Throughout the Bible we see the same story being told over and over again.

Perhaps this is because history just repeats itself.  The same events are being recorded, only with ever more modern themes.  I think this points to the blatant fact that human beings are inherently the same.  We have the same instincts, the same natural inclinations, and we are always trying to fight them and each other.  Even in this age of elevated thinking and heightened awareness (uber, if you will), we still see countries trying to dominate one another, and people groups trying to stamp out their competitors.  People still buy and sell their own kind, for various purposes and, overall, we are still doing unthinkable things for unthinkable reasons.

The process behind Noah’s flood really isn’t that hard to digest.

We just think it is because it will never happen again.

[If you are interested in the actual science behind the flood account, I can point you in the direction of an amazing organization called Answers in Genesis.  You will find any and all answers to absolutely every question you could have, especially when it comes to science and apologetics relating to the accounts throughout Genesis, particularly the first few chapters.  It’s truly fascinating material>]

We get to boast and brag and complain about a flood that wiped out humankind because we have the promise, from God Himself, that it will never happen again.

Right now, though, I’m going to talk about the spiritual side.

Regardless of our religious affiliation or background the majority of us probably know the story of Noah.  God tells Noah to build an ark, the animals go in two by two, the floods go up and the rains come down, and everyone but Noah and his family die.  We sing the cute song with the hand motions, and we see the terrifying images in the storybooks from the 60s of hundreds of naked people clinging to the craggy tops of mountains, the very last pieces of land.  It’s kind of weird that we smile and laugh and dance with our children about it: it really is the stuff of nightmares.  I think it’s easy to sing the song.  But this was the real deal, and I don’t think Noah and his family were lounging on cushions discussing their new world resolutions as the great deluge raged about them.  They probably really wanted to save people.  Like really, really bad.  I think only the absolute worst kind of person wouldn’t want to start hauling the lost people up onto the boat.  Which is exactly why it wasn’t the worst kind of person being saved.  I think Noah and his family probably had nightmares for a long time.  After the earth begins to recover we find Noah passed out drunk, and I really don’t blame him.  But I’m getting ahead of myself…

What if the story of Noah isn’t about why God sent the flood, but why He chose to save Noah?

After all, Noah wasn’t just someone that got the lucky end of ‘eeny meeny miny mo’.

The author of Genesis is so incredibly specific about the way he/she writes.  This person used parallels, narratives, and wordplays constantly.  The average person would immediately become bored if I even tried to lay it out and make the comparisons.  We can rest assured, though, that the author is very deliberate in what they choose to say, and how they choose to say it.

We go immediately from Adam and Eve, on through the geneology, and on to the introduction of Noah.  “Lamech…fathered a son, and called his name Noah, saying, ‘Out of the ground that the Lord has cursed, this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands’.” (Genesis 5:29).

This is just plain astonishing.

The Old Testament is full of names that reflect the person’s character, long before the character would even be revealed.  The process for this is a mystery and a wonder, but I don’t think it was ever coincidental.  From this simple verse I get the feeling that Noah’s father was a believing man, and that he had a glimpse from the Holy Spirit of the part his son would play in the making of history.  He must have been the one to teach his son Noah the ways of God, since nobody else believed anymore.  I’m not saying that he was of the best person, since the following verse shows that Lamech had other sons and daughters, but it doesn’t say anything about their character.  As a matter of fact, they must have been just as wicked as everyone else because they were not chosen to be saved with their brother.  Also, we don’t see Noah being supported by any of his family, and that is just sad.

Thank goodness for Noah.  The story is really about him, and why he was so special.

The Bible is chock full of God being faithful to His blessings.  It’s easy to think of God as punishing people, but the very first thing He did was bless the earth, and bless human beings, and He continues to bless them even after terrible things happen.

As people we deal with emotions and reactions that God doesn’t have trouble with.  We think of building a project, the project doesn’t work, so we get frustrated and throw it out.  Thankfully, God is not the ‘giving up’ kind of God.  Aborting what He had made (i.e. torching the earth and sucking the life from Adam and Eve) would have gone so completely against His nature.  He saw what He had made, and He knew that it was good.  He would nurture it and provide a way, always.  Mankind was made in His image; the entire earth has His thumbprint all over it.   For all of those reasons it didn’t make sense for Eve to be the one to give birth to Jesus and have the great sacrifice be made during that time.  Adam and Eve had lived in actual physical communion with God.  They chose a different way.  Jesus came exactly when it was appropriate for Him to come, and thousands of years later we still talk about Him, and He still changes lives.

There isn’t always an answer that puts to rest some really deep questions.  We will never know the depth of God or His reasons behind things, until He actually tells us.  So I like to think of the blessings- the ones He keeps on giving and giving, no matter what kind of terrible thing we have done throughout history, or continue to do…

The problem with the world in Noah’s time, though, is that everyone was wicked.   Everyone.  And the word ‘wicked’ isn’t just some favorite Bible-ism.  It means ‘morally bad’.  Everyone at that time was morally bad.  We all know what happens when people have no morals.  Here is where we see that infamous term Nephilim, who verse 4 of chapter 6 calls “the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown”.  The Bible doesn’t really elaborate on what this could mean, but the explanation from Matthew Henry makes the most sense to me: “The wickedness of a people is great indeed, when noted sinners are men renowned among them.”  As a matter of fact, there was no hope for God’s plan of redemption since everyone was so corrupt.

Except for Noah.  The Bible calls Noah a righteous man.  It says that he walked with God.  The last person we hear about walking with God was Enoch, towards the end of chapter 5.  Twice in two verses it says he walked with God.  In fact, he must have walked with God right up into Heaven, because one day he literally disappeared and verse 24 says that God took him.  Enoch is the perfect example for anyone seeking life: walk with God.

We know where walking with God got Noah.  It got him onto the ark.

“And the Lord regretted that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him to His heart.” Genesis 6:6

It’s hard for people to read this part, and I think many try to use awkward passages like this as a scapegoat for choosing not to believe the Bible is true.  It would surely be against God’s character to regret something because He never makes mistakes.  Therefore, we must remove the possibility that God got it wrong the first time, and wanted to send the Flood so that He could have a do-over.

Instead, let’s look at the things we already know: the author of Genesis constantly uses wordplays, it was his/her style of writing.  Also, God is an emotional God.  Not in the unstable way of us humans, but He feels things deeply and beautifully and this is how we find ourselves so drawn to Him.  We have to allow that humans wrote the Bible, and therefore the Bible describes God’s actions and emotions in terms of human actions and emotions.  God’s holiness must regret what sin had done to those created in His image.  He had an amazing plan for the earth, and for living in communion with all of His creation.  His heart was surely broken.

God had told the serpent that the woman would bear a seed (a child) that would crush the serpent’s head.  Jesus was going to come and be the ultimate sacrifice.  That was impossible with the way things were going.  You have to remember:  every single person was corrupt.  Maybe this is seriously hard to believe, but I don’t think it really is.  People were still pretty primitive back in those days, and not in a caveman kind of way, but people back then had nothing.  Literally nothing.  They had nature, and everything else had to be thought out, imagined, and created by them.  They didn’t have options, they didn’t have supplies, they didn’t have history to consult, they didn’t have the time to learn what we already know.  Already in the second generation, the second generation of all human beings of all time, there was murder.  It only got worse from there.  God even gave men a 120 year grace period to get their act together, which they didn’t do (Genesis 6:3).  God couldn’t let the earth remain cursed.  He had already made His promise.  So He had to make it possible for the promise to be fulfilled.  If Noah would have died, there would have been absolutely no one left with a heart for God, and there would have been no point for Jesus to come.

You see, it doesn’t matter what we as human beings try to do, God will always make a way to keep His promises.

Which is why the story of the Flood isn’t about God destroying the earth but about God saving Noah.  As a matter of fact, we don’t see a whole lot about the actual flood, and we don’t get any further insight into the other humans except that they were continually evil.

But not Noah.

Noah walked with God.

As we saw with the example of Enoch, walking with God literally means life.

The Bible says that Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. It doesn’t even say that he was perfect, it just says that he was blameless in his generation.  He was righteous because he chose to be righteous in a time of complete delinquency, and this saved him and his family.  It doesn’t even say that his wife and his sons and their wives were all that great, but apparently they got grandfathered in on Noah’s good marks.  In just a few short verses we read four times that Noah did what the Lord had commanded.  This was to include building the ark, storing food, and setting aside the animals.  Building that ark is what developed Noah’s trust in God.  He would surely need it for what was to come.  Without that trust he could not have been so patient.

I don’t think there has ever been another person as patient as Noah.  He didn’t even have sons until he was 500 years old!  It was another 100 years before the Flood came, do some math and calculate it could have taken up to 75 years (maximum) to build the ark.  Remember the part about people not having access to supplies?  It’s not really a surprise that it would take decades to build such a massive structure, and then supply it with enough provisions.  Noah and his family sit in the ark, all sealed up, for 7 days before the rain even comes, and the bad weather continued for 40 days.  Weather so bad that the tectonic plates shifted, earthquakes were going nuts, volcanoes were exploding, the heavens were pouring down rain (which no one had ever seen before) and the animals were probably going berserk.  I can’t even imagine.  The floodwaters didn’t even begin to recede for 5 months, and it took two more months before the ark came to rest on top of a mountain.  But wait, there’s more!  It was another three months (we are looking at ten months by now) before they could see more mountaintops, and then Noah spent some time sending out birds to check and see if the land was dry.  After a whole year of being on the ark Noah takes off the top of the ark (had they literally been sheltered this entire time?) and sees the land.  But it was almost two more months before the earth was considered ‘dried out’.  Even then, Noah waits for God’s command to leave the ark.

Noah is legitimately a saint.  Once things quieted down could you even imagine how annoying your family would have become?  I wonder if this is when dogs became man’s best friend…  At any rate, I hope this family was able to discover the hidden treasure of the parrot, or how much fun monkeys are.  This is probably when chess was invented, or even monopoly, which is why nobody really likes to play that game, especially not families.

This is where the part about epic repetition comes in: we get a condensed version of the creation story (it happens again with Abraham, and with the nation Israel).  God calls out of the ark Noah and his family, and all of the living creatures.  He then blessed all of nature and every living thing.  Just like in the beginning He tells them to be fruitful and multiply.

The first thing that Noah does when he comes out of the ark is make a sacrifice to God.  He starts off right.  He knows that God has spared him and his family, and he wants to honor God.  And then God blesses Noah.  Just like in the beginning he tells Noah’s family to be fruitful and multiply.  He tells them that they have dominion over the entire earth, just like Adam and Eve did.  He warns them, too, that the responsibility is not to be taken lightly: it is their right, as beings created in His image, to rule the earth as they were intended to, but to be aware that they will give a reckoning for their actions.  How many of us know that responsibility should not be taken lightly?

The rainbow isn’t God’s sobriety coin.  We aren’t supposed to look at it and think, “Man, it’s been so long since God lost it and flooded the earth.”  I can’t stress enough how in control God was and is and always will be.  We cannot think of Him in terms of our own reactions and feelings.  He didn’t throw a temper tantrum, or lose it on His kids like we tend to do.  He is God.  The One True Sovereign Being.  Remember, He gave mankind 120 years to try and turn things around.  This isn’t just chump change of time.  And He wanted to redeem the earth because He loved it and knew that it was good.  He didn’t want to turn His back on it.  So He waited, as a patient God is willing to do, and then He took action, as a just God is willing to do.  If He had turned His back on the earth I imagine mankind would have killed themselves off long ago, and I wouldn’t even be sitting at this computer trying to convince you.  It really is so obvious that the story of Noah is about redemption.  It’s about God keeping His promises.

The rainbow is another symbol that God has given us.  He loves to give us symbols, as reassurance to us because, let’s be honest, humans need a lot of reassurance  (“Do you love me?”  “What do you like about me?”  “Will you ever betray me?”).  God’s heart is for us, and so He works with us, and not against us.  Just like the tree was a real tree, but an actual symbol of free will, so the rainbow is a real rainbow but it is the symbol of God’s promise.  He doesn’t need it like we need the Serenity Prayer.  It’s not his count-to-ten, or mantra (“I will not destroy the earth ever again, I will not destroy the earth ever again, I will not destroy the earth ever again”).  It’s not the tattoo that says, “I got this right after that really bad time in my life so that I never make those mistakes again.”  In case you haven’t understood me by now: the rainbow isn’t for God, it’s for us.

Just as God established that covenant with all the flesh of the earth, covering it with the umbrella of the rainbow, He also wants to establish a covenant with each individual piece of flesh, if you will.  The animals don’t have free will, they don’t have souls, they are adornment of this earth, but mankind was made in God’s image.  We are meant to be in covenant with Him.  I have found that by sacrificing my own life to His plan, even though it will never compare to the sacrifice and trust that was required of Noah, that I too can be provided for and spared the ultimate death that will inevitably separate us all unless we choose a different way.