WHILE OTHERS MOCKED, GOD’S MEN CARRIED ON!
Noah: Hebrews11 furnishes role models of faith and Noah is one among them (Heb. 11:7). Early Jewish writers speak of Noah being mocked by the crowd. St. John Chrysostom, a Christian preacher of the 4th century, has written, “Many there laughed at Noah while he was preparing the ark on dry land.” But while men and women around him mocked, Noah was living in God’s world, with his ears and eyes open to God (Gen.6:9). He walked in step with God’s drumbeat, while many others were blatantly out of step. We read about God’s exasperation with the wicked world, contrasted with His approval of Noah, who “found favour in the eyes of the Lord.” Following the crowds would have been the path of least resistance for him. But Noah stood unyielding against a tide of public opinion. When the crowds began to mock him for building an ark on dry land, he was undeterred because his heart and mind were already settled on a predetermined course. By following God’s plan and His detailed plans, Noah was sure that the finished product would be correct. This obedience to God’s instructions and his robust faith in God lessened the crowd’s influence on him.
David: During Saul’s reign, the Philistines had gathered together at Socoh, while Saul and his men also set the battle in array. Just then Goliath, a champion of the Philistines, challenged the Israelites to choose a man from their side to fight with him. Goliath was gigantic, 9 feet tall, with an armour which weighed about 150 pounds and his spearhead about 20 pounds. David’s offer to fight with him with only a staff and a sling was an act of unheard of bravery and trust in God. When Goliath saw David, he cursed him by his gods and swore that he would kill him and give his flesh to the beasts of the field and fowls of the air. But David cried that though he had only a staff and a sling with him, he would meet him in the name of the Lord of Hosts whom Goliath defied. Goliath’s mockery and defiance did not frighten this youth who had enormous trust in God. He said, “The battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into my hands.” David ran and smote the giant with a sling and a stone and slew him. He also took Goliath’s sword and cut off his head. Thus he proved that there was a God in Israel above the gods of the Philistines!
Hezekiah: When Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, encamped against the fenced cities of Judah, Hezekiah consoled his people, saying, “Be not dismayed for all the multitude that is with the Assyrians. For there is more with us than with them.” Sennacherib then sent Rabshakah with a host of men to blaspheme and mock at the God of Israel and to intimidate the Israelites. They used the Jews’ language to frighten them and said, “Let not Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you out of Sennacherib’s hand. He’s giving you only false hopes! The gods of their nations could not save their people from his hand. How could the God of Israel deliver you then?” Hezekiah took the letter that the king of Assyria had sent through his messenger, spread it before God and cried that He should save them. Then the God of Israel intervened, and sent an angel who smote the Assyrians. The next morning, they saw only corpses in their camp! Thus the mockery and blasphemy of the Assyrians lost against the faith of Hezekiah and the Israelites!
Nehemiah: Nehemiah was a cupbearer to King Artaxerxes of Persia. He wept and mourned on hearing that the wall of Jerusalem was broken down and its gates got burned with fire. He persevered in prayer to God and then requested the king to permit him to return to Jerusalem to do the needed repair work. But the old enemies of the Jews who had taken possession of the land, the Moabites, the Ammonites, the Arabians and the Samaritans bitterly opposed the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. They mobilised their armies and marched against Jerusalem. They laughed the Jews to scorn and despised them. Nehemiah answered that the God of heaven would prosper their work and started right in earnest repairing the gates and building the walls. Sanbalat and Tobiah mocked them and commented that if a fox went up, it would break down their stone wall. Nehemiah and his men did the work with one hand, holding a weapon with the other hand. Thus every builder had his sword girded to his side! Nehemiah and his men carried on their work without minding their mockery and worked day and night. The wall got finished in 52 days, thanks to their efforts. Jerusalem became a fortified city 142 years after its destruction in 586 BC.
Jesus Christ, who was the embodiment of love and compassion, was mocked, scoffed, and jeered at the scene of crucifixion. Among the disciples, whom He loved, one betrayed Him and another denied Him. The soldiers, who arrested Him, blindfolded Him, struck Him on His face and asked Him to prophesy who struck Him (Lk.22:63-65). When Pilate heard that Jesus belonged to Galilee, he sent Him to Herod to be tried by him. Herod was curious to see Jesus, but Jesus wouldn’t answer His various questions and kept quiet. Herod and his men mocked Him, arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe and sent Him back to Pilate (Lk.23:11). After Pilate released Barabbas, Jesus was led to be crucified. The soldiers stripped Him, dressed Him up in a scarlet robe, placed on His head a crown of thorns, gave a reed into His hand and bowed the knee before Him, mocking and saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” While the crowd enjoyed this spectacle of mockery and torture, the Son of Man cried, “Father, forgive them.” He was absolutely without any resentment for those who mocked Him. To their brutal minds, it was a great sport to see One who claimed to be the Son of God, submitting to such humiliation and torture. What a hard hearted, inhuman, brutal, contemptible crowd it was!
Making a decision to follow Christ and translating that decision into action are necessary initially; but, sooner or later, we’ll have to face the mocking crowds. Just as Noah got the measurements and a list of materials from God, our master plan, the Bible, gives us the general dimensions of how we should live. It provides us with instructions regarding how to handle its details. Noah not only obeyed God’s instructions, but also preached righteousness (2Pet. 2:5). We should obey God’s instructions provided in the Bible, and also carry out the Great Commission.