You’ve heard about Noah’s ark – but do you know what really went down?
Genesis 6 recounts the grief God had how wicked His creation had become. Things were so depraved that God in His holiness had to ready a flood to wipe them out.
Imagine how difficult that decision was for God: He had to bring an end to His work which He once called “good” and “very good” (Genesis 1:31).
But I love the nuances of this text. In the midst of utter wickedness and evil, God shifts the focus away from them towards His righteous remnant – Noah (Genesis 6:8). This is God’s character: Though the world may leave believers in the dust, He remembers the faithful.
In today’s growing wickedness and evil, we can trust that Christ will preserve His people just as He did for Noah.
THE COVENANT GOD INITIATED
“Everything on earth will perish. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark.” (Genesis 6:17-18)
It’s beautiful how God initiated the covenant – He knew sinful man would never desire to draw close to a Holy God. In fact, such was man’s wickedness that had God not come to Noah, mankind would be completely wiped out.
A covenant is a binding agreement between two parties. It is translated from the Hebrew word berith. Its root meaning is “to cut”, and has its references to the cutting or dividing of animals into two parts.
When God decided to establish His covenant with Noah, He was cutting the sin-infested world off from him. To enter the ark (Genesis 7:1) meant separation from the world and all its wicked desires.
Noah and his family weren’t just set apart. The covenant was also life-giving: Being granted entry to the ark meant safety from certain death.
THE COVENANT THAT PROTECTS
Noah had to build an ark that was specific to God’s design and instructions. But the ark wasn’t the whole point. I believe a flood big enough to destroy the world would also easily topple a man-made structure.
It was the building of the ark that was significant because it reflected Noah’s commitment, obedience and faithfulness to seal his end of the covenant God established.
Noah and his family were ultimately saved because they came under the protection of God’s covenant – not because they had pieced together a physical ark against God’s impending judgement.
Upon the ark’s completion, the next step was to bring in Noah’s family and animals. I used to think that the most important thing in the ark was the humans in it. What could be more precious than man made in the image of God, right?
But rereading led me to a different conclusion. Now I don’t think it was Noah and his family. The most precious thing aboard the ark was God and His everlasting covenant.
When I think of the ark in the flood, I imagine a wooden ring box being helplessly tossed by relentless waves. Yet even in the greatest storm, the covenant was upheld and kept safe by God – all the way till mankind reached dry land.
When the ark was opened, the rainbow strewn against the sky’s canvas symbolised what it meant to be in a covenant with God. I imagine Noah’s joy at the sight wouldn’t have been too different from a bride seeing the ring when the proposal box pops open.
Read the lyrics of this beautiful hymn about God’s love.
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.
Few could have understood such a hymn like Noah. God’s love for him was demonstrated in the divine protection from the flood – in the establishment of a binding covenant.
Because God sealed his covenant with Noah with a rainbow – every glance today is a visual reminder of God’s love for you and I. For God’s covenant to Noah is the same one graciously extended to Abraham, Moses, David and us!
AFTER THE RAINBOW
But we all know even the largest and most beautiful rainbow will eventually fade and be no more. I believe God knew that as well.
So on top of the rainbow – He gave mankind a new covenant. He sent Jesus to die and redeem us from the bigger waves of sin and death. And after Jesus ascended to heaven, God gave us the Holy Spirit as an eternal seal to guarantee our heavenly citizenship (Ephesians 1:13-14).
God’s covenantal love isn’t like a marriage covenant. It’s not “till death do us part.” It’s Romans 8:31-39. It means never being separated from Him. God’s love never fades and it is sealed forever by an eternal covenant.
To be in the ark means safety and protection from death. Boarding the ark means entering into a covenantal relationship with Him. Getting into the ark means you are dearly loved and relentlessly pursued by the God of love.
What are you waiting for standing in the rain?