Noah. Water. Blood.

Have you heard this sermon about Noah? “Be good like Noah, and you won’t drown in the floods of life.” I have heard this sermon countless times, and ones just like it, that take a story in the Bible and boil it down to a moral treatise on how we are supposed to be better boys and girls. Here is the problem. The story of Noah and the flood is not about a good guy who gets off the hook. The story of Noah and the flood is about the hopelessness of sin and humanity. Noah is not a hero, he is part of the problem.

The scene of Genesis 7 is a familiar one. Just as in the beginning, the earth is again covered by water and is lifeless. Everything that had stood as shining examples of God’s perfect creation is now buried beneath the crushing weight of a a world covered by water. Eden has been lost. Not only will man not have access to the sanctuary of God any longer, the sanctuary does not exist. Beneath the wet face of the oceans depths lies the entirety of mankind, families have been wiped out, along with the cities and towns that kept them.

For some the story of the flood gives ammunition to the idea that the God of the Old Testament is a cruel vindictive God, set on death and retribution. But God’s heart is not driven by hatred, rather God will not let his chief creation (mankind) run so far into the darkness that they will not be able to come back to the light. God’s judgement is towards the sin that has corrupted his people. Beneath the inky blackness of the deep lies a chance for a new beginning.

Floating on top of a world that is now lifeless once again rests a single vessel, filled to the rafters with a remnant of life. Inside its walls, encased in a rudderless cocoon of wood and pitch, floats a preservation of life. Creation will survive, God has made provision for its survival. Noah the righteous will take the created world and will bring it to safety. Noah the righteous will provide a new beginning for mankind. In the midst of death and destruction is a glimmer of hope.

The waters eventually subside and Noah, along with his family, step blinking into a new world. There is nothing left of the world they had known. To step out of the ark now, blinking in the sun, is now like stepping out into another planet. The earth has changed. It is time to start again. Genesis 9 is a reiteration of Genesis 1. God begins to speak to Noah as he had spoken to Adam in Eden. He makes the same promises, gives the same commands. “Be fruitful and multiply,” God says, “Rule over my creation.” Noah now stands in the place of Adam, and he is inheriting a world that is free of the corruption that had gripped it. Or is he? In stunning fashion we immediately learn that water cannot cure the disease of corruption. Sin will still be part of the story of mankind, and this time it will not come from an outside source like the serpent, this time no serpent is needed. Noah, the righteous one, will be the one who displays that sin is not a disease that can be washed away by water. Sin has not rooted itself in the ground, a weed to be destroyed by the exertion of force, rather it has rooted itself in the human heart. Noah plants a vineyard, makes wine, and drinks till he falls to the ground naked.  

God promises that he will never flood the earth again. It will not be needed. Every generation will now know that even if every evil in the world is wiped out, and only the most righteous of the righteous are allowed to stay, even then sin will rear its head and proclaim its power and dominance of the heart of mankind. The answer for mans helplessness and slavery to sin will not be found in man trying harder or becoming better...there will have to be another way. The utter darkness of the wrath of God will not be appeased by water. Genesis 9:6 will call for blood.

Matthew 27 finds Jesus in the last stages of the cross. His body is failing. His breath is slow. For three hours, noon until three in the afternoon, it has been dark. Just as in Genesis 1, darkness is now covering the face of the earth once again. There will not be a voice commanding the darkness to become light because that voice that created light is now speaking other words. “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” This time the gathering storm clouds will not wipe the earth clean of humanity by a deluge of water. This time blood will run down and drip from the toes of the one who spoke the light into being. The voice that sang the morning will yell out and surrender himself to the darkness. There will be no ark to save Jesus from the wrath of God. Jesus will bear the brunt of wrath alone and without a shield. The darkness will not hold him. This time sin will not rule the day. Jesus, like Noah, comes out of the darkness into the light of a new day, but Jesus, unlike Noah, will not stumble and fall. Jesus will recreate the story of mankind forever. After his resurrection the women will mistake him for a gardener. They are not wrong. Eden is on the horizon once again.