Three very small words.
Two of them have only two letters. The third has only three.
And yet these three small words are a powerful statement of the love of God in action.
Do not read them as though others did a certain deed, and so did he. Read them in the .sense of “according to all that the Lord commanded him, so did he.” For these three small words are used that way in Genesis 6:22and are the last three words in the full sentence, “Thus did Noah; according to all that the Lord commanded him, so did he.”
What he was commanded to do, we find in the preceding verses. He was to build an ark, and to gather the animals and food, because God was going to send a flood. God had told him that the end of all flesh was at hand, for man had corrupted his way on the earth, and the earth was filled with violence; and God was ready to destroy the whole earth.
In New Testament as well as in Old Testament language it means that Noah was commanded to live by every word that proceeded from the mouth of God, and if he would not, he and his family and all flesh with them would die. We do not live by bread alone, and those living in that day would lose their lives, because they were striving to live by bread alone. Noah’s only hope, and our only hope is that we live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God while we eat our bread.
Man again stands, and is presented to us as standing, as king of the whole earthly creation; and it stands and falls with him. All the creatures that have in them the breath of life will perish or be saved with Noah, even as all rational, moral creatures here below fell in Adam.
And let it be clearly understood that each and every one of us constantly stands before this command of God: “Keep My commandments. Live not by bread alone, but live by every word that proceeds from My mouth.” If the Son of God, when come in our flesh, declares to Satan that He must (and will) live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, how much more is this true of us, who have fallen away from such a walk in Adam?
The quotation of Jesus does have to do with the commandments that proceed from the mouth of God, as well as the word of promise. For Jesus says, “It is written . . .” And He refers to Deuteronomy 8:1-3, where we read, “All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land which I sware unto your fathers. And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep His commandments, or no. And He humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.”
Noah did live by these words, because Noah lived by faith.
The author of the epistle to the Hebrews expresses it that way in Hebrews 11:7 in these words, “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.”
And after all, there was nothing for Noah to see, andHebrews 11:7 speaks of “things not seen as yet.” There was the rain, which was not seen as yet, but, according to Genesis 2:6 “there went; up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole faces of the ground.” Even then, for the sake of argument, assume that it did rain; there surely were no indications that it would rain so hard that every mountain and hill would be submerged. And there would be no sense in Noah’s building an ark in the valley. It ought to be built on the top of a mountain, and not as a boat but as an high tower.
Besides, there really was no evidence, and Noah had nothing but the word of God in regard to it, that God was going to destroy the wicked. Their eyes stood out with fatness. Their violence increased, and their pleasures of the flesh multiplied. It seemed as though God lost control of the human race. Yea, it even looked, as it did to Asaph, as though God did not care. Clean hands were worthless, and a pure heart was vain. For prosperity, the joys of life, and even life itself seemed to be had by disregarding the words that proceeded from God’s mouth. To the natural eye it seemed as though crime did pay, that God paid the criminal, the violent man, the law breaker with joys and pleasures, and that there was a “common grace,” an attitude of favor that He was willing to bestow upon them in giving them culture and arts and advancements in material things.
Among thousands that did not live by faith it took a rich measure of God’s grace, His saving grace, the only grace that God has, to believe His Word and to keep His commandments. Consider what Hebrews 11:7 says concerning Noah. In keeping God’s command, and in building the ark, he condemned the world. His righteous stand, his refusal to practice their evil, his obedience to God’s command amid those who walked in open hatred of the living God was a condemnation of their evil, and of them as evil men.
You may be sure that Noah did more than build an ark with the very crude tools at his disposal, so crude that our most simple tools are vast improvements over what Noah used. We are at the moment on the mission field of our churches on the island of Jamaica, and here the lawns are still cut, almost one blade of grass at a time, with a long knife and a long stick, the stick being placed in front of the left leg to stop the knife as it is, from a slightly bent-over position, swished across the grass toward the left leg. But even this is more than Noah had to cut down thick trees and to shape them for the ark. No wonder it took one hundred twenty years to build that ark. No wonder that God said that man’s days on this earth would be an hundred and twenty years. This is not the span of man’s life, so that from the nine hundred year span, it will now be cut down to one hundred twenty. No, this is the time that the wicked world has left before that flood would come, and the time that it would take Noah to build that ark.
But as we began to say, you may be sure that Noah condemned that world by speech as well as by the deed of building the ark. They asked him what he was doing. He did not lie. He condemned their evil, told them that he agreed with God, and that they were going to be destroyed in the holy wrath of God. God is the one Who condemned that world. Noah was no more than judge under God. But he was a judge under God. He condemned their evil and said to himself and to his family, “We will live by every word that proceeds from God’s mouth. We will not walk in evil with the evil world. We will by our speech and by our obedience to God’s word condemn this world, and in God’s name will we pronounce His judgment upon it.”
By faith also he built that ark in the assurance that the animals would come to him. By faith he gathered food also for the animals in the belief that they would be there with him in the ark. We may be sure that from the fall of Adam, when man became a corrupt king, the animals began to fear man, fled from him, even sought to slay him But at any rate, Noah had no tranquilizing bullets, no equipment to capture huge beasts, and no time to go about trying to collect the various kinds of animals in pairs. He had to build the ark in the faith that God would bring them all to him, even as He brought them to Adam to see what he would name them.
And let us remember the lines which appear in Hebrews 11in the verse that precedes this one that speaks of Noah’s faith. The author states that “without faith it is impossible to please God,” so that pleasing God, walking in love before Him, keeping His commandments, living by every word that proceeds from His mouth is found only and exclusively in the believer. Let us not talk so foolishly about civicrighteousness that the unbeliever performs. As God commanded so did Noah, and the rest of the world outside of his family simply did unrighteousness, violence and lawlessness. At times they may do deeds that look good to man. At times they may fulfill the letter of the law of what God orders them to do, as Jehu did. But to keep God’s law means to love Him, and to love Him is possible only by faith, and is found only in the believer.
Speak not a word of praise to Noah for his faith. It was God’s gift to Noah, and not Noah’s gift to God. Because Noah had been chosen in Christ from before the foundation of the world, and because Christ is the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world, Noah can and does receive, long before that cross of Christ is an historical event, the gift of faith to stand over against that wicked world and to live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
And Noah did see Christ. He did not see Him as clearly as we do today. But he saw salvation in the ark. He saw a salvation that God would give, a salvation that He promises to those who live by the words from His mouth. And Noah believed in such a salvation, and was himself a type of Him Who lived perfectly by EVERY word that proceeded from God’s mouth, as the Lamb without spot or blemish. For the Spirit of that Christ was in him and worked in him both to will and to do of God’s good pleasure.
And you, the reader of these lines, do you by words and deeds condemn the wicked world that is rushing toward a destruction of fire? That may not be one hundred twenty years away. It may come much sooner than that. But are you with that world living by bread alone? Do you shove aside God’s law in order to get bread? Do you strive to get this world, its bread, its pleasures and its luxuries by joining that world, being one with it, approving instead of condemning its evil practices and godless ambitions and actions? Do you bow before the idols of gold and silver, of money and land? Do you desecrate God’s Sabbath because there are pleasures of the flesh that can be gotten on that day by radio and television, for example—that you will miss if you live by the words that proceed from God’s mouth, also those that proceed from Him through the mouth of one of His servants in the sanctuary? Do you rob and steal and lie and cheat to get this earth’s goods, and place these above the knowledge of a salvation in the blood of Christ, and a seeking of the kingdom and the things of the kingdom, with the assurance that God will take care of you and give you all the earthly things you need to reach the blessedness of His kingdom?
Can it be written on your gravestone, “As the Lord commanded, so DID he?” Blessed you are. Yes, blessed you are, as well as blessed you shall be. For the ability to live by the words that proceed from God’s mouth is a blessing, and it assures us that even as Noah and his family were saved from the ungodly world and its destruction, so we shall be saved from the judgment of tire to come. For what God promises so He does. So did He in Bethlehem. So did He at the cross and through the empty grave. So will He do in the day when Christ returns.