With the aid of only a little imagination, you can quickly think of a number of Bible characters who knew something of isolation, real “social distancing,” in their experiences. Isolation, loneliness, monotony, and boredom likely crept into all their hearts. And they had no internet, twitter, Instagram, or face time. The only thing they knew about Zoom is that it was the opposite of the way time was moving.
Noah knew isolation. He was, of course, with his family. I think I hear someone say, “So what!” Being together with wife, three sons, and their wives may have its own inherent trial, but we will not go there. Like many of us, he was quarantined with his family. How long did his enforced “social distancing” last? He was in the ark for a full year (Solar year, not lunar). You may not have thought about it, but while in the ark, he faced:
An Undisclosed Time Frame
When Noah entered the ark, he was obeying God. But he entered with no promise as to when he would exit. He labored for perhaps 100 years to build the ark according to the pattern. When it was finished, God instructed him and his family to enter. He walked into the ark not having any idea when he was going to exit.
In a similar manner, we are going through a time of social distancing, isolation, and sheltering in place; we are going through this time with no precise date on the calendar to circle, no firm prospect as to when it will end. Like those described in Zechariah 9:12, we are “prisoners of hope.” We listen eagerly to any hint of restrictions being lifted, of liberties being restored. We wait (impatiently) for news of stores reopening, barber shops (a real emergency here) cutting hair once again. All of this is without a firm date.
An Uncertain Future
Have you ever thought that Noah had no idea what to expect when he finally would exit from the ark? He knew that God was going to destroy everything that had breath. But what of the earth itself? Would he recognize anything? Would everything be changed and foreign to him?
If you listen to the “experts,” they are telling us that every-day life will never be the same. The work office will change, social life will be different, even sport’s venues will have to alter in many ways. I suspect that the experts do not know how quickly we fall back into patterns of behavior developed over decades. But that is not the point. Noah did not know what to expect; we do not know totally what to expect. We do expect masks and six-feet rules to be in effect for a period of time. But what about school, meeting together as believers (can we sing with face masks on?), shopping, and the myriad of other things which constitute normal life?
An Unfailing Faithfulness
While there were many things that Noah did not know, what he did know was enough to carry him through the flood. He knew he had a faithful God. The God Who had instructed him to build an ark could be depended upon to see to his welfare. God had promised to confirm a covenant with Noah before he went into the ark (Gen 6:18). Noah had God’s word for an eventual safe exit and future covenant. He may not have known all the details ahead of time, but he knew His God, and he knew He was faithful to His word. If He acted in keeping with his promise to send the flood, He could be depended upon for the future.
We have a God upon Whom we can depend. He does not tell us all the details. He has not told any of us when all this pandemic will end. He has not told us how different the future will be. But He has told us that He will never leave us nor forsake us. As a result, we may boldly say, “The Lord is my helper” (Heb 13:6).
As we face an unprecedented challenge to our mental sanity and spiritual balance, may we rest in the absolute confidence of the faithfulness of God. Eventually, we will be able to meet together and remember the Lord. We will meet to offer worship, pray, and enjoy the Word of God. The one negative feature is you will no longer be able to wear your pajamas to meeting.