“The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was grieved that He had made man on the earth, and it broke His heart…but Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.” – Genesis 6:5,6,8
“And God said to Noah, ‘I have determined to make an end to all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them.'” – Genesis 6:13
Have you ever been outside and looked toward the horizon and saw dark clouds moving toward your area? “Looks like rain” You don’t have to be a meteorologist to figure that one out! The signs are all there and you make the appropriate preparations for it. You go back inside and you get the jacket and the umbrella. You may have to tweak your plans for that outdoor activity because “Looks like a storm is coming”.
The story of Noah is a another one that reveals some critical things about the God who loves us. Yes, I know, He destroys the world with a flood. But if all we see is the rain we can miss some of the greater truths that this event teaches us. Again, this is a story about God, not the world gone horribly bad…that we can understand. The message about our natural tendencies to rebel against God and reject His design have already been documented from “the beginning”. This leads to death and destruction. The more important truth that has been clearly revealed is that our God, full of love and mercy, continues to pursue us. He is relentless in His commitment to rescue us…save us…redeem us and have a relationship with us. This is the heart of the Gospel! It has not changed from the beginning!
The story of Noah and the ark is not about a Creator trashing His creation and starting over. It is about a holy and just God extending the opportunity for the people He created to return to Him and their original intention. Like with Cain, God sees the situation and intervenes. He brings this message of hope through the voice of one who is faithful, Noah. He points out the problem (sin) and identifies the consequences (destruction). Then, He provides the Way of salvation, an ark.
Here are a few things this story teaches us about God that are important for understanding the rest of the story. First, God never brings judgement without warning. So, before you shout, “That’s not fair” consider this. Like the dark clouds on the horizon, God always gives us a heads up. Throughout Scripture He sent word through a prophet (like Jonah) or through the written Word (in Exodus) or even a divinely spoken Word, like in the conversion of the Apostle Paul. In the story of Noah we find a God who not only gives warning but gives ample opportunity for repentance. Peter describes Noah as a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5). Noah was not only a builder of the ark, he was also a preacher to those of his time while he was building it. Once again, God shows compassion even for those who have rejected Him! Our God is compassionate and slow to anger! The Bible is consistently clear;
“The LORD passed before him (Moses) and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness…” – Exodus 34:6
“The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” – Psalm 103:8
“The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient towards you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” – 2 Peter 3:9
This story also tells us that God recognizes those who are faithful. Noah was not perfect but he had faith in God. This was more than a belief in a supreme being. It was a conviction that made a difference in the way he lived and a confidence that enabled him to obey God instead of conforming to the world around him. How about you? Even today our compassionate God pleads with a world bent on destruction, “Come to me”. Yes, the Bible tells us that there are consequences to rejecting God and His design. The warning is clear. There is a storm coming. Lent is a reminder that the Father has made the Way. You can come home. You don’t have to get caught in the rain.