Genesis 7:17-8:5 The world changes when they experience in us Christ’s power to forgive
Then the flood came upon the earth for forty days, and the water increased and lifted up the ark, so that it rose above the earth. 18 The water prevailed and increased greatly upon the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. 19 The water prevailed more and more upon the earth, so that all the high mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered. 20 The water prevailed fifteen cubits higher, and the mountains were covered. 21 All flesh that moved on the earth perished, birds and cattle and beasts and every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth, and all mankind; 22 of all that was on the dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, died. 23 Thus He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky, and they were blotted out from the earth; and only Noah was left, together with those that were with him in the ark. 24 The water prevailed upon the earth one hundred and fifty days.
1 But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark; and God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water subsided. 2 Also the fountains of the deep and the floodgates of the sky were closed, and the rain from the sky was restrained; 3 and the water receded steadily from the earth, and at the end of one hundred and fifty days the water decreased. 4 In the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark rested upon the mountains of Ararat. 5 The water decreased steadily until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains became visible.
The flood that destroyed the world has cast a very long shadow in the history of humanity such that many have come to see God as harsh and unapproachable. God’s remembrance of Noah sheds light on the purpose of the flood; not to destroy but to halt the progressive hardening of sin so that they may be saved at the preaching of Christ when He visits them at His resurrection. Biblical history has taught us that everything that God does (up to the Day of Judgment) is to bring man to the recognition of Christ’s infinite love and forgiveness. The notion of retribution which has since stood in the way of man’s salvation must be abolished so that man may be reconciled to God. The most effective way for people to change is when they see in believers Christ’s infinite capacity to forgive.
Then the flood came upon the earth for forty days, and the water increased and lifted up the ark.
The inevitable looms, humanity great or small, rich or poor, oppressors and the oppressed alike, all succumb to the watery grave. The water prevails over the land plunging creation back to the former state of utter void and darkness. The clearance of the water that rises over 7 meters above the earth’s highest peak ensures total destruction of all living things.
But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark.
“Remembered” as it is used in this context connotes an act to fulfil a commitment to a covenant partner. On a deeper note, God, in His determination to blot out all living things remembers His original goal; to destroy evil, not humanity, but the evil within humanity. When God remembered Noah, He remembers His covenant to save all humanity, if possible even those who perish in the flood. “Wind” can be translated as spirit which reminds us of the earth before God’s creative act, “The earth was formless and void, … and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.” Genesis 1:2.
What is God’s underlying stratagem in preserving Noah and his family? Is God merely culling the land of evil or does He have a more strategic purpose? From the onset of Adam’s fall, God is primarily concerned with saving humanity. Thus, everything that God does has to do with saving humanity by triumphing over darkness through the seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15). Nevertheless, the bible warns of a judgment (see Revelations 20:11-15) that will follow in final destruction by fire (2 Peter 3:10). Therefore, it is important to understand that prior to the Day of Judgment, God has not given up on any one as yet. Having said that, where are the spirits of the dead kept prior to the Day of Judgment? According to 1 Peter 3:19, the spirits of the unrighteous who perish during Noah’s time are kept in prison. The apostle Peter teaches,
For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. 1 Peter 3:18-20
Peter briefly speaks of the Spirit of Christ going to these imprisoned spirits and preaches to them. The question is: why do prisoners need to hear Christ’s preaching since they are already condemned? Jesus says concerning His role to save humanity not to judge. Nevertheless, judgment will come on the last day,
If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. John 12:47-48
Some may ask: Isn’t the construction of the ark an adequate sign that will invoke within them contrite repentance? Indeed, the preaching of Christ has much greater power to convict man of sin than Noah’s ark or the Law of Moses. The condemned criminal at Golgotha need no convincing, but repents having witnessed Christ’s infinite love and forgiveness towards His tormentors. Following the coming of the Holy Spirit, Peter in one meeting convicts thousands of Jews steep in tradition, a feat never before accomplished even by Christ in the flesh. Christ’s incarnation and the outpouring of His Spirit has effectively broken down man’s stronghold of alienation and rebellion. God, in an attempt to halt the progressive hardening of man’s heart in Noah’s days destroys them in hopes that they may one day respond to Christ. Therefore, the flood has dual purposes: to halt the progress of sin, and to leave a lineage of righteousness; the seed of the woman who will crush the devil’s head.
At the end of the 150 days (on a Friday), the bottom of the ark rests upon the mountains of Ararat signalling the end of the flood. Interestingly, God’s destructive act upon Christ also ends on a Friday when He breaths, “It is finished” (John 19:30). This hints at the notion, that the flood is as much a salvific instrument as the cross is. A few months later, on a Wednesday, mountains appear as a milestone of a new beginning for humanity.
God is kind and compassionate, ever looking to forgive and to bless.
Believers can be at peace during times of peril as God does not meant it for evil but for good. For everything that God does (until the Day of Judgment) stems from His resolve to save humanity, not to destroy it. As God uses the flood, He uses challenges of life to refine His people and to reverse moral decay. Therefore, in the face of financial distress, disasters or sickness, and when there is trouble in the family, God will remember His covenant with us. And breakthrough will come at the appropriate time.
Many, when faced with dire challenges secretly harbour resentment against God. They emanate negative energy and are not pleasant to be with. They are accustomed to murmuring, being constantly dissatisfied with work and life. Such suppose that God is angry all the time, ever looking to penalise them at the slightest error. Yet, those who believe God to be compassionate and ever looking to do good harbour a very different perspective towards life. They take life’s challenges in stride and roll with the punches believing that all will be well. They believe that no matter how hard things are, God will not allow them to perish and a miracle is at hand if they need one.
Unfortunately, the Genesis flood has cast a very long shadow in the history of humanity and as a result many do not understand God’s true intent. Having said, if man continue to pursue justice, mercy and humility, God does not need to resort to catastrophic measures to turn man back to the truth. But He will see to humanity’s continual sanctification, prosperity and blessings.
The most effective way for people to change is when they see the love of Christ in you.
People are so used to the idea of divine retribution, that most find the idea of God threatening. The notion of divine retribution is further heightened by the image of God’s untouchable holiness and inconceivable power. Hence, many are likened to injured animals who see any approaching object as a threat. As most major religions teaches some form of gruesome and eternal retribution, many believers still mix such false notions into the faith. Where most can agree with the necessity of law and justice, they still cannot accept God as infinitely forgiving, who empathises with the weaknesses of man. Unless the notion of a strict and unforgiving God is abolished, man remains lost and astranged from Him.
The thief who is crucified alongside Jesus witnesses His infinite capacity to forgive despite grave injustice. He expresses succinctly concerning Jesus’s unjust treatment, “… we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” There is no question that the penitent thief does recognise Jesus’s divinity through His supernatural works and teachings. But the turning point comes when he sees with his own eyes Jesus’s attitude towards His tormentors when He prays for their forgiveness, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34. If Jesus, who is divine and who has done nothing wrong can forgive His tormentors, surely a thief can find safety and forgiveness in God.
If ever the world who is accustomed to being punished for their error and oppressed by their religions is to come to God, they must first find perfect forgiveness through Christ’s followers. Until the Day of Judgment arrives when the books are open before the Great White Throne, God will not deprive any man of the opportunity to drink of the perfect love of Christ.
Do you still harbour unforgiveness and resentment especially to those who are once close to you? The only way for them to change and for you to progress is to choose the route of enduring love and forgiveness. Forgiveness releases the bondage of the devil over man and opens their eyes to the things of heaven.
Dear Lord, I thank you that you are no longer angry with me. You have ordained goodness and mercy for all the days of my life. Therefore, I will praise you at all times and sing of your goodness forever. Use me as a mirror to reflect the infinite love of Christ to the world. Empower me to forgive as you have so forgiven me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.