William S. Cline
The narrative of Noah and the ark is one of the most familiar in the Bible. For centuries it has been used to teach some of the greatest faith building lessons to be found anywhere.
Man in Noah’s time was evil to such an extent “that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (Gen. 6:8). God gave him construction instructions and the tremendous task of preaching and building began. Noah’s preaching largely went unheeded. We carefully choose these words, for his family was saved with him. He was not the failure as a preacher of righteousness that some have suggested. Over 30 years ago an elderly brother corrected a young preacher on that very point. Standing by the water well out beside the meeting house he suggested to the zealous young man that if everyone did as well as Noah no one would be lost! So Noah preached and Noah built an ark. He did “all that God commanded him” (Gen. 6:22). When the final count was made he and the seven in his family were saved aboard the ark.
As space permits let us note one of the principles contained in the story of Noah.
The Sins of Man Grieve God. We understand that man perverted the plan and purpose God had for him. “And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart” (Gen. 6:6). One cannot read the
Genesis 6 account of the sinfulness of man without coming face to face with the fact that the nature of God is to hate sin.
We sometimes pass lightly over sins as though they were not all that important. That may be man’s way, but it is not God’s way. When God looked down upon the sinful earth it grieved Him (Gen. 6:5, 11-12). We should not be surprised. When Adam and Eve sinned in Eden, Jehovah drove them out (Gen. 3:24). A lesson for all men for all time is thus learned. God will not abide where sin is nor will he allow sin to abide where he is. Isaiah said, “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isa. 59:2).
Why does God turn his face away from sin? The answer is simple—God hates sin! David wrote, “For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity” (Psa. 5:4-5).
Jehovah hates sin, but with equal fervor he loves righteousness. The wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah grieved God to the extent that He determined to destroy them. But His love for the sinners (while hating their sins) caused Him to agree with Abraham to spare the cities if ten righteous souls could be found (Gen. 18). The fire that fell on Sodom and Gomorrah is eternal testimony to the fact that sin grieves God.
You may not like to hear sin exposed and perhaps you have heard it said that such preaching is judgmental, unloving, and divisive. The truth is that when sin is exposed it is righteous judgment (when done according to Scripture) and the very expression of love and concern for the spiritual welfare of the sinner. We expose sin because we love the sinner.
Our desire must be to be in the grace of God and not under the wrath of God. For this to be reality, we must learn to hate sin as He hates sin. We must learn to love righteousness as He loves righteousness. Sin must be exposed and a deep burning desire to be as God-like as humanly possible must become our daily goal.
When we walk in darkness it grieves God today just as it did in Noah’s day. May we learn the lesson of His hatred for sin and strive daily to walk in the light so that we may enjoy His fellowship and the cleansing of the blood of His Son (1 John 1:7).