For many the account of Noah and the ark is merely a quaint children’s story about an odd man who built an enormous boat. Upon the ark’s completion, representatives from every species of the animal kingdom were drawn to Noah, and two-by-two he escorted them onto his untested vessel. The rain started, and this floating menagerie survived a great flood. After all was said and done, the happy cast of characters got to enjoy a spectacular rainbow before going their separate ways. In short, the story is often seen as a little more than a delightful decorating scheme – cute pictures of Noah and the ark, place mats, and the ark-shaped cookie jars. Tragically, the timeless truths of this story often get lost among the trinkets that decorate our homes.
The story of Noah and the ark is first a story about the terrible depravity of men and women. According to the Scripture, human wickedness was rampant on the earth. So much so that the Lord was “sorry” and “grieved” (Gen. 6:6).
Here is a startling aspect of the story of the Flood, a rare glimpse of divine emotion and vulnerability. Our Creator was disappointed and wounded by sin.
The Flood is also a story about God’s judgment. We can’t soften the harsh realities of God’s severe verdict of the wicked people of Noah’s time. God issued His verdict in plain language: “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth” (Gen. 6:7). A harsh verdict? Not really. A holy God certainly could not condone sin, nor could He tolerate it. It had to be addressed; it had to be punished, for God to remain the God of justice. When we read the story of Noah, we often forget the terrible loss of life. We tend to focus so much on the boat and the adorable animals, that we forget the great floodwaters beneath it. Below the rails of Noah’s boat were drowning sinners – real people entering a dreadful eternity apart from God.
Yet the Flood is also a reminder of the love and mercy of God. “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (Gen. 6:8). By selecting Noah and his family and saving them from judgment, God demonstrated amazing grace. Even though humanity deserved the full force of His wrath, God in His mercy provided salvation.
All in all, the story of Noah and the ark is a wonderful precursor of the ultimate salvation God would one day provide in Christ. Long after the floodwaters subsided, the human race would continue in its sinful rebellion. And God would continue to require the just penalty for sin: death. But the next time, instead of providing an ark, God would provide His own Son. By that act, He would open the door of salvation, for not only one family, but for all who would believe in Him.
And God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth…Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation.” Genesis 6:13; 7:1