We’ve seen some heavy rain in the UK recently, especially in Sheffield and other parts of South Yorkshire. But it can’t compare to the downpour described in our passage today.
Genesis 7 describes a divine downpour that lasted for forty days. It drenched the known world, and wiped out every living thing. This flood was not an accident or a freak of nature, but a deliberate act of judgement by God on a wicked world.
If you were here last week, you’ll remember that Genesis 6 describes a violent, sinful human society. One in which every thought and inclination of the human heart was evil and wicked. A selfish, corrupt society which grieved God’s heart and aroused his anger.
But verse 1 today tells us that one family was found righteous. Noah and his relatives caught God’s attention as the exception which proved the rule. They stood out in a hedonistic society in which God and God’s ways was ignored.
As Christians we are called to be equally distinctive in our society. Jesus calls us to be like ‘salt and light’, to stand out like a city on a hill.
Our attitudes, actions, values and lifestyle are to be visibly different to surrounding secular society. Our ambition should be to live lives that please God rather than please ourselves.
The challenge for us is to be:
Like Noah and his family, may God see us as righteous members of our own generation.
The tragedy of Genesis 6 and 7 is that Noah and his family were the only faithful remnant in a fallen world. They were few in number and the rest of mankind deserved God’s judgement.
What is striking in the description of the Flood is that it was almost an act of un-Creation. It was almost the reversal of God’s creative acts in Genesis chapter 1. The separation between land and sea is removed. Living things – animals and humans – are scoured from the surface of the earth.
The flood may be familiar to us from childhood stories, but it is not sanitised in the original biblical text. The flood is not a fairy story, but an awe-inspiring, very sobering display of the wrath of God.
The flood is a salutary reminder of a warning that runs throughout Scripture. The warning that God will not tolerate rebellion against him indefinitely. Evil must end sometime. Ultimately justice will be done.
Jesus makes the same point in our Gospel reading, he warns that just as God acted against the sinful members of Noah’s generation, so he will one day act to judge our world.
The Bible says human beings are being given time to repent and turn back to God, but his patience won’t last forever. Scripture is clear there is such a thing as Judgement Day, and Noah’s Flood was a foretaste.
But as ever, there is good news. Because God also acts in grace as well as judgement. He much prefers to show his grace than his wrath.
And we see God’s grace in action in Genesis 7 in his provision of an ark for Noah and his family. To save them from the deluge, God gacve Noah detailed instructions for the design of an ark.
(To misquote Gerald Durrell…) God provided an ark that would be a safe refuge for “Noah’s family and other animals” once the heavens opened. They only had to head for the door of the ark and they would be saved. God would then seal the door and steer the ship to safety.
Verse 24 tells us that for six months they floated on the waters. For six months God graciously preserved their lives while his judgement consumed everything outside.
Christ our Ark
The wonderful message of the Christian faith is that God has provided an ark for us. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ God has provided a way for every human being to avoid his wrath, a way to escape his coming judgement day. Christ is our ark.
Noah and the animals had to trust God’s words and enter the ark to survive the flood. Today, human beings need to repent of their sin and put their faith in Christ to be saved.
I am the gate says Jesus in chapter 10 of John’s Gospel “Whoever enters through me will be saved”. He is the doorway to everlasting life. He is an ark with room enough for anyone to enter.
Our role as mature Christians is to point people today to Christ. By our words and deeds we are to point people towards Jesus – towards the ark of salvation we enter by repentance and faith in him.
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