The story of Noah begins in chapter 6 with these words in verses 11&12: “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth”
That sounds pretty bleak. Makes you wonder if Noah’s Ark should be beloved as a children’s story. I would contend that if we take the focus off of happy cartoon elephants and giraffes and tigers, all stuffed onto a cute wooden house-boat and getting along great with kind-hearted Noah, the story of Noah and the great flood is in fact a sobering illustration of what happens to sinful people before a holy God. Yet, very clearly we also see “the Gospel in embryo.”
Sin had upended the created order, and therefore the Creator brought judgment. It was not a tsk-tsk, or a slap on the wrist. God’s righteous judgment against human sin was, both literally and figuratively, a massive, all-encompassing flood. There would be no survivors from this judgment against sin unless God provided the means.
And yet that is exactly what happened for Noah and his family. Noah could not have escaped this judgment by his own wisdom or strength, but God gave Noah the means of escape. The ark is a foreshadowing of the Cross of Jesus Christ, which is the means by which you and I escape the flood of God’s judgment against sin. It is often difficult for us to understand God as both our God of love and our God of judgment; yet the Bible is crystal clear on both points. In His great love for us, He has provided the means of escape from His own judgment.
I don’t often like thinking of God as a God of judgment. I’ve come to learn, however, that He loves me enough to free me from the shackles of my own sin, and to promise that whatever wrongs I’ve endured will someday be made right. In other words, His love and His judgment go hand in hand. He loves you that much too! What extraordinary twin glories that we can leave the judgment of others to Him, and that He has provided the means of escape from His judgment that our sin deserves!
Noah and his family survived the flood of judgment by God’s grace. Noah celebrates by getting drunk (a detail typically left out of children’s bibles!). In other words, the Noah who has escaped God’s judgment was not a Noah purified from personal sin. Likewise, the truth of the Cross over you and me is not conditional upon our purity, but upon His. Thanks be to God!