In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Noah found favour with God. (Gen. 6:8) Without any merit or worthiness in him. For all men sin and every intention of the thoughts of their hearts is evil continually. (Gen. 6:5) Even Noah’s heart. But Noah was given grace. For He heard and believed God’s promise of a saviour who would crush the head of the serpent. (Gen. 3:15) His name is means comfort. And in faith he preached this promise of God’s comforting salvation. (Heb. 11:7) Thus, it is said he walked with God. (Gen. 6:9)
This is one of the greatest messages of the Flood. God acts. To save. It is He who walks with Noah. It is He who gives Noah favour. It is He who gives Noah the comfort to preach to those who will listen. And it was He who gave Noah a very small congregation. Noah’s wife. His three sons and their wives. Eight souls in all who had the ears of faith to hear and be saved from the Flood to come. Yet God was at work to save and to bring them a new creation. He set His plan into action. God determines the size of the ark. (Gen. 6:15-16) He determined the materials. (Gen. 6:14) God called Noah to do it, and told him His plan. (Gen. 6:17-18) God made Noah a antedeluvian (pre-flood) John the Baptizer telling them repent and be saved before the great baptism of the world comes. (Heb. 11:7) God brought the animals to Noah. (Gen. 6:20) God sent the Flood. God judged those who rejected His free gift of salvation given by Noah’s preaching. God brought Noah and His family into the ark. God sealed them in (Gen 7:16) saving them from the corruption of the sinful world and the condemnation of hell. He brought them ultimately to a new world, washed clean, baptized from its sin. A new world of faith in His promise to come and saved His people from the serpent.
A new world . Just as God had created all things in 6 days and rested on 7th, and a new world was given to the Man and the Woman on the 8th day, so 8 souls would see a new world washed clean of the corruption of man’s sin. Baptized, as it were, by God’s promise to save those who believe His promise. (1 Peter 3:20-21)
Moreover, when God sent two of each animal would He have sent large, fully grown animals onto the ark? Huge elephants? Giant lizards? Or might He have had the foresight to send young, not fully grown animals onto the ark?
In the second half or our reading today (Gen. 7) Moses, the author of this account, gets really repetitious, emphasizing the two-by-two of the animals, and the seven pairs of clean animals. (The clean animals were needed for sacrifice, thus, more pairs were needed. For from Abel to Noah, and beyond, sacrifice of animals foreshadowed the need for a substitute to take your place. Blood for blood. It prophesied Christ, the Son who would come, and His substitution for all of mankind.) But all this male-and-female, two-by-two, remind us of God’s desire to preserve and perpetuate life. (Gen. 6:20) The seven days from entering the ark till the rain fell (Gen. 7:4) reminds us of day seven of creation. God’s day of rest. The day of life. When the creating of all life was done and the Father’s preserving of life began. (Exo. 20:11; Gen 2:2; Heb. 4:3-4, 10) It highlights God’s desire to save life from the curse its own sin has brought on the earth. And once God has provided for His creation to be saved He seals them in the ark. And the flood washes across earth for 40 days. (Gen 7:16-17)
Where is all the water today? Well ponder what best guesses we have about where the mountains of today come from. It is generally thought that tectonic plates crashed together to create the jagged mountain ranges much like the crumpling of a car hood in a crash. And most of you will know that many think that once upon a time the plates were together as a super-continent. If that is so, then prior to the Flood there would be no mountains as we know them now. Only small rises. No plates had crashed together yet to cause the Himalayas, Rockies, or Andes.
Moreover, recent scans of the earth’s core suggest that the spreading of the plates happened much more rapidly, and recently, than previously thought. Leading tectonic theorists have begun to ponder models of rapid and sudden slipping of plates under each other, causing dramatic crashes between some plates, leading to sudden rising of mountains and falling of continents, causing water covering a flat super-continent to pool and puddle as new mountain ranges pushed water back in some places into the oceans puddles of today. That’s a very brief set of observations to balance out the question of where did the water come from or go.
And through those 40 days by the ark God preserved life as the waters washed the world clean of corruption. 40 days of water prepared a new world giving new life unto those who trust in God. And so it will be when Jesus, God in our flesh, comes again. We who are in the ark of the Church will be saved from the raging flood of your sinful nature. Holy Baptism has drowned the evil within and raised up a new you. (Rom. 6:3-4) Therefore, we do not regard anyone in Christ according to the flesh. (2 Cor. 5:16-17)
For what was the world like before the Flood? Every intention of the thoughts of everyone’s hearts was evil continually. Even Noah’s heart. The only difference with Noah was that God gave him grace. Which is to say God gave him faith to walk with God trusting in His promise of a saviour to come. God granted Noah grace to preach that same salvation to any who would hear it. And what is miraculous about this preaching of Noah is not that more did not believe it but that any believed it at all! (Just as in our day!) And then by water God confirmed Noah’s preaching. So that by water and word (John 3:4-7), God says of Noah, and you too, “The old is gone. The new has come. (2 Cor. 5:16-17) No longer are you considered by your old ways—your continual sinful thinking. Instead in the midst of sin I bring a new creation into you. A new life. A walking with Jesus, in the Paradise of faith. God with you in your own flesh. Emmanuel. By Whom I consider no one according to their sin, but according to My Son’s perfect righteousness.”
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran Church
Thunder Bay, ON