The Man in the Box
Genesis chapters 6, 7, 8, and 9. Without a doubt, the most important and beloved human character of the Bible next to Jesus.
In Genesis 6, we see a world that is so violent and corrupt that God obliterates life on earth. It's a time in which it seems that angels who have rebelled against God are seducing human women thus defiling the human race to a greater extent than ever before. This level of Godlessness and perversion is so extreme that Scripture refers to the destruction of Sodom and the days of Noah in the same passages more than once as they are two of the rarest times in which God wipes out entire peoples. When it says that God "regretted" creating man, the indication is that man is so evil that their existence brings nothing but pain to God's heart. The children he created for a loving relationship have no love or regard for him in any way and "every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time." The good news for us is that God still loves man and his animals so much that despite the worldwide destruction that is coming, He provides a way for life to continue.
This is where we see that God is still The Creator. God is always creating new things even when he destroys everything else. Just like with the resurrection, when we are in Christ, death results in life. God makes (present tense) ALL things new and he does not change. God calls Noah into a NEW covenant relationship that he is establishing and honors him with an incredible task. The call of Noah is somewhat different from others seen in scripture in that the dialogue is completely one-sided. Moses politely tries to refuse, Jonah books a cruise, and Gideon asks for proof. Nowhere is it mentioned that Noah ever complains, questions, or doubts, it just says that he "did all that the Lord commanded him." I think that Noah was most likely a very boring guy who was never invited to any parties, but it says that "Noah walked with God" and was "blameless in his generation." The lingo "walked with God" is indicative that Noah was living as if he were still in the Garden of Eden before the fall of man when God “was walking in the garden.” Noah must have had quite the relationship with him if no one could blame him for anything. 2nd Peter refers to him as a "preacher of righteousness" even though it's not recorded that he delivered any sermons or stirring speeches. God chose him simply because he preached righteousness by being quietly obedient. Patience is another fruit of the Spirit he lived in. It is estimated that the Ark took a minimum of 50 years and a maximum of 120 to build. Think about that. Bare minimum, if we finished an Ark this year, that would mean that we had been working on it since the Vietnam War. If you go with 120 years, then that would mean starting when we went to war with Spain which I wasn't aware of ever happening until tonight. In either case, he spent several decades just hauling, painting, and nailing logs. Interestingly enough, God never actually tells Noah when the flood will come or how long it will last. Even the statement about the rainfall, "40 days and 40 nights," is believed by many scholars to be a Hebrew expression that simply means “a long time”. God only tells him to build a barge roughly the height of a four-story house and the length of 1 and a half football fields that can't have cracks and has to be painted with tar. The ark really wasn't a boat since it was without sails, a rudder, or a stern. God gives Noah no real time frame or destination, he just tells him to make a box in which they will float around until God gives him further instructions. We will later see this box in a different form when the Ark of the Covenant is built in Exodus.
The ark is both a manifestation and representation of the Holy presence of God that is with the people of Israel. This golden chest contained the staff of Aaron, a jar of manna, and the Ten Commandments. God’s chosen servant in this story is an exemplary picture of someone trusting in the Lord as his shepherd, obeying his commandments, and thus receiving abundant life. Ironically, the Hebrew meaning of "Noah" is "rest and comfort." This is the kind of Christian life we are called to. It is a life of doing what God says, waiting on his leading, and "resting" in what he allows. Noah is also bringing others into the "comfort" of God's salvation in the midst of the planet being underwater. Considering that we are told that the "floodwaters prevailed 150 days,’ another miracle of God is that he kept Noah's household from killing each other. I love my family so much, but I can't imagine being stuck with JUST them on a boat for 5 months. Also, it's great how much credit Daniel gets for the lions’ den, butNoah and his family were floating around all that time in the ultimate Jurassic Ark. At some point, we can only assume that they were at least a little bit concerned about running out of food for both themselves and the animals.
Noah also shows great faith by repeatedly sending out the birds to see if the waters have indeed receded which must have been discouraging each time they returned. Even after it is clear that they are on dry ground, Noah still waits another week until God finally gives them the go-ahead to leave the ark because he knew he would receive further instruction when the time was right. Often in the Christian life, we strive and strive complaining about the way things are going and demanding guidance from God. Even when we get it, we don’t always trust him in faith, but He calls us to live as Noah did. Noah endures through the decades of building and watching the earth wash away because he knows the kind of God that is taking care of him. We often forget that even in the storms of our lives, God is ruler of the seas. The same God who protected Noah’s family in the ark also held up the waters of the Red Sea and the river Jordan, guarded Moses in a basket on the Nile, and rescued Jonah with a giant fish. Jesus is the complete fulfillment of these images when he walks on the Sea of Galilee during a storm and orders the winds and waves to cease. The sea is usually a picture of the all-consuming, holy nature of God and man is either destroyed by his wrath or he lives in his love by the covenant protection that is Christ. 1 Peter 3:21 states that the flood was a clear image of the cleansing baptism in which we share through the resurrection of Jesus. The resurrected life of the covenant is already completed for us, all we have to do is trust, obey, and float.