ARK OF HOPE
Dr. W. A. Criswell
7-28-88 7:30 p.m.
And once again welcome the throngs of you who share this hour on radio. This is the First Baptist Church of Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Waters Cover the Earth, or The Judgment of God, or The Ark of Hope. It is a message from the sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth chapters of the Book of Genesis [Genesis 6-9]. It is a message of hope in a darkened and hopeless world. And it is so pertinent for us, who—if we are sensitive at all to the progress of secularism and unbelief and rejection in our modern world—it is one of hope and encouragement.
If you have at all been introduced to the life of the nations in Western Europe, for example, it is almost indescribable the vast, colossal indifference of Western Europe to the gospel of Christ. You can go through nations like Sweden, and if you have the experience I have, never find anybody that will go to church. And in the nation of our forefathers, England, there may be one and one-half percent of the people who will attend the services of the Lord.
To the people in the northern, and western, and eastern parts of the United States, we’re called the “Bible Belt” because some of our people down here attend the services of worship. But, oh dear! Even here, where we are known as people who love God and love the Book, even here, there are thousands and thousands in our city alone who make no pretense of any gesture of love for our Lord. So when we look at this tremendous judgment of God that fell upon the world in the beginning chapters of Genesis, we are standing in a like position of scorn and unbelief today. So let’s begin, and look and see what happened both here and under the judging hand of God in heaven.
First of all, the causes of the Deluge: there were three of them, and all three were moral. Number one—and I mentioned this last Wednesday night—number one: the intermarriage of believers and unbelievers. In the sixth chapter of the Book of Genesis: “The sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all whom they would choose” [Genesis 6:2].
The sons of God are the Sethites, the godly race, and the daughters of men refer to the Cainites; and when they intermarried the whole earth was filled with sin, and violence, and disobedience. That is the basis for the earnest pleading of the Scriptures of God, first to Israel, for example, in Deuteronomy, chapter 7:1, 3, 4—the pleading of God with Israel that they not marry outside of the love and grace of the Lord [Deuteronomy 7:1, 3-4]. And if you will read the tenth chapter of Ezra and the thirteenth chapter of Nehemiah, you will find the stringent, urgent, uncompromising appeal of that great preacher of God, Ezra, and that wonderful statesman and layman of God, Nehemiah, against the compromising of the people of the Lord in marrying outside of the family of Jehovah Lord [Ezra 10:10-17, Nehemiah 13:23-30].
And the same thing you will find in the Word of God to the Christian. In 1 Corinthians 7:39, Paul writes that we are at liberty to marry whom we will, quote, “only in the Lord.” You are at liberty to marry “only in the Lord.” And in the sixth chapter of the Book of 2 Corinthians, let me read, beginning at verse 14, 2 Corinthians chapter 6:14:
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers—
you are not to marry outside of Christ—
for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? what communion hath light with darkness?
What concord hath Christ with Belial? what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
What agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,
And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
[2 Corinthians 6:14-18]
That was the reason for the care of Abraham for Isaac. He sent Eliezar his servant, back to the house of his fathers to find a wife; Abraham, seeking a wife for his son, Isaac. And then you have, of course, the beautiful story of Eliezar introduced to Rebekah, who under the hand of the Lord, came with Eliezar into the land of Canaan and became the wife of Isaac [Genesis 24:1-67]. You have the same kind of a story in the care of Isaac for his son Jacob, recorded in Genesis 28. Isaac sends Jacob, who became Israel [Genesis 32:27-28], back to his father’s house to find a wife for his son [Genesis 28:1-2].
And that is the heartbreak—if you read it in the Book of Genesis—that is the heartbreak in the life of Ishmael, and in the life of Esau, both of them. Ishmael and Esau, married outside of the family of God and outside of the will of the Lord in heaven [Genesis 21:20-21, 28:8-9]. God in His Word is not more plain concerning anything in human life and experience than that we are to marry in the Lord [1 Corinthians 7:39]. And that intermarriage of the children of God with the children of the world brought on the Flood, the judgment. That’s one of the reasons for the Deluge [Genesis 6:2, 4-7].
A second reason for the Deluge: the repudiation of the preaching and pleading of Noah. He was a lone witness in that unbelieving and darkened world for one hundred twenty years. He was the solitary saint. That is referred to and described by Simon Peter in 1 Peter 3:18-20. What a tragedy, this man of God standing before an unbelieving and gainsaying world, and for one hundred twenty years [Genesis 6:3] standing there in the name of Jehovah God and not one convert. Not one to listen.
The third reason for the judgment, for the Deluge: the withdrawal of the Spirit of the Lord. In Genesis 6:3 God says: “My Spirit shall not always strive with man . . .” We call that the “unpardonable sin” [Mathew 12:31-32, Mark 3:28-30, Luke 12:10]. There comes a time when the Spirit of God lets a man go. There are those who do not believe in that. I can never forget how much my father did. I so well remember, in a revival meeting—now this is my father remember, I’m not saying he was correct in his theology, I’m just recounting to you my father. As a little boy, we had a revival meeting in that little town in which I grew up. And in that little crackerbox church house where we attended the worship of the Lord, there was a town marshal named Charlie Stepp. And the community prayed for him, agonized for him, wept for him, interceded for him, testified to him. And as a small child, I can remember being in a service in that little church, and when the pastor made appeal, we were standing there singing the song of invitation, and Charlie Stepp, under tremendous conviction, wept. And the members of the church—which we don’t do anymore but we did then—would go to those in the congregation who were lost and plead with them to accept the Lord as Savior. And different members of our little church went to Charlie Stepp and pled with him and pled with him. And he wept under conviction, but held on to the back of the pew with his hands and refused to respond. And my father said to me, “He will never be moved again. He’ll never weep again. He has committed the unpardonable sin and he will never be saved.” That’s what my father said to me as a small child. And in the years that followed after, impressed by what my father had told me—he never, that man Charlie Stepp, our town marshal, never wept again, never was under conviction again, never was moved again, and died outside of the Lord—died a lost man!
“My Spirit shall not always strive with man” [Genesis 6:3], there comes a time when God lets you alone. In Jeremiah 7:16: “Therefore pray not for this people, neither lift up crying nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to Me: for I will not hear thee.” Then came the Babylonian captivity. The nation was destroyed and the people carried as prisoners in a foreign land [2 Chronicles 36:17-20; Jeremiah 52:4-30]. In Hosea 4:17: “Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.” Don’t pray for him; don’t intercede for him; don’t witness to him. “Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.” Let him alone!
And in Romans 1—three times, first in Romans 1:22, after he describes the licentiousness of the people who lived in the Roman Empire, Romans 1:22: “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools . . . Wherefore God gave them up . . .” [Romans 1:24]. In Romans 1:26-27 speaking of homosexuals: “They changed the natural use into that which is against nature . . . For this cause God gave them up . . .” And in Romans 1:28-32: “They possessed a reprobate mind . . . Wherefore, God gave them up…”
Three times, in that beginning chapter of the Book of Romans, does Paul say, concerning the sinners in the Roman Empire, “God gave them up!” [Romans 1:24, 26, 28]. It makes you tremble. O Lord God, these who go beyond the pale of the grace and mercy of the Lord: they’re untouched, they’re unmoved, no matter what you do, or what you say, or the providences of God, they never respond.
Now in the midst of that despair and that darkness, yet there is hope. And I have entitled this The Ark of Hope. The ark is a symbol of so very much.
God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before Me; the earth is filled with violence and corruption . . . I will destroy them from the face of the earth.
But you, Noah, make thee an ark of gopher wood to the saving of thy house . . .
Thus did Noah; according to what God commanded, so did he.
[Genesis 6:13, 14, 22]
No matter what the unbelieving world, there is always a way of escape and salvation if they, who do not believe, will just turn. There’s always that way of escape. Always! Such as when God says: “My angel of death will pass over Egypt this night” [Exodus 12: 12]. Anyone who will place the blood in the form of a cross on the lintel and on each side of the doorpost; on the lintel and on each side of the doorpost, the sign of the cross, the blood of expiation; “When I see the blood, I will pass over you” [Exodus 12:13], that dark night of judgment in Egypt.
When the people of God were pressed against the Red Sea, God parted it [Exodus 14:21]. The army of Pharaoh behind them, the desert to the left of them, the mountains to the right of them: only God could save, but always, there is that way of deliverance. When Israel sinned and serpents, fiery serpents, were sent among them as a judgment of God [Numbers 21:5-6], the Lord said to Moses: “If you will make a serpent of brass and raise that brazen serpent in the midst of the camp, whosoever will look, will live” [Numbers 21:8-9]; a way of escape. And when the whole nation fell into unbelief, there were two of them who were delivered, Joshua and Caleb. Out of possibly three million, Joshua and Caleb believed God and the Lord opened, for them, the Promised Land [Numbers 32:10-13].
However the darkness of the world, there is always that ark of hope, that one way to be saved, if anyone will turn and believe [Acts 16:30-31]. But remember, it is always one way, one door. There was one door into that ark [Genesis 6:16]. There was not one on top for the birds to fly in; there was not one on the bottom for the humblest creature to crawl in; there wasn’t one at the end for the lumbering elephant to come in. There was one door, and only one! [Genesis 6:16].
Acts 4:12, Simon Peter says: “There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” There is one door and only one; there is one name and only one; there is one Savior and only one; there is one atoning sacrifice and only one. And that is God’s one way for us to be saved [Acts 4:12].
Now may I point out one other thing? When the last one is in, the judgment of the Flood covered the earth, Genesis 7:1-10. When the last one was in the ark, the judgment fell [Genesis 7:16-24]; so the last, final judgment of this world. Matthew 25:10: “They that were ready went in . . . and the door was shut.” Romans 11:25: “. . . Until the fullness, the plerōma of the Gentiles be come in.” That is a remarkable thing—and I have thought of it, the Lord only knows how many times, in these years I have been a pastor/preacher. “When the fullness—when the plerōma of the Gentiles be come in.” Plerōma is just a word for “numbers.” When the last number that God has written in the Book of Life, when he comes down that aisle, when she comes down that aisle, then the denouement of the age, the judgment of God, the end of the world—the last one [Romans 11:25].
In God’s book up there in heaven He has written the names of those that are going to be in His kingdom [Luke 10:20, Revelation 20:12, 15, 21:27]. They are all written there, every one of them. And when that last name that is written in that book, when that last one comes down the aisle and accepts the Lord as Savior, that’s going to be the end of the world.
Lord, is my name written there?
In the book so fair?
Tell me, (sweet) Jesus . . .
Is my name written there?
[Mary A. Kidder]
In His goodness and in His grace, I know that it is.
I have here, beyond this word that I have delivered—I have another study, and my time is gone, and it just hurts my heart that I don’t have several hours here. So just let me say a little brief word about it. I don’t know of anything that is more vigorously, and caustically challenged than that there was a Flood on this earth.
The Bible says in Genesis 6:17 that every thing that had hath breath died. And in Genesis 7:21-23 it repeats it: “Every thing that hath breath died.” And Genesis 7:19-20, it says the mountains were covered, and it gives the height of it, “fifteen cubits and upward did the waters prevail over the highest mountains of the earth” [Genesis 7:20]. The Flood covered the entire earth, 15 to 50 feet above the highest mountains! Now how was such a thing as that?
This is what I believe: the earth was a greenhouse, a hothouse, and it had a canopy over it [Genesis 1:7]. And the reason I think that is, up there in the Arctic, and down there in the Antarctic, you can dig and you will find tropical plants. You will find the skeletons and bones of every kind of an animal that is described. Some of them were frozen so fast that they are intact; behemoths, elephant-like animals. The whole earth was a greenhouse, a hothouse, and it was filled with flourishing plants. Coal is nothing other than that vast amount of vegetation that, in a convulsion, was buried and pressed and became coal. The earth was filled with lush growth; trees, ferns, vegetation. The earth had never seen rain. It was watered by mist and dew [Genesis 2:6]. And when God judged this earth, He punctured that canopy that covered the earth [Genesis 7:11]. He punctured that canopy and it fell down on this planet, and it rained [Genesis 7:12]. That’s the first time the world ever saw rain, when God punctured that canopy. And the rain fell down, and it poured down, and it poured down, and it poured down for forty days and forty nights [Genesis 7:17-20]. The Flood came.
You couldn’t have a flood like that today. You couldn’t have rain like that today. You don’t have that canopy up there today. It may rain for a while over here; rain for a while over there. There is not that much water up there in the heavens to rain on this earth forty days and forty nights today. That canopy was punctured by God! [Genesis 7:11] And it fell down on the earth in an indescribable flood. And all living died; anything that had breath. If it lived on the land, if it breathed—it died! [Genesis 7:23].
Well, if there was such a thing as a Flood, we ought to see it in the record of the rocks. My brother, it is there. Every one of the ancient peoples of the earth—all of them, whether they are Chinese, or Hindu, or Chaldean, or Greek—every ancient nation in the world has a tradition of a flood, every one of them, every one of them. And I have here the testimony of geology. I have the testimony of archaeology. I wish I had time to read it. It is written here in this very planet on which we live, the geological evidences of an awesome flood. And not only that, but our Lord confirmed it. He said in Matthew 24:
As the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.
For in the days of Noah before the flood they were eating, drinking, marrying, giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark,
And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.
Jesus confirms the factuality, the reality, of the Flood that destroyed the living in this earth.
So, precious Savior, grant that when the day comes, we’ll be ready. Anytime Lord, any night, any morning hour, if I know my heart, I’m ready. This earth is not my home. I am a stranger and a pilgrim here [Hebrews 11:13]. Our home is in heaven [Philippians 3:20] and we are pilgrims in the earth. And Lord, when that day comes, grant Lord, that I could be one of the first to see Thee; to see Jesus, just caught up with God’s saints to meet our coming Lord in the air [1 Thessalonians 4:17]. I love that greeting, “I’ll see you here, there, or in the air.” God grant it!
Now singer, let’s heist us a tune. Let’s heist us a tune. And while we sing the song, to give yourself to Jesus [Romans 10:9-13], to give your heart to our Lord, to look in faith to Him [Ephesians 2:8], or to come into the fellowship of our dear church, or to answer a call of the Spirit in your heart, I’ll be standing right here. You come and stand with me. God bless you in the way, while all of us stand and sing.
ARK OF HOPE
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. Reasons for the flood
1. Marriages with unbelievers
2. Repudiation of preaching and pleading of Noah
3. Withdrawal of the Spirit of God, Genesis 6:3
II. Ark of Hope
1. One door and only one, Acts 4:12
2. The waters of judgment