Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

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Written by Peter Langbroek
The eight men and women stood in the ark. No longer did it sway because of the huge waves. The rain had stopped pelting it for some time. The raven was gone, feasting on the dead bodies scattered on the earth. The dove, sent out for the third time, did not return. Then, on the first day of the first month, on his 601st birthday, Noah pushed open a window of the ark. Silently, suddenly, the room was lightened with shafts of light. Noah could now see! He saw dry land on his birthday.

Boys and girls, I can imagine this was his most unforgettable birthday ever, and he had a lot of them (950!). He looked. The earth was so different, brown and grey, full of uprooted plants, debris, and dead bodies!

God's judgment on sin left a deep impression on Noah. He had preached and built for 120 years, but they didn't listen! In the dark cavern of the ark, splashed by beacons of light that shone through the window that surrounded the top, he heard the swaying, splashing and spraying of water, each time teaching him of God's hurling judgment on mankind.

As he looked, he also saw grace, for in the ark was his dear wife, three sons and their wives. In the many corridors of this huge boat were many animals. All were alive, healthy, well fed and cared for by God in ways that simply amazed him. He looked at the drying, but still soaked earth. Soon, life would grow from the earth as it did on the third day of creation. Soon, the animals would hop, slither, crawl and walk on it! Yes, the earth revealed a graveyard, but life would emerge from it. Noah knew that he had found favour with God. He was not only a preacher of righteousness, but he was also the inheritor of it!

The dry ground seemed tempting. After living in the ark and feeling the water sway under him, anyone would want to walk on dry land. But no, Noah did not leave the ark. God had not yet commanded him to. God had commanded him and his family to enter the ark. He would command them to leave it too.

Noah was obedient and patient. God's mercy nurtured his faith to trust in Him, and trust and obedience always go together, creating the great gift of patience in times of need and plenty. Noah knew that. Sure enough, he could leave the ark forty-seven days later.

This was Noah's birthday, but it was also a New Year's Day. I'm sure you all celebrated the once-in-a-lifetime world event: the Year 2000, the 1st month, the 1st day, the 1st century of the 3rd millennium! And ... yet ... I don't think it matched the New YearÕs Day and the birthday of Noah. This New YearÕs Day, as we enter a new millennium, is a day we should look back to.

For Noah it was a day that powerfully showed God's judgment and God's mercy in one picture: the drying land! It's a day we can see Noah, filled with trembling fear and childlike trust in God whom he loved and obeyed, looking out of the ark at a drying land.

You and I are living many years after the Flood. Much has happened since. Three great miracles happened: the birth of Christ, His resurrection, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on those who fear His name, like Noah.

We are living in the 'Ólast daysÓ before the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ. We live with hope as we turn to see rainbows shine over dry land.

But we must also be prepared, faithful, childlike, trembling with holy fear, for we are living in days like the days of Noah. Many are living as usual, unprepared for the second time the earth will be destroyed, not by water, but by fire. The apostle Peter wrote: "For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: but 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 menÓ (2 Peter 3: 5-7).

In this Year 2000 remember this story and take Noah as your example, as he looked out on his birthday. God is immensely patient and does not desire that any of us should perish but that we turn to Him in faith and repentance. You, standing on dry ground, have a blessed New Year!

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