Scripture at times moves very quickly. Sometimes it moves too fast for us, and leaps over days and weeks, and events therein, whose detail we desire to have. It leaps from Jesus’ return from Egypt to the time when He was twelve years old, and it tells us nothing about His childhood. Then again it leaps from that incident, when He was twelve, until He was thirty years old and appeared before John to be baptized.
The same thing is true in regard to the day of shadows when Noah and his family represented the church of God here on this earth. We read that God closed the door of the ark, and that He sent forty days and forty nights of rain. We are told what happened shortly before their confinement of one year and ten days took place. But life in the ark is not described. How Noah and his family spent that year, what they did, how they functioned with all those animals, how they fed them, kept their compartments clean, what kind of devotional services, and what Sabbath worship they kept is not told us.
There is a good reason for all this. For the Author is not an impetuous, careless man, but He is the all-wise God. The strokes of His brush, as He paints His picture, are all carefully placed with wisdom and infinite skill. No application of color, and no line, is added that would detract and lead the eye away from the message He presents. No smallest detail is added that would serve to cause us to be distracted from the message which He speaks in this word picture, which we call the Bible.
At the same time, and for that reason, what we do find in Scripture, each and every word of it, and the smallest detail that God has seen fit to place there, ought to be noted carefully and be seen in the light of the whole. Then we will find that brief statements contain a tremendous message.
God says nothing about life in the ark during the year and ten days. But Scripture does cover this period with a tremendously interesting and extremely important statement, “And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters assuaged,” Genesis 8:1. And the point is that, although we are given no detail on mundane things, nor concerning Noah’s actions and deeds during this period, the truth we are to see, and the picture God here paints for us, is His grace that was upon Noah, and upon all things for Noah’s sake.
That God remembered Noah does not mean that at the end of these months and days God again thought of Noah and sent the wind to dry up the land for his sake. He was not so busy destroying the world that He forgot Noah and his family for a time. We remember that way. There are two sides to memory in man. It is that faculty of his mind and will according to which he is able to retain and store away in his mind facts and truths. But it is also that faculty of man whereby He is able at will, or by suggestion, to recall a fact or truth, that is, to bring it back again before his consciousness.
Not so with God. First of all, God does not store away fact and truth. This implies receiving fact and truth and being able to retain it. God, however, never learns. He has no teacher. He receives no facts from outside of Himself. He is the omniscient, all-knowing God, because He decreed all that which would take place, and decreed it from eternity. There never was a moment in the eternal life of God when He did not know all that which has already happened and will yet happen in this world, and in the everlasting life that is stretched out before us. God’s memory, then, is having consciously before Him at all times, all things in heaven and on earth and in hell below in all their actions past, present and future unto all eternity.
And He had Noah and his family consciously before Him every second in every hour, during all those months and days of the year and ten days while they were in the ark. He saw them. He had them in mind. And He was working for them every split second from the moment He closed the door of the ark until He had prepared dry land for them. So we must understand the statement that He remembered Noah.
And the living things and cattle He remembered too. These He had before His consciousness for Noah’s sake. He told Noah to take them by pairs into the ark for the sake of the church that would need them after the flood. And He not only saw them all that time in that ark, but He also remembered them, or had them consciously before Himself, in grace toward Noah. The cattle in the ark He remembered. The wild beasts therein were constantly before His mind’s eye. But the fish in the waters and the trees and grasses and herbs under the water, hid from the eyes of man until the waters receded, were also before Him during that year and ten days. The whole earth was. And every star, from the closest to the farthest, is constantly in His infinite thoughts. In such a God we trust. This God is our God. He will be our guide unto death.
What makes it so wonderful is that He remembers in grace. Thousands there are who must tremble because He sees all and has constantly all creatures before His consciousness. These cannot hide. These in the day of Noah did not hide and were drowned to the last man. But those who are in the ark, those who are in Christ Jesus, in His Church and engrafted into Him by a true and living faith, are remembered in grace. These may be sure that God will send His “wind” again, after the, fiery judgment to come, to furnish them with a new world where they shall live with Him in blessed bliss and beauty.
We were told earlier — in chapter 6 — that Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. That grace rested upon him during the building of the ark, but it was there dealing with him and his family all through their days in that ark while the waters covered the earth. And to appreciate this we ought to bear in mind — and ourselves remember — that terrible judgment of God, the awful, holy wrath which sent that destructive flood upon the earth to destroy every earthly creature that was not in the ark. We ought also to remember that Noah and his family came from the same corrupt root and stock that all these people did who perished in the flood. Noah and his family had fallen Adam as their first father, root and representative head. This becomes evident in the lives of Noah and his two sons shortly after the flood. They were not holy in themselves. They were not a spiritually superior race that somehow had gotten out of the corruption and hatred of God that is in the human race because of Adam’s sin and fall. They had not somehow managed to escape spiritual death and to quicken themselves to become obedient children of God. No, Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord and was singled out by God to be saved by grace when the flood came. Godsingled Noah out in His grace. Noah did not choose God, and so escape because of his works. Saved by grace is a theme of the New Testament Scriptures. It is also the picture that God painted all through the Old Testament dispensation.
It was the grace of God that chose Noah and informed him of the coming flood and gave him the command to build the ark. It was grace that shut the door of the ark and sealed him from the doom that came upon all the human race outside of that ark. It was grace that preserved him and his family for one year and ten days. And it was grace that prepared a new world with dry land for them to work in as God’s royal priesthood and as stewards of His goods. Grace — God’s Riches. At Christ’s Expense — is what explains all of salvation. Not our works but Christ’s bring us salvation. Grace — not works — explains every blessing that the believer receives. Works always call for punishment. “For the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God,”Romans 8:7-8. And so Noah, of himself, could not do anything to earn a place in the ark. And Noah while in the ark did nothing which made him worthy of the assuaging of the water so that he could return to a normal life on the dry ground.
This truth concerning God’s grace we ought always to remember. Remember that God remembers you and has you constantly in all His thoughts. And as a believer remember that He has only thoughts of grace toward you. We know this to be true from His Word. We have that fact stored away in our minds. But we ought to recall it, to bring it before our consciousness in the midst of all of our aches and pains, in all our losses and bereavements. Just then the mind is so apt to be filled with thought of the miseries and griefs. Just then we are so apt to think of ourselves, of our flesh, of our lot and of our problems. But this is just the time when we ought to remember God and remember that He in grace remembers us.
We live in a day and age when that wrath of God against sin and sinners, which brought the flood upon the earth, is working upon this present generation. The wars that plague the world today, the confusion, the economic and social unrest and disturbances of our time are the wrath of this same God punishing sin with sin. And all man does to try to correct and remove the woes and sufferings of men only builds up to a greater confusion and worse condition. There is no more escape from that wrath of God apart from Christ and the grace of God in Him than there was for the world of unbelievers from the waters of the flood. Man, dealt with by God according to his works, must go from misery to misery until he perishes. And though men may cry bitterly in their woes, let it not be forgotten that man in his worst and most intense suffering in this life has not experienced more than a small fraction of what he actually deserves as an enemy of God. We tend to forget that, and therefore even ourselves dare to cry with Rebekah, “Why am I thus?” We fail to see that we deserve more than the aches and woes which we experience. We are at times ready to say that God does not deal fairly with us.
What we need to do, then, is to go to Golgotha and remember the awful agony which caused the Son of God in our flesh to cry out in intense agony of being forsaken of God. We need remember that He was suffering hellish agonies, and that this is what we deserve. Then we can rejoice in the truth that God remembers us in grace. Yea, then we can understand that it is His grace that these light afflictions, which am but for a moment, work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
We may have a hard time seeing that God is dealing with us in mercy, when His hand is heavy upon us with afflictions. But if we remember that He remembers us and sees us in Christ every step of our way, then we can, by His grace, see that His grace is upon us, can see that He is not dealing with us according to our works, and thus according to what we deserve, but is dealing with us in unmerited favour. We can see that He is giving us what we do not deserve, and the very opposite of what we, because of our works, deserve.
God remembered Noah. And God remembers all those whom He gave to Christ to be His sheep. Remember that, and you will have peace and joy in the midst of tears and suffering.