God has a plan for each of our lives that allows us to be both blessed and a blessing to others. “‘I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope'” (Jeremiah 29:11*). This is God's plan for each of us—a future and a hope.
But the decision is ours. Will we seek His wisdom and leadership in our lives? Will we follow His guidance? If we do, the result will be a life He has planned— for good and not for disaster.
Noah is one of the Bible's best examples of this promise in action. Just a few generations after Adam and Eve rejected God's plan for their life, their descendents had made them look like saints. “The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil” (Genesis 6:5). The world had rejected God so completely that there was only one man left—only one who still had faith in God and followed His leading. That man was Noah.
God was heartbroken. He had created the human race to be His companions; and yet they chose to abandon the guidance and care of their Maker, relying instead on themselves. This kind of thinking led the world in a downward spiral of corruption, depravity and violence— as selfishness always does.
This could not continue. The mess needed cleaning up and God wanted to provide salvation for those who desired it. Because Noah was willing to listen and follow, God told him His plan and gave him an important role to play. God explained He was going to use a flood to cleanse the earth—the whole planet would be submerged.
God then gave Noah instructions for building the life-saving vessel. It would be built to house as many as would come—humans and animals.
Anything that needed air to live would need to enter the ark. And God, knowing the end from the beginning, knew exactly how big it would need to be.
Noah, and his family, began to gather the supplies and build the huge boat.
People came to see what he was doing.
They pointed, laughed and shouted derisive comments. But Noah and his family hammered and sawed faithfully until the job was finished—120 years of hard labour! Noah was also given another task by God to carry out during the ark-building project. He was to warn people that there was a flood coming—the earth would be cleansed of evil. “Noah warned the world of God's righteous judgment” (2 Peter 2:5). It was made very clear: all those wishing to be saved must enter the ark.
For 120 years, Noah issued this invitation— and the people mocked him all-the-more for his apocalyptic message.
“There's not going to be a flood,” the people convinced themselves. “He's just a crazy old man. And his family is just too scared to tell him what they really think!” Aside from preaching and building, God gave Noah another command—a command that must have perplexed Noah during the 120 years.
God commanded Noah, “Bring a pair of every kind of animal—a male and a female—into the boat with you to keep them alive during the flood... . And be sure to take on board enough food for your family and for all the animals” (Genesis 6:19, 21). Surely Noah must have thought to himself, I can build a boat. I can even preach the same sermon for 120 years. But how am I supposed to find all those animals? Not to mention convincing them to get on my boat! n Sometimes God asks the impossible— not because He wants us to fail but because He wants us to rely on Him. And that is just what Noah did.
He focused on what he could do and let God do the rest.
When the ark was finished, animals started flocking, herding, plodding, meandering and wandering straight up the ramp and into the ark. God had made the impossible possible! The arrival of the animals caused quite a stir and the crowd of onlookers grew to a record number. Noah faced the crowd and called for repentance one last time.
The thousands of people—standing within reach of salvation's door—heard Noah's message. Noah stood in the entrance inviting them, “Come into the ark and be saved. The Lord is about to destroy all those who reject Him.” He paused, his voice catching in his throat.
“Reject Him no longer! Enter in. Walk up the ramp. Salvation awaits all those who come now! For those who reject this call—this call right now!—the depths of the sea awaits you. Do not drown. Trust God. Get on board!” As he spoke, a lonely tear streaked the dry dust on his weathered cheek.
No matter how compelling the message was or how convicting the passion in Noah's voice, no-one entered.
Many hearts were leaning toward the door but none allowed themselves to be humbled. They stood firm in their arrogance. And the door—the door to life—lifted off the ground and was sealed by the hand of God.
Noah had done all God asked him to do. He had built the ark. He had preached the sermon. But not one followed their heart into the ark. Only those who busied themselves building the ark were interested in boarding it.
The rain didn't start immediately.
For seven days, the dry air parched the throats of the taunting crowd. Each day would begin as the one before it—dry and hot. The crowd that had been enthralled by the animal parade and inspired by Noah's words now allowed hatred to fill their hearts—and their words of derision turned into violent acts of rage. Some threw rocks at the ark. Others beat on the side with weapons.
But their efforts succeeded only in escalating their frustration, anger and disdain for God and His ark.
Peter compared them to the people today. “They deliberately forget that God made the heavens by the word of his command, and he brought the earth out from the water and surrounded it with water. Then he used the water to destroy the ancient world with a mighty flood. And by the same word, the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire. They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed” (2 Peter 3:5-7).
The rain started, as it often does, in slow drips. The drops became fatter and faster. In mere minutes, the water was all around them. It didn't just come from above— huge geysers of water from beneath the surface burst forth.
Soon trees, buildings and all of creation was uprooted and swept into the chaos.
Noah and his family watched in sorrow as the people—which included many of their friends and family— began to panic. Some ran to the hills to flee the rising water. Others ran to the ark—too late—banging on its sides and begging to be taken in. But the door had closed. Noah had called and they had rejected the truth, and thus rejected God. Now, they acted only out of the same selfish nature that controlled them before.
For 40 days and nights, the water from above and below merged to drown the land of the living. After a year, the water subsided enough for Noah and his family to exit the lifesaving vessel, and resume life on earth once again.
Both Noah and God gave each other a gift that day. Noah built an altar and worshipped God, while God set a rainbow in the sky as a reminder that He would never again flood the entire earth.
“When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah's day. In those days, the people enjoyed banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat and the flood came and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:26, 27). Only this time—the water will be fire. The earth, wicked yet again, will be purified once more.
But this time the devil, who feared for his life in the flood but survived, will be destroyed—and his angels with him.
As in Noah's story, the outcome for those who accept God will be very different from those who reject Him.
Those who believe will resettle here on earth, to a life without sin. Evil will be no more. And the sign of God's promise will not be a rainbow but the very presence of God Himself. “Look, God's home is now among his people! ...
God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever” (Revelation 21:3, 4).
God waits only for you to make your choice. God has plans for you—a future and a hope. Will you soften your heart and enter His salvation? The door is still open.
*All Bible texts are taken from the New Living Translation.