Waterworld | Genesis 7:17-24
The flood continued forty days on the earth. The waters increased and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. The waters prevailed and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the face of the waters. And the waters prevailed so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered. The waters prevailed above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep. And all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, livestock, beasts, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and all mankind. Everything on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died. He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens. They were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark. And the waters prevailed on the earth 150 days. Genesis 7:17-24 | ESV
If we force ourselves to slow down and really engage this scene with all of our senses we should find that its horrific hues belie the peaceful nursery illustrations of Noah’s ark – you know, the ones with a chubby cheeked Noah on deck with giraffes, elephants, zebras, and apes crowded around him, all with smiles, and a rainbow overhead. So peaceful. So happy. If it weren’t for all the drowning animals below and all the desperate souls clawing at the bottom of the boat. It is horrific. And yet the horrific waters of this cosmic deluge not only purged but purified. They functioned as waters of a new birth, a new creation. We can only speculate over the exact nature of the differences between the pre-flood and post-flood world, but after the flood there were clouds and rainbows. And our four seasons. And extremes of cold and hot. And people started dying sooner. Welcome to the new world. And it was a new world when Noah stepped out of the Box. The Flood that destroyed the world also conveyed Noah and his fellow ark-occupants to a new world. This also we must imagine. Living for six hundred years with the unrelenting and intensifying cry of violence and the oppressed, and then a year in the dark womb of the ark, surrounded by convulsing and contracting birth waters – and then to step out into…silence. Waters of death. Waters of life. This is a theme Peter picks up on in his first letter: “You know, even though God waited patiently all the days that Noah built his ship, only a few were saved then, eight to be exact—saved from the water by the water. The waters of baptism do that for you, not by washing away dirt from your skin but by presenting you through Jesus’ resurrection before God with a clear conscience. Jesus has the last word on everything and everyone, from angels to armies. He’s standing right alongside God, and what he says goes” (1 Peter 3:20-21). For Peter, it’s as if faith is our personal Ark, the waters of baptism our own personal mabbul in which “old things pass away and all things are made new,” and God and his kingdom with its foretaste of the he new heavens and earth are ours to explore and enjoy.
Welcome to the new world. The real world.
When you think of this story of Noah and the Ark, does it strike you as good news or bad news? Does it comfort or confound you? Is it filled with problems or is it brimming with promise? Why?
Lord, expand my vision to grasp more keenly, more deeply, your capacity to bring new life out of what appears to be only a dead end and death; to turn disaster into a work of beauty. Through Christ.
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