Water flooded the earth for forty days, and as it rose it lifted the boat off the ground. The water continued to rise, and the boat floated on it above the earth. The water rose so much that even the highest mountains under the sky were covered by it. It continued to rise until it was more than twenty feet above the mountains.
All living things that moved on the earth died. This included all the birds, tame animals, wild animals, and creatures that swarm on the earth, as well as all human beings. So everything on dry land that had the breath of life in it died. God destroyed from the earth every living thing that was on the land—every man, animal, crawling thing, and bird of the sky. All that was left was Noah and what was with him in the boat.
Noah’s flood fascinates me. The huge boat. The massive project to design, build and stock the boat. The geological upheaval on a scale never seen before or since. And then the sheer boredom of living in close quarters with a lot of animals and dwindling supplies for just over a year. My kids are on Christmas break, so all of us are at home all day. At least we have the option of leaving the house, and in four days they’ll be back at school, thank goodness. Imagine being cooped up with your family for a year, with nowhere else to go.
But looking beyond the logistics of the event, for Noah there was the terrible dichotomy of fierce satisfaction and relief at being proved right, after all those years of seemingly pointless hard work in the face of relentless ridicule, contrasted with the immense sadness of all that death and destruction.
A while ago I was reading a book by journalist Matt Taibbi called The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap. There were times when I found myself gritting my teeth at the stories of monumental injustice perpetrated by the very rich, and cried out to God, Why did you let this happen? Couldn’t you smite them or something? And God whispered in my ear reminding me of times I’d done wrong, and asked, Should I smite you too?
Centuries after the flood, Jesus became the full embodiment of Noah’s ark. He was the one by whom people could be rescued from the judgement of God against an unjust and corrupt world. The judgement that should have been directed against me was instead endured by Jesus on the cross. So I’m glad and relieved that I don’t have to fear God’s retribution against my wrongdoing. I’ve been made righteous by Jesus’ death and resurrection. And I’m sad that it’s precisely because of my sin that he suffered God’s judgement. And I’m looking ahead to the day when all will be set right.