What do you think of when you hear of the story of Noah and the flood? Have you ever found it hard to reconcile the God of the Old Testament with the New Testament? This blog interestingly shows the links between this story and the rest of the Bible, pointing out the key characteristics of God shown in both. Remember – Jesus is the hero of every story in the Bible. In dying on the cross, Jesus also builds us an ark at great cost to himself, to save us from the flood waters of the judgement of God. Like Noah, to be in the safety of the ark you need to be part of Jesus’ family, in the kingdom of God. But unlike Noah, Jesus’ salvation is eternal and changes our hearts. Jesus is the ultimate Noah – who rescues everyone in his family forevermore and changes our hearts to be more like him. Have a read of other stories in the Old Testament and see how they point towards Jesus.
(Find this blog at: http://theresurgence.com/2014/03/27/3-ways-noah-sums-up-the-big-story-of-the-bible)
Many Christians would be quick to say that the flood is about sin, righteousness, and the wrath of God. And while that is at least partly true, partial truths can be the most misleading of all. What’s the story of Noah really about?
Everyone knows the story of Noah and the Ark, right?
After all, what household in America (with small kids anyway) is without some depiction of a cute animal-stuffed ark accompanied by a rainbow and a bearded, kindly-looking old man? My kids loved their Noah’s Ark bath toys. Then there are the story books, cartoons, and the seemingly ubiquitous “documentaries” claiming “proof” either that the story is myth, or that remnants of the real ark have been discovered.
One could also mention the 1999 TV mini-series, or the 2007 Hollywood comedy Evan Almighty. Now there is a new Hollywood movie (which I have not seen) starring the likes of Russell Crowe, Anthony Hopkins, and Emma Watson.
Of course, biblically faithful Christians would be quick to point out that these popular depictions inevitably miss the point entirely.
What then is the point?
Many Christians would be quick to say that the flood is about sin, righteousness, and the wrath of God. And while that is at least partly true, partial truths can be the most misleading of all. The true point lies in the fact that this story introduces some of the central themes of Scripture for the first time within the unfolding narrative of God.
Let me show you what I mean.
1. NOAH SHOWS THAT SIN GRIEVES GOD
To begin with, Genesis 6:6–7 gives us the first recorded glimpse of God’s response to sin an emotional level. I believe this is of massive significance. And interestingly, God’s first response is not wrath or anger. Rather, what we see is sorrow tinged with regret, as we are told that God is literally grieved to the heart.
Often we think of sin in merely transactional terms, as disobedience to commandments or law. The infraction then creates guilt and incurs the righteous wrath of a holy God. While technically true, this view is inherently impersonal and almost mechanical.
The story of Noah introduces some of the central themes of Scripture for the first time within the unfolding narrative of God.
What we see clearly for the first time in the Noah story is that sin is primarily relational. For God, our sin is deeply personal. What we see here is something akin to the emotions of a loving dad pained and grieved to the heart over the persistent sin of a rebellious son or daughter. Yes, anger is in the mix, but the primary emphasis is deep pain and disappointment borne through many years of patient love.
The story of Noah utterly destroys the blinders we often wear in regard to the effect of our sinful choices upon the heart of our Father in heaven. My sin causes the greatest pain first and foremost to my Father in heaven. King David had it right (Ps. 51:4).
2. NOAH SHOWS THAT GOD GIVES GRACE
Also important, and perhaps surprisingly, the story of Noah gives us the first ever mention of grace in the Bible.
Question: Why did God save Noah and his family?
Years ago when asked, I immediately pulled my answer fromGenesis 6:9: “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation.” What I missed—and what many of us miss—is the previous verse that tells us, “but Noah found favor [literally grace] in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen. 6:8).
Interestingly, God’s first response to sin is not wrath or anger.
Yes, Noah was a righteous man, but by grace and not by works. This is made abundantly clear by yet another set of first-ever biblical references in Noah’s story: namely, growing a vineyard, making wine, getting drunk, and passing out naked (Gen 9:20–23). Noah was definitely righteous only by grace! Hope begins to appear.
3. NOAH SHOWS THAT GOD MAKES A COVENANT WITH US
The most hopeful note of all, however, comes with the first-ever occurrence in Scripture of the word “covenant.” This is the story of a loving and patient Father whose children, created in his own image, bring him pain, anguish, and grief through unmitigated rebellion.
God’s response is judgment, bringing universal death through the flood. But the flood, although deserved, is powerless to wipe out sin and provide a new beginning for a righteous humanity in a new garden. The state of humankind is no different after the flood than it was before (Matt. 24:37–39). The horror of sin continues. The intention of every human heart remains evil (Gen. 6:5). Judgment and death continues to be justly and universally deserved today.
Yes, Noah was a righteous man, but by grace and not by works.
At one level, therefore, the flood appears futile and pointless, but therein lies the very point. The flood accomplishes nothing (ultimately), but anticipates everything. Noah and his family were saved by grace. God established a covenant through one man by which the human race was preserved.
This true story, authored by the Holy Spirit through the pen of Moses, points forward, anticipating a better covenant established once-for-all through one man, Jesus.
It reveals our sin, shows us the heart of God, and warns of deserved judgment. It anticipates the genuine offer of a new identity, being made righteous by faith in Christ, who suffered death and judgment in our place. As a result, we are adopted into a new family under the righteous Son. In him we know the joy of salvation and the promise of a new beginning in a new creation, free from the presence of sin.
Think of the story of Noah as being like one bite of a bacon-wrapped appetizer. It is not satisfying in itself, but should cause us to salivate in anticipation of the banquet to come. Let us not miss the point.