It’s hard to believe that another year has already passed, isn’t it?  It seems like only yesterday that we were all talking about the year 2000 and the Y2K glitch, and speculating whether or not it would cause a major catastrophe that would bring an end to life as we know it.  Yet no catastrophe came, and now we are standing on the brink of a new century, a new millennium, and facing a new future and all the possibilities that it brings.

This new beginning that we face reminds me of another new beginning, perhaps the greatest new beginning that mankind has ever faced: the new beginning that Noah and his family faced as they stepped off the Ark.  Remember, they had seen the world as God had originally created it, in all its splendor and beauty…something that we can only imagine today!  And compared to that how awful the new earth must have appeared to them.  Ravaged, destroyed by water, desolate…a fearful world and a fearful place in which to try to build a new life and begin a new future.

And what fears this sight must have inspired in their minds!  What if God became angry again and destroyed this new world they tried to build before it could even begin?  Or what if some other catastrophe would arise and this time bring an end to the earth once and for all?  Surely these and other fears must have almost paralyzed them as they considered the incredible task that lay before them.

Yet God soon laid their fears to rest.  For Noah made a sacrifice to the Lord, and, as we read in Genesis 8:21-22, God responded with a promise.  He said,

“I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I destroy every living thing as I have done.
“While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,
And cold and heat,
And winter and summer,
And day and night
Shall not cease.”

How this great promise must have relieved them!  And how it must have inspired them to go out and make a new start and build a new world for themselves and their children.

We too face many fears as we consider the new world that the next century will bring.  We might wonder, “What if some terrible plague is unleashed by nature or genetic engineering and puts an end to all human life on earth?  What if a nuclear war begins and unleashes death upon our world?  What if some terrible dictator like Hitler or Stalin arises and seeks to wipe out all faith and all belief in Christ Jesus from the earth?”  Indeed, such fears are real, and they can cloud the future for us and hold us in fear, much like the fear that gripped Noah and his family.

But we too have a promise from God that can allay our fears.  This promise is given to us in    I Timothy 4:9-10.  There God declares to us through Paul,

“This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance.
For to this end we labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, Who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.”

What does this mean, “The Savior of all men?”  Is God speaking here of universal salvation?  No, we know this is not true, for the Bible reveals that many will be lost.  Here Savior and the word “save” take on a different meaning.  This meaning is the same one we find in the English phrase, “God save the King.”  This is not saying that the King is in some terrible danger from which he must be rescued.  Rather it is a prayer that God will preserve the King…his life, his throne, his future.  And this is what God means when He says He is the Savior of all men in   I Timothy.  He means that He is the preserver of all men, and He will not allow mankind to ever perish from the earth!  Moreover, He is the preserver especially of those who believe, and we can rest assured that no matter what lies ahead in the future, God will see to it that there are always those in it who believe in Him and who trust in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for them.

So we need not face this future with terrible fear and anxiety.  Rather, we can look to it with hope in the new beginning we can make, like Noah and his family did.  For we know that God’s promise still holds on earth, and that the Savior of all men is still on the throne.  Let us rest in these things as we begin this new year, and as we worship our Savior here together this morning.