"Behold, I, even I, am going to bring a flood of
waters upon the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every
creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will
perish." Genesis 6:17
We now reach the most dreadful scene which earth as yet
has witnessed. Horror of horrors darkly frowns. The whole world lies
drowned! Depths of waters have gone over it. What Beacon can be more
appalling! Its warning speaks loud as thunder's roar. It terribly proclaims
that righteous wrath is no vain dream. Each drop in this unsparing deluge
cries piercingly, 'Behold sin's merits!' What seeds of misery are sown by
it! How deep is the cup of vengeance in its hands!
Holy Spirit, send now especial help! Shake deadness from
our hearts. Quicken dull ears to hear. Implant poignant conviction of the
malady and its misery. Disclose the evil and its curse. And then display the
Gospel in all the brightness of its rescuing love.
Let the curtain gradually rise on this wide desolation.
God speaks--"Behold I, even I, am going to bring a flood of waters upon the
earth." There must be some mighty cause. What can unbar these fearful
sluice-gates? The cause, indeed, is mighty. The effect is mightily
commensurate. God saw the whole earth flooded with evil. Can evil thus
dwell--and vengeance slumber! This cannot be. The flood of wickedness calls
for flood of punishment.
But God proceeds not without avowal of reluctant sorrow.
The preface to this sentence states--"It repented the Lord that He had made
man on the earth, and it grieved him at His heart." Genesis 6:6. Thus
condescendingly He speaks as man to man. He adopts, as His own, feelings
known to our experience. He comes down to the level of human intellect. Let
not the statement be misinterpreted, as denoting fickleness in the great "I
Am." The deep channel in His immutable purpose cannot change. With Him "is
no variableness neither shadow of turning." James 1:17. The announcement
only prepares for altered action, such as human agents show, provoked by
disappointed hopes--goaded by pained spirit. Abounding wickedness begets
results, which men would naturally expect, if any work regretted and
bewailed, had become grief to the designer's heart.
We are thus guided to the dread resolve. Patience can
endure no more. Outraged attributes claim vindication. The righteous
sentence therefore is pronounced--"I will destroy man whom I have created
from the face of the earth--both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and
the fowls of the air--for it grieves me that I have made them." Genesis 6:7.
"Man, who treads earth, the glory of creation--the mirror of My skill and
power--the home of undying life--made in My very image, after My
likeness--crowned with authority over lower beings--man shall be swept
away--and not man only, but with him all the living world. Sin has made him
abominable. He has infected nature's universal range. The stain is
universal. The ruin shall be universal too."
Reader! pause here. Crowds of solemn reflections press
forward. Check not their dreadful voice. They loudly proclaim that iniquity
is a monster wholly hated by our God. Can it be otherwise? He is holiness
too dazzling for mortal eye to view. How can He tolerate unholiness? He is
purity too vast for human intellect to grasp. Can He be lenient to impurity?
He is righteousness too perfect for imperfect words to open out. Can He
endure unrighteousness? His whole essence and being--are Holy--Holy--Holy.
His word, His throne, His heavens, are Holy--Holy--Holy. How then can He
look down on sin? How can His indignation sleep, when He surveys a world
filled only with transgression? Reason alone concludes, that the wicked
cannot stand in His presence. Revelation tells us of anger justly rising,
and vengeance justly smiling. The present fact adds fearful confirmation.
"God looked upon the earth; and behold it was corrupt; for all flesh had
corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all
flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence through
them; and behold I will destroy them with the earth." Genesis 6:12-13
But tenderness still grants some respite. Even now God
strikes not without a pitying pause. He loudly proclaims, that wrath is
kindled and fury ready to break forth. But still a forbearing hand seems
slow to execute.
Where is the sinner who goes down unwarned into the pit?
An unseen hand often restrains with gentle touch; a voice within often
persuasively reminds, that ruin follows sin--that against it heaven's gates
are barred; and all God's attributes are armed; and all God's universe will
rise--that for it hell burns--and the fiery lake is heated; and the
everlasting chains are forged.
The annals of the old world prove this. When the avenging
arm is raised, mercy pleads, 'Not yet!' Truth announces, that the inevitable
end should come, but forbearance checks the final step. "My Spirit shall not
always strive with man--for he also is flesh, yet his days shall be one
hundred and twenty years." Genesis 6:3.
Here is a respite. Here is space to think--to weep--to
turn--to pray. The space, also, echoes with tidings of God's grace. A
faithful teacher is raised up. "The patience of God waited in the days of
Noah." 1 Pet. 3:20. To the last moment faithful lips proclaim a refuge.
"Noah was a just man, and perfect in his generation, and Noah walked with
God." Can we proceed without pondering this lovely picture of a saintly man!
Amid the flood of evil he lived, the first of human race, graced with the
more than royal title of "just" or righteous. In this name the principle of
his life appears. God in His sovereign love, and by the mighty power of His
spirit, implanted faith in his heart. Thus he "became heir of the
righteousness which is by faith." Heb. 11:7. His enlightened eye discerned
redemption's distant day. His enraptured heart entirely embraced salvation's
scheme. His confiding soul reposed delightedly upon the God-man's work. Thus
he was righteous in the Righteousness of God. Faith in the heart must be
uprightness in the life. So Noah was perfect or sincere amid abounding
wickedness. He walked in the light even as God is in the light, and they had
fellowship one with another. He could not be silent. The zeal of a saved
soul must blaze. The sun cannot be dark. The fire cannot be ice. The ocean
cannot but swell with flowing waves. The vigorous tree cannot be barren
wood. He who knows Christ cannot be mute. Gratitude must work. Love must
extol. Faith must point to the dying Lamb. The faithful subject must
proclaim the King. So in this interval Noah raised his faithful voice.
He preached loudly by voice--loudly too by deeds. A
refuge was revealed to him. The ark--a graphic type of the Deliverer,
Christ--was to be built. "By faith," he diligently worked--Heb. 11:7.
Through many years of tarrying wrath he toiled. It is instructive to stand
beside him in his persevering labors. It is no visionary thought, that
countless sneers and keenest ridicule would ofttimes mock. Unbelief would
jeeringly deride a work so strange--a ship too vast for any waves to float,
constructed on dry ground! Designed to save from unknown billows--from a
flood signaled by no foreshadowing marks! In it two of every living creature
to be housed! What instinct would direct them! male and female side by side!
who would thus select and guide! the fierce, the tame, to consort in peace!
where would their food come from! how shall Noah's household live uninjured
in their midst! what turmoil--contagion--uproar--peril--fights! These, and
like jests, would shoot their venom at his heart. But he looked up to
God--away from earth. Faith made him quick to heaven's voice, and deaf to
man's reproach. Thus they persisted--he in obedience--they in sin, until the
set time arrived.
Is it not so now? Unbelief still lives. Its atmosphere is
the secret, or muttered, or uttered sneer. But fast comes on the time, when
faith shall triumph--unbelief shall perish. We read this in the end of the
old world. The decreed years by sure advance reached their appointed goal.
No unusual signals seemed to have marked the nearing of the avenging waters.
There was no wail above. There were no tremblings below. The sun poured down
its usual rays. The skies presented their clear canopy of blue. Nature shook
not with foreboding terrors. Earth seemed at peace. The groves were melody.
The fields waved happy crops. The guilty inhabitants rose to their daily
toil and sin. Nothing disturbed the dream, that the course of events, which
had always been, would continue forever. "They were eating and
drinking--marrying and giving in marriage"--"and knew not, until the flood
came and took them all away." Matt. 24:38-39.
Fearful scene! appalling ignorance! destructive
blindness! besotted folly! But in defiance of awakening warnings, such
catastrophe will be poured out. What says the Lord? "So shall also the
coming of the Son of man be." The returning Jesus stands at the door. His
chariot-wheels are ready to descend. His saints are bounding towards the
glorious advent. Prayer is ever crying, "When shall it once be?" "Come Lord
Jesus--come quickly." But that day of days will find the godless world
asleep--busied with its daily triflings--drunk in besotting merriment.
Stupor will introduce despair.
Was not the old world thus startled? The ark receives the
faithful remnant. The Lord's hand bolts the door. And then the heavens
darken. The burdened clouds lower. All nature trembles. The storm breaks.
There is no more delay. The rain descends. The showers increase. The waters
fall in ceaseless torrents. Floods from above stop not their fury. Springs
from beneath heave up their streams. What a moment for astonished man! What
terror would thrill through the stout-hearted, when first the fear assumes
real form. Can the Preacher's threat be verified! Is it so--that earth shall
be a watery waste! Truth--found to be truth too late--stares them in
the face. They look upwards--nothing but waters fall. They look around--the
earth seems to be dissolving into ocean. Where shall they flee--to lofty
buildings--to trees--to hills--to mountains? Alas! deliverance is not in
them. Waters follow with their rising swell. All refuge fails. There is no
respite in the falling deluge. There is no ascending above the ascending
tide. The work of sure destruction surely goes forward. Death stalks abroad
unchecked. The rich--the poor--the noble--the peasant--the lettered--the
ignorant--the young--the old, lie in the one embrace of drowning
throes--they are all swept together to one tomb of waters--they all
disappear beneath one covering flood. No cries avail. The ruin cannot
stop--no wringing hand--no smitten heart--no bended knee--no upward look--no
contrite tears--no agony of prayer--no loud acknowledgment of guilt--no arms
extended towards the ark, can mitigate the execution. Perishing multitudes
find too late, that God is true, see too late wrath gone forth to its work,
and feel too late the iron-pressure of its hand, and learn too late the
bitterness of being lost.
Ah! with what anguish do they now see the ark borne
peacefully above the billows. What sharp remorse contrasts the happy safety
and the dread despair! The thought now burns them, as a fiery coal--oh! that
we had been wise--that we had listened--that we had not closed our
ears--that we had not hardened our hearts--that we had not madly resisted
every warning--that we had not wilfully defied destruction! But we would not
hear--and this is our desert. We would not turn--and this is the result. We
would have our sin--and these are sin's wages. Once we would not have
our God, and now we can not.
Reader! seek profit from this end of sin. See not in vain
the whole earth one charnel-house. Gain wisdom from this wide reign of
desolation. Ponder what the Holy Spirit inscribes upon this recording
pillar. "All the living things on earth died--birds, domestic animals, wild
animals, all kinds of small animals, and all the people. Everything died
that breathed and lived on dry land. Every living thing on the earth was
wiped out--people, animals both large and small, and birds. They were all
destroyed, and only Noah was left alive, along with those who were with him
in the boat." Genesis 7:21-23.
The ruin was thus sure and vast. All terms are brought
together to depict life totally extinguished. Death in wide-spread arms
embraced all breathing beings. One unsparing scythe felled all living
things. Sin had spread very largely. Destruction overspreads it. Crowds of
sinners thronged the earth, and they are crowded into a grave of billows.
Man's pollution had polluted the world and all its contents. All, therefore,
are thus swept away. Sin is no trifle. It cannot go unpunished. A deluged
world sighs a sad proof. This wrath was visible. But there is wrath
Now look forward. Another flood draws near. It is
decreed--denounced. God's word foretells it. God's holiness requires it.
God's power will bring it. God's wrath will inflict it. Have you not
heard--do you not know--that "the heavens and the earth which are now, by
the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of
judgment and perdition of ungodly men?" 2 Pet. 3:7. The world, profuse in
iniquity, is ripening as dry stubble for these flames. Patience again will
reach its limits. The fiery deluge is ready to devour. Vengeance will soon
unloose the final woe. Say then, what will be your case, when this last
flood of flames glares terribly? Are you delivered from the wrath to come?
Are you secure within the one appointed Ark?
Happy, thrice happy they, whose glad response can
testify, that, through abounding mercy, they are locked safely in the arms
of Jesus. Nestled there, they know no fear. In Christ they are at peace with
God--cleansed in expiating blood--robed in glorious
Righteousness--sanctified by the indwelling Spirit--newborn by transforming
grace. Thus they await, calm in heavenly joy, the coming of the day of
God--in the which "the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the
elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are
therein shall be burned up." 2 Pet. 3:10.
Thus beside the Beacons of just wrath, may these pages
always place the glorious cross. Amid the threats of righteous judgment, may
they ever sound the Gospel-note of full redemption. Above the warnings of
perdition, may they wave the banner of salvation. If earth's loftiest
mountain were the Pulpit--if the thunder's loudest clang were the voice--if
the assembled family of man composed the audience, let this proclamation
issue, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ
Jesus." Rom. 8:1.
The curse of the Law thunders in vain around them. It
fell on Jesus in their place, and was exhausted on His head. It should no
more scare--for it can no more harm. God's justice--the inexorable foe of
every sin--no more presses its claims. It is now their advocate. It pleads,
that full satisfaction has been made, and payment rendered to the uttermost.
To punish those who died in Christ, would be unjust. Their death is past.
They sit above the coming flood. They soar above these everlasting
miseries--saved with everlasting salvation--blessed with everlasting
blessedness. Soon they will shine forth, glorious in everlasting
glory--waving everlasting palms--hymning everlasting praises--joying in
everlasting joys. "The Lord shall be their everlasting light, and the days
of their mourning shall be ended."
For them there is no flood of wrath--no flood of
fire--only a flood of glory!