‘Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
your justice like the great deep.
You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings…
…For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light.’
Psalm 36:5-7, 9
Read Genesis Chapters 6-9
The sun streams down outside, all golden, all light. I watch. Raindrops begin to free fall through the light, one by one in slowly increasing patter all around. They mingle, sparkle, liquid spraying through blazing rays, fragile fluid prisms like tears falling. Falling, they dash themselves splashing on the grass below, all at once absorbed into the earth, all at once broken on the bricks of our verandah. So small, so frail, so weak. Who would have thought that tears so small could break anything as they break themselves apart.
But from the perspective of the valley beneath our home, these fragile tears are breaking blazing light, breaking brilliant light into a million tiny pieces. A million tiny pieces forming just one picture: the seven colours of the rainbow.
A rainbow is broken light, and so are we.
In the beginning, the genesis of all things there was light. God said “Let there be light” and there was. All the building blocks of this spinning whirling Universe were born in light, through light, by Light. We, like our Heavenly Father, were born to live in light, alive in God’s light, in His light, seeing light (Psalm 36:9) being light (Matthew 5:14-16).
He said “Let us make humankind in our image” and we were… for a while. But then the darkness fell and human kind has been falling like the rain ever since.
‘The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.’ Genesis 6:5
From before we began to write down time, light has been breaking, the light that once was us. And we drown in floods today, not of God’s making, but of the absence of Him in our hearts, the absence of wholeness; the emptiness within, creating pain, sorrow and darkness without. Fractured light. Broken light.
The story of Noah in the Old Testament is the story of this broken light; broken humanity breaking each other, breaking this world, breaking God’s heart.
And in the wake of breaking light, the shards fell to the ground in tears, tears that flooded the whole world with the grief of a God whose heart was broken. Broken light. God’s heart full of light was full also of grief, grieving the darkness which dwelt now in humankind.
‘The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.’ Genesis 6:6-7
Words can be frail vessels within which to hold a meaning. Our English word ‘regret’ jars and misses the point. When we regret, we wish we hadn’t done something. Our mind weaves visions of mistakes, of apologies, of backtracking and changing hearts.
But God’s heart for humanity has never changed. He has only ever and only still, wants the fullest, whole-lest life for us.
This awkward word translated ‘regret’, it more fully means an accounting realisation*, God’s recognition of the reality that human beings had spent themselves, spent all their humanity on violence and corruption. The whole heart of humankind had become bankrupt. Spent. Emptied out. There was nothing left to salvage, nothing left to hope in, no divine breath lingering in lungs. Only mud. Only dirt. Only dust. God, in His ‘regret’ accepts the end that humankind had created for itself. And being just, He calls humanity to account. Like the calling in of a loan, like the closing of a bankrupt business.
So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” Genesis 6:7
Cain’s family line had continued and Abel’s blood had been joined by generation upon generation of further human blood soaking into the soil of creation.
But one man, one man alone remained in Adam’s renewed family line, the family line that “called on the name of the Lord”. Noah.
‘But Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord.’ Genesis 6:8 NIV
‘But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.’ Genesis 6:8 NKJV
‘But Noah…’ his name like a candle in the night, burns bright in all the thickening dark of humankind’s inhumane corruption and violence.
‘But Noah found grace…’ one man, one family found favour, found grace. This small unassuming verse, with the tiny five letter word: grace. It’s the first time this word grace is used in the Bible. Grace; this small word, it has so much weight, weight enough to set a broken world to right, weight enough to birth a brand new beginning, a renewed creation.
In verse six we hear the first mention of God’s grief, and in verse eight the first mention of His grace. God turns His grief to grace and doesn’t completely give up on humankind.
‘But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord’ . Noah found grace, he didn’t invent it, work for it or earn it. He found it, found it in loving God, found it in calling on God’s name, found it in God’s eyes, found it in God’s heart. Noah found grace there in God’s heart because it has always been there for humankind, since before all time began (2 Timothy 1:9).
Noah found grace in God’s heart because Noah was living in the lineage of grace, the family lines all laid out that called on the name of the Lord and walked faithfully with Him.
‘This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.’ Genesis 6:9
Noah, his name means ‘rest’ or ‘comfort’. He was named by his father as a balm against the curse brought on the earth by Adam’s disobedience and Cain’s violence (Genesis 5:29). And did Noah’s very existence bring comfort to God? Did his one small life give God hope that all humanity was not just a dream gone wrong? What a lovely thought, that your very existence may somehow bless the heart of God. But hasn’t this always been the true human vocation? To bless God, to partner with Him, to walk with Him and call on His name?
Noah became the sole hope of the new family line, the sole hope for the existence of all true humankind. One man. One God. One partnership to restore a breaking world.
’Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways.
So God said to Noah…’ Genesis 6:11-13
“So God said to Noah…” as though this is an everyday occurrence. As though the two had been chatting all along. But isn’t this what walking with God means? Doing life with God? And this God He is not as silent as He sometimes seems. When we make space in our hearts to hear, there is a still small voice to be heard (John 10:27).
Walking with this God, it’s not a theory, not a fairytale, not an academic exercise or religious ideology. It’s a life style. A lifestyle of listening.
A lifestyle of listening, a habit of hearing and a practice of partnering with God, in every large and small moment of life. Noah heard God’s voice in that moment because he was living a listening lifestyle in all moments.
And because Noah was listening, God confides in him His grief over humankind…
’So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.’ Genesis 6:13
Oxygen in lungs and a beat in a chest is not the only measure of humanity. When we lose ourselves to violence, we are already dead.
God confides in Noah His plan to make things right…
‘So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high. Make a roof for it, leaving below the roof an opening one cubit high all around. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks.’ Genesis 6:14-16
And nowhere in these plans does God say “build a rudder”, “make a steering wheel”, “create a compass”. Noah knew he was never the captain of this ship, nor the navigator. He was always God’s partner in this rescue plan, but it was always God’s work, God’s plan, his Heavenly Father’s business. God was the captain at the helm of this project and Noah, like a good naval officer simply followed orders. Noah’s rudder was faith, his steering wheel, trust.
And Noah must have looked like a crazy person building that ark, right there under a clear blue sky stretching out over bone dry land. But he did it anyway, plodding on in unquestioning obedience, living in a reality named only by the voice of God.
‘Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.…By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.’ Hebrews 11:1 and 7a
Noah trusted God completely, he understood that God saw more, knew more and loved more, so he put his trust in God, even as God was about to place he and his family into an ark in the middle of a raging storm.
As God prepares to wash corruption from the face of the earth, He reached out to this one man Noah, who He had found reaching out to Him, and He says ‘I’ve got you’. You and your family are going to be okay. I give you my word’.
‘I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you.’ Genesis 6:17-18
God has created, spoken, blessed, cursed, engaged and grieved, but here we have first the hint of a promise. God committed Himself to Noah and Noah’s future family line because He is a God who makes things personal (Psalm 25:14). And God’s commitment to Noah is more personal than sentimental attachment or fond friendship. It is deeper, wider and richer than one relationship with one man.
This God, the one who created this vast galaxy our tiny speck of a planet spins in, this God, the one who first set all the intricate workings of creation into motion, He doesn’t need anything from any of us. God didn’t have to include Noah in His rescue plan. He, being omnipotent could have found another way, a quicker way, an easier way, a way that didn’t include an imperfect human being.
But even as God now destroys almost all creation because of the darkness within human beings, God chooses a human being to help Him set things right. God chose Noah and gave Noah the job, because it was actually the job all humans were first called to, the job Adam had first been given, the job of stewarding and caring for creation (Genesis 1:26-28). In completing this job Noah was fulfilling humankind’s original mandate and calling. He was fulfilling his human vocation and living fully alive as a human being. And isn’t that what we all want? A fulfilling life living fully alive? That’s what God has always wanted for us too.
God is always faithful. He cannot be otherwise. It is who He is. He is faithful to His word, faithful to His blessing, faithful to His purposes. Faithful to us.
When we are faithless to ourselves, to our own beating-heart humanity, He cannot be. He is faithful to human beings, the Imago Dei within each one of us, because He cannot be other than Himself.
This whole story of Noah and the flood, it is not the story of an end, it is actually the story of a new beginning. A story of God, not willing to give up fully on true humanity. A story of God coming into the complex messy reality of human brokenness and darkness and finding a way to hope, finding a way to fan the last flickering flame of His Imago Dei left alive in the human race. In Noah.
Noah’s job was to be human and humane, to preserve life, the job of every human being on this earth today, to steward all the created order and all the creatures in it. The job we were first given in a garden long ago. The vocation we are failing with every species that goes extinct.
And the words of Genesis chapter six weave themselves in familiar ways, ways that intentionally echo and emulate the tapestry of the first creation story, our story, threaded with all the colours of Genesis chapter one. Our chapter one. Our genesis.
Genesis 6:18-22 follows the same order of the first mandate and blessing given to humankind in the very beginning, using strikingly similar phrases and repetitive words to those used in the first Creation story.
Both the Genesis one creation story and this story of the flood begin with human beings: a mandate and a blessing in the first story (Genesis 1:26-27), becomes now a promise and command in the second (Genesis 6:18).
Humankind’s calling to steward the animals found in Genesis 1:28 finds it’s outworking in Genesis 6:19 as a command to rescue them, ‘to keep them alive’.
Each animal group is then described ‘after it’s kind’ or ‘of every kind’ and listed in the same order in both the creation story in Genesis 1:21-25 and here in Genesis 6:20 as well as repeatedly throughout the whole narrative.
The creation story in Genesis 1:30 describes God giving plants and trees to humankind and the animals for food, and in Genesis 6:21 God commands Noah to gather food to provide for both the humans and the animals.
The difference in these stories is that in one the animals are being created, in the other, they’re being saved.
Noah is being called to do the very thing which humankind was mandated and blessed to do in the very beginning: to care for the created world in partnership with God.
The final statement in the Genesis One creation story is ‘And it was so’. The final statement in Genesis 6:22 is…
‘Noah did everything just as God commanded him.’ Genesis 6:22
The world obeyed God in bringing forth life, and Noah obeys God in the saving of it.
Noah doesn’t query, doesn’t second guess, doesn’t doubt, doesn’t question his capability to do all God has asked. He obeys. He doesn’t find an excuse, he finds a way, the way God had said.
The Genesis one creation story ends with ‘God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.’ but this line has no mirror in the story of Noah. Because everything is not good. That’s the point.
We alone in creation are created with a purpose, a vocation, a calling, a mission to be fulfilled in partnership with God. God could have renewed creation without Noah, but He respected the true calling of humankind still alive in Noah too much. Noah alone in his generation still ‘looked’ human, his heart beating in time time with God’s.
‘The Lord then said to Noah, ‘Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation.’ Genesis 7:1
We have never understood it, never understood ourselves. There are things embedded in the Imago Dei within us that God respects, trusts, hopes in and holds in hallowed reverence.
Not because of who we are but because of who He is, and who He knows we can become in Him. He respects us, respects the sacred presence of His own nature in us, our own human volition, our human vocation, our capability for great self sacrificial love and great selfless service… like His.
God is always faithful. He is faithful to His word, faithful to His blessing, faithful to His purposes. Faithful to us. He remembers who we are long after we’ve forgotten and He constantly calls us back to ourselves, back to our beating human heart, back to Him, despite how far we wander.
This whole aching story of the flood is not about an end, but a new beginning. A renewed creation. A salvaged human story. A story washed clean of flooding violence, as love and justice collide in time to create a brand new world.
Drops as small as tears become torrents as thick as thunderstorms, and inch by inch the floods engulf the earth.
God had said He would ‘bring floodwaters on the earth’ when He had first confided in Noah, but when the floods arrive, there are no verbs in the text linking the floods to any direct action by God. Rather than a vengeful act of God, the flood arrives in the story as the result of God no longer standing in it’s way. God is no longer holding back the flood, so the deluge prevails.
And here in all these aching floods there is a sense of God allowing the reversal of His creative act in Genesis 1:6-8, where He divided the waters from the land bringing order to the chaos before creation.
When God no longer holds the world together, it returns to the chaos from which it began. God steps back and allows the flood of human chaos and corruption be washed away by the flood of nature’s original state.
But God is active in the story in two ways, two ways that whisper His name and His nature, the shape of His beating heart. God directly acts to shut Noah, his family and the animals into the ark to protect them as the floods are about to arrive (Genesis 8:16) and after the deluge has done it’s job God remembers Noah and directly acts to push back the flooding waters to save them.
God was active in the creation of the world, and He is active in the protection of Noah, but He is not directly active in the destruction brought by the flood. He simply doesn’t intervene, doesn’t protect or defend the corruption and violence of humankind. He steps back and allows the deluge to have it’s way. Inhumane humans had reversed creation by bringing darkness and chaos once more to earth. God cannot save humankind from the darkness they have chosen for themselves. The flood was the physical result of humankind’s spiritual corruption and chaos.
And the remainder of creation pays for the darkness in humankind’s hearts that day, their life inextricably bound up with ours, just as it is today, our failings failing them. What we do or fail to do scars this whole hurting world, every creature, every eco-system. Every living thing.
‘Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; people and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.’ Genesis 7:23
And this part of the story is told slow, heavy with the weight of human corruption, heavy with the weight of darkness. It is written down with swirling repetition, like rain on a roof surging, thrumming, like waves against a boat, tossing, crashing, like thunder overhead, drumming, rolling. Like floods prevailing swelling, rising.
All this repetition, It slows the story down, as a blow by blow slow motion account, as a sorrowful warning to humankind; Don’t let your violence exceed your humanity, don’t let corruption seep into your veins and turn your heart to stone, or you will find yourself sinking, sinking in the floods you have created for yourself.
Oxygen in lungs and a beat in a chest is not the only measure of humanity. When we lose ourselves to violence, we are already dead. Humankind had known their lines by heart, family lines, script lines, shrugging shoulder lines that said “am I my brother’s keeper?”. Lines lining every human heart born into Cain’s family line, a line wandering east of the garden with God.
But then in all the stormy dark this light becomes visible on the horizon, this tiny light in all the thickening black. One last light left flickering in a human heart. A heart set afloat, trusting God’s faithfulness, in the middle of a raging storm.
And God’s faithfulness can be trusted. So here the story turns.
‘But God remembered Noah..” Genesis 8:1
God remembered. God remembers Noah and the ark full of life, and moves to put an end to the flood engulfing them.
And there are literary layers to this story, like ocean depths, layers overlaying story, highlighting meaning. The first already mentioned is the way the whole story mirrors continually the language and themes of Genesis one and two, the story of creation. But there is another layer yet.
The story at this point is also a mirror turned in on itself, the first paragraphs mirroring the last ones, the second mirroring the second last ones, and onwards all building inwards to a central point. In this type of literary structure (palistrophe) the central point is the main point.**
And the main point of this whole story? The main point of the story of Noah and the flood?
‘But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark…’ Genesis 8:1
‘God remembered Noah…’. This is the main point. The turning point. The axis point on which this story turns. God turns His heart to Noah, and remembers, and turns this story full of darkness and death into a story of life once more.
God remembers us. wherever we are in all our flooding troubles, God remembers. He always remembers always sees, always acts. We are not just a speck in in the middle of an overwhelming ocean. Whenever we reach for Him we will find Him already reaching back. We are seen. We are held. We will not sink, will not drown, will not be forgotten. Because life with God is not a religious activity, it is a life lived with a friend. A friend who remembers.
All through this narrative of the flood there are numbers, numbers whispering extra depths into texts. Numbers like forty representing ‘testing’ and trials’; The forty days and nights during and after the flood (Genesis 7:12,17, 8:6).
And numbers like seven speaking ‘completeness and wholeness’. In seven days God completes the creation of the world and the seventh day of the week is instituted as a sabbath day of rest, the completion of God’s work and ours. In this flooding story of the world wiped clean God had asked Noah to bring into the Ark seven of every kind of clean animal and birds (Genesis 7:2) declared that the floods will arrive in seven days (7:4) as they do (7:10). The Ark rests on Mt Ararat after the flood in the seventh month (Genesis 8:4). After seven days the dove’s final two flights bring back signs both that God’s work has been completed and that new life has begun. (Genesis 8:10 and 12).
And it is the first day of the first month of the beginning of the 700th century of Noah’s life that he opens the covering of the ark to gaze out on bone dry ground (Genesis 8:13). Completeness. Wholeness. The beginning of a completely new thing.
It is a brand new day in the history of God’s world, the history of God’s walk alongside humankind. The imbalance in humanity has been addressed, what was broken has been mended. For now.
Noah with his feet on dray land once more now stands before God as the new father of humankind, the new Adam in another new beginning.
And God blesses Noah with the same blessing He gave the first humans in Genesis one..
‘Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth….’ Genesis 9:1
But there is a difference. God now speaks the blessing twice (Genesis 9:1 and 7), and in between this He names a change that has taken place on earth since the first blessing was spoken in the garden long ago. This is a renewed creation, but not a completely healed one.
Firstly fear and dread will be the the animal kingdom’s experience of humanity now and the eating of meat is condoned by God for human beings (Genesis 9:1), but secondly God now has to stipulate something that had always been assumed before the fall. Before the fall, before the knowledge of evil as well as good.
‘And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.
‘Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind.’ Genesis 9:5-6
Though the flood has wiped violence from the world temporarily, it could not prevent it forever when ‘every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood’ (Genesis 8:21). Violence and murder have never been God’s plan for His creation, for His children, so His blessing now sandwiches a warning. ‘Don’t let your violence exceed your humanity, don’t let corruption seep into your veins and turn your heart to stone, or you will find yourself sinking, sinking in the floods you have created for yourself.’ Remain in your humanity, remain in your mandate, remain in your blessing, remain in your very own beating human heart. Remain in Me.
God had salvaged humankind from the wreckage of itself, but He wants them now to thrive, to spread out and grow without fear of another flood. So God makes a covenant, not just with Noah, but with all creation and every human being ever after. God has created, spoken, blessed, engaged and grieved, but here we have the first covenant, the first promise of God. And it will not be the last.
There are no strings attached to this covenant, no expectations of humankind, no loop holes, no escape clauses and no provision so that God might change His mind.
God owed the world nothing. He didn’t have to bind himself to an oath, He didn’t have to limit His future options. But He did, because He had already bound his heart to humankind. This promise God gave to Noah, was also given to you and I, the promise of a God, limiting Himself for us, Hoping we will limit ourselves for Him, limit our greed and corruption for the sake of this world He has given us.
All of God’s covenants in the Bible reveal a piece of His heart, a part of who He is. God is just, so He had to respond to humankind’s corruption, but He doesn’t want us to live in fear. He wants to salvage His Imago Dei children from the floods that carry us away from Him. He wants to restore our feet to the secure dry ground of a life lived in loving partnership with Him.
‘I establish my covenant with you: never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth. And God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.’ Genesis 9:12-13
The sign of this covenant, the reminder God chooses for the contract He makes is the natural phenomenon we see when the sun breaks through a storm, when light shines though rain, allowing itself to become broken by it.
A rainbow is broken light and so are we.
This broken, breaking beautiful thing, this thing that is simultaneously a symbol of brokenness and beauty, becomes the very signature of God’s promise, His signature on the dotted line of this contract between Him and all life on earth.
‘Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.’ Genesis 9:14-16
God placed His bow in the skies like a weapon of war hung up to gather dust, as a sign that He remembers.
Just as the point on which this whole flood story turned was ‘God remembered Noah’, the final point of this whole human story, on which this whole world now turns is God’s promise “I will remember..”
No matter how far you wander, how much you break yourselves apart and give yourselves to darkness, I have sworn by myself I will remember, the time for floods is done. I will not step aside and let the floods engulf you. I will remember. I will remember who you are long after you’ve forgotten.’
God remembers us, even when we forget ourselves. When we forget who we are, forget that we are made in His image, forged of His breath, formed in His likeness, He remembers.
When we forget the vocation He called us to, the blessing He gave us, why we are here, why we exist, the love He bears us, He remembers.
When we forget that we are capable of great unselfish love and sacrificial service, when we forget out beating human heart within, He remembers. And His memory is long.
God’s promise means He will not give up on humanity. He is now at work in this world, redeeming, restoring, renewing re-establishing His Kingdom in every human heart that is willing to partner with Him in light.
NT Wright writes, ‘The long history of evil has begun, but matching it, stride for stride, is God’s redeeming purpose.’
This is the time we now live in. A time when darkness and light dwell together, as mixed as the tree of knowledge of good as well as evil, but while God for now holds back his hand from wiping out darkness altogether, He matches it stride for stride with light and grace. He turns His grief to grace and doesn’t give up on humankind. On us.
As I write this the rain is falling outside, drenching earth, making everything new, and the rain it washes everything clean, pinning the pollution down so we can see through the crystal clear air to the world as it really stands. Refreshed. Reformed. Restored… for now.
This journey God took with Noah, it was not the first renewed creation story, and it will not be the last. This flood only washed the problem away, it couldn’t fix it for good. Not when the problem was within every human heart (Genesis 8:21), yours and mine included.
I can beat my fists into the closing dark and in fear hurl insults at the brokenness around me, and beat myself up about the brokenness within me, but no argument with darkness ever wins, it only produces heat, not light.
And I can try to put the colours back together myself, as I mix them on my palette they turn to grey, a gloomy grey mess of darkness, the grey of a lifeless corpse. It is not possible for me to regain the light, the white light of wholeness and completeness on my own. I cannot do it. I cannot do it for you and I cannot do it for myself. We are all refracted light, fractured light, broken light. And in all our darkness we are blind. Blind from the inside out.
We cannot see light, cannot be light by our own striving. Our vision is all muddied by the past, the tears of floods that undid us and reformed us into all the colours of our brokenness, the colours of our grief. And we have lived in this tainted tinted world and looked out through it’s scarred skewed lenses assuming that our filtered vision was all the truth available, all the truth there is.
But Light has come into the world, Light shining in the darkness unbroken by our brokeness. Into all our fear and flinching history, He comes. He comes to pick amongst the rubble of our humanity, the aftermath of our flooding darkness, to find the one small part of our human heart buried underneath all our scar tissue and all our pain, underneath all the layering coping mechanisms of our souls; the remnant of the light that once was us.
This God is committed to new creations, salvage operations, to picking through the rubble of the thousand ways we’ve fallen and walking alongside us as He restores us to the light. He forever calls us to the light, the whole white light of life in Him, seeing light, being light in a world of thickening dark and flooding corruption. He comes to strengthen and restore in us to our true human calling as His children. Children of the living, loving God. Redeemed. Reformed. Restored. In His light we are invited once more to see light and to be light for this broken world around us.
The only wooden vessel that could truly ever save humankind from drowning in all the darkness was not an ark, but a cross. So many years after Noah’s flood, after time reached it’s fulfilment, God Himself comes; comes into the flood of human history and divides it with His death. Instead of destroying the world once more because of human violence and corruption, He chose to destroy Himself. One death bringing new life to all, the final new creation.
Life will always have it’s storms, but they don’t have to flood our lives. They no longer have to leave our human calling, our mandate, our humanity dead and buried in the ground. In the aftermath of all our floods, in the brokenness of all our past, into the darknesses all around us and within us, through His death and resurrection, God He breathes new life. New life. New beginning. New creation. This is who He is.
If you look between the words of this long story, like light streaming between fence posts, you will see the face of God shining behind the lines, in His words, through His actions, in His grief, His grace, His promises, His justice, His faithfulness. His long memory of His love for humankind.
The main point of this story is not endings, death, punishment or even floods. It is actually all about a God. A God who remembers human beings. This God who will take the thinnest thread of humanity left alive in a beating human heart and wrap it around His own beating heart, and in the rhythm of the two, weave a whole new world. Together.
He is a God who remembers us, when we forget ourselves. And His memory is long.
*John H. Walton, ‘The NIV Application Commentary: Genesis’ Zondervan, 2001
**G.J. Wenham, ‘The Coherence of the Flood Narrative’ Brill, 1978