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THE PREACHING OF NOAH

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, January 13, 2013

“And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly” (II Peter 2:5).


This text is a sentence fragment. It has to be, because verses four through nine are a single sentence. It is one of the longest sentences in the New Testament. The chapter begins with a description of false prophets. Then the Apostle speaks of the damnation of these heretics. This is followed by three examples of God’s judgment of sin in the past. First, the judgment of the angels that sinned. Second, the judgment of the human race in Noah’s time. Third, the judgment of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha. This section ends by saying these three examples show that God knows “how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished” (II Peter 2:9). The second example of judgment is the subject of my sermon tonight. We are told that God

“...spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly” (II Peter 2:5).

We may divide the text into three parts: the audience, the preacher, and the judgment.

I. First, the audience.

Before we turn to Noah the preacher, we need to think about his audience – the people to whom he preached. In our text they are called "the old world," the people who lived before the Great Flood. Only a few verses of Scripture tell us about them. But what we do know about them is very informative. It is very important to know about these people because Jesus said that the last generation before the end of this age would be like the people of Noah’s day. He said, “As the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37). What were the people like in those days?

They were materialistic. That was the main thing about them. Everything else flowed out of their materialism. Jesus told us that their attention was focused on “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark” (Matthew 24:38). Their lives were centered on food and fun. They wanted the good things of life, and nothing else mattered. Dr. Francis Schaeffer said that Christian values in our time weakened so much that the majority of people live only for personal peace and affluence. Dr. Schaeffer said,

Personal peace means wanting to have my personal life pattern undisturbed in my lifetime, regardless of what the result will be in the lifetimes of my children and grandchildren. Affluence means an overwhelming and ever-increasing prosperity – a life made up of things, things, and more things – a success judged by an ever-higher level of material abundance (Francis A. Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live?, Revell, 1976, p. 205).

When I was young I remember wondering why people were so concerned about having a fancy, expensive car, why they felt they needed to have what they called, “the finer things of life.” I was no Hippie. Not at all. But I was quite satisfied with a little grey Dodge Dart and a small room in an apartment. Even today I drive a sixteen-year-old Toyota Corolla. I have two suits that I can wear. That seems to be enough to me. I would not own a house if my mother had not given it to me. The Bible says, “If riches increase, set not your heart upon them” (Psalm 62:10). To be really honest with you, I simply can’t understand a person whose life revolves around personal peace and prosperity. When I was eighteen years old I played the part of an elderly rich man in a one-act play based on the parable of the rich fool in the twelfth chapter of Luke. As I fell over dead from a heart attack, God’s voice boomed out over the speakers, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:20, 21). The people in Noah’s day were like that rich fool. And materialism is rampant in our time as well.

Then, too, their minds were full of evil. Genesis 6:5 tells us that

“God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).

Luther said, “When people begin to be wicked, they no longer fear God nor believe in Him, but despise Him, His Word and His ministers...This ungodliness spread rapidly at the time of Noah” (Martin Luther, Th.D., Luther’s Commentary on Genesis, Zondervan, 1958, volume I, p. 128; comments on Genesis, chapter 6).

Since there have been several massacres by gunfire, politicians are now telling us that guns need to be taken away and that, they say, will stop the violence. It makes me heartsick to hear such foolish talk. We have had guns for generations. We had even more guns when I was a child. I myself owned a rifle and a pellet gun when I was only ten years old. From 1949 to 1953 I lived on the desert in Arizona. Almost every young person owned a gun in those days. But we didn’t have mass killings back then. What is different now? It’s the junk that Hollywood pours into kids’ brains today!

The Los Angeles Times (1/7/13, p. D1) had a new story titled, “New bloody shows are planned, but NBC exec cautions against the idea they incite real violence.” The article said, “Recent mass shootings...are forcing television executives to justify once again the escalating violence on the small screen that critics contend...fuels real-world killings.” A man named Greenblatt from NBC said, “I don’t think you can make the leap of shows about serial killers causing the violence that we have in this country. There are many other factors [like] guns.” Hold it a minute, Mr. Greenblatt, we had more guns in the 1940s and 50s than we do now! Mr. Greenblatt, thinking people know that the blood-soaked junk you put on TV is a corrupting factor that is coarsening and brutalizing the minds of our young people. Then Mr. Greenblatt tried to deflect the blame from TV. He said, “I would take a look at movies and video games.” Not so fast, Mr. Greenblatt! You just told us that sadism on TV doesn’t harm kids. Why, then, do you tell us to look at movies and video games? Come on, Mr. Greenblatt, we know that your only concern is making money. The entire “entertainment” industry is so soaked in blood that our kids are brainwashed by it every day! The number one movie last weekend was “Texas Chainsaw 3D.” Just what kids need! A man hacking people to pieces – in 3D! Great! Just what young people need to have pumped into their heads! But Hollywood tells us none of that has anything to do with the growing violence in our culture. “Get the gun people! They are the ones!” That’s what Mr. Greenblatt, and Senator Feinstein, President Obama, and the rest of them are saying. Why don’t they blame Hollywood, TV, and video games? I’ll tell you why – that’s where the liberal politicians get their money – from the “entertainment” people. Go ahead, poison the kids’ minds...and then blame the National Rifle Association! Those Hollywood money grubbers make me sick at the stomach! Their bloody movies and TV shows have corrupted an entire generation. It makes me sick. That must have been how Noah felt as well!

“The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And 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 is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth” (Genesis 6:11-13).

I want to tell you young people something, and I want to make it as clear as I possibly can. Get your head out of materialism and think a little less about making a fortune – and a little more about laying up treasures in Heaven!

And get your head out of those serial killers and vampires on TV – and get your head out of “Texas Chainsaw 3D” – and get your head out of video games – all video games – and get your head into the Bible, and into church, and into prayer! If you don’t, you are going to go to Hell with the Hollywood moguls, and the blood-soaked, brain-dead people, like those in the time of Noah! Tell somebody I said that! And I didn’t smile when I said it!

Noah’s audience was just like that Hollywood crowd. No wonder none of them were saved. You couldn’t get those people saved if you begged them on your hands and knees! The people of the “old world” were incorrigibly set against God. And God “gave them up” (Romans 1:24).

II. Second, the preacher.

“[God] spared not the old world, but saved Noah…a preacher of righteousness…” (II Peter 2:5).

Noah was not a Bible teacher. He was a preacher. The Greek word is “keryx.” It means “a herald.” He proclaimed righteousness as a herald, “as a public crier” (Strong). Dr. John Gill (1697-1771) said, “The Jews say that Noah was a prophet; and they represent him also as a preacher, and even tell us the very words he used in his exhortations to the old world” (John Gill, D.D., An Exposition of the New Testament, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989 reprint, volume III, pp. 597, 598).

Then Dr. Gill quoted the ancient rabbis, who gave what they said were the very words Noah preached, “Be ye turned from your evil ways and works, lest the waters of the flood come upon you, and cut off all the seed of the children of men” (Gill, ibid.). Dr. R. C. H. Lenski (1864-1936) said,

      It is asked how Peter knew that Noah was “a herald of righteousness” when the Old Testament calls him only “a righteous man.” This seems a trivial question. Did Noah keep still during those 120 years? Did God leave the world in ignorance of the impending deluge? Did Peter write without revelation?
      That delay of 120 years was an added season of grace. The preaching of Noah was to turn men to righteousness so that God might not be compelled to send the flood. God would have spared Sodom and Gomorrah if ten righteous had been found there, but there were not ten (Genesis 18:32); in the whole world of Noah’s time there were only eight [Noah, his wife, his three sons, and their wives]. “Righteousness” is an objective genitive, it is not qualitative, not “a righteous herald.” The word is to be understood in the full forensic [legal] sense. Noah proclaimed that quality which has God’s judicial approval so that the ungodly might repent and thus be declared righteous by God. But they scorned his words, laughed at his ark, [and] remained “a world of ungodly ones” (R. C. H. Lenski, Th.D., The Interpretation of the Epistles of St. Peter, St. John and St. Jude, Augsburg Publishing House, 1966 edition, p. 312).

God warned the people of Noah’s day that His Holy Spirit would not strive with man forever; that is, the Holy Spirit would not always convict them and turn them to repentance. Luther said that those words, “My spirit shall not always strive with man” were the very words Noah preached “to the world in public worship. What he meant to say was this, ‘We teach and admonish in vain, for the world will not allow itself to be corrected.’ This exposition agrees with faith and with Scripture, for when the Word of God is revealed from heaven, only a few are converted, while the majority despise it, giving themselves up to covetousness, impurity and other vices…It was therefore God’s greatest judgment, when by the mouth of the holy patriarch [Noah] He threatened no longer to strive with man. By this He declared that His teaching was to no purpose and that he would no longer grant to man His saving Word. Those therefore who have the Word should gladly receive it, thank God for it, and ‘seek…the Lord while he may be found,’ Isaiah 55:6” (Luther, ibid., pp. 129, 130).

As a warning to some of you tonight, I say that God will not always strive with you. And when the Holy Spirit stops His work, you will never be converted. You will be damned as certainly as those ungodly people in the days of Noah.

III. Third, the judgment.

“[God] spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly” (II Peter 2:5).

The word “in” is not from the Greek. It ought to read, “bringing the flood upon the world of the ungodly.”

We should not be surprised that all the people on earth perished, beside Noah and his family. The Bible says,

“The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:17).

The Lord Jesus Christ said,

“Narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:14).

The whole “world of the ungodly” perished in the Great Flood. Dr. Gill said, “There was a whole world of them; and yet this did not secure them from the wrath of God. [This] was of God himself, who broke up the fountains of the deep, and opened the windows of heaven, and destroyed at once all mankind, men, women, and children, and every living creature, except what were with Noah in the ark: and…it is not to be thought their punishment is ended here; [the ancient rabbis said], ‘The generation of the flood shall have no part in the world to come’” (Gill, ibid., p. 598).

There is no safety in numbers. We are not dealing with a pollster here. We are dealing with God. If all the world refuses to repent and be saved, then all the world shall be condemned by God to eternal torment. This is what God has said. The world may laugh at it. The world may mock it. But that is the unchanging truth of God.

“The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:17).

“Narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:14).

Now, then, one last thought. Why didn’t the people of Noah’s day repent and come into the ark of safety? The ark is a type, or picture, of Christ. Christ died to pay for our sins, and rose from the dead to give us life. But to be saved you must come to Christ, as the people in Noah’s day had to come into the ark. Why didn’t any of them repent and come into the ark of safety?

I think the first reason was unbelief. They just didn’t believe what God said about the coming judgment. So they did not repent and come into the ark of safety.

I think the second reason for many was that they didn’t want to change their way of life. They were more afraid of changing the way they lived than they were of God’s wrath, so they did not repent and come into the ark of safety.

I think a third reason for many of them was that they were afraid of what their family or friends would think of them if they repented and got into the ark. Fear of being a nonconformist damns far more people than drugs, alcohol or illicit sex. What would my friends think? What would my family think? They feared the ridicule of family and friends, so they did not repent and come into the ark of safety.

How about you? Will you let some fear like this keep you from repenting and coming to Christ? Someone says, “But what will happen to me if I come to Jesus and become a serious Christian?” I have to be honest. I don’t know what will happen to you if you become a real Christian. But I do know what will happen to you if you are afraid of becoming one,

“But the fearful…shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).

I pray that you will trust Christ before God withdraws His Spirit from you, and leaves you to perish, as He did when He brought “the flood upon the world of the ungodly” (II Peter 2:5). If you would like to speak with us about becoming a Christian, please step to the back of the auditorium now. Dr. Cagan will take you to another room where we can talk with you and pray with you. Dr. Chan, please lead us in prayer.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Kyu Dong Lee: Genesis 6:5-12.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Abide With Me” (by Henry F. Lyte, 1793-1847).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE PREACHING OF NOAH

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly” (II Peter 2:5).

(II Peter 2:9)

I.   First, the audience, Matthew 24:37, 38; Psalm 62:10;
Luke 12:20, 21; Genesis 6:5, 11-13; Romans 1:24.

II.  Second, the preacher, II Peter 2:5.

III. Third, the judgment, Psalm 9:17; Matthew 7:14; Revelation 21:8.