1st Sunday of Advent
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! In the name of Jesus, dear friends in Christ, Are you ready? Most parents can probably relate to this. When my wife Katie helps out with the Moms & tots Bible study here at church often I’ll bring my work home and work out of the study in the parsonage. At times my wife would put some of our kids down for a nap at that time and I would check on them once in a while to make sure they were sleeping. I would usually wait a little while and then sneak up stairs and look in on my daughter Jenna and sure enough, not a whole lot of napping going on in that room, Barbies or dolls or horses or you name it were far too much fun and far too distracting than what she was supposed to be doing. Sometimes I’d watch for a while and see if she would notice me, but then there would come a time when I would say, “Jenna!” And immediately she would sheepishly jump in her bed and bury herself under her covers and refuse to look at me. Guilty? Yep. But what I saw in my daughter is just a small illustration of a problem inherent with each of us. It’s far too easy for us people living in this world to become distracted from what we’re supposed to be doing and to do what we’re not supposed to do. But just like I was standing around the corner watching my daughter, so God is standing around the corner, in fact, he’s never left, He’s watching it all. So, are you ready for him to call your name? Are you doing what you’re supposed to be doing?
Almost all the people in our text this morning were not ready. As you know in the book of Genesis God records for us some early world history. And what we notice is that the descendants of our first parents divided into two groups. The descendants of Cain followed their ancestor in despising God’s mercy and living apart from God. We also notice that they try to compensate for the emptiness of their hearts and lives by filling their lives with things: technical skills, wealth, even pursing fine arts – one of them composed the first recorded poem, they also introduce polygamy into the world defying God’s established order for marriage to be between one man and one woman. But we’re also introduced to Adam and Eve’s other descendants who took a different direction. The descendants of Seth we’re told began to call on the name of the Lord, they began to publicly worship God, proclaimed the truth about God, and trusted in God’s promise to Adam and Eve to send a Savior to crush Satan’s head.
But then we hear something quite sad. “The sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful and they married any of them they chose.” The term “sons of God” is used in the Bible to refer to God’s believing children. They were the men, women, and children who had learned by faith to call God their Father and whom God saw as His own children. These were the true descendants of Seth who trusted in God and their lives showed it. But then, in one of life’s most important decisions- that of choosing a life mate – they began to ask the wrong questions. No longer was the question: “Will my spouse live all life to the glory of God?” “Will my spouse be a Godly spouse fit for a life mate and parent of my children?” Rather, they asked, “Is she beautiful? Is he handsome? Does she look good? Does he make me feel good inside?” And what often happens? When the believing spouse is not very serious about his/ her faith they don’t have a whole lot of resistance against the spouse who is an unbeliever. And so, quite sadly, the distinction between believers and unbelievers gets obliterated as the believing children of God abandoned their faith and became absorbed in the ungodly culture in which they lived.
And so the LORD said, “My Spirit will not remain with man indefinitely, for he is corrupt; his days will be a hundred and twenty years.” God was standing around the corner and he would not struggle against his human beings’ indifference to Him and His Word forever. There comes a time when God’s patience runs out. But notice, 120 years! 120 years of God standing around the corner in grace watching and waiting for a change of heart before He would bring judgment on the human race. But what did God see as He stood there? “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness had become, how every shape and form of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time, and God was grieved that he had made man.” God saw it all, God had all the facts and evidence present that His creatures didn’t want anything to do with Him anymore. The whole earth had become full of violence, the whole earth had become corrupt, all the people on earth had corrupted their ways.
God takes a look at a situation, the Kind Creator is saddened by how His creatures had rebelled against him and wanted nothing to do with him, and it pained God- the creation He once labeled as “very good” because of sin and rebellion against Him was now full of corruption, so God embarks on a new course of action. God’s plan will be accomplished one way or another, but that doesn’t mean that God will continue in the same course of action. Because of human sin and rebellion against Him God may change His course of action to accomplish His promises. God’s whole plan of salvation was really hanging by a very small thread here. The whole earth had become corrupt. If this continued there would be no believers left and no one through whom God could send a Savior into the world to save the human race. You see, God doesn’t exist for our sakes; we exist for His. And when any creature rebels against God’s design for his life, that person has actually forfeited his right to live. It’s not only cars that can be recalled by their maker, people can be too.
Really, it ought to make each of us sick to hear this. God is essentially telling this corrupt human race, “Very well, have it your way. You wanted to be without me; now be without me- forever!” God’s white-hot holiness does not permit God to remain indifferent when his rebellious creatures tell him to leave them alone. Can you imagine hearing such words from the Ruler of all? Really, though, we don’t live in a world that’s much different from the world just before the flood, do we? We live in a world where the leading cause of death among infants is child abuse, about 1 out of 5 women choose to exterminate their baby through abortion, rioting, murder, drug trafficking, corruption among political leaders all are the norm and hardly raise our eyebrows anymore. God is standing around the corner watching it all. What about us? Are we affected by the world we live in? Are we headed down a path like those believing descendants of Seth, a path to conform with the unbelieving and sinful world? It was a world full of violence- but who of us can say that we’ve never lost our temper, let our anger flare up, said or did things that were out place as God’s children? It was a world full of people abusing God’s gifts of sex and marriage- but who of us here can say that we’ve perfectly loved our spouses, perfectly regarded God’s gifts of sex, haven’t filled our head with the filth the world offers? It was a world full of corruption – but who of us here can say we’ve always kept our thoughts, words, and actions clean and pure? It ought to make each of us sick to see God say to such rebellious people, “Be without me- forever!” Because there are times in your life and mine when we’ve told God with our actions: “I don’t want you, I don’t need you God, I have better things to do than listen to you, I have better things to do than to be concerned with what you want for me.” God stands around the corner, how long until he comes? Are you ready? Am I ready?
120 years of God’s patience and grace were up. God came in judgment to destroy the some estimated 3 billion people who were living at the time with a catastrophic flood. God will come again in judgment on the Last Day. It will be a day of horror and terror for everyone who rebels against God and wants to live their way instead of God’s way. God stands around the corner. Are you ready?
God’s entire plan of salvation was hanging by a thread. The human race as a whole had proved to be an unworthy instrument for God to carry out His plan of salvation. But there was one individual and family who found “favor” with God. Literally, the word is “grace.” Noah was also a sinner, Noah also had a heart inclined toward evil, but in Noah’s heart God’s grace had won a victory. It was God’s undeserved love that brought Noah to faith in Him as the God of grace who would one day send a Savior from sin. He believed the promise God had made to Eve that God would send the Savior to crush the serpent’s head. He was “righteous” because through faith God declared Him to be righteous, he was “blameless” – perhaps a better word would be “full of integrity” – he was spiritually mature and his faith showed itself in every phase of life, and he walked with God – his faith was not just private but a public thing as he lived his faith.
And in incredible love God obligated Himself to a covenant with Noah, that he would preserve this one believing family in the midst of a hostile and corrupt world. He had Noah build a massive floating box to preserve his family and two of every kind of land creature and bird. For everything else – human and animal- would be destroyed in a massive flood over all the earth.
The point is: Just like in the days of Noah God came in grace and God came in judgment, so, too, God will come again both in grace and in judgment. What will it be for you? Will he come to you in grace or in judgment? Are you ready?
The only way we can understand this account is if as we are scanning over it we get our bearings and line it up with the place to which all Scripture points: three crosses on a hill. Only by doing so can we see that in the midst of judgment God showed incredible mercy. He came in judgment, but he also came in grace and mercy. He preserved His promise through one family, a promise he carried out many centuries later when He sent His own Son to die for all the wickedness and rebellion of this world. There on the cross of Christ God came to forgive every time that you’ve rebelled against Him. Then God came to you with further mercy working faith in your heart, using the waters of your baptism to save you from ungodliness much the same way that God used the flood to save Noah’s family from the ungodliness of the world. By grace through faith God has made you ready for His return.
How should we prepare this Advent season? We prepare for Jesus’ first coming by making sure we’re ready for His second coming. God is standing around the corner; yes, He comes in judgment for many, but for you washed by His own blood shed on the cross, He comes in incredible grace to save you from the ungodliness of this world and bring you home. This Advent season don’t become distracted by the glitter and frills of this world, focus on your Savior God who is standing around the corner. Amen.