This week's "thought" is called "Shut in by God" It comes from a book of daily devotions complied from the writings of James Montgomery Boice, who served at 10th Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia for over 30 years before his relatively early death in 2000 at the age of 61. Boice was a gifted and well-known Bible teacher who held degrees from Harvard, Princeton, and the University of Basel in Switzerland, and whose "Bible Study Hour" radio program can still be heard on air and online. This is the devotional entry for - January 8th (today!) -- and offers three lessons we can learn from the biblical narrative regarding Noah and his family. Enjoy.
Shut in by God
"And the Lord shut him in..."
"Consider these three lessons.
FIRST, when the Lord shut Noah and his family up in the ark, they were totally secure and thereby become an illustration for us of the believer's perfect security in Jesus Christ. The rains would come. The floods would rage. But nothing would touch these who had been sealed in the ark by Jehovah. The Lord does not place the safety of his people in the hands of others. He himself throws the bolt-lock. It is said of him, "What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open" (Rev. 3:7 NIV) The shutting in of Noah was the equivalent of our being sealed with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30). Like him we are not only saved; we are secure as well.
SECOND, there is a lesson of God's great grace. The last thing we are told in this story before the waters actually begin to come is that, 'the Lord shut him in" (v. 16). Presumably this was done at the last possible moment. Noah had been preaching God's righteousness, man's sin, and warning of the great flood for years and years, but no one had believed him. They were still refusing to believe. Yet the door to the ark remained open, and any who wanted to could have gone inside. What great grace! What magnificent forbearance on the part of God! Since Noah had believed and had gone in, no one still outside could say that the possibility of belief was closed to him. "Whoever willed" could come. So it is today. All who will may come. Many do not, but none of these can say that the possibility of repentance from sin and turning to Christ are beyond them.
FINALLY, there is a lesson in that there is an end to grace. Grace is great, but it is not unending. If it is spurned, the day of reckoning eventually comes. For one final week the door stood open. But the week ended, the door was closed, and the flood came. The same God who opens doors is himself the door (John 10:7 & 9). He also closes doors and refuses to open them when the time of grace is gone. For you it is not yet past, whoever you may be. This is still the day of grace, and though it will end, it has not ended yet. Won't you come while there is still time? God said to Noah, "Come... into the ark" (Gen. 7:1). At the end of the Bible we read, "The Spirit and the Bride say, 'Come!' And let him who hears say, 'Come!' And let him who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price" (Rev. 22:17)."
Grace is the most wonderful thing! Nothing in all the earth compares with it! And though it is God's nature to be gracious, and the riches and glory of His grace will be (and should already be) the source of endless praise among the recipients of it, the Bible makes clear (as Boice rightly notes), that God's offer of grace will one day end.
Isaiah 61:2, in speaking of the ministry of Jesus, states that He was to: "proclaim the year (or time) of the LORD's favor (grace), and the day of the vengeance of our God." And Jesus did just that. He fulfilled this prophecy about Himself by proclaiming the "year" (the time, season, or epoch) of God's grace in light of the coming day of judgment. He did not preach that grace did away with God's justice and judgment forever, but that God in His great mercy was offering grace to all now in light of the impending Day of Judgment which is to come.
The Gospel declaration (like Noah's message to the people of his day) was, "Come for safety and salvation now! Hurry! For the day is coming when the door of God's grace and mercy will close, and the time of judgment will begin for all who have not entered in." Peter proclaimed that message in Acts 2:38-41 on the Day of Pentecost. And Paul proclaims it as well in II Cor. 5:20 - 6:2.
It assures us that the call of the Gospel must always have a sense of urgency to it. For it's message is not, "Grace to everyone now and forevermore," it is, "Now is the time of God's favor! Today is the day of salvation! Come to Christ for mercy now, for the day of wrath and divine judgment is coming" (II Cor. 6:2, I Thess. 1:9-10, II Thess. 1:3-10). Yes, Scripture assures us that there will come a day when the door of God's grace -- like the door on the ark -- will one day be shut and all left outside (all who spurned His offer of grace in Jesus) will experience God's great wrath.
So come now, says Scripture! Whosoever will, come! Be sure you come to Christ before the door of God's free offer of grace is closed to you forever.
If any of you have not yet come, I pray that by God's grace you would, and without delay.
In the Service of the Gospel, Pastor Jeff