Reader: “Noah did everything . . .”
Response: “as the Lord commanded him.”
Scripture: Genesis 7:1-24
When everything was ready, the Lord said to Noah, “Go into the boat with all your family, for among all the people of the earth, I can see that you alone are righteous. Take with you seven pairs—male and female—of each animal I have approved for eating and for sacrifice, and take one pair of each of the others. Also take seven pairs of every kind of bird. There must be a male and a female in each pair to ensure that all life will survive on the earth after the flood. Seven days from now I will make the rains pour down on the earth. And it will rain for forty days and forty nights, until I have wiped from the earth all the living things I have created.”
So Noah did everything as the Lord commanded him.
Noah was 600 years old when the flood covered the earth. He went on board the boat to escape the flood—he and his wife and his sons and their wives. With them were all the various kinds of animals—those approved for eating and for sacrifice and those that were not—along with all the birds and the small animals that scurry along the ground. They entered the boat in pairs, male and female, just as God had commanded Noah. After seven days, the waters of the flood came and covered the earth.
When Noah was 600 years old, on the seventeenth day of the second month, all the underground waters erupted from the earth, and the rain fell in mighty torrents from the sky. The rain continued to fall for forty days and forty nights.
That very day Noah had gone into the boat with his wife and his sons—Shem, Ham, and Japheth—and their wives. With them in the boat were pairs of every kind of animal—domestic and wild, large and small—along with birds of every kind. Two by two they came into the boat, representing every living thing that breathes. A male and female of each kind entered, just as God had commanded Noah. Then the Lord closed the door behind them.
For forty days the floodwaters grew deeper, covering the ground and lifting the boat high above the earth. As the waters rose higher and higher above the ground, the boat floated safely on the surface. Finally, the water covered even the highest mountains on the earth, rising more than twenty-two feet above the highest peaks. All the living things on earth died—birds, domestic animals, wild animals, small animals that scurry along the ground, and all the people. Everything that breathed and lived on dry land died. God wiped out every living thing on the earth—people, livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and the birds of the sky. All were destroyed. The only people who survived were Noah and those with him in the boat. And the floodwaters covered the earth for 150 days.”
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
As a child, we heard this exciting story in Sunday School. Once in a great while we might hear a sermon on it. But what is there to say of this account in regard to today’s world? Let’s look. The sentence before this passage says, “Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him.” That’s a start. Obedience to God. Relevant to today? Yes. In the previous chapter, the Scriptures tell us that the Lord was sorry he ever made humans due to their determined wickedness. “It broke his heart.” (Gen.6:6) With the great Flood, God decided to wipe the earth clean of all living things he created. It would be sort of like painting your most perfect masterpiece then having mold set in and having to burn the canvas and start over. Every living thing above water in existence on the earth would be destroyed except for the living things on the inside of the ark. In effect, God undid his creation. All the coastlines were gone. The land/sea boundaries of the second and third day of creation were undone. In God’s words to Noah, he used the same language he used previously in creation regarding the animals. Noah, his family, and all the creatures were in the ark seven days and then the re-creation process started with wiping out the first creation. With the specific references to months and days, we authenticate the historical reality of the event for those who might doubt it really happened. The reason for the judgment of the Flood was the moral decadence of the human beings created in the image of God and their determined departure from that image. (Other “flood stories” have no moral component.) It is God who determined who was in and who was out. Noah, his family, and all the birds and animals were saved by God, due to Noah’s being viewed by God as righteous, a righteous based on Noah’s obedience. The living creations of God in the ark, are a picture of salvation. The Flood is their baptism. Peter brings this idea up regarding Noah and the Flood in his epistle (I Peter 3:19-21). While Peter is not specific in his meaning, water was instrumental in bringing salvation to those in the boat. The event is not unlike the Israelites passing through the waters of the Red Sea to safety while the unbelieving Egyptians found that same water bringing death. This small part of his creation was brought to safety as the boat floated on the water while those in rebellion against God were destroyed by the same water. Romans six uses somewhat of the same imagery in relation to water and baptism with the idea that we die and are buried with Christ in the waters of baptism and are raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father to a new life. With no rudder for Noah to steer the ark, it is clear that God is taking care of the inhabitants of the ark. The do over of creation had begun. When the Scriptures mention the creatures that died, they are interestingly listed in the same order as their sequence of creation: the birds, the animals, the creature that scurry along the ground, and all the people. There was even order as God undid his initial work. Now, how does all of this account fit into this morning, afternoon, evening, or whenever you read this? God cares greatly about his creation, all of it, even to the animals that scurry along the ground! Being made in his image, so should we. Second, I don’t want to be someone who breaks God’s heart and my obedience, or lack of it, has a lot to do with breaking God’s heart. Third, like Noah, can we hold fast to the truth in a world that mocks God? Can you imagine the ridicule heaped on Noah as he and his sons built the ark over the hundred years of construction? It was a different story as the mockers pounded on the door to get in. However, when God shuts the door, it’s shut. Fourth, While the door is open, let us be busy about his work. Ultimate death is a certainty for those who reject God’s offer in Jesus Christ. Can we point more people to the Ark that saves?
Music: “Baptized in Water” The Orchard Enterprises
Make thyself manifest, O Lord, in this water and grant to the one who is baptized in it so to be transformed, that they may put off the old man, which is corrupted by deceitful lusts, and may put on the new man, which is formed fresh according to the image of the Creator. Grafted through baptism into the likeness of thy death, may they become a partaker also in thy resurrection. May they guard the gift of thy Holy Spirit, may they increase the measure of grace which has been entrusted to them, and so may they receive the prize which is God’s calling to life above, being numbered among the first born whose names are written in heaven. We pray this through Jesus Christ who reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God world without end. Amen.
―Baptismal prayer from Eastern Orthodox, Oxford Book of Prayer, p.215