When God gives a directive, it may not be easy to believe; more often than not, it is something completely unbelievable. God ordered Noah to build an ark to prepare for the judgment of the flood. Furthermore, God asked him to build the ark not on the bank of a river, but on top of a mountain. Was it easy for Noah to accept this instruction? The progenitors of mankind sinned because they lacked faith, so God needed Noah to show absolute faith. That is why He did not give him a directive that was too easy to understand and accept.
At the crucial and tense moment when Noah was deciding whether to follow this instruction, he did decide to obey God.
For 120 years, Noah thought only of the ark and went up the mountain every day to build it. He had to endure the unbelief of the people, who laughed at him and tried to stop him. Even when God asked him to warn the people of the coming judgment, Noah faithfully did his duty to God. Because he was a righteous man, he was deeply troubled and saddened by the vices of the society in which he lived. While most people lived only for themselves and their personal interests, Noah alone struggled to live a righteous, law-abiding life; he alone worried about God’s will, and he alone suffered in a situation that no man would have tolerated.
Do you think there would be a woman who could bear such a husband for ten years? Noah’s work was no ordinary task. It had to be the greatest event since the creation of man. And if a wife rebukes her husband, her children support her. What pain Noah must have felt in his heart when his family did not understand him! That is why he was very unhappy.
When he asked them to bring him food or clothes, they treated him like a beggar. Noah could still bear to be insulted by his fellow villagers or the people, but this persecution and suffering caused by his family was the hardest to bear. Despite this, he still had to complete his work. Noah was persecuted and rejected, and he was totally alone. But he could not deny God, so he had to forget everyone else. The more the people around him persecuted him, the more Noah’s heart turned to God. He distanced himself from his loved ones, from his community. Finally, he withdrew from the world, putting himself in a position to receive God’s love.
If he had rejected the people who persecuted him, God’s will would not have been done. But Noah sacrificed himself for those who persecuted him. Instead of condemning them to suffering, Noah forgave their sins in God’s name. He was in the position of an unsinned brother, begging God to forgive his fallen brothers and sisters and willingly enduring all difficulties. Such was Noah’s heart. With such a heart, God could continue His providence of restoration. Absolute devotion to God, full of self-denial, was Noah’s attitude.
Noah built the ark with absolute faith. But because the family did not unite with him, everything went wrong. If Ham had been united to his father in love, would he have been ashamed of him? If he had achieved a heartfelt unity with Noah, he would have had no reason to feel ashamed at the sight of his father’s nakedness. Ham was well aware that his entire family had been saved through his father’s hard work. Understanding this, Ham had to overcome his resentment over Noah’s nakedness and take what was happening for granted.
Nevertheless, instead of trusting Noah, justified by God, Ham began to criticize him from his personal perspective and expressed his dissatisfaction with the action. His attitude upset God’s providence in Noah’s family, nullifying the foundation of 1600 years of providence since Adam and the providence of the 40-day flood. This tells us how important it is to have humility, obedience, and patience on the way to God.
The providence through Noah’s family teaches us about God’s conditional predestination of human beings. Despite the fact that God had striven arduously for a long time to find Noah and raise him up as the father of faith, when his family could not fulfill its responsibility, God, though regretful, did not hesitate to abandon him and choose Abraham in his place.