 years to make the ark. Why build an ocean going liner in-land? Because God told him to! God told Noah a flood was coming, and Noah believed God.
The New Testament says Noah was: “A preacher of righteousness.” For 120 years, Noah built the ark and preached righteousness. But no-one listened to him.
Consider Noah. 120 years of preaching. Not a single convert.
Noah’s wife says: “What are you doing today dear?”
Noah says: “I was thinking maybe I’d stand on the ark and preach righteousness to the passers by.”
To keep doing that for 120 years, with no response – that’s faith.
So Noah is a supreme example of trusting and obeying God – of faith!
1. So first the Origin of Judgment.
2. Then the Origin of Faith,
3. And today the Origin of Protection.
SLIDE 1: Title: The Origin of Protection
OK, we’re going to read from Genesis chapter 7, verse 6 . . .
6 Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth. 7 And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood. 8 Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, 9 male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God had commanded Noah. 10 And after the seven days the floodwaters came on the earth.
Vs 9 OK, so, the animals came to Noah. Noah didn’t go to them. We might wonder: “how could Noah possibly have rounded up two of every kind of animal?” He didn’t. God rounded up the animals.
11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. 12 And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.
Verse 11 says: “On the seventeenth day of the second month” – Well if this is just a legend or a myth, what is this detail doing here? Gordon Wenham, in his commentary says that “The fullness and precision of the dates in the flood narrative are astonishing . . . Only Ezekiel in dating his prophecies approaches Genesis chapters 7 and 8 in this regard.”
So verse 11 presents the flood as a specific, dated, historical event. Did this flood really happen? Well, if this flood really happened, we would expect that there would be traditions of this flood to be found in various cultures outside the Bible. And that is exactly what we do find. Amongst various tribes around the ancient world, we find hundreds of stories about the flood. And it’s interesting to look at these stories. In 88 percent of these stories there is a favoured family. In 70 percent, survival is due to a boat. In 95 percent, the catastrophe is brought about by a flood. In 66 percent the disaster is due to man’s wickedness. In 67 percent animals are also saved. And in 57 percent the survivors are all found up on top of a mountain. In smaller percentages again right across the spectrum birds are sent out, a rainbow is mentioned and even eight people are specifically saved. It’s interesting to notice how these stories are scattered. As you leave the Middle East where the bible is focused, the stories begin to get different. The Middle Eastern stories are similar to each other but as you move further and further away from the Middle East, local, cultural additions begin to change and amend the stories as they come down to us. This is exactly what we would expect to find if the flood happened.
13 On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark. 14 They had with them every wild animal according to its kind, all livestock according to their kinds, every creature that moves along the ground according to its kind and every bird according to its kind, everything with wings. 15 Pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life in them came to Noah and entered the ark. 16 The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God had commanded Noah. Then the LORD shut him in.
And that’s the phrase I’ve been asked to focus on this afternoon, “Then the LORD shut them in,” hence the title I’ve been given, which is The Origin of Protection.
17 For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth. 18 The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. 19 They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. 20 The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than twenty feet.
21 Every living thing that moved on the earth perished—birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. 22 Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. 23 Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; men and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds of the air were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark. 24 The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days.
Can you imagine a flood that goes way beyond anything we have seen on our TV news? This is a flood that covers everything you can see for one hundred and fifty days! Can you imagine the sheer volume and intensity of the water! The destructive power of this flood is beyond anything we can envisage. But for the 8 people in the ark, it’s not a problem – they are dry, they have food, their whole family is fine – they are perfectly safe!
God protected them. Months later, when the waters subside, Mr and Mrs Noah, and their three sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and their wives come out the ark, unharmed. These 8 people are safe and well. They carry on normal life. They have children. They build homes. Noah makes an altar. He worships God. He plants a vineyard. Happy days! God protected this family from the most spectacular catastrophe the world had ever seen.
So . . .
Q. As Christians, what kind of protection can we expect from God?
God protected Noah from a killer flood. Let’s be practical, what sort of disaster do you fear? Living in London in 2010, what do you want to be protected from? Losing your job? Losing your home? What about losing all your money and all your possessions? If that happened, you’d be worrying: “What will I eat, what will I drink, what will I wear?” Jesus says, Matthew chapter 6, “Don’t worry. The pagans run after these things, and your heavenly father knows that you need them. Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” So we have absolutely no reason to worry. Seek first the kingdom of God, and your heavenly father will meet all your needs. “It’s all going to be fine. Don’t worry. I’ve got it under control,” God says.
We have no reason to be anxious about anything. Just “cast all your cares upon Him, because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)
And better still, when you do, something supernatural will happen . . . God will protect your heart and protect your mind. Philippians 4 doesn’t just say, “don’t be anxious about anything!” It promises . . . if you will present your requests to God with thanksgiving, God’s supernatural peace will come and guard your heart and your mind, so that you will actually feel peaceful. How wonderful. So we may well have been worried about X, Y, or Z. But if we do Philippians 4:16, God sends us so much peace that we find: “Oh, I’m not worried about it anymore.” Wonderful!
God will protect your heart and protect your mind. You can live a worry free, anxiety-free life! People are ready to pay millions of pounds for that sort of peace of mind. But if you follow Jesus, you get it for free!
And you’ll never be alone. God has said: “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13).
And I could give you hundreds of similarly encouraging verses. . . . but in addition there is something else that God promises us . . .
Q. As Christians, what kind of protection should we NOT expect from God?
What do I mean? Well, for example, some years ago, a lady in the church I was in at the time, asked me . . . “Can I be sure that God will protect me, my husband and my 2 children, through life?”
And I met up with her and her husband, who were both in the church, three times to discuss it. This was a couple we knew fairly well. And eventually, she said: “You know I have got a document I can send you on this.” And she sent me an attachment onto which she had cut and pasted all the times she had asked the same question of the leaders in previous churches she had been in. And there on the page were the answers she’d got back from various church leaders. And I realised that what she was looking for was a cast-iron guarantee that no painful or dangerous, or scary thing would happen to her family. And this began to trouble me, so I showed my wife Julia this document.
And Julia looked at it for two minutes, and handed it back to me.
I said: “You haven’t read it.”
She said: “Yes, I have. She’s looking for something the Bible doesn’t teach.”
And of course Julia was right. This woman was looking for the sort of protection that the Bible doesn’t guarantee.
And the whole episode reminded me of something that had happened to me years before. You see for my first two years of being a Christian, nothing bad happened. Nothing serious anyway! Little things went wrong, but it was basically plain sailing. And I distinctly remember reading Hebrews chapter 11 at that time. You see, in the Hebrews 11 hall of fame, we read about all these heroes of faith and God protects them. Including Noah, of course. Verse 7 says that
“By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.” (Hebrews 11:7)
And then Hebrews 11 lists Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses, who it says was protected in the basket as a baby in the bulrushes, and then the writer says: And I don’t have time to tell you about all these other heroes of faith who “through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword, whose weakness was turned to strength, and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.”
And I’m literally cheering out loud as I read this! “Women received back their dead, raised to life again.”
I shout: ‘Hoorah! Yeah, even if they kill me LORD, you can do a Lazarus on me and bring me back from the dead.’
So what I’m reading is all success, joy, protection, happiness, and so I keep reading . . .
“Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released.”
And I’m thinking: “Hang on Lord? Tortured? What sort of protection is that? If I end up getting tortured?”
And then it goes on . . .
“some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawn in two.”
I’m thinking: “Hang on Lord, I wanted protection! It says here, I might end up getting sawn in two!”
“They were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and ill-treated. They wandered in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.”
Brothers and Sisters . . . this is the bit of the bible that the prosperity gospel teachers don’t teach. They don’t tell you that if you follow Jesus, you could end up living in a desert, in a cave or in a hole in the ground.”
According to this non-prosperity gospel, there’s no mansion, there’s no brand new car on the drive. No, according to Hebrews 11, when someone asks you ‘where do you live?’ These Hebrews 11 heroes of faith reply, “Well, you see that cave over there. Since I started following Jesus, I’ve been living there! Although having said that, just recently, I’ve been living in a hole in the ground.”
A teacher of the law came to Jesus in Matthew 8 and said: “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied: “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no-where to lay his head.” In other words, Jesus is saying, “I don’t actually have a home. Foxes and birds, have got a more conventional lifestyle than me. Foxes and birds have homes, I don’t. I’m a travelling preacher, so I just kind of sleep outdoors under the stars! So if you as a “teacher of the law” want to follow me, that’s the deal. Are you ready for a less comfortable life?”
So we will experience hardship. The writer to the Hebrews tells them to: “Endure hardship as discipline.” In other words, you should expect hardship, and seeing as you are going to experience it, if you’re smart, you’ll think about its potential spiritual benefits. Hebrews says: “if you can regard hardship as if it were God disciplining you, then you can actually benefit from hardship and become sanctified through it.”
“OK, Adrian, enough already, you’re saying God won’t protect me from adversity, so what will God protect me from?” Answer: hell.
That’s a pretty big deal right there. God will protect you from hell.
Question: So what can I trust God for?
When I was preparing this sermon on protection, I came across this wonderful sub-heading in my Thompson Chain Reference NIV bible which captures this perfectly. It’s in 2 Timothy and the sub-heading is “The Almighty Guardian” and I thought: Yes! That’s the kind of protection, we want to hear about . . .
But the verse (2 Timothy 1:12) actually starts with these words: “That is why I am suffering as I am.”
I’m reading this is Stabucks, and I’m thinking: “Hang on Lord, where has the Almighty Guardian gone? The Almightly Guardian has obviously gone absent without leave because he’s allowing Paul to suffer. But I read on:
“That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12)
Yes, you and I may suffer in this life from time to time, but on that day your suffering will come to an end. Guaranteed!
Jesus promised: Anyone who has left fathers, brothers or sisters will receive back much more in this life, and in the age to come eternal life.
The one thing that really matters, is guaranteed.
This is called the Perseverance of the Saints. Or alternatively, if you’re a Baptist, like me, this is called “eternal security.”
You see, once Noah and his family were inside the ark, God shut them in. They didn’t shut themselves in. They didn’t ensure their own safe passage through the waters of judgement by their own abilities, no, God preserved his saints.
Now of course, in the darkest hours and the worst moments of our Christian life, we may worry, ‘can I lose my salvation?’ Genesis 7:16 answers: “not if God has shut you in.”
You know what, if Noah had been the one to close the door? I wouldn’t be so sure. If Noah had sealed his own salvation I wouldn’t be so sure. I’d be worried for Noah if it was all down to him. I mean that must have been a pretty big door, big enough to get all those animals in. If it had been Noah’s responsibility to seal the biggest single hole through which the waters of judgement could have poured, I wouldn’t be so confident.
But if God shut them in, then that’s different. Because Noah’s security is sealed by God.
Now of course, for us this is good news, in fact it’s so good that it also sounds too good to be true. I am not even convinced that all of you actually believe this. So I’m going to try and persuade you.
Every other good thing that I have, for example, my car, my job, my house, my keys, my wife, my kids, I can lose all of these, but does the bible really say that I cannot lose the one thing that is more important than anything else?
Well, let’s look at the scriptural basis:
In John chapter 6 Jesus says:
38For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:38-40)
So here, Jesus is specifically talking about the end of the world. He’s talking about the last day. And he seems to regard it as his responsibility to lose none of all the people that God gives him, so that on the last day, he can raise every single one of the Christians God gives him. He seems pretty determined to lose none of them. Not even one. We have to ask the question, will Jesus ultimately fail in the mission God gave him? Will Jesus actually fail to deliver all of those God gave him?
What do you think?
Jesus himself seemed pretty confident of 100 per cent success in John 6. But here’s the point, Jesus seems to regard it as his responsibility to not lose not even one.
This is a promising start. But it gets better still . . . in John 10, Jesus says:
27My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” (John 10:27-29)
No-one must surely include us? If Jesus is saying that no-one can snatch God’s children out of his hand, then no-one must surely include Adrian Holloway. If I really am truly one of Jesus’ sheep, and I follow him, then he gives me eternal life, and I will never perish. But again the point is, Jesus seems to regard it as his responsibility. My salvation . . . your salvation, a bit like Noah’s salvation is a God thing. The Lord shut them in.
Now Romans 8:30, which for me, is the clincher. I can’t see any way out of this one . . .
29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. (Romans 8:29-30)
The key thing here is that “glorified” is in the past tense. Pre-destination, even if you don’t believe in it, pre-destination by definition is something that has already happened, but according to this, so also has glorification. In other words, the fact that you, as a Christian will end up in glory, glorified, in the presence of Jesus, in heaven forever is so certain, so definitely sorted and guaranteed, that Paul talks about it, as something that is already a done deal. In the same way that God called you, I don’t know, maybe that was when you were 8 or 18, or maybe it was last year, but you were called in the past, and also you were justified in the past, that happened when Jesus died in your place, in the past, around 33AD, your safe delivery into heaven is also a done deal.
OK, you’re still not convinced. Let’s keep going . . .
Next Ephesians 1 . . .
13And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14)
OK, here we have a guarantee of our inheritance. And the Greek word (Arrrabon) translated here as ‘guarantee’ is a legal and commercial term that means: “a first instalment, deposit, down payment or pledge that obligates the contracted party to make further payments.” So when the Ephesian Christians first read this verse they would have come away with the impression that God has already obligated and contracted himself to safely get them to heaven.
They would not have read this verse and thought, “my salvation depends on me” They would have thought, “Wow, God has actually obligated himself. God has contracted himself.” The Holy Spirit in you, is a deposit guaranteeing your inheritance.
OK, just one more. 1 Peter 1 says:
3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)
So this verse actually says God will shield us by his power all the way through to the salvation that will be revealed in the last time. So this verse doesn’t imply that the saints will persevere, it actually says that the saints will persevere from now until the last time.
My friend, if you come to believe this, you can be as joyful as Paul was. If your salvation is a God thing, from first to last, then it’s dependent upon him and not you and that’s going to make you say things like: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The word translated here as shielded is the Greek word ‘phroureo’ which means “kept from escaping” and also “protected from attack”. Can you see it is God’s power that is keeping you from escaping?
OK, so does that mean that Jo Christian can live however he wants, and and worship the Devil and God is obliged to save him anyway?
Answer No, because there are loads of other verses which say that the ultimate test of the perseverance of the saints is that they persevere. These other verses say “If you continue in my word” you’ll be saved, and that “he who endures to the end will be saved.” But the faith that produces the perseverance comes from God. So 1 Peter 5 is saying that it’s God’s power that protects you and that’s what fuels the faith that keeps you going to the end.
So if Jo Christian is worshipping the Devil, there’s got to be a chance that Jo is not really a Christian. Don’t you think?
But here’s the thing. You are not worshipping the Devil are you? You are in church! You are one of God’s people. That’s why you find yourself here. How come you are here? You were called. And you put your hand up, or you prayed a prayer, something happened, you gave your life to Christ. You were justified when Jesus died in your place, and you will be glorified. It’s so certain, it might as well have already happened.
And it’s because you really are a Christian, that you are persevering. God is guarding you right now. God is shielding you right now, God is protecting you right now. Everything is fine as far as your salvation is concerned. Why? Because God shut you in. You didn’t shut yourself in.
It’s fascinating that in verse 16 when it says “Then the LORD shut them in,” that God’s personal name Yahweh is used. Previously in the passage God is referred to as God. In fact even in verse 16, in the same verse the word God is used when God is commanding the animals, but then suddenly it’s Yahweh himself who personally shuts them in.
My friend, God has personally shut you in. You’re going to persevere.
You are going to make it.
So let me finish with some more application:
Here’s why it’s so significant that God shut them in. Here’s why it’s so great that your salvation is a God thing. If judgement and salvation actually depend on God, then that means you don’t have to take revenge.
So here’s the brilliant news – if you believe this, you won’t be eaten up with envy, and you won’t feel bitter, and you can actually enjoy your life, and not go through life poisoned by negative feelings towards those who have wronged you. Why? Because you can actually trust God to judge wrong-doing and wrong-doers. Which means you don’t have to, which means you are free. No more envy, no more anger, no more bitterness.
As we go through life, it is inevitable that people will offend us, either accidentally or deliberately. In R T Kendall’s book, Total Forgiveness, he says that in his experience 90 per cent of the people who most offend you, don’t think they’ve done anything wrong.
So this is real life isn’t it? In real life, what happens is that 90 per cent of the time, the person doesn’t apologise.
But here’s the good news, if you believe in the Sovereignty of God in salvation and judgement, then you won’t end up trying to pay the other person back for the wrong they’d done you.
Look most of Genesis 7 is about judgement. It’s about God wiping out a lot of people who rebelled against him. He gave them 120 years to repent they didn’t. Even after Noah’s on the boat, they still had an extra week. All that time the door was open, but they refused to go in. They were absolutely hell-bent on evil these people. And so most of the chapter is about God sending the floodwaters of judgement.
But here is an amazing, and an increasingly famous quote from a Croatian theologian called Miroslav Volf, who is Professor of Divinity at Yale University Divinity School, and to understand what Volf is saying here, bear in mind that he grew up in the Balkans where for hundreds of years Croats and Serbs have been killing each other.
Volf says that the reason why people hold grudges and the reason why people retaliate, is because they DON’T believe in the Sovereignty of God. In other words if you do believe that God will judge everyone justly in the end, you won’t feel the need to judge people yourself. You won’t beat others up, and you won’t beat yourself up.
In his book Exclusion and Embrace, He writes:
“If God were not angry at injustice, that God would not be worthy of worship. The only means of prohibiting all recourse to violence by ourselves is to insist that judgment is legitimate only when it comes from God. My thesis, that the practice of non-violence requires a belief in divine vengeance, will be unpopular with many, especially theologians in the West, but it takes the quiet of a suburban home to believe that human nonviolence results from a belief in God’s refusal to judge. In a land soaked in the blood of the innocent, it will invariably die with other pleasant captivities of the liberal mind.” (Miroslav Volf “Exclusion and Embrace” 1996)
I love this. This is Volf saying, “look if you live in a perfect home in a perfect neighbourhood, with a perfectly mown lawn, with your liberal values, and if you believe that the world is lovely place, and that people are getting better and better, then you are not living in the real world. Because, Volf is saying, in the real world, where I come from, back in Croatia, when people lash out and harm other people, those other people hit back.
Volf is saying the only hope for this world is for you and I when punched to turn the other cheek. The only way that in reality people don’t take matters into their own hands. The only way to not hit back is if you believe in a Sovereign God, who will one day judge everyone justly. If you believe that God will pay back those who wrong you. If you come to believe in that God, the God of Genesis 7, the God of judgement, then there is hope for this world. Only then will we have non-violence in our world.
Objection: But it doesn’t look like God is doing anything to right the wrongs that were wronged against me! It looks like all the evil people are getting away with it! That’s exactly what people were saying in around 50AD when the Apostle Peter was writing his letter. And he reminds people, look a judgement day will come upon evil-doers just as suddenly as the flood came in Noah’s day.
And here’s my final point of application . . .
There was one door onto that ark. There was one way of salvation. Jesus was a man who literally said of himself: “I am a door.” Jesus said of himself: “I am a gate.” He said he was the way to heaven.
There is a door to heaven. In Revelation 4:1 – the Apostle John said ‘after this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven.’ Did you hear that? A door standing open! It’s an open door. That door
will be shut some day just like Noah’s ark – the door on Noah’s ark was shut by the hand of the Lord. That door is open now, its open today, and do you know the cost of that door?
You know you can get a door from IKEA that costs just £8. An App-lad door!
The price paid to open the door to heaven was paid not in cash but in blood. It was paid with the priceless blood of the only begotten Son of God, that’s how much that door cost.
But Jesus said in John chapter 10:7 ‘I tell you the truth; I am the door for the sheep. Whoever goes through me will be saved’. Jesus is the door for the sheep. Can I offer you an invitation today to walk through that door?
If you’ve never given your life to Christ, come today. But if you don’t do it today then when are you going to do it? When are you going to give your life to Christ? Come to Jesus, walk through that door while there’s still time.