Dig Deeper

Advent Devotionals:

On The Road To Bethlehem


Read Genesis 8 : 15 – 9 : 17

Although the story of Noah and the ark is one of the best known episodes in the Old Testament, it still pushes our imaginations.  What must it have been like for Noah, at age 600, to undertake a building project of such proportions?  This was no quirky retirement hobby; building the ark was an all-consuming task, requiring sweat and guts and faith on Noah’s part.  How did he deal with the mocking of his neighbors?  How did he pack all that food?  Did he wonder how he would manage to herd the animals on board?  Did he worry about the house he was leaving behind?  We can easily get caught up in the human details of this story, imagining how it felt (and sounded! and smelled!) to be inside that ark with all those animals while a storm raged outside for weeks on end.  

But the real story is taking place on a much broader scale than the inside of that boat.  It has implications for all of mankind and even all of the created order.   That’s why today’s reading picks up the story at the very end.  For the story is not first of all about a man, his family, and a floating zoo.  It’s not even about the biggest rainstorm in all of history.  It’s about God, whose just nature was offended by the sinfulness of humanity.   He will not tolerate man’s sinfulness and rebellion forever; instead, His justice is swift and unflinching.  But the story also shows God’s grace in the way He saved Noah and his family from judgment.  When the earth is finally dry enough for them to come out of the ark, God establishes a covenant with Noah, a promise that He will stand by forever.

Once again, God’s eye is turned toward the future and He describes what He sees: a life of purposeful work for His people, while He continues to sustain the creation, never again destroying it with a flood.   He gives them the sign of the rainbow so they will know, each time they see one, that He is still honoring that promise.   Actually, the text says that the rainbow is a reminder to God of the promises He has made (see Gen 9:15 and 16).  And the salvation of Noah and his family foreshadows the ultimate plan of redemption that God is just beginning to unfold. 



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Wilma Wiersma