Therefore, let all the godly pray to you while there is still time,Psalm 32:6-7 NLT
that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment.
For you are my hiding place;
you protect me from trouble.
You surround me with songs of victory.
For the next few weeks, I want to explore familiar stories in the Old Testament that illustrate elements of salvation. This week I have been reading the story of Noah and, yes, singing, “Rise, shine, give God the glory, glory … ” and all the “arky, arky” songs.
But of course, there is much more about Noah’s story than what we tell children. Scholars have much to say about the details of the flood, the logistics, and the related science. Those details are well above my pay grade. Instead, I want to help us focus on the key idea in this story, Genesis 8:1, that God remembers Noah.
An Interesting Structure
A chiasmus is a literary structure in which words, phrases, or concepts are repeated in reverse order. This chiastic structure reveals the key idea from the flood story. God remembers Noah!
That phrase, “God remembered … ” is fascinating. It does not mean that God had forgotten Noah, floating on the chaotic waters, and suddenly He remembered Him. This is the first of many examples in scripture where this phrase is used. Here are a few of the others that you might recall from your Bible reading (CSB version):
- Genesis 19:29, “So it was, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham and brought Lot out of the middle of the upheaval when he demolished the cities where Lot had lived.“
- Genesis 30:22, “Then God remembered Rachel. He listened to her and opened her womb.“
- Numbers 10:9, God talking to Moses — “When you enter into battle in your land against an adversary who is attacking you, sound short blasts on the trumpets, and you will be remembered before the Lord your God and be saved from your enemies.”
- 1 Samuel 1:19, “The next morning Elkanah and Hannah got up early to worship before the Lord. Afterward, they returned home to Ramah. Then Elkanah was intimate with his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her.“
- Psalm 136:23, “He remembered us in our humiliation His faithful love endures forever.”
Acting on a previous commitment
God’s remembering is His acting on His promise, a previous commitment. In Genesis 3, God promised that the seed of a woman would crush the serpent’s head. But then there is one story after another of death, destruction, and the rise of evil. In God’s sovereign plan, He chooses to destroy all of His living creatures on earth. But He saves one family – Noah, his wife, his three sons, and their wives. Noah lived a just life, was blameless compared to his contemporaries, and walked with God (like his great-grandfather, Enoch). God saves one family to preserve a genealogical line to the seed of the woman who would be the conqueror, Jesus (Luke 3:23-28)!
By faith, Noah built a ship in the middle of dry land. He was warned about something he couldn’t see, and acted on what he was told. The result? His family was saved. His act of faith drew a sharp line between the evil of the unbelieving world and the rightness of the believing world. As a result, Noah became intimate with God.Hebrews 11:7 MSG
The gospel message
The scripture teaches us that no one can hide from God. His eyes see everything we do. We will answer God for what we have done (Hebrews 4:13). God will judge people’s secrets through Jesus Christ at that last day (Romans 2:16). The judgment of God should disturb us – not because God is capricious, acting on unholy emotions but because we all have sinned.
But, God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He is patient with us, not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance. While we don’t know exactly how long it took to build the ark, we know it took decades. Noah preached righteousness all those years to anyone who observed the construction of that large boat, but they did not heed the message.
I am reminded that when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly at just the right time. God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
(Psalm 145:8; 2 Peter 3:9; 2 Peter 2:5; Romans 5:6-8)
God’s commitment, His provision for us
And God did not spare the ancient world—except for Noah and the seven others in his family. Noah warned the world of God’s righteous judgment. So God protected Noah when he destroyed the world of ungodly people with a vast flood. … So you see, the Lord knows how to rescue godly people from their trials, even while keeping the wicked under punishment until the day of final judgment.2 Peter 2:5, 9 NLT
When God gave Noah instructions for building the ark, it is interesting to note that there were no instructions for navigational equipment, no rudder or sail. God shut the door of the ark, and when the ark was safely landed, He called Noah’s family to come out (Genesis 8:15-16). God alone was responsible for the destiny, the salvation of this family. He does the same for us. He calls us and places us in Christ when we respond to His call. The door is safely shut, and He holds us fast as He helps us navigate the chaotic waters of our lives. One day He will call us out into the new heavens and new earth. What a glorious day of rejoicing that will be!
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