A Flood, a Story, and the History of Noah

Unidentified_artists_-_Stories_of_Noah_-_Noah_and_the_Ark_-_WGA16281So on Sunday we explored the story of Noah. And while in today’s day and age people love to debate if it really happened, back then no one debated whether or not a flood happened. What they debated was what the flood meant.

So we compared and contrasted the Story of the Great Deluge from the Epic of Gilgamesh, a contemporary cultural story to Noah, with the Biblical account found in Genesis 6. Through comparing these stories we were able to discover three key areas that the Biblical narrative was countering the dominant cultural story of the day.

From the opening scene we saw in how the Epic of Gilgamesh the gods were fickle, cantankerous, capricious, and angry. This is in stark contrast to the Biblical account where God in the Bible has his heart broken over the wickedness of the people. Both stories agree that the people were wicked and had made a covenant with death. But the different lies in the reaction of the gods and God. The God of the Bible had a depth of care and mercy, the gods of Gilgamesh were small and angry. So the first lesson was shaping our view of God as someone with depth, love, and mercy.

The second lesson was found in the differences of the main characters. Noah was consistently portrayed as someone who simply followed God’s leading. He was obedient, he was faithful, and he followed. Whereas in the Epic of Gilgamesh Utnapishtim was portrayed as someone who took fate into his own hand, and survived because of his skill rather than surrender to God. This is a huge difference, that as Christians we are called not to make it through the disasters around us through relying on our skill but on our surrender to God.

The last difference was seen in the rewards given to the main characters. Utnapishtim received eternal life because of his works, and was taken from the world. Noah received a blessing from God but was then sent back into the world. The rewards differed, in that Noah wasn’t removed from the earth but sent back into the world as God’s representative.

So we saw how the Biblical account demonstrates a God who cares, the need for us to surrender, and a God not interested in removing us from the world but using us to change the world. So we landed on one practical take away. Utnapishtim trusted his own skill and ability to get him through the difficult waters. Noah surrendered and trusted in God. So we asked ourselves, when difficulty comes do we try to go it alone or go with God? Do we rest, pause, and ask God what he would have us do or rely on our own strength and skill? We left with the challenge to be like Noah this week. Don’t trust ourselves but the guidance of God, asking God what would you have me do? And then, like Noah, following with deep trust.

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: Two ways through life ~ Force and Trust

Take Aways…

  • The story of Noah challenges the dominant story of the day
  • Sin pushes toward its self-chosen future: death – R. R. Reno
  • God has a heart that can break
  • Noah makes it through because he relies and surrenders himself to God
  • Noah’s name means rest
  • Noah is sent back inot the world as a representative of God
  •  Don’t rely on your own skill or strength, rely on God

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What surprised you? What made you think? What did you take away? What was new? Have you ever thought about God’s heart breaking before? How should that shape your picture of God? What is your natural reaction to difficulty to rely on yourself or God? How often do you ask God to direct you during the day? How often should you ask him to direct you?

Discussion Questions for Young Families: Take a moment and talk about your kids about today’s sermon. Talk to them about how God’s heart is like ours – that it can break. Talk about how the best way to get through life is to trust God because he has our best interests at heart. Teach them to ask God to direct them in decisions they need to make.

Challenge for this Week: Ask God to direct you

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