O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
Based on Gen. 9:8-17
Preached on July 29, 2018
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In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
What an odd preacher! But there the preacher is! Do you see the preacher? Where?
In the sky! A red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet preacher. The rainbow!
The rainbow preaches! It proclaims God’s Word to all who have ears to hear. Whenever you see a rainbow in the sky a very loud sermon is going on! To the world, Noah, his family and to you! The sermon is twofold! On the one hand it proclaims the enormity of God’s wrath against sin and sinners! On the other hand it promises and declares comfort.
But we’ve become deaf and dull to what the rainbow preaches! Haven’t we?
What Noah and his family experienced as they were tucked away safely on the ark dwarfed all the cataclysmic end of the world movies like The Day After Tomorrow, Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth, I Am Legend starring Will Smith, Charlton Heston in Planet of the Apes (1968), or Peter Sellers in, Dr. Strangelove (1964). The flood that God unleashed on the earth in Noah’s day makes all those movies look like picnics in the park!
Noah preached the promise of the Savior – the descendant of Eve who would crush Satan’s head! He proclaimed the forgiveness of sins for all sinners because of God’s promise to send the Savior! For 120 years - Noah preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins! Can you imagine that! 120 years! Wouldn’t you grow weary of such a preacher like Noah!
The world did! No one listened. No one cared. They blew off the divine service where Noah preached God’s promise of the coming Savior! Too many other things to do! “Quality family time” was the religious trump card! Go to church to hear God’s Word preached by Noah? No way! In Matthew 24 Jesus says that these folks were: “eating and drinking … marrying and giving in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark.” Don’t misunderstand! Eating, drinking, and getting married are not wrong. However, when eating, drinking, and family life become idols that won’t let you have a Sabbath Day’s rest to hear and to trust God’s Word of forgiveness for Christ’s sake, you’re in trouble! Hellaciously deep trouble!
The world in Noah’s day completely blew off God and His Word of promise. The idols they worshiped would not let them hear and trust! Therefore: “Preacher Noah is crazy!” they said. “He insists on building a huge boat on dry land! What does he think is going to happen? A flood or something? What an idiot! We all know that can’t happen! We’ll just keep on living the way we want! Ignoring God! As if His promise of the Savior is a nothing! We’re essentially good people! So shut up Noah!”
Unbelief – the refusal to be given God’s gifts, especially the promise of the Savior, does not end well! Unbelief preaches lies to itself! Preacher Unbelief proclaims: “Did God really say? God is a liar! God is not for me! He is against me!” And so God unleashed His wrath on the unbelieving world! He gave the world that would not trust His Word what it wanted as its punishment.
That day, all of a sudden, the springs of the great deep burst forth! The floodgates of the heavens broke wide open! Forty days and forty nights of non-stop water! Increasing higher and higher! Nowhere to escape! The floodwaters covered the mountains to a depth of more than twenty feet! They obliterated everything! Everything died! For 150 days the floodwaters brutally ravaged the earth! Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out! In Matthew 24 Jesus comments: “They knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.”
So first, as often as a rainbow appears in the sky, it preaches loudly and clearly to the world about the wrath that once moved God to destroy the entire world with a flood!
Noah and his family, however, believed in God and His promise to send the Savior! They escaped the punishment of the flood in the ark. But they witnessed God’s wrath against sin as they floated inside. Can you imagine how afraid they were? Are you? I am. And so the rainbow also preaches something else. Comfort! To dry up their tears and soften their grief!
Yes, the rainbow also preaches God’s promise. Listen. God wants you to hear His promise. To trust it. “Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: ‘I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you … every living creature on earth. I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth… Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant … I will see it and remember.
Brothers and sisters, every time you see the rainbow in the sky may it lead you to repentance. It is time for you and me to fear, love, and trust in God above all things! Why?
So that we may be rescued from the wrath and punishment of God on the Last Day in which the world and all unbelievers will be destroyed. Not by water! But by fire! We are tempted to believe that the Last Day will never come! That Jesus will not return to judge the living and the dead! “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief – Peter wrote - The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.”
Peter then asks you and me the big pastoral question: “What kind of people ought you to be?” Well? Like the people in Noah’s day? Who said such destruction could never happen? That the world will never come to an end? No.
Peter’s answer is: “You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.”
Holy and godly lives! How do you spell “holy and godly lives”?
R-E-P-E-N-T-A-N-C-E! Repent! That is the life of Holy Baptism! Dying daily to your sin by confessing it! And then most importantly: Trusting Christ. Trusting that He alone saves you! He alone took all your sin in His Body on the cross as the one and only atoning sacrifice for your salvation! Who promises: “I died for you! All your sin is mine! All my righteousness is yours! I endured all of God’s wrath against all sin and every sinner in my dying! God doesn’t hate you! He loves you! I’m the proof – there could be none better!”
But there’s more! To touch you with His promise - comfort you and prove His love for you even more - Jesus takes water, yes, that’s right, water and He hooks it with the most holy Name of God – a baptism – a flood – by which God saves you!
“In [the ark] only a few people, were saved through water - Peter wrote - and this water [the Flood] corresponds to baptism that NOW SAVES YOU – not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It SAVES YOU by the resurrection of Jesus Christ who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand – with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.”
Did you catch that? Baptism is not a bath to get dirt off your body. No, it is a flood that gives you a “good conscience” before God. A good conscience is the conscience where Jesus and all His forgiveness reigns against sin, death and the devil. Where He wins – and those powers are submissive to Him – the Lamb who has been slain – but who now rules at the Father’s right hand! “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” And saved you are – for all of it beloved – every – single – word of it – is for you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr