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It is sad to read in the Bible that men and women became so wicked that God was sorry He had made the earth. The Bible tells us that God looked at the way in which men and women were living, and determined to punish them by sending a great flood. But God remembered that on earth there was one noble and saintly man, named Noah. Noah, we are told, was just and perfect, and the Bible says that, for the sake of this one upright man, God saved the earth from destruction. He called Noah, we are told, and bade him build a great ark out of gopher wood, with rooms in it for his wife and his sons, and his sons’ wives, and with one great window in it, and with a mighty door in the side.

This great ark was to be covered with pitch inside and outside, and was to be built so well that it should have room for two of every living thing upon the earth, with food for the animals and for Noah and his family. Noah obeyed God, and when the warning came he called to the ark two of every living thing upon the earth – animals, birds, and insects; and, laying in a great quantity of food, he himself, and his wife and his children, with all these other living things, entered the ark. The Bible tells in its story that, when they were all entered in, God Himself closed the great door upon them.

Then the springs of the earth and the fountains of the sea burst their bounds, the windows of the heavens were opened, and the water covered the highest mountains. And in the flood the wicked perished. But God remem-bered Noah. The rain ceased, the waters passed away, and the sunlight entered the ark. Then Noah let a raven fly loose from the window of the ark, and it did not come back to him. Noah then sent out a dove, but the dove flew terrified above the waters, and returned to the window of the ark. After seven days more Noah sent the dove out again, and this time it returned bearing in its beak a leaf of olive. Noah then knew that the earth was dry, and when he again sent the dove forth it did not return.

Then with great joy Noah came out from the ark with his family. They led the animals down from the ark on to the dry land, and set the birds free, and on an altar of stones they offered upon the earth. God was pleased with Noah, and set a bow of light in the sky after the rain. That was the first rainbow, and it is beautiful to think that God set it in the sky to tell the world that He would never again destroy the earth.


The Ark rested in a place where it was easy for the sons of Noah to spread themselves over the earth. This was the intention of God. He wanted men to cultivate the whole earth, and so He brought the Ark to anchor at a spot where they could most easily cross into all lands. But the sons of Noah settled down in one place, and they built a great city, and in the midst of the city they erected a vast tower.


Then God saw that they were determined to disobey Him, and so He visited the foolish city, and caused the people to speak in different languages, so that no one could understand the other.

“So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel, because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.”

But even after God had made a mock of this foolish Tower of Babel, men continued to stumble and fail, and behave like infants learning to walk. They fell into what we call “idolatry.” Instead of praying to God, they made images of many gods and prayed to them. They prayed to the sun because it warmed them. They prayed to fire because they were afraid of it.

God wished them to understand that everything they saw with their eyes — the sun, fire, animals, and the whole world-was the work of His hands. He wanted them to understand that the sun only warmed them and made the earth beautiful because He had ordained it. More than everything else, He wanted man not to be a coward, but a strong, intelligent creature, trusting in the power of the great Creator, and setting himself to get dominion over the earth.


At this time there lived in the world a mighty man named Nimrod, who obeyed God in going forth to conquer the world. He was a great hunter, and men feared him and obeyed him. He gathered people about him, and went across the world founding cities, and he is the first monarch that ever existed, for men made him their king.

But Nimrod’s empire was poisoned by idolatry; for, although he built mighty cities, the people who dwelt in them were weak and cowardly. They made images and prayed to them. They were superstitious and worshipped certain animals.

God could not be pleased with such a wicked people. He had ordained that men should have dominion over the earth. He had purposed that men should count the stars, weigh the suns, harness the great waters to their service, and should control the mighty forces of steam and electricity. How could He hope for great engineers, great physicians, great astronomers, and great explorers from a people who trembled at a shadow, grovelled in the dust before images, and even worshipped animals ?

All men at that time were not so sunken in folly and wickedness. There was one, at least, who had the soul of a hero. This was that great and splendid spirit called Job. Job’s story is told late in the Old Testament, but it is possible that he lived in the evil time between the Flood and the call of Abraham.


Job was a rich man. He was a great lord, the master of servants, the owner of much land, the farmer of many flocks and herds. In addition, he was a happy man, living cheerfully in the midst of his family, enjoying life with a good appetite, and praising God, who had blessed him with so much happiness and comfort.

There were, no doubt, many who said: ‘It is easy for this great lord to believe in God, but how would it be with him if he became poor and miserable like us? Where would his faith be then? It is easy enough to be good when you This is one of the oldest and are rich.” most foolish sneers.

But God tried Job. A storm arose from the desert, and sweeping down a house in which Job’s children were assembled, crushed them to death. Then a storm destroyed his flocks; robbers made away with his camels, his oxen, and his asses; and upon himself there fell the terrible and awful doom of leprosy. His wife hastened from him; his friends withdrew themselves; the poor, stricken man was left alone, deserted and cursed, smitten with sores from the sole of his foot even unto his crown, and childless. In this appalling ruin Job uttered words which we say to this day when we bury our dead “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away ; blessed be the Name of the Lord.”


But Job was not perfect, and when three of his old friends journeyed to see him from far countries, and comforted him by saying he must have sinned to bring this calamity upon his head (such are called Job’s comforters), he suddenly rebelled against his doom, and cursed the day that he was born. In the midst of the argument which followed between Job and his comforters, the poor, smitten man regained some of his faith, and uttered many noble words concerning the pro- vidence of God. But finally God showed Job the whole truth of the matter. He showed that no man can judge God ; first, because no man existed when God created the heavens and the earth, and therefore does not know His pur- poses, and, secondly, because no man has passed through the gates of Death, and therefore does not know what God has prepared for us in the endless ages of eternity. A man can only judge a tiny part of a great whole.


These are some of the mighty words, unequalled in all the books of the world, which came to Job from God :

” Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge ?”

” Where wast thou when I laid the founda- tions of the earth? …when the morn- ing stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy ?”

” Have the gates of death been opened unto thee ? Or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death ?”

” Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion ?”

” Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven ? Canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth ?”

” Hast thou given the horse strength? Hast thou clothed his neck with thunder?”

” Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom? Doth the eagle mount up at thy command ?”

” Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct Him? He that reproveth God, let him answer it!”

Then Job answered, and said:

“Behold, I am vile: what shall I answer Thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.”

So when God had tried Job, and had made him humble and obedient, He blessed him again, and Job lived in honour and health, praising God all his days.

Not only is the story of Job one of the greatest in the world, but it is the story of the first faithful man in the history of the race. Very probably Job lived in the dark and evil days after the Flood. He lived at a time when men were cowardly, superstitious, disobedient, and foolish. He lived at a time when mankind were likely to perish through sin and ignorance, and he is a great hero. But he was not the man chosen by God to raise the human race from the slough of sin, and help it forward once more on its path of clean and healthy progress.


There was another and a greater man, a man whose title is sublime, for he is called “The Friend of God,” and his story we shall read at another time.

But we should pause here a moment to consider those early days of our history. God wanted men to advance and develop their reason. They disobeyed, and lived wicked lives of pleasure. They prayed to stocks and stones; they were afraid of dead bodies; they actually made gods of animals. There are people still in the world, after all these thousands of years, doing exactly the same thing. Then God chose a man who trusted in Him-a man who worshipped, loved, and trusted the invisible Creator of the visible world, and God said:

“I will make of thee a great nation, and make thy name great, and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”

It is from this man, the friend of God, that we ourselves are descended, we and all those nations who advance reverently in knowledge and faith.