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Shut In

Date: Feb. 25, 2018

Author: Michael Mark

Genesis 7:1-8:22

Key Verse: Genesis 7:16

“The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God commanded Noah.  Then the Lord shut him in.”

How many of you have safe deposit boxes?  For those who might not know what they are, they are secure boxes in a bank where you can put anything you want and lock it up.  Usually it’s something valuable or precious, like jewelry, precious metals or stones, anything valuable you want to store.  Whenever you want to get access to it, you have to bring your key, and the bank also has a key, so it requires two people to unlock it.  If you don’t have a safe deposit box, do you have some kind of box where you put all your valuables in and hide them?  Perhaps a shoebox with all your rare Pokemon cards or childhood toys?  Why do you think people do this?  It is to protect something valuable from being lost, destroyed or stolen.  Now the security of this box is only as secure as the person in charge of it.  If the bank security gets compromised, or someone blows up the bank vaults, all your precious things or lost.  Or if someone finds your treasure map and digs up your shoebox under the tree, your valuables are gone.  But how about your life or your soul?  Is it properly secure?  There may be many powerful people or forces that can steal, kill or destroy, even your life, but thankfully there is One who is more powerful and able to preserve and save it from anyone and anything.  When your life is in the hands of God, you can be sure that no one can ever snatch it away, and that it will never be lost.

We learned last week that the wrath of God is about to be unleashed in all the earth in a great flood, as judgment for the sins of man.  “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. (Gen 6:5)” The earth was corrupt in God’s sight and full of violence, so God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them.  I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. (Gen 6:11,13)”  Murder and sexually immorality was rampant.  Except for the technology, those times are not unlike the times we live in today.  We want justice for those who have taken lives, the blood of the victims cry out to God.  God was patient with sinful men, and endured generation after generation of sin.  He even sent preachers like Enoch and Noah to call them to repent, but still people would not.  God was not slow in bringing judgment, but was patient, giving people at least 100 years while Noah built the ark to repent.  In today’s passage, we see that the judgment has finally come, but while God unleashed his powerful wrath, we will can also see how he demonstrated even greater power and control to preserve the tiniest remnant of human life.

From v.1-4 God gives his command.  Look at v.1, “The Lord then said to Noah, ‘Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation.’”  Who had found Noah righteous?  Only God had declared that Noah was righteous.  How was Noah righteous?  Hebrews 11:7 tells us, “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 is in keeping with faith.”  By faith, Noah became an heir, he inherited, he received righteousness from God.  He stood out from his entire generation.  In v.2, God had commanded him to take seven pairs of every clean animal, and one pair of every unclean animal.  Note the difference there.  There was already a distinction between clean and unclean animals, though the Mosaic law was not yet written.  But maybe the characteristics of the animals would identify them as clean or unclean.  For example, sheep are very obedient, but pigs, on the other hand, are only loyal when you have food.  But the purpose of keeping these animals was to keep them alive throughout the earth.  Perhaps the clean animals would be of more use to Noah and his family as well.  In any case, God gives hope that there would be life on earth after the flood.  God says in v.4, “Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.”  God gives a final warning, and allows 7 more days for people to repent.  It is likely that Noah warned the people as well.  Here, God also gets more specific as to what he is about to do.

Verses 5-9 show Noah’s obedience to God’s commands and how he carried them out.  He entered the ark, just as God commanded, and he took along all of the animals.  Then from v.10 we see how God carried out his word.  Look at v.10-12, “And after the seven days the floodwaters came on the earth.  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.  And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.”  God did exactly as he said.  And here the exact date was given: this was the 17th day of the 2nd month in the 600th year of Noah.  It was around 1650 years since the creation of Adam to the Flood.  The Flood came from 2 sides, from springs bursting forth from the ground to rain pouring down from the skies.  These were not just simple springs and rain clouds – the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were open – it sounds like some violent springs and rain.  To get an idea of how terrifying this is, think about the tsunamis that hit Japan recently.  There are videos of the ocean going into land.  It picked up cars off the ground.  These forces of water move at 500 mph, as fast as a plane.  Imagine trying to outrun that.  If you’ve ever gone hiking in some forest trails, sometimes they will tell you to not to hike when it rains because of flash floods, or to warn you to be aware of them, because they can be dangerous.

It was on that fateful day Noah and his sons, and his wife and their wives entered the ark.  The Lord is very specific about who went into the ark.  You’ll notice a lot of repetition so far in this first half of Ch. 7, because you are seeing God’s word from 3 different angles – from his word being given, to his word being obeyed, to his word being carried out.  Look at v.15, “Pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life in them came to Noah and entered the ark.”  This shows that it was God who brought the animals to be saved.  I don’t think Noah had to go out to find every animal, they came to him.  Noah had to build the ark, organize them and feed them.  Somehow, by some sense or instinct, maybe out of the impending danger, God led them to the ark.  Even the wild animals orderly came to the ark.

Let’s look now at v.16 to see how the ark was completed right before being put to use.  Can we all please read v.16 together, “The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God commanded Noah.  Then the Lord shut him in.”  The Lord shut him in.  This is like the Lord putting everything valuable in a little safe deposit box.  It is the Lord who closed the door of the ark.  It is the Lord who would protect and preserve the lives of Noah and everyone on that ship, and keep the flood waters out.  Noah and his family would be safe – safe from the violent waves and rains of the flood, and even safe from anyone that might want to harm Noah.  There was only one way for salvation.  If you are not shut in, you will be shut out, and perish in sin, just like everyone else who did not make it in the ark.  Let the Lord shut you in in the safety of the ark.  You cannot be saved except in the ark.  In this way the ark is a type and shadow of Jesus Christ.  Only by being in Christ can you escape the judgment of God and be saved.  And just like Noah, you can only be saved by faith.  Though the wrath of God is mighty, the power of God to save is even mightier.  If it is the Lord who has shut you in, you can rest assured that your life will be preserved.  You are safe, your life is in good hands, and no one and nothing from the outside can snatch you out of the Lord’s mighty hand.  Even more important, you are safe from the wrath of God against sin.  Your salvation is secure in Jesus Christ, and as the passage goes on you will see more of how God safeguards your life.

Let’s continue with the story of the flood.  Verse 17: “For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth.”  Houston we have liftoff!  The ark was lifted high above the earth.  Just notice the similarity there to Jesus being lifted up on the cross to take our sin, so that all who see may believe and receive eternal life.  The waters rose until they covered the mountaintops to a depth of 23 feet!  23 feet may be close to the height of this chapel.  Imagine being under water here.  I don’t even like the deep end of the pool, and that’s 12 feet.  Not only was it 23 feet above the mountaintops, but that would also make it over 16,000 feet above sea level!  That’s more than 8 times the height of the Willis Tower!  The entire earth was submerged in water, and every living thing on earth died, both people and animals.  Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.

The waters flooded the earth for 150 days.  For 40 days, the waters had risen to its peak, and then for the rest of the 150 days, the water stayed at that height.  Look at Ch. 8, v.1, “But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.”  It’s not that God had forgotten about Noah, but from our human perspective when the Bible says God remembered someone, it signifies a time for God’s mercy.  However, Noah could have felt that God might have forgotten about him.  God had only told him about the 40 days.  He didn’t say anything about 150 days.  For more than 150 days he did not hear from God.  Here he was alone on the ark with just a few people in his family left – but his cousins, his friends, everyone he knew was gone.  Food supplies could have started to look low.  If God were to forget him, this would be a worse death than the flood, to die a slow, miserable lonely death.  In a sense Noah had already died to the world.  He didn’t follow the ways of the world, but obeyed God and did all that the Lord commanded.  And here in the ark Noah remained patient.  He remained faithful, and God remembered him and all those on the ark with him.  The word remember here also means more than just thinking of him, but it also has a sense of care.  When God remembers, it’s a thought and a caring for those he remembers.

Sometimes it might seem like God is not answering your prayer, especially if you are suffering or enduring a difficult time.  But we learn here that God remembers his people.  He especially remembers those who are in the ark.  God remembers those who are in Christ.  This is another way you know you are secure when you are in Christ.  God will not forget you.  There could be a number of reasons that God may not answer your prayers immediately.  His wisdom and understanding are far beyond ours.  But you need to trust him and have faith in him, and trust that he will never forget the you, whom he has bought with his own blood.  How could he forget?

God is able to save.  He sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.  He stopped up the springs of the deep and closed the floodgates of the heavens.  The flood could have stayed if God wanted it to.  But it was his mighty hand to plug up the springs and seal up the sky, and his mighty word to command the seas to go back to their borders.  On the 17th day of the seventh month the ark rested on the mountains of Ararat.  This was exactly 5 months, or 150 days (of 30-day months) from the time the rains started.  It took another 2.5 months until the mountaintops can finally be seen again on the first day of the 10th month.  All of these details prove the authenticity of this event.

Noah was very patient during these times.  It was after another forty days, so this was some time around the 10th day of the 11th month, that he opened a window to test for dry ground.  Perhaps he did not have a great view, either because the ark was so large, or because the waters were still on their way down – so he tested to see if it was the ground was dry enough to come out of the ark.  He first sent a raven.  Ravens were known for feeding on carcasses, so this could be a first indication that land was exposed, but maybe not clean.  It kept flying back and forth until there was dry ground.  We are not sure how many days he sent out the raven.  Maybe once the raven didn’t come back, then he sent out the dove.  Doves only eat fresh food – like seeds or fruits or vegetation, and they are also picky about where they perch.  They only like to perch on clean places.  So the dove would indicate that there was some dry clean land available.

The first time the dove was sent out, it did not find anywhere to perch, so Noah brought it back into the ark, and waited a week.  Then he sent the dove out again.  Look at v.11, “When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf!  Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth.”  This was an exciting development!  There’s even an exclamation point in verse 11.  Are you familiar with the dove and olive branch symbol?  It’s a ubiquitous symbol for peace.  There’s even a saying to “extend an olive branch” to someone means you want to make peace with them.  The symbol comes from this story.  Noah must have felt peace when he saw the dove return with the olive branch.  It meant that God had restored the earth, and life was growing on it again.  It symbolized the peace restored between God and mankind.  Noah then waited another week, and this time when he sent the dove out, it did not return.

By the first day of the first month of Noah’s 601st year, the water had dried up from the earth.  It was finally at this time Noah felt confident enough to remove the covering of the ark.  From there he was able to see that the earth was dry.  But still he waited in the ark, perhaps the earth was not dry enough.  So finally, by the 27th day of the 2nd month, exactly one year and 10 days after the rains, the earth was completely dry.  Then God told Noah to come out of the ark.  It’s interesting how Noah waited for God to tell him to come out of the ark, rather than coming out on his own.  It really shows his great patience and faith in God.  God also renewed the blessing he made at the Creation, saying to Noah in v.17, “Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you – the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground – so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number on it.” 

Look at v.18-19, “So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives.  All the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birds – everything that moves on land – came out of the ark, one kind after another.”  This is a momentous event!  The survivors of the flood are revealed, and here they are, alive after one year on the ark, coming out one after another.  This is like a picture of the resurrection, of life entering a new earth purified by the flood.

Look at Noah’s response, as soon as he got out of the ark, in v.20.  He worshipped God.  He built an altar, took some of all of the clean animals and birds and sacrificed burnt offerings on it.  Now we can see why he took extra of the clean animals on board the ark.  After being shut in in the ark for more than a year, he comes back out to the earth and praises and thanks God.  This was his heart of faith toward the God who saved him from the fearful flood.  I remember the time I got a passing grade in a difficult CS class, and when I saw that beautiful D on my home PC I ran up and down the house thanking God and bowing down and praising him in prayer.  For Noah, the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart, “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.”  Here you see both the depravity of man, and the grace of God.  As for the offering, while the smell of grilled meat can be sweet, what really pleased the Lord is the faith of Noah’s heart.  Here, once again, was a man who desired to worship God.  So God re-established all of the cycles of life that were interrupted by the flood – seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night – will never cease as long as the earth endures.  To this day we are here, brought out of the disastrous flood because of Noah’s faith and the mercy of God.  That is why there are so many stories today of the flood.  Every culture has a worldwide flood story.  Why?  Because it is the story of our ancestor, everyone’s ancestor, Noah.  To honor him is to tell his story.  Over time, this story got mixed in with myths and legends, especially by godless men, but the basis of the story, the foundation of the story, the truth of the story is recorded here in Genesis.  We all have come from Noah, our great great grandfather, who survived the worldwide flood because of his faith in God.

God’s wrath was appeased once the flood was complete.  What did it take to appease the wrath of God?  Worldwide destruction.  Why?  Because there was none righteous – every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.  Yet in all of this we see the grace of God.  He saved one man and his family, and why?  Because one day the true Savior of the world would come through this man.  One who could fully bear the full weight of the wrath of God.  He was saving mankind (through Noah) to save mankind (through Christ).  The death of all those people could not fully appease the wrath of God, because none was righteous.  But God so loved the world, that he sent his one and only Son into the world and gave him up for us all.  Christ came, and he suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.  Behold, the infinite worth of the blood of Jesus Christ the Son of God!  One man bore the entire weight of the wrath of God for all humanity.  How could he satisfy God’s wrath?  Because he was the only righteous person, who did not deserve to die.  He was God in human flesh.  He laid down his life for us, for you.  The one who did not deserve to die died, so that those who do not deserve to live shall live.  Only in Christ, is the wrath of God satisfied, so that God may be free to give us mercy and forgive all of our sins.  The righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ only to all who believe.

To be shut in by the Lord is to have your life stored in a secure and safe place.  In addition to that, there were two signs in today’s passage that also assure us of our salvation.  The first is that God remembers us.  The second is the flood itself.  The apostle Peter tells us that the flood symbolizes a baptism that now saves us.  Last week as we studied about Noah’s ark, we learned that we are saved by faith, wood and water, that is, the faith, the cross and baptism.  Peter goes on to clarify that it is not the water, which does cleanse us, that saves us, rather it is the promise of a clear conscience towards God, that peace of God, that saves us.  This baptism then, refers to the Holy Spirit.  Eph 1:13-14 says, “When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory.”  The Holy Spirit is a deposit, and a guarantee that we shall obtain the resurrection that is in Jesus Christ.  The flood was a picture of God’s judgment and the purging of sin, but as you see today, sin is still in the world.  There will be another time of judgment, when sin is purged from the world once and for all, not by water but by fire, in the day of the Lord when Jesus comes again.  Only those who are secure in Christ, by the promise of the Holy Spirit, will be able to escape and withstand the last judgment, and survive to enter into the new heavens and the new earth, given a new, perfect and sinless body to live in a new, perfect and sinless world.  That day is coming.  Secure yourself in Christ, trust only in Him, the Holy Spirit will be your security deposit.

Lastly, I think these verses from Col 3:1-4 sum up best what it means to be shut in by the Lord: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthy things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”  To be shut in by the Lord is to have your life hidden in Christ.  Noah in a sense, was dead to the world in the ark, but actually his life was hidden in the ark, and revealed after the flood.  Your life is the precious object God wants to save. And he doesn’t put you in a safe deposit box, or a shoebox, or any box, but God puts you in Christ himself.  Let Christ be your strength, your shield, your very great reward.  Be covered on every side in Christ Jesus.  When we are shut in by the Lord, he hides our life in Christ.  Live no longer as the world lives, put to death your sin, set your minds on things above, and let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, for your life and your soul are secure in Him forever.  In Christ God is able to save you and will deliver you into eternal life.

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