Saturday, November 28, 2009

Advent series part 2: Noah and the flood

If you haven't read my first post on the proto-evangelium, it's a good place to start. I know this is not your typical Advent series, but bear with me and I’ll get us up to the birth of Christ by, well, by Christmas. I just couldn’t skip over this most well-known of narratives in the Bible- that of Noah and the flood.

Genesis 6:5 says that “the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So, the Lord said, ‘I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.’ But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.”

The story of the flood is also a picture of the gospel. Man sins. God hates sin and must punish it because of His perfect holiness and because He is a just God. Yet, we see not only the wrath of God against wickedness in the flood, but also His mercy and grace. Genesis 6:9 calls Noah “a just man, perfect in all his generations.” I was reading something recently that suggested that Noah is called perfect because the law had not yet been given. I would like to offer another interpretation. Romans 3:23 says that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and Romans 3:10 says, “there is none righteous, no, not one. There is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one.” I do not believe Noah was perfect, as in sinless, for this would contradict the above passages. Rather, Noah was a man who “walked with God” (Genesis 6:9) meaning he loved the Lord and sought to obey him in every area of his life. Noah was like the righteous man described in the Proverbs who “walks in his integrity” (20:7) and who “follows righteousness and mercy, finds life, righteousness, and honor” (21:21). In case there’s still any question about the righteousness of Noah, Genesis 9:21 settles it. “Then he drank of the wine and was drunk and became uncovered in his tent.” Noah was not completely without sin, but he stood out in the midst of his perverse generation as one who loved the Lord and wanted to please Him.

Now on to the Advent portion of this narrative. God could have destroyed the whole world, all of His creation and every living thing, but He didn’t. "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord". The Lord had mercy upon Noah and his family and didn’t destroy them, even though He certainly could have and would have been within His right to do so. God chose to provide one way of salvation, the ark. God didn’t carry Noah and his family up on a cloud to hover above the earth during the flood, and He didn’t put a force field around them to protect them where they were. Certainly, He could have just caused it to flood over most of the world, but preserved Noah and his family. God didn’t choose any of these methods for salvation. Noah was saved by faith- he believed God, and this faith saved him from the flood. “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” (Hebrews 11:7). Noah’s salvation required that he believe God and that he respond to God in faith (building the ark).

So the Lord provided one means of salvation, the ark, and Noah was saved by faith. Even though it had most likely never rained before, Noah believed God over peer pressure, God over the culture, God over science. I also love that there was just one door in the ark. The ark was huge, why not put multiple doors on every deck? Why have just one door? I think again this points us to Christ. There is only one way to salvation, not many.

I also can’t help but notice that God instructed Noah to bring both clean and unclean animals aboard the ark (Genesis 7:2). This suggests to me two things. First, it indicates that God had indeed already conveyed His law to the people during Noah’s time despite the fact that we are not told specifically about it. Obviously the distinction of clean versus unclean meant something to Noah, so God had given them the dietary laws and instruction as to which animals were to be used for sacrificial sin offerings. (This puts the final nail in the coffin of the theory that Noah was righteous because there had been no law given and thus no standard to break.) The second thing this tells me is that God already had a plan to save Gentiles, as well as Jews. Ok, you may be thinking this is a bit of a stretch, but remember the dream Peter has with the food and God’s telling him to eat and he’s saying, but it’s not clean? God was telling Peter, not that there is no unclean food, but that He wanted Peter to go and take the gospel to Cornelius, a Gentile. The Lord tells him firmly, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” (Acts 10:15) In this vision from the Lord, clean animals represent Jews and unclean ones, Gentiles. So in including clean and unclean animals in the ark, we have a picture of the breadth of God’s love, that salvation will not just be for the Jews, but that He will redeem for Himself a people that will come from all the nations of the earth.

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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.