Can you imagine God looking down at this Earth and regretting He even made human beings? It happened—just before He sent a worldwide flood to wipe out the population, all except one man, Noah, and his family!
“The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart” (Genesis 6:5-6, Revised Standard Version).
Jesus Christ later said that people today would be just like that. Now, we live in this world and we are used to it—so, to us, it probably doesn’t seem that bad. But in God’s eyes, people are just thinking about evil continually, and He is sick of it!
The Flood story is really about worldwide destruction because of sin: “So the Lord said, ‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the ground, man and beast and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them’” (verse 7; rsv). Jesus Christ later said those events were prophetic—because that’s what God is going to do in our times as well: destroy everything except just a few, only with a fire, not a flood (2 Peter 3:7).
But the story of the Flood is about something else, too. In the middle of all that evil, there was a man who was righteous, and who simply would not cave in to the pressure that resulted from being different from the world around him. He was a man who could stand alone.
God was really impressed by that. Genesis 6:8-9 state that Noah “found grace in the eyes of the Lord,” that he was “just” and “walked with God.” God decided He wanted to protect Noah, and He had Noah build an ark.
Think about this. There was no water anywhere around—the area was completely land-locked. Yet this 480-year-old man was building an immense ship, bigger than any ever seen! The whole time, Noah was telling people that God was going to destroy them in a massive flood because of their sins.
The problem was, years went by and nothing happened. Ten years elapsed—no rain, no water. Twenty years—thirty years! Surely, to the people in the world at that time, Noah was a crackpot. You’ve been talking about this “flood” for years! It’s never going to happen! they probably said. Noah endured the persecution. No matter what people said, he faced the pressure, hung in there and built the ark. Noah stood alone.
Fifty years went by—still no flood! Noah just kept working, and warning (2 Peter 2:5). Can’t you imagine people coming by just to make fun of him? This must have been the most ludicrous spectacle they had ever seen!
Now, if people had stepped back and saw what Noah was really doing, they would have been deeply impressed at this work of God. It was a massive project—a marvelous work and a wonder! No ship of that size was ever built again until the 19th century a.d.—4,000 years later. To build such a vessel shows that Noah must have been an accomplished engineer and architect, not to mention a man of remarkable wealth. He was an impressive man doing an impressive work—but people were too blind to see it. All they saw was a crazy old man doing something silly and ridiculous.
Seventy years went by—still nothing. A hundred twenty years! Surely this guy was nuts! He was 600 years old by this time.
Then something truly strange started to happen. Noah began loading this big structure with all sorts of animals. How severe did the ridicule become at that point?
But the truth is, Noah was right. Crazy as it seemed, God was working through that old man. He was delivering a message to the world using someone they considered a religious crackpot. And after Noah warned them for 120 years, God sent the Flood to drown everyone alive, except Noah and his wife, his three sons and their wives—eight people.
God wasn’t just getting the message out, He was building Noah’s character! Noah really had to learn to just trust in God and not to get upset when people around him didn’t like him, or made fun of what he was doing. He had to learn how to stand alone.
Are you able to stand alone? It’s not easy to do. But the only person God can save today is the person who, like Noah, can stand alone. His story emphasizes the fact that in times of crisis, only a few remain with God. Until Jesus Christ returns, God’s Church will never have a large number of members.
Amid indescribable evil, very few are willing to stand up for God if it means having to stand alone.
When I was a teen, I remember convincing myself that I was different. I didn’t want to be a conformist; I wanted to be different from the “normal” kids. But I was actually conforming to the ideas of my friends.
When it came to music, I remember there were specific bands and songs my friends enjoyed that I convinced myself I liked in order to fit in. I wasn’t nutty about the songs—but I would listen and keep listening until I grew accustomed to them.
That’s not something I’m proud of. But I remember how easy it was, as a teenager, to cave into the pressures around me—and to want to be like the world.
The fact is, we don’t stop thinking that way when we grow older. But that pressure to fit in can be more intense while you are a teen.
This is one of the biggest tests God gives us in life!
Think again about Noah: God could have had him doing his work off in a remote area, without the pressures of the people around him. But for Noah to be “a preacher of righteousness,” warning people about what was coming, God had to put him right in their midst! And in doing so, God also wanted to test Noah and develop his character.
We are all exposed to this world. God wants it that way! He wants us to have to deal with the world—and to learn how to stand up to it and overcome it. He wants us to learn to stand alone.
Do you realize that, if you’re living God’s way of life, this world is going to get on your case for that? Have you ever experienced that? Have you ever been made fun of for doing the right thing?
When that happens, everything in us seems to want to just cave in and be like the world.
Do you know why it’s so important to be able to stand alone from this world—and to be OK with it if this world doesn’t like you? Because—just as in Noah’s day—this world is about to be destroyed! If we cave in and go along with this world’s evil ways—its entertainment, its clothes, its attitudes, its unbiblical approach to solving problems—then we will end up just like the world.
Do you give in to the pressure to conform? Or do you have the strength to be like Noah?
We need to understand the value in being different. It’s a wonderful thing! It’s a great and mighty thing to be able to stand up for what’s right no matter how much pressure people try to put on you and no matter how stupid they think it is.
In many cases, if you stand alone and don’t back down, a lot of people will respect you more. People recognize strength when they see it. So what if the world doesn’t like you? So what if they disagree with what you’re doing? The fact is, God disagrees with what they’re doing!
If we make the same choices the world makes, that is what we will become. I’m talking specifically about the entertainment we watch, the games we play, the jokes we make, the music we listen to, the food we eat, how hard we work, what we do with our free time, what we read, what we talk about. We must constantly ask ourselves, Is this the world’s way—or God’s way?
Pick up your Bible and read these verses: 1 John 2:15-17; James 4:4; Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 6:17-18.
God can’t force us to choose His way. He can’t force us to stand alone and be different. We have to make the right choices and build a love for God’s way, so we grow in confidence and courage—like Noah.
It’s a big test—one of the biggest God gives us in life! Noah passed it in a spectacular way.
When we have that kind of character, we have something truly valuable. The ability to say, I’m going to do what’s right, even if I get persecuted for it, is more valuable than all the riches in the world.