Noah Graves, senior biblical and theological studies major and business administration minor from Ada, Oklahoma, delivered the OBU chapel message Wednesday, April 7, in Raley Chapel’s Potter Auditorium. He was selected as this year’s student preacher by the faculty of the Hobbs College of Theology and Ministry, an annual chapel event each spring.
He taught from Numbers 21:4-9 and discussed Israel’s wandering in the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land. He shared four key items gleaned from this passage which demonstrate how God works throughout all of scripture.
He first noted how Israel rejected God’s provision, just as we are guilty of doing in our own lives.
“Constantly throughout the life of Israel,” he said, referring to their journey following the exodus from slavery in Egypt, “constantly throughout this nation’s journey, God has provided for them time and time again.” He then compared their lack of gratitude and thankfulness for God’s provision to our own attitudes.
“I relate so much to Israel because I, too, have rejected the provision of God,” he said.
The second point Graves discussed is the revelation of God’s power. In the passage, Israel complains to God and to Moses about the difficult journey and their lack of food, so God sends poisonous snakes among the people.
“So God takes this moment, and He reminds them that ‘I am God and you are not.’”
He then listed the third main point demonstrated in this passage, the repentance of God’s people, as they acknowledge their sin and ask Moses to intercede in their behalf with God.
“Do you know why Israel came to God in that moment? It’s because they’ve seen Him save them before. Why did Israel come to God? Because they’ve experienced the salvation of God before. Why did Israel come say, ‘Hey, my only option in this moment is for God to save us’? Why is that? Because they know and they are reminded that He is God and they are not.
“So when we find ourselves in a similar situation and we find ourselves facing the brokenness of this world, why do we never turn to God as if He’s the only option?”
He talked about how God instructed Moses to make a fiery serpent and place it on a pole, and to tell the people that whenever anyone was bitten, they were to look up at the snake on the pole and they would recover.
Graves referenced this as he shifted to a New Testament passage, John 3:14-15, where Jesus said, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.” (CSB)
The fourth point Graves emphasized was the reality of God’s promise, that Jesus paid the penalty for our sin and offers the only path to salvation for all who believe.
“Nothing that humanity has created can redeem us from brokenness. They’ve tried. It doesn’t work.”
Graves currently serves as the student body vice president at OBU. In May 2020, he received the Evans T. Mosely Leadership Award from the University and was elected three times as the class of 2021 president, serving from 2017 to 2020. He received the Bob and Nelle Agee Leadership Award in 2018, the Governor George and Donna Nigh Leadership Scholar award in 2019 and the Coffee Family Pastoral Ministry Award in 2020. He served as the Welcome Week Steering Committee co-chair for 2020 and has been a member of the Herd as a campus ambassador in the Office of Admissions since 2018, where he now serves as co-chair, coordinating campus tours and supervising a large number of other student workers.
Graves also has extensive ministry experience. He worked as an evangelism team preacher with Oklahoma Baptists, spending the summer of 2018 traveling throughout the state, hosting revivals each week and preaching multiple services per week. He served as a member of the OBU Hut Staff at Falls Creek in summer 2019 and worked as a church planting intern with Oklahoma Baptists from 2017 to 2020, serving in churches in Sapulpa and Edmond over a three-year period. He currently serves as a pastoral intern at Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, where he has been since August. His wife Taylor is an OBU graduate and currently works on campus as an admissions counselor in the Office of Admissions.