An Opening in the Side

by Jackie Alston

A few months ago toward the end of November, I was so excited about getting home from church so I could read from this particular book that I had. But after reading for about an hour, I was so disappointed, because in that hour I had grasped absolutely nothing. But I realized from past experience that when that happens, it means that I'm not reading what God wants me to read at that particular time. Although it may be great reading, He wants to show me something else. So I put the book down and picked up the Bible. Since I was still working on the Day of Atonement lesson, I thought maybe He wanted to show me something in Romans Chapter 11. So I opened my Bible but I began reading, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." And before I realized it, I had read up to Chapter 5 of the Book of Genesis. And I looked and said, "Oh no, Lord, not the "begats."

But I got through Chapter 5 and it was in verse 16 of Chapter 6 that something caught my attention. The middle clause of that verse just jumped out at me. It reads, "And the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof." And I read it over and over and over again, and each time I read it, it seems that the words became bolder and bolder. So I knew that's what God wanted me to see. So I sat there and just waited, hoping that He would show me more, and sure enough, after a while, five words popped into my spirit. Those words were, "An Opening in the Side." So I wrote down the Scripture and those five words and I put in my Bible and put the Bible away. And I said, "Lord, I don't know what that's for, but You've got to show me more."

I don't know how God works with you. But this is how He works with me, when God gives me a Word, He is sure to confirm that Word. So when I get a Word from God, I get excited about the confirmation. Who will He use? What will that person say? What will he do? What will I see? How will I know? I must say, that so many times God has used Pastor Jackson from this pulpit to confirm His Word to me. And I'm sure I'm not the only one. He's probably used him to confirm His Word to many of us here, he's our Shepherd.

On Christmas Day, Rose had mentioned that someone had donated some gifts to the Church for the children. Toward the end of the services, she called the children forward to pass out the gifts. There were six or seven bigger boxes of the same gift behind her, and Pastor Jackson picked up the first of those gifts, marched straight to me, and handed me that gift. I read the words on the box and it said, "Noah, the Creature Teacher." It was an ark!! Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that God would confirm His Word in that manner!! But God is so Awesome!! His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. So I said, "Okay, Lord, I know you want me to share something about the ark. But, what will You have me to say?" And I knew that we would work that out, but there was still that most important question. And because of my relationship with God, I feel that I can ask Him anything. So I asked, "Lord, what is this all about?" And the answer was, "This is the beginning. A door is being opened for the Women of Providence to move forward."

So today was our first step and as you saw, our women were ready. I'm asking that you bear with me for about fifteen minutes to share with you what God and I came up with concerning the ark. Before I get into that, I have to give you a very familiar backdrop to bring you up to where God started me, "And the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof."

We know that Genesis means "the beginning". The first four words of Genesis, "In the beginning God" lets us know a very important thing, that before the beginning, God already was. And the very essence of the God who already was is found in the first four words of John 3:16, "For God so loved." So from a God who always was and who is so full of love, we should expect some awesome things. And what is more awesome than creating? For to create is to make something from absolutely nothing. That's what God did.

In His love, God created and called into being all those things that His crowning creation would need to live with Him in Paradise. God's crowning creation was man, whom on the sixth day of creation was formed from the dust of the earth. If it had been God's desire, this formed man could have sat propped up against a tree until eternity, because in himself he could do nothing to merit life. But by grace, God breathed into the man's nostrils the breath of life and the man became a living soul, made in the very image of the Triune God.

This man, Adam, was endowed with many of God's attributes, but immutability was not one of them. Immutability means that God can not change. But since Adam was given free will, he was capable of making choices that would bring about his change. As the federal head of the entire human race, Adam made a choice to rebel. He disobeyed a direct command from God. Through Adam's rebellion, sin entered the world and marred the image of God in man, thus every man born after Adam inherited a sin nature and became separated from God. The separation would change man, but not God. God could not change, He remained a God of Love. In His Omniscience, God knew that man's separation would drive him deeper into sin and farther away from Him so God promised man a Savior. In love, through love and by love, this Savior would eventually come and bridge the gap of separation and reconcile man back unto God.

As man began to multiply on earth, his wickedness became great and his heart was full of evil. And it grieved God so much that He decided to destroy His creation from the face of the earth. But there was one man, Noah, whom Scripture says was, "A just man and perfect in his generations, and he walked with God." Noah lived in that perverse generation with wickedness all around him but he lived a life that brought glory to God, and Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. So God revealed His plan to Noah to destroy everything on earth by flood, but such was God's grace upon Noah's life that Noah was called and commissioned to do a mighty work for God. God called Noah to preserve a remnant of all creation from His judgment.

When God calls someone to do a work, He's going to equip that person to do that work so there should be no excuses. We should never be like Moses. When God called Moses, Moses came up with all kinds of excuses. But God's gifts and calling are without repentance, He's not taking it back, so God gave Moses an answer for every one of his excuses. When God puts a calling upon your life, every opportunity that you don't operate in that calling, you're robbing God of His Glory because God makes no mistakes.

I can imagine God telling Noah, "Build thee an ark," and Noah answering, "God, what kind of wood?" Noah was obedient and ready to jump into his calling, but he had to be equipped by God. He had to be equipped physically, Noah was almost five hundred years old when he was called to build the ark. He had to be equipped emotionally, mentally and most of all spiritually. Noah was building an ark among an unbelieving, wicked generation and they did what unbelievers are still doing today, they watched him so they could mock him. As Noah hammered and nailed, they yelled insults at him. I can imagine someone asking, "Are you crazy Noah, building an ark on dry land?" And another, "Man, why are you wasting all your time on that foolishness?" And maybe a friend saying quietly, "Noah, you've become a laughingstock, just go home." But Noah kept on hammering, because the grace that called him was the same grace that would keep him from being conformed to that wicked world around him.

Noah knew it had never rained on earth before, but his faith laid hold to things not yet seen because he heard and believed the Word of God. And faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. And God's Word to Noah was, "It's gonna rain!" So Noah continued building on the ark, and all the while he built, he practiced his faith and preached God's word, until 120 years later the ark was finished. But not only was the ark finished, God's longsuffering was also finished because in that 120 years, not one soul had repented.

The finished ark had been made exactly to God's specifications. It was 450 ft. long, 75 ft. wide, and 45 ft. high. It was pitched inside and out so no water could seep in. There were three stories with many rooms inside and there was a window up real high so that God's light could flow in. But if those had been the only details given for the ark, then Noah and his family would have perished along with everything else when the flood waters came. But the grace of God that called Noah, and the grace of God that kept Noah, was the same grace of God that would save Noah. God's grace said, "And the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof."

God made an opening for Noah and the remnant to enter into the salvation of the Lord, then He extended His gracious words of invitation, "Come into the ark." God didn't say, "Go into the ark." To go would have been to depart from God, and God would never send his tired servant away. Noah had labored for a long time, his heart and his soul was heavy laden because in all his years of preaching, he had not led one person outside of his family to God. But God said, "Noah, you did what I called you to do, now come unto me and rest." So Noah and the remnant entered the ark, and God shut them in. And when the rain began to fall, the mockers and those who had ridiculed Noah began to beat on the door of the ark, but it was too late, for when God closes a door, no man can open it.

So as mankind was perishing on the earth, the ark was floating right along. The ark was just a giant flotation device. There was no navigational system in the ark, because when you enter into the ark of God's salvation, you're not the captain of your ship anymore. But be assured, when your ship comes to rest, it will be on a mountain top.

In the faith chapter of the Book of Hebrews, the author says, " By faith Noah, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house," which was only eight people. But Noah's ark was a type of the antitype, Christ, the promised Savior.

I don't know how many of you have seen Mel Gibson's movie, The Passion of Christ. It immediately became one of my favorite movies. And although the movie is very graphic, there are only two scenes that make me cry. And I've seen the movie at least ten times but every time I cry on those scenes. One of the scenes is when Jesus is being nailed to the cross and a soldier is trying to stretch out His arm but He's drawing it in, then one of the guards shouts, "Let me show you how it's done." And he pulls and pulls on Jesus' arm until the joint is pulled out of socket. That really gets to me, the last time I watched the movie, I got up and went to the kitchen to keep from seeing that.

The other scene, which happens before that scene, I'm simply mesmerized by it, I can't pull myself away. It is my favorite scene in the whole movie. Jesus is traveling the Via Dolorosa and the crowd is thronging behind Him. Mary, John and Magdalene are lost in the crowd. Mary tells John, "Get me close to Him." So they cut through the crowd and end up in a passage way where they are shielded from the crowd, but there's an opening where Jesus is going to pass right by so Mary would be able to get close to Him.

Jesus gets to the passageway and falls under the weight of the cross right at the opening and His mother runs to Him, falls down beside Him and says, "I'm here." But then there is a flashback of Jesus at four or five years old falling in the yard. His mother runs to Him, scoops Him up in her arms, and she had spoken the same words, "I'm here." And He looked up at her and smiled, because to a five year old boy, His mother's arms wrapped around Him made everything alright. To a five year old boy, his mother's tender words of love made everything alright. Then it goes back to the now scene where Mary had just said, "I'm here." But Jesus was no longer her five year old little boy. He was the thirty-three year old Son of God, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. So He grabbed His mother's face and He said, "See, mother, I make all things new."

But the waves and the billows of God's judgment had to pass over Him. It took Jesus standing still as soldiers slapped Him and spat in His face to make all things new. It took Him not saying a word as they beat a crown of thorns down on His head to make all things new. It was His hands stretched out on a Roman cross that would make all things new. His words, "It is Finished" that made all things new. He had to come to rest on the Mountain top of Calvary to make all things new, and not just for eight people, but for a world of lost sinners.

And Church, I was lost. You were lost. We were all lost sinners until we entered into the ark of Christ by faith, believing in Someone not seen. For we walk by faith, not by sight.

I don't know about you, but I want to grow in my faith. I would love to hear Jesus say to me, "O woman, great is thy faith." Church, I want that, " Ms. Fanny Crosby" type of faith. You know Ms. Fanny, that "Blessed Assurance Ms. Fanny." Ms. Fanny who lived to be ninety-five years old but was blind from six weeks old. She had to walk by faith.

And it was Ms. Fanny's faith that made her pen the words, "I am thine, O Lord, I have heard thy voice and it told thy love to me; but I long to rise in the arms of faith, and be closer drawn to thee." You see, Pilate's judgment hall wasn't close enough for Ms. Fanny, Ms Fanny said, "Draw me nearer." The Via Dolorosa wasn't close enough for Ms. Fanny, Ms. Fanny said, "Draw me nearer." Ms. Fanny wanted to be drawn to the cross where Christ had died. That old rugged cross where a Roman curse became a universal cure. The cross where a soldier pierced Jesus to assure He was dead, but "An opening in the side" was made that assures He ever lives. God had made another opening for man to enter into the salvation of the Lord, and Ms. Fanny wanted to be drawn to that opening, she said, "Draw me to thy precious bleeding side."

It's an opening that still gushes blood and water that cleanses from all unrighteousness and washes whiter than snow. An opening that still saves from the gutter most to the uttermost. An opening that can change a pimp into a Pastor, a prostitute into the President of the Women Ministry. An opening that can change my wayward boys into Prodigal Sons. It's an opening in the side that makes all things new!!

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