We’re all familiar with the story of Noah’s Ark and the Great Flood. Production companies that have animated this for children, such as Christian Broadcasting Network’s Superbook, and Veggie Tales have made it all about the cute animals and the catchy tunes. My seven-year-old son is enamored with the long line up of animals ushered into the Ark. Hollywood has done a few versions, but sadly, are far from Biblical accuracy.
My son has also wondered about how many dinosaurs were on the boat. Where did Noah get the wood for the boat if there were few trees because of the desert climate? Did Noah have help or did he build it all alone? How did they manage to bring enough food for all the animals AND Noah’s family for 40 days and 40 nights, and the significant time spend waiting for flood waters to recede? What did they do with all the animal waste? What about human waste? And those are just a few of the questions I have tossed around with others and in my own mind as I’ve tried to understand this on a deeper level. So many petty details.
But this story isn’t about a boat. This is one example of God’s many rescue missions throughout scripture. It’s about God’s mercy and judgement. It’s about how seriously we take our sin and how God responds to our suffering.
Genesis Six, chapter one describes the rampant evil in the world. “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days – and also afterward – when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown. The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time . . . but Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” (verses 4-5). This passage has baffled me. Who were the Nephilim? And what inspired the sons of God and daughters of humans to procreate? And how did this make them all evil?
There are several theories as to how to interpret this paragraph. One of them that makes the most sense to me comes from Blue Letter Bible commentator David Guzi, pastor of Calvary Chapel in Santa Barbara, California. He suggests that Satan sent his fallen angels – who could change into human form – to procreate with human women, which were sexual acts that God considered unnatural and inappropriate. Satan infected the human race – God’s original, perfect human creation – with his evil DNA to thwart God’s plan to redeem Adam and Eve. Jesus had to come from a pure blood line, meaning a human daughter and God’s DNA. At this point in history, it wasn’t about people purposely rejecting salvation. It’s about cleaning up Satan’s trashy DNA with cleansing flood waters. Noah and his family were also sinful. That’s NOT what made Noah and his family different from the rest of the world. But Noah and his family had not been infected with Satan’s DNA.
One of my greatest fears is making the wrong choice. That amounts to me taking a very long time to make some important decisions. So I have been trying to understand the differences between Noah and the rest of the world when ALL were still sinful. How can I learn from Noah? He actually listened to God’s command to build a boat. In the middle of the desert, mind you, when he had probably never seen rain. Then he waited patiently for the flood waters to recede. I wonder if it was difficult for him to wait for an entire year? When God opened the Ark door and declared it was time to exit, Noah built an altar unto the Lord and worshipped him. Noah believed, listened, obeyed, worshipped, and was blessed. A pattern is emerging. Noah committed his life to faith and obedience. Is my life a picture of the same choices?
The incredible loss of life of human and animal life is also troubling and raises hard questions. We as believers must not dismiss God’s judgement lightly, smugly thinking that this is simply what evil people have coming to them. Isn’t this judgement we ALL deserve, had it not been for Jesus’s work on the cross? Yet, the fact that God, because of his great mercy and love, will NOT let sin and evil go unjudged, is reason enough to give Him praise. God ALWAYS deals with sin. That is either terrifying or a relief, depending on where you are in your walk with the Lord. Without an understanding of the depth of sin’s death blow, we will not seek the relief and rescue we ALL desperately need. Because now, on the other side of the cross, with all the scriptures at our disposal, we can make a choice of whether to repent and accept salvation (enter the Ark) or die with Satan (be swept up in the flood)
My Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) class is currently studying Genesis, which has been the inspiration for this piece. Like the rest of the world, we have been doing weekly zoom sessions due to the pandemic. But just recently, the decision to regather was made among the leadership, with masks and social distancing, of course, on the same day we studied the passage on the opening of the Ark door. In this case, in 2020, the Ark might represent safety and refuge from the virus, rather than a flood. My small group leader believes this is no coincidence.
Heavenly Father, I thank you for being the perfect judge and I thank you for your mercy. You are as faithful to us as you were to Noah. Soften our hearts and raise our awareness of our own sin so that we may also seek you for our own rescue mission. Thank you for always coming to our rescue when we call on you in faith. Amen.