Noah – Builder or Preacher

Recently I was reading a post on a friend’s Facebook; and one of their friends wrote the following:

And just as Noah tried to warn people of the end and people laughed, we try to warn people and they laugh or worse.

In his sermon, this preacher affirmed that “Noah had been preaching to the people of the villages around to come to the Lord and be saved from the destruction to come. He had preached that message for years and no one at all outside his own family had come…”

Another preacher, in the beginning of his sermon, affirmed that “God was going to wipe out all human life, except those eight.” Yet in a subsequent sermon, he insisted that “whosoever would but heed the call of Noah and his renown fathers, Enoch, Methuselah and Lamech, could yet be saved.”

One of the staff members of Verse by Verses Ministry International, responding to a question concerning Noah giving warning, writes:

Knowing that Noah was a preacher proclaiming God’s truth in some form to the people of his day and given his godly character, we can assume Noah preached about the approaching flood and the need to repent. Furthermore, offering the world such a warning would be in keeping with God’s character, since God typically gives opportunity for repentance prior to His judgments.

The question to be asked of the above is this: where in the Scripture do they find any suggestion of Noah preaching/warning the people of the coming destruction?

The story of God’s mercy to Noah begins in Genesis 6. We find that God intends to “blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land” (v.7), because He “saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (v.5). Noah was the only one that “found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (v.8).

God spoke to Noah, commanding him to build an ark, and giving him specific instructions on its building – type of wood to use, dimensions, exterior coating, number of decks, etc (v.14-16). God also told Noah, that “I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you” (v.18). God gives some additional instruction about the animals and the collection of food to feed both man and animals (v.19-21). But noticeably missing from these instructions is anything related to warning/preaching to the people.

What we see in the text is a particularity regarding those who will be saved from the destruction that is coming – God intends to save only eight persons and destroy the rest of mankind. When we read about Noah in Hebrews 11, we note that he “constructed an ark for the saving of his household” (v.7) – again a particularity regarding those who would be saved.

In light of such limitation on who would be spared, it is obvious that the ark had accommodations for only eight people, the animals, and food for both. There would have been no purpose for additional accommodations, and thus, no reason to “warn people of the end.” There was no opportunity provided for repentance as God had already purposed to “blot out man.” Judgment had already been decided before God gave building instructions to Noah!

I have always assumed (like most people) that a building project of that magnitude (and I hope to visit The Ark some day), would have created no small stir, and that visitors to the site would have questioned Noah as to its purpose. In light of Matthew 24:39, which states that mankind was “unaware until the flood came and swept them all away,” I have to rethink my assumptions. Were they unaware of the Ark being built, and thus unaware of its purpose? Their ignorance is further proof that Noah was not providing any warning.

Yet in 2 Peter 3:5, Noah is referred to as “a herald [preacher] of righteousness,” and that may be why it is generally accepted that he issued a warning to his contemporaries. But that poses a conflict with the rest of Scripture that references Noah. In Genesis 6, we read that “God said to Noah, ‘I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth’” (v.13). Since the time for repentance had passed, whatever the phrase “herald of righteousness” refers to, it cannot refer to preaching the need to repent.

The story of Noah is very different from the story of Jonah preaching in the city of Nineveh. The latter’s instructions are to “call out against it” (1:2), and to “call out against it the message that I tell you” (3:2), which Jonah eventually obeys. The result of Jonah’s warning/preaching is that repentance came to the city, and God “relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it” (3:10).

Noah was given a command to build, Jonah a command to preach. Judgment had already been pronounced on the people living in Noah’s day, judgment was stayed for the city of Nineveh, because of their response to the preaching. As believers we should not assume that God is required to provide the opportunity for repentance to the people in Noah’s time, since the Scripture specifies His intent to only spare eight.

Further Reading:

Did Noah Warn People About the Flood?

All scripture quotations are English Standard Version
unless otherwise noted.
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60 and counting

Today I celebrate a milestone birthday – 60! Over the last few weeks I have been looking back over those years and decided to write this post encapsulating my journey. The most important  aspect of the trip is an awareness that God is sovereign over all things. There are a few significant turns in the journey over which I had absolutely no input or control. Other turns were by my own choice, some good and some bad, yet in all of them God ruled sovereignly. My trust is settled in God who is merciful and gracious, and I am thankful for the life He has blessed me with. I have broken this post into 5 year segments, to highlight significant events in each segment.

1942-1957

My journey begins almost 15 years before my birth when the Canadian Army drafted my father and sent him to Jamaica with the Brockville Rifles.

In his memoir (unpublished), he recounts his adventures in Jamaica; one highlight is a full-pack climb to Blue Mountain Peak (7400 ft). He wrote that he was determined to reach the summit so that he would be able to tell his children of his accomplishment. He fell in love with the island and, after completing his theological studies, returned to Jamaica with our mother in 1952, settling in Prospect District, St. Elizabeth. Their home had no electricity or indoor plumbing, but this was not a sacrifice to them as their childhood homes in Ontario were the same. They had been married 9 years but had no children, and shortly after arriving adopted a 4-yr old girl from the German community of Seaford Town.

Over the next 7 years my mother gave birth to 5 children, with the first living only a few hours. I am the 3rd of those 5 and the only child not born in Jamaica.

1957-1962 (Birth to 5)

My parents returned to Canada on furlough every 4 or 5 years to report to their supporting churches and raise additional funds for their mission work. I was born on their first furlough and returned with them to Jamaica in the summer. I have many wonderful memories of those early years at Prospect and even today when I hear wind rustling through trees I am reminded of the house there.

1962-1967 (5 to 10)

Furlough in Canada where I was placed in 1st Grade, likely because I was a reader. This should have meant that I would graduate 12th grade in 1974 at 17, a fact that will figure prominently further along in the story. Returning to Jamaica, we moved to Anchovy, St James, and attended St. James Prep School in Montego Bay.

1967-1972 (10-15)

Another year long furlough (6th Grade), then residence in Montego Bay at Felicity Drive (by the gully). Final year at St. James Prep, Cornwall College (2 years), Fairview High School (1 year).

1972-1977 (15-20)

Furlough was delayed a year as we moved to Kingston while another missionary family took their furlough – attended Calabar High School. Returning to Canada I should have entered 12th grade, but was held back. This was probably the most significant decision up to this point in my life over which I had no control. Had I graduated from high school in Canada, there would have been no reason for me to return to Jamaica with the rest of the family. That would have completely changed the entire direction of my life. I am beyond thankful that my parents made that choice for me.

Returning to Montego Bay and Cornwall for my senior year, with the 15 minutes of fame (loved every second of it) that came from my role as Mr. Squeers in Cornwall’s production of Smike – the Musical. Had my first date with Gloria when she was visiting with her folks – Pelican Grill for banana splits.

Tennessee Temple University (Chattanooga, TN) for a semester (they asked me not to come back!). Home for the spring of 1976, while my parents prepared to leave Jamaica after 24 years. Canada for the remainder of the year, summer near Hamilton, and fall in Kitchener. Began corresponding with Gloria via snail mail and the occasional phone call.

1977-1982 (20-25)

Toronto for a year, then returned to the US to go back to TTU for a semester. Transferred to Northland Baptist Bible College (Dunbar, WI), where Gloria was, returning to Chattanooga, after one semester. We were married in Wisconsin on June 9, 1979, and enrolled at TTU for the fall, dropping out after a few weeks with no plans to return.

1982-1987 (25-30)

Both of our daughters were born and we returned to TTU to finish our degrees, thoroughly enjoying the college experience.

1987-1992 (30-35)

Both of us graduated (90 & 91) and treated ourselves by returning to Jamaica as our graduation present to ourselves. Had a wonderful trip and returned the next year on the first of 5 trips with large groups. Moved to Lakeland, FL, to be near Gloria’s parents.

1992-1997 (35-40)

Worked a number of different jobs in FL from sales, to software training, to pizza delivery, and a short stint as a night auditor at a hotel. Heavily involved in the church we were members of, in teaching, music, and drama.

1997-2002 (40-45)

Left FL for Columbia, SC, to attend seminary with the intention of going to Jamaica as missionaries. Worked for a computer firm as a trainer and served as a Music Minister with a very talented praise team and fantastic choir.

2002-2007 (45-50)

Served as the Executive Director of a small ministry based in PA that sponsored a deaf school in Jamaica. Also served as pastor of one church and interim pastor of another, and went to work as peak season help at UPS.

2007-2012 (50-55)

Resigned from the pastorate and returned to a sales career, just as the economy began to struggle. Major failure there! Continued with UPS and joined Columbia Charlotte Shuttle.

2012-2017 (55-60)

Continue to work at both jobs. Very thankful to enjoy both jobs and the people I work with.

2017-? (60 and on)

My goal is to start and finish 2 large personal projects: 1) writing a book – I have written a few blog articles on the theme of Monergism vs Synergism. There are a number of additional articles on that theme I would like to write and there may be enough to constitute a book; 2) compile a list of 100 Hymns for Worship. The premise for that number comes from fact that there are 50 Sundays in a year, excepting the Sunday for Easter and Christmas. Four hymns per Sunday is 200 hymns, so each hymn would be sung twice a year. There are so many great hymns spanning almost 500 years of writing, that I expect to leave out many wonderful songs.

These projects will mean that I will spend less time on Facebook, so will be trimming my friend list a little. We also have a granddaughter who brings joy to my heart and have already made up 2 silly songs for her.

I am blessed beyond my worth with the family and friends God has granted me. My father lived into his 93rd year and my mother will celebrate her 95th in a few days, so I have fairly good genes, if only I hadn’t worn them out in the knees. I look forward to the continuation of the journey.

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