Noah was more than just a shipbuilder. He was also a missionary in a spiritually dead land. And even though his family members were the only converts of his ministry, he never stopped obeying God.
“INGREDIENTS OF INTEGRITY’
We live in a world of violence and corruption. In 1900 there was one murder for every 100,000 people in the USA. By the time 1974 came along, it had risen to 1/10,000 people. That means that one out of every 10,000 people in America will die a victim of murder every year. Last year there were over 10,000,000 property crimes. In fact, the FBI stated the likelihood of you and I experiencing a violent crime has increased 50 percent in the last decade alone. Violence has become a way of life. In fact, it is promoted in the standard media fair by the time the average child reaches 12 years of age, he’s watched 13,500 hours of television. That’s twice as much time as he will spend in school. By the time they finish that exposure, they’ve seen 14,000 deaths. That’s one every hour. They’ve observed over 100,000 violent crimes - that’s one every 8 minutes. We are breeding a violence saturated generation. Even the popular music of today and the rock culture is filled with lyrics suggesting or even violence. If you have believed the lie that every generation has its music, and this is the music for this generation, you need to see me, because I’ll let you see the lyrics. They’ve changed dramatically. Evidently, you’re unaware. Maybe that’s why last year there were over 70,000 assaults against teachers in our public schools.
Violence isn’t the only problem in America. We have a problem with corruption, immorality, adultery, homosexuality, nudity, profanity - all are considered acceptable and even portrayed by the media as legitimate lifestyles. The unwed pregnancy rate among girls under the age of sixteen has increased 80 percent in the past 10 years. In America there are 10,000,000 alcoholics, and 1,000,000 of them are junior high kids. White collar crime has also risen dramatically in the last ten years. It isn’t surprising to hear of some banker, financial investment group, some investor or religious leader being indicted for fraud, tax evasion, manipulation of interest, downright embezzlement.
Now I have not listed these sins to get our sermon off to a great start or to be dramatic. I really want to answer the following question that comes as a result of hearing of just a few of the things that are happening in this country and that is the question, “How in the world could I as an individual, how can we as a family survive the immorality of this generation? Not just survive, how can you and I impact our generation for Jesus Christ. The solution is found in a story in the Bible in Genesis chapter 6. It is the story of Noah and his family. I want to discover with you this morning ingredients of integrity that will help us, not only survive the immorality and ungodliness of our generation, but help us to make a difference. We’re not here to coast our way to heaven. We’re here to make an impact, an assault on life. How do we do that? We find the solution in Genesis chapter 6.
“Now it came about when men began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose.” Now there may be some in here, perhaps one or two who would like me to state a position on the debate that’s raised of whether or not these were angels fallen or whether they were humans. Perhaps you have heard or been involved in the discussion, and I do not want to preach a sermon on that debate, but let me at least give you a couple of reasons why I don’t believe this is the demonic world. First of all, if they were demons, they wouldn’t have been referred to as the sons of God. Furthermore, if they were good angels who had not yet fallen, they would not be looking or on the prowl for women. They would be confirmed in their goodness that resulted in Satan and his hoards leaving heaven and those angels being confirmed in goodness by remaining in heaven with God.
Thirdly, angels according to Jesus in Matthew 22 don’t have the ability to procreate, I believe is the intention of that text. This is a human phenomenon, a human miracle. God has given us the ability to procreate, to bear children. Why? Because God promised that through this would come a Redeemer. Angels have no reason to procreate, they’re created beings to worship God. I think, of course, the context here would indicate that God has a problem, not with fallen angels, but with men. Would you notice verse 3. “Then the Lord said, ‘My spirit shall not always strive with men forever. Because he also is flesh. Nevertheless, his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.’” I think this is a reference to the sons of God, being the godly line of Seth. It is a godly line that is becoming weak. Why? Because they are intermarrying with the ungodly women of the flesh. The ungodly line of Cain, Genesis chapter 4. So now you have the intermingling of these two races that will bring about the necessity of judgment. Well enough of answering a question you probably you weren’t asking anyway. Let’s get over to verse 5.
“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth. He was grieved in his heart. And the Lord said, ‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals, to creeping things and to birds of the sky for I am sorry that I have made them.’ But (underline that word but in verse 8) however Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. And these are the records of the generation of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time. And Noah walked with God.” The word blameless could be translated a person of integrity. Integrity is defined as uprightness of character. Noah had it. But that doesn’t really tell us much about Noah. Other than he was a man of great character. I want to give you four ingredients that I want to pull and discover with you from this text. Four ingredients of integrity. These ingredients are essential in your life and in my life--if we will ever survive the lure, if we will ever survive the pull and the temptation and the obstacles to living a godly life in twentieth century America.
The first ingredient is this, if you are taking notes. Integrity is purity in the midst of immorality. It is purity in the midst of immorality. Would you look back at verse 5, and I want you to get your pen out and underline a few characteristic words of this generation. “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” What a sad lot. They never had a good thought about them. Every thought continually was only evil. This was the record of that generation. And right in the middle of this corrupt, sinful world is a flickering light, Noah and his little family who were godly. His godliness was an indictment. In fact, I am convinced that a person of integrity will follow God even when it is unpopular. Noah discovered, in effect, when God was going to move, and he decided, when God came to him, that he would move with him. Hebrews 11:7, now we’ve studied this in detail at an earlier date, but let’s just refresh our memories with the fact that Noah was entered into the hall of faith. Hebrews 11:7: “ By faith, Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household by which he condemned the world.” You see there he was an indictment upon his ungodly society. When I see the word world, he condemned the world, that doesn’t mean anything to you and me. Yet, we use the phrase all the time--well we have got to fight the world. We’re against the world. What does that mean? That’s a reference to the world system. What is the world system engineered by? The desires of fame, perhaps even health, popularity, pleasure. All of these things grind the wheels of this world system into full gear. When you are an indictment on your world, what are you doing? You’re living in such a way that you are not after these things or after these pleasures. It says here that he rebuked or condemned the world and became an heir of righteousness, which is according to faith. Why? Because Noah was willing to consider the approval of God more important than the laws of men.
How did he do that? Well, we know that he did it through the chapters in Genesis by what he did, that is building an ark, and what he said. The New Testament refers to Noah as a preacher of righteousness. So he not only lived the life, a godly life, but he spoke the word. There’s a great debate today, what’s the best kind of evangelism? Is it lifestyle evangelism or is it confrontational evangelism? Do you just live it and hope people get saved. Or do you pound people into the corner and ask them all the questions. Which do you appreciate most? A man I respect was asked that question one time, and he said, “Well, let me ask you this question, have you ever flown?” “Yeah, I have.” “Well, when you’re 30,000 feet up, which do you appreciate most, the left wing or the right wing? You appreciate both.” Noah did both, as seen in his life.
Let me give you a second ingredient of integrity. That is this. Obedience in the midst of ridicule. Obedience in the midst of ridicule. Back to Genesis chapter 6. Let’s begin reading with verse 13 and read down to the end of the chapter. “And God said to Noah, ‘The end of all flesh is come before me, for the earth is filled with violence. Behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth. Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood or cedar wood. You shall make the ark with rooms (that could be translated nests) and shall cover it inside and outside with pitch. (This is how you’re going to make it Noah.) The length of the ark, 300 cubits. (We don’t know if that’s 18, perhaps 26 or 24, nobody’s really sure. It’s long enough that it will now measure longer than one football field when he gets finished with it. Whether you take the 12 or the 18, 24, 26 measurement.) You shall make a window, verse 16, for the ark and finish it to a cubit from the top and set the door of the ark in the side of it. And you’ll make it with lower, second, and third decks.’” Now this boat looks a little bit different from the kind you and I have seen in our Sunday School material. This boat, when it was finished, looked more like a floating barge. It was almost square. It was three stories high. It was like a box that floated, and they’ve discovered when they’ve put these measurements to the test that this was an almost impossible vessel to capsize. That was important, because the tidal wave, the torrential rains, the hurricane like weather will come, and this boat is going to remain upright.
Let’s get back to the text. Verse 18: “But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark, you and your sons, and your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. (This is perhaps an indication that they will believe as well.) And of every living thing of all flesh shall bring two of every kind into the ark to keep them alive with you. (By now, Noah is scratching his head.) They shall be male and female of the birds after their kind and of the animals after their kind of every creeping thing of the ground after its kind or species. Two of every species shall come to you to keep them alive. But as for you, take for yourself some of all food which edible and gather it to yourself and it shall be for food for you and for them.” Then Noah said, “You must be joking. Are you serious, Lord?” “No, I’m not joking.” You see, Noah has just been asked to build a boat longer than a football field, forty five feet high, three stories. By the way they weren’t building buildings with stories until the tower of Babel. And its going to weigh 18,000 tons in his backyard somewhere. This is what God said to do. (Chuckle) Right!! Would you notice his obedience was comprehensive. Get your pen out again and circle verse 22. “Thus Noah did according to all that God had commanded him. So he did.” Chapter 7:5: “And Noah did according to all that the Lord had commanded him.” Look at the last part of verse 9 in chapter 7: “As God had commanded Noah.” Comprehensive obedience, in fact, the word build is the same word used by the Septuagint. In the New Testament that same Greek word shows up and is called or translated prepared. In fact, why don’t you turn over to Hebrews 9:1: “Now even the first covenant had regulations of divine worship in the earthly sanctuary.” There was a tabernacle, here’s the word, prepared, same word used of Noah. Notice how this is prepared. “The outer one in which were the lampstand, the table, the sacred bread which is called the holy place, and behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which was called the holy of holies, having a golden altar of incense, and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold in which was a golden jar holding the manna and Aaron’s rod which budded and the tables of the covenant and above were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercyseat. But of these things we cannot speak in detail.” In other words, there was such comprehensive detail that, when they came to make exactly what God specified, they did it with such care. That’s the idea of Noah building an 18,000 ton boat. You’d think that he would get some scraps, you know. Just put the thing together. Staple, scotch tape, we’re going to make it, God will take care of us. Absolutely not. He built that ark in such a way that the same word is used that means he comprehensively obeyed every detail. Nothing was lost. Would you go back in your imagination. I can just hear a neighbor now coming along, and I’m sure he had them coming all the time. This was the eighth wonder of the ancient world. This was on the tour maps of all the people in that area. They had to see this thing Noah was building. I can just hear the neighbors, “What are you building, Noah?” “Building an ark.” “What’s an ark?” “Well, I won’t know until I finish it. I’ve never seen one before.” “Why are you building it, Noah?” “It’s going to rain.” “What’s rain, Noah?” “Well, I don’t know. I haven’t seen it yet.” “What does an ark do, Noah?” “Well, well, I do know that. It floats on water.” “Floats on water? Noah, the nearest body of water, the Mediterranean Sea, is 500 miles away. You missed it by a few miles. Wait. Did you say it floats like a boat? Let me see the specs to that thing.” I can just see the neighbor. Noah wrote it all down on the clay tablet, he didn’t want to miss a thing. This guy probably picks it up. “Ha! Who gave you these things?” “God did.” “A lot God knows about building boats. He’s left some things out.” “He did? Like what?” “Well, there’s no mention here of sails or oars. How you gonna move this thing?” “Never thought about that.” “And also you’re missing probably the most important thing to a boat - that’s a rudder. No mention of a rudder here. How you gonna steer it. Where’s the pilot’s wheel. Who’s gonna navigate this thing?”
“I guess God will.” “Oh, and I suppose you’ve seen Him too.” “No, I’ve never seen God.”
The reason I emphasize that particular point is because Hebrews 11 mentions that Noah believed things yet unseen. He’d never seen an ark. He’d never seen rain. He’d never seen God. But a man of integrity, a woman of integrity, is more interested in obeying the voice of God than at times the voice of reason.
Ladies, just imagine with me for a moment. How would you like to be married to a man who’s considered the most eccentric, foolish man in the community. Think of it. I just imagine Mrs. Noah going to the marketplace and all the ladies coming up, “Now, you dear poor soul, I’m sure you’ll go with that basket case of a husband, you poor thing.” Kids, how would you like it if your dad was known as the biggest loser in the community? Don’t answer that. You’ll be in trouble if you do. You’d want to disown him. Right? Ah, but, unless you share his cause. And they did. Chapter 7:1 says, “Then the Lord said to Noah, ‘Enter the ark, you and all your household. For you I have seen to be righteous before me in this time.’”
Well, the ark is finished, and I know you’re familiar with the story. So I’m trying to move along a little quicker than normal. They have finished perhaps even bringing the animals. They have come into the ark, and I would imagine in my mind’s eye, seeing Noah’s family go into that ark, and, you know, if I had been Noah, just about now, this is when I’d get my digs in. I’ve been preaching for 120 years. Nobody’s responded. I’ve been called a fool and every name in the book for 120 years. My kids have been ridiculed, made fun of. My wife the same. Now’s the chance. And yet, I would imagine Noah responding somewhat differently. I would imagine Noah, before entering the ark, turning around. I’m sure crowds have gathered, they’ve come to see this thing. They’ve been hauling their luggage from their home into the ark with the food. They’ve come to watch. I would imagine that Noah would turn around. Now he’s a suntanned man with deep lines in his face from hard labor, his hands are calloused. I would imagine for one more time he extended them and gave them the invitation to enter the ark. He might say something like, “Don’t you understand? Judgment’s coming. Haven’t you heard? Methuselah died. Won’t you enter the ark?”
We know from scientists and from mathematicians that the ark was only half full in their estimations. Half full - room for hundreds if not thousands of people. You know how many people responded to his preaching, to his invitations, to his life, you know, the kind you’re living? Zero. A colossal failure. Why, he only had seven converts, his family members. That’s one convert every seventeen years. Boy, that’s exciting. And yet God considered him a man of integrity, not because people responded to his voice but because he had responded to God’s voice.
Let me give you a fourth ingredient of integrity. The third integrity is patience in the midst of uncertainty. Not the fourth, we’re at the third. Integrity is patience in the midst of uncertainty. Would you read with me chapter 7 the first ten verses. “The Lord said to Noah, ‘Enter the ark, you and all your household, for you alone I have seen to be righteous before me in this time. You will take with you of every clean animal by sevens a male and a female, and of the animals that are not clean, two.’” You need to understand now all the animals aren’t going in two by two. The clean animals are going in by sevens, the unclean by twos. The reason for that is there would need to be animals for sacrifices. Also the birds of the sky by sevens, male and female, to keep offspring alive on the face of the earth, “... for after seven more days I will send rain on the earth, forty days and forty nights. And I will blot out from the face of the land every living thing that I have made. And Noah did according to all that the Lord had commanded him. Noah was 600 years old when the flood of water came upon the earth. Then Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with them entered the ark because of the water of the flood. Of clean animals and animals that are not clean and birds and everything that creeps on the ground, there went into the ark to Noah by twos male and female as God had commanded him.” Note verse 10: “And it came about after the seven days that the water of the flood came upon the earth.” That’s why I call this patience in the midst of uncertainty. I just want to say, “Hold a second here. I cannot believe the obedience of Noah. The patience of Noah and his family. They’ve gotten everybody into the ark, and they’re in there surrounded by animals. Guess what happens - for seven days absolutely nothing. The doors are shut, they’ve got all their equipment, they’re ready to float. No rain. I imagine after a day or two the neighbors lose their uncertainty. They get a little more bold. They wondered, you know, is judgment coming. Now it’s two days. Nothing’s happening. Now they’re out at the ark barbecuing. One man said they’re playing badminton using the ark as the net. They’re out there having a great time. Hollering, “Hey, Noah, are you still in there?” Noah’s just, I imagine, scratching his head. “Lord, is this some kind of sham? Where’s the rain?” Yet there’s no record of that. Although he was confused and uncertain, no record that he ever questioned God.
My friends, integrity believes God even when it seems ridiculous. You and I want integrity as long as it makes us look respectable. Noah was willing to follow integrity, even when it made him look ridiculous. Now read with me chapter 7:17 until the end. “Then the flood came after seven days.” I think it’s probably God’s way of saying, “Look, I’m going to give mankind seven more days to repent. Seven more days, because, when all of the generations read of my judgment, they’re going to know that I was so patient with man. I gave him every opportunity, and he would not repent.” “So after the seven days, the floods came and covered the earth for forty days, and the water increased, lifted up the ark so that it rose above the earth. The water prevailed and increased greatly upon the earth, and the ark floated upon the surface of the water. And the water prevailed more and more upon the face of the earth so that all the high mountains everywhere (this is a universal flood, not a local flood) everywhere under the heavens were covered. The waters prevailed fifteen cubits higher and the mountains were covered with water and all the flesh that moved on the earth perished, bird, cattle, beast, swarming things that swarm upon the earth and all mankind and all that was on the dry land and all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life died. Thus he blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land from man to animals to creeping things and the birds of the sky and they were blotted out from the earth. And only Noah was left together with those who were with him in the ark. And the water prevailed upon the earth 150 days.”
You need to understand that Noah and his family will float in this thing for over a year. This isn’t a weekend trip. This is a year, plus. And when the ark finally grounds on top of one of the ridges, in the mountain ranges of Ararat, God didn’t tell Noah, “Alright here’s all the details of how you begin.” God never told Noah what life would be like after the flood. He never even told Noah how long he’d float. And Noah’s sending out a dove to look for some kind of dry land. Noah’s so patient, he sends out a dove and waits seven days. I would have been sending out doves every 30 minutes, looking for some kind of dry land. What a patient man. In the midst of uncertainty, he was a man of integrity.
Now let me give you a fourth. Integrity is worship in the midst of difficulty. Worship in the midst of difficulty. Would you notice chapter 8 verse 14: “And in the second month on the 27th day of the month the earth was finally dry. Then God spoke to Noah (up until now it has been silence) saying, ‘Go out of the ark you and your wife and your sons and your sons’ wives with you bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you birds, animals, creeping things that creep on the earth that they may breed abundantly on the earth and be fruitful and multiply on the earth. So Noah went out and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with them, every beast and creeping thing.” And Noah kind of threw his arms out and said, “Finally, this is over, Lord, never put me through that again.”
Now, it says in verse 20, “Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and took of every clean animal and every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.” The first thing Noah did was lead his family in worship. Boy, what a confusing year for him. A year of silence from God. A year of uncertainty. A year of tremendous difficulty, and yet he worships God.
And God responds in chapter 9 by establishing the Noahic covenant, a covenant that will change some of the things on planet earth. One of the things will be that animals now will be in terror and fear of mankind. Man and beast will now be carnivorous. The beautiful thing about the Noahic covenant you and I well know is the establishment of the rainbow as the sign of the covenant whereby God says every time you look up into the heavens, and you and I by the way, see the evidence of the covenant as well, the earth will never be covered again by water.
The unbeliever says, “Well you know that’s great, Noah’s a wonderful man, and he lived in a wicked world, but there isn’t any need for Noahs today. God’s judgment is not coming today. Would you turn with me to II Peter, chapter 3, verse 3: Sinful man refuses talk of judgment. But I want you to note what the scriptures clearly state. II Peter 3:3: “Know this first of all, that in the last days (that’s our generation, our day, our age of grace) mockers will come with their mocking following after their own lusts and saying, ‘Where’s the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation. For when they maintained this, it escapes their notice, that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But the present heavens and the present earth by his word are being reserved (for what kind of judgment) fire kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. (verse 12) Looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning and the elements will melt with intense heat.”
Just as certainly as God kept his word and the flood came and he gave mankind centuries to believe 500 plus through the preaching of Enoch and Noah, so he has given us a day of grace to believe, but judgment is also coming. How’s it coming this time? Fire. Ha, Ha, Ha. How’s that going to happen? Who knows. They asked the same thing about the water, and yet it came. My friends, do you understand that one of the most popular, fastest growing theological errors in our day is the disbelief and rejection of judgment. A literal hell. Yet God says it will come.
Let me give you two obvious parallels between Noah’s ark and Christ. This is a sermon in itself. A wonderful illustration and picture of salvation. The first thing is this. God designed the ark simple yet profound. Man didn’t design it. God did. It was his plan of salvation. To all those who would enter in. What is the ark of salvation today? All those who are in, who? Christ Jesus. “There is now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus”. Rom. 8:1
The second thing, obvious parallel is that the ark only had one door, just one door. Jesus would say in John 10:9: “Behold, I am the door. If any man will enter through me, he shall be saved.”
If you’re a believer here this morning, it’s possible in this corrupt generation to be a person of integrity. But it will take a pursuit of Jesus Christ as Lord. And that pursuit will develop in you purity in the midst of immorality, obedience in the midst of ridicule, patience in the midst of uncertainty, worship in the midst of difficulty. Oh, how we need men, women, young people today of integrity.
Dudley Tyng was a well-known speaker in the eighteen hundreds. In 1858 he had just finished speaking to 5,000 young men at the Young Men’s Christian Association that we know today as the YMCA, it’ no longer Christian. He was preaching to 5,000, and 1,000 people responded to Christ. He was a young man. That day, as he went back to the farm, he decided to go out to the barn and watch the men shelling corn. He went out to watch. He got a little too close to the machine, and his jacket was caught, and his arm was pulled into the grinding gears of that machine, and it was lacerated beyond repair. In a few hours, he would die--medicine was so primitive and the loss of blood . People around suggested that he give a word to those who listened to his message to those who were following Christ, those thousands of people that he was influencing. They said, “Dudley, give us a message to take back to the people.” And they say that he strained and then said, “Tell the people to stand up for Jesus.” That night the hall was crowded and filled and they relayed the story of Dr. Tyng and his death, and they gave the message that he had given them. The poem was written that we sing. Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross. Lift high his royal banner, it must not suffer loss. From victory unto victory his army shall he lead ‘til every foe is vanquished and Christ is Lord indeed. That is what it takes to have an attitude that pursues integrity. That is the battle of integrity. Shall we pray.
With your heads bowed and your eyes closed. Perhaps there is someone here this morning who has never entered the ark of safety. I want you to understand that the reason you resist the thought of such a thing is that our hearts resist thoughts of judgment and accountability to God. We don’t like to think of those things, and yet everyone in this room who is a believer recognizes that he has been saved from judgment. They’ve come to terms with such a thought. Would you?
I don’t know why those people ever came up with the reasons why they refused to accept Noah’s invitation, and maybe this morning, as the invitation of the gospel is going out, perhaps you can’t think of one good reason to reject Jesus Christ today. I want to encourage you as we sing a little chorus, I Have Decided To Follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back. Let us sing. Would you join me at the front so we can share with you how you can know for sure that you have escaped the judgment of God, the coming judgment of fire, the judgment of hell, and you have a reservation in heaven. Let’s stand and sing.