The story of Noah has been popularized again and again and again. From Bill Cosby’s comic routine to the newly released “Evan Almighty,” the Noah story is everywhere, including YouTube. This atheist who calls herself “Hellbound Alleee,” posted this video about Noah’s Ark. She explains how ridiculous it is that Christian parents are so concerned with TV content and ratings systems. They buy vchips to censor what their children watch. Then, they decorate their kid’s room in Noah’s Ark themes and let them play with Noah’s Ark toys. She says, “Don’t these people have a clue? Noah’s ark is not a cutesy children’s story about having a bunch of sweet cuddly pets in a big boat. Noah’s ark is a horror story. There are dead bodies floating in the water. God is wiping out the human race in judgment. Parents might as well put “Saw II” posters on their kid’s walls…”
One of the problems that I have with what this agnostic has to say is that she understands the story better than some Christians do! Now, she hates the story and will not submit to what the Spirit of Christ is teaching her, but there were dead corpses in the water. Noah’s ark is a horror story. It is a story of judgment. Unfortunately the world has seen a taste of this kind of devastation in recent years with the Tsunami in 2004 and the Katrina in 2005. We have seen firsthand the carnage of a flood, but imagine it on a global level.
The story of Noah’s ark is a story of God’s judgment against human sin. God created the world and it was good, but the fall of Adam brought on the realities of sin and death. Human sin increased to the point that God decided to release his hand of judgment in a global flood. One man finds favor in God’s eyes, Noah. Too often we see the Noah story in black and white. Noah is the guy in the white robe with the halo around his head, and those who do not heed his sermon are the wicked villains dressed in black with twisted mustaches. That helps us not to be as upset about this story as Hellbound Alleee is. It helps us pass by the fact that a lot of people that many would have felt were basically “good” people drowned, gasping for air as the waters covered them and their children.
Our notions of the biblical characters shield us from the sting of God’s Word too often. We think to ourselves “those wicked idiots didn’t get in the boat. I would have got in the boat for sure.” Yet, these were real people, living real lives, working hard to provide for their families, and all of a sudden it is all swept away! Jesus says that is exactly what judgment will be like, like the days of Noah. People were eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. They were living life and all of a sudden “boom” the judgment of God fell! Jesus says in Matthew 24 that is exactly the way judgment will be again. People will be living life, doing what they normally do, totally unfazed by the warning of disaster. People will be falling in love, getting married, having children, climbing the corporate ladder, and then BAM! We say, “These people are fools” for not heeding the warning of Noah. Yet, these people had some very good reasons for not getting in the boat, the same way it seems very reasonable to people today not to avoid the judgment to come. After all, we hear the doomsday messages of movies like “The Day After Tomorrow” and Al Gore’s documentary on Global Warming, but we don’t switch out the Styrofoam coffee cups in Sunday School. We don’t trade in our SUV for a Prius. That’s exactly what is happening here. It seems reasonable to many not to fear global judgment. In the same way we don’t lose sleep at night wondering if the Ozone is deteriorating, most people don’t wake up in sweat fearing impending judgment… We don’t live as if the “Ark” is our only hope of rescue. Jesus says these people were just living life, and then like a thief in the night that you don’t expect judgment fell. The same is going to be true again. Noah heard the warning and he changed everything.
Noah is righteous, but he is still a sinner (seen clearly by the end of his life in Gen. 9). The writer to the Hebrews tells what was different about Noah, faith. Because of Noah’s faith God is going to save one family through the ark and bring a new creation out of judgment. God gives this warning to Noah. Noah is faced with a choice to take God at his word or doubt because this is something he has never seen before. He aligns his life with the coming judgment. Also, Noah preaches (2 Pet. 2:5)! There is a global judgment coming and he is the only one with the message of salvation, so he must share it. We are given the same task. There is a global judgment coming that is going to wipe away every man, woman, boy and girl on the face of the planet. We know it is coming and it is our job to share that warning with others in love hoping they believe and are rescued.
The flood comes. From the flood, to the destruction of Pharaoh’s army, to the fish who vomits Jonah, to Jesus’ statements that his cross is a baptism, water is pictured as judgment throughout the Bible. 1 Peter 3 tells the church that Baptism is the anti-type of the flood. It pictures the fact that in Christ we have been drowned in the wrath of God and raised to walk in newness of life. That is the message of Noah’s ark. Judgment will come, but there is an “Ark” that drowned under the wrath of God outside the gates of Jerusalem gasping hour after hour after hour for one last breath. Three days later the Ark of our Salvation stood up and walked away from death because the message of Noah is that “God is not willing that any should perish” (2 Pet. 3).
Hellbound Alleee is right! The Noah story is a story about judgment. It is horrific. But, it is about a lot more than that! We should weep at this story. We should never contemplate the wrath of God against sinners without tears. But even as it causes sorrow, Noah’s story should bring rejoicing on the other side! What Hellbound Alleee misses about this “horror” story is exactly what she needs! It’s the side of the Noah story that is captured by the Ark of our Salvation when he said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved!” Let’s say a prayer tonight for Alleee that she will one day seek refuge from the coming flood in the Ark that’s already drowned in it!
And if you want to buy Noah’s Ark toys for your children, then I am all for it. I did for my little girl. My prayer for her everyday is that Noah’s Ark will point her to the dangerous reality of judgment and the wonderful hope of rescue. As she plays with the boat, the animals, and the guy with the long white beard I will constantly tell her what this story is telling her, John 3:16!
Note: In keeping with the theme of my original two posts on preaching the gospel, I post an example here in the narrative of Noah.