Dear Brother Christopher,
As I recounted in my earlier letter to you, at Yahweh’s command, I selected all the animals that were to be saved from the Great Deluge. Then came a very emotional time for me. After all the animals had been led into the Ark, my wife and three sons and three daughters-in-law walked up the ramp.
Try to put yourself in my place, dear brother. I was then in my six-hundredth year. I had lived in intimate communion with Yahweh for centuries, walking righteously by faith. I had faithfully offered sacrifices to Yahweh and taught my family his holy ways. While the culture around me reeked with every form of wickedness, my family and I steadfastly adhered to Yahweh. We grew to love and trust him. Then we faced another crisis of faith.
All that ever motivated me in my relationship with Yahweh was nothing but a pure love for him. Every deed was done as a loving exercise of obedient faith. I had offered sacrifices to Yahweh in faith. I had kept myself pure from moral corruption by faith. I had acted in loving concern toward my neighbors by faith. I had prayed and worshiped Yahweh by faith. I had begun the construction of Project Ark and completed it by faith. Then, Yahweh instructed me to separate myself from all my extended family and neighbors, and from all the left-behind animals: “Go into the ark,” he said, “you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation.”1
I acknowledge with all integrity—this was not an easy step for me to take. I do not mean to imply that I did not trust Yahweh, or that I was inclined—even momentarily—to rebel against my heavenly Friend and Guide. No. My heart was broken for others.
When the eight of us reached the door of the Ark, I stopped, turned around and stood for a long while in the opening. What I saw and heard has never left my memory. Word had somehow circulated in the community that our family would be entering the Ark that day. Already the populace had witnessed the strange phenomenon of hundreds of animals gathering at the Ark. They became even more curious as they saw this preacher of righteousness ascend the ramp with his family.
They had not gathered, however, to bid us good-bye, for they had never been persuaded by the message I shared with them for years. They came to mock and ridicule. They came to deride and scoff. They came to insult me. I remember one of our long-time neighbors shouting out in convulsive laughter: “So, you are finally leaving, are you old man? I hope you will have enough food in that big boat; you will surely need it!” Another spoke up: “Hey, you self-righteous preacher, where is all that water you talked about for so many years? Ha, ha, ha, ha!”
One of the most blasphemous things I witnessed that day was a group of men and women assembling within fifty cubits of the Ark; they were twenty-five to thirty in number. They proceeded to unclothe themselves, and with great frenzy engaged in activities too sordid to mention, all the while hurling every imaginable expletive at me and my dear family. These, and many other things, were said and done by these unbelieving, godless people before the door to the Ark was closed. I was not angry. I was sad. I was grieved. I wept. They laughed.
I turned and walked away from my hardhearted congregation for the last time and entered the Ark. Suddenly, I heard a strange sound. The door of the Ark closed! My sons were nearby. I inquired if they had closed the door. None of them had. Neither had any of the women. Since the wind was not blowing, I knew it was not responsible. It then came to me—Yahweh had shut the door!2
I pondered that one, seemingly insignificant event, all the while I was on the Ark. Why was it that Yahweh chose to shut the door instead of instructing me to shut it? I came to this conclusion, my pastor friend: it is our responsibility to invite all people to accept God’s gift of salvation, not excluding anyone. However, when anyone makes their final choice to refuse God’s gift, God refuses them. How sobering.
But what does the Written Word say?
God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day….”
* * *
“Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them; let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and bend their backs forever.”3
I regret closing on such a somber note.
Until next time, Brother Christopher, may the grace of Yahweh be with you as it was with me.
1. Genesis 7:1.
2. See Genesis 7:16.
3. Romans 11:8-10.
Taken from . . .
Letters from Noah
by Ralph I. Tilley
copyright ©2015 Ralph I. Tilley
(May be copied for noncommercial purposes,
not to exceed 500 copies.)