The Doctrine of Revelation: The Storyline of Scripture (Part 7)

There are a few Old Testament stories that every kid growing up in church knows about. The Fall (Adam and Eve ate some fruit), David and Goliath (a boy with a slingshot killed a giant), the walls of Jericho (marching and shouting brought down a giant wall), and Noah (a dude built a boat for animals). In most cases as kids we don’t remember much about the meaning of the story, just the silly songs or activities we did that coincided with the story. I mean how many kids can talk to you about the Abrahamic Covenant? But I bet tons of them could sing you “Father Abraham.” That of course is quite expected of kids, and I am happy that they know the stories. The problem is, however, that as the age most of them never hear the rest of the meaning. So the story of Noah is a rather meaningless and weird tale. But when we look at the Flood account through the lens of Jesus’ fulfillment we see that this story too is about our salvation and our Savior.

The story of Noah revolves around a righteous man living in a sinful world. God decides it is high time he address the ever-increasing wickedness of men (Gen. 6:5-7). His solution is to destroy the earth and all its inhabitants, save for Noah and his family. He would flood the earth, but as part of His rescue plan he orders Noah to build an ark to protect himself, his family, and all two of every species of animal. There are several key factors, however, that we must note about the account of Noah, if we are to understand it as more than a fabulous tale.

First, it is God who initiates Noah’s salvation. The text says that Noah found “favor” with God. But God didn’t have to save Noah. In fact, as soon as the flood subsides Noah plants a vineyard, gets drunk, and exposes himself to his family. It’s not exactly a righteous man’s relaxation technique. No, God takes the initiative to save Noah. He gives him specific instructions, and guides him in the process of building something he had never seen, or heard of.

Second, note that God takes sin very seriously. God is so grieved by the sinfulness of humanity during this age that He is ready to wipe them out and start over. It’s a testimony to His holiness.  God cannot be in the presence of sin, nor can He overlook it! God must deal with it. This flood is a flood of His wrath!

Third, the ark is a type of savior. This shelter from the wrath is a type of savior pointing forward to another who would endure the flood of God’s wrath. Jesus would bear the wrath of God so that all those who hide in Him would be spared. This story is a picture of what happens at the cross. The apostle Peter makes this even more clear.

Peter writes:

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,  19 in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison,  20 because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.  21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,  22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.  (1 Peter 3:18 – 22)

Here Peter takes a slightly different angle: comparing the flood account with baptism. The point he makes here is that just as Noah and his family went through the waters of judgment but were saved, so those who are in Christ represent their salvation through the waters of judgment in baptism. We are saved, like Noah and his family, because another has taken the diluvian beating for us.

The point in the account is that salvation comes through judgment, not around it. The key, however, is that our judgment was taken by the ark of our salvation: Jesus Christ. In Him, the flood waters do not touch us. That’s the picture that Noah paints for us, even as he lives it himself.

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