This article was written by Ray A. Navarro, pastor of the Tempe Seventh-day Adventist Church in Tempe, Az.
The Bible states that “children are a gift from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward” (New American Standard Bible, Psalm 127:3). Indeed they are. From dirty diapers to dirty rooms, my son has been the Lord’s reward to me, a gift that has caused me to lie down on the carpet with him crafting cool Lego destroyer vehicles when he was about seven, playing football in the living room, listening to his problems (or trying to anyway), taking him to urgent care at three in the morning due to an asthma attack, paying expensive tuition, or engaging in a frustrating argument (for the both of us). I have felt joy, perplexity, pride, sympathy, compassion, vexation, worry, irritation—all those sentiments that parents worldwide understand.
I want so many things for my son—not “things” in the sense of materialism, but rather the things of personal essence. Cash is a poor substitute for character, so I’d rather he be an honest, hard worker, integral, caring, and conscientious, working at Taco Bell, than a successful and wealthy professional that cuts corners, is apathetic towards others, a womanizer, and only thinks of his own gain or status. By God’s grace, I can say that my son is developing a decent character (and I need to tell him so).
But decency or good behavior is not enough. What I long for, far and above all else, is that my son’s name will always be etched in the Lamb’s Book of Life. My son goes to church and pays tithe. That’s great, but not enough. The Bible is replete with God’s headaches over His people who had all the externals nailed, but their hearts were detached. God said through the prophet Isaiah, “their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote” (Isa. 29:13). “Rote” without the last letter spells “Rot” and that is precisely Isaiah’s gist here. A person that reverences God at the shallow level of rote rehearsals and routines is actually rotten on the inside (see Jesus’ audacious but spot-on denunciation of the Pharisees’ inner “rottenness” in Mat. 23:25-28). I want for my son to have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. I want him to experience His grace, His abundant life here, and a home with Him throughout eternity. Don’t get me wrong; my son is not sowing wild and worldly oats, or on the verge of becoming an atheist. I just want his heart to authentically belong to Jesus Christ. I pray for this.
If God were to grant me a prophetic vision guaranteeing my son’s salvation, I would be ecstatic. Daniel and John’s apocalyptic prophecies wouldn’t even come close to a prediction like that. It is every Christian parent’s desire.
And I believe this is exactly what God predicted to Noah.
Noah was married and had three sons and three daughters-in-law. Genesis 6:3 states that God declared probation of 120 literal years for mankind before He would destroy the world with a flood because of the rampant wickedness in society (this doesn’t mean that man’s lifespan would not exceed 120 years. Genesis 11 describes post-flood people that lived for hundreds of years; Abraham died at 175 and his first born Ishmael died at 137 [Gen. 25:7, 17]). God communicated His intentions to righteous Noah and told him to fundamentally build a cargo ship to save any true fans of God and the animals. Ellen White states it this way: “A hundred and twenty years before the Flood, the Lord by a holy angel declared to Noah His purpose, and directed him to build an ark” (Patriarchs and Prophets, 92).
Anyone can do the math. The flood occurred when Noah was 600 years old (Genesis 7:11). If you subtract 120 years from Noah’s 600th year, you arrive at Noah’s 480th year of life. So God communicated the very somber news of a worldwide deluge to Noah in his 480th year. But included in the somber forecast of a future watery grave was this encouraging news to Noah: “But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife, and your son’s wives with you” (Gen. 6:18).
What encouraging news! Noah and his family would be saved!
But here’s the astonishing surprise. Genesis 5:32 states Noah didn’t have children until he was 500. If God conveyed the Flood to Noah in his 480th year of life, this means Noah didn’t have any children yet. His sons would not be born for another 20 years and yet God told him that his sons (and their wives) would be saved. I don’t know how Noah reacted, but if it were me, I would be speechless and wide eyed. “You mean I’m going to have kids…and they’ll be saved?!”
For the first twenty years of building the ark, Noah had no sons, much less daughters-in-law. He must have pondered as he pounded, “How many children will I have?” And I’m sure he often prayed, “Lord, help me be the father You would have me be for my future children…And bless them with godly spouses.”
This has to be the number one Prophecy for Parents! To KNOW that your children will be saved is a joy difficult to articulate. I can and do pray for many things, but above all, I pray that my son will be on that ark. I pray that whatever may happen to me, my wife, my church, this world, his career, his relationships—he will personally and intimately know Jesus Christ as his Savior and Friend. I would hate to suffer like Job did, but even if it takes suffering, a tragedy, or even my life—if it means that my son will enter those gates of pearl, then so be it.
From one parent to another, I encourage you to have faith in God, pray hard, trust Him, and believe that God will save your children.