For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; 2 Peter 2:4-5 NKJV
Somehow it seems appropriate that on the day of the Super Bowl, one of the most widely bet on sporting event in the world, I would like to talk a little bit about odds. The dictionary defines odds as the probability that something is likely to occur. Now most often we hear the term used in relation to sporting events, especially as a variable in placing a bet or wager. Today, however, rather than using the term to refer to the Super Bowl, I thought we could talk a little about Noah’s odds and how they might apply to us as well.
When talking about the end times, I have found that most are familiar with the statement of Jesus comparing that period of time with the “days of Noah”. One of the things I have often thought about is the fact that Noah and his family were outnumbered by roughly eight to the rest of the entire world. Pretty lousy odds, wouldn't you say? Have you ever tried to put yourself in Noah’s place and think about how it would feel to be in that predicament and consider just what manner of abuse you would be subjected to? Somehow I don’t believe the reaction of the world was limited to just scorn and laughter.
As I thought about that this past week, I couldn’t help but think about some of the more publicized events of the past few months where those who held beliefs based on the Word of God which were not popular with the rest of the world, were subjected to not only disapproval but outright hostility. As well, this past week saw performances at the Grammy awards show which prompted a well known Christian artist to choose to leave, as well as another to choose not to attend at all. As you might expect, the criticism was not only swift to follow, but in many cases profane and hateful.
As I have watched the evolution of this culture of intolerance for those who choose to follow the teachings of God, and to use the Bible as a guide for their beliefs and lifestyles, I can’t help but think of Noah and how he and his family must have felt being surrounded by an unbelieving world. What do you think the odds were that they suffered abuse and persecution at the hands of those around them? Jesus made a statement during His ministry which I believe describes, as well as predicts, the situation both Noah and we as believers today find ourselves in.
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Matthew 10:16 NKJV
Now in all honesty, how much comfort do you personally get from that statement? Living where I do in the Northwest, I am all too familiar with the subject of wolves, what they are like, and what the majority of people feel about them. It also goes without saying that it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to picture the outcome of a meek, tiny lamb being surrounded by a pack of wolves. Yet this is what Jesus tells us our lot in life will be like. Not only outnumbered, but placed in a situation where the rest of the unbelieving world looks at us like their next meal. Just like Noah?
As believers, quickly seeing the odds change to the point where we are vastly outnumbered; don’t you believe that just like Noah we should expect to suffer abuse and outright persecution at the hands of those who disagree with our values and beliefs? Jesus told us to be wise in order to cope with the situation we find ourselves in. My answer to doing that is to look to the Word of God for guidance and direction and the wisdom to endure what is to come. What follows is what the Holy Spirit shared with me this week as I thought about where the Church is today in relation to the world around us.
Expect to be persecuted.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Matthew 5:10 NKJV
Expect to be ridiculed.
And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now. 1Corinthians 4:12-13 NKJV
Expect to be protected.
Keep me as the apple of Your eye; Hide me under the shadow of Your wings, From the wicked who oppress me, From my deadly enemies who surround me. They have closed up their fat hearts; With their mouths they speak proudly. They have now surrounded us in our steps; They have set their eyes, crouching down to the earth, As a lion is eager to tear his prey, And like a young lion lurking in secret places. Psalms 17:8-12 NKJV
Expect to grow.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:1-4 NKJV
Expect to be blessed.
If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. 1 Peter 4:14 NKJV
Expect to be rewarded.
“Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:12 NKJV
Noah found the strength to endure when the odds favored the opposition by an astronomical amount. Just as he found grace in the eyes of the Lord, and was delivered from God’s judgment on an unbelieving world, so we too must endure until our Father sends His Son to take us home. In my opinion, very, very soon.