The Promise Was Extended
At last the ark was finished. Noah saw that all the food was placed on board, enough to last the people and animals throughout the time of the storm. Then all the animals were taken into their places, just as God had instructed. With the members of his family, Noah stepped into the ark. What a moment of triumphant faith that must have been! Noah had been righteous when others lived in sin. He had been obedient in following God’s commandments. He had labored faithfully and strenuously to get the ark ready. But in the moment when he entered the door he submitted himself completely Into the hands of God in a new and special way. We read in the account, Then God shut him in. God closed the door of the ark. There was nothing else that Noah could do. He was completely dependent upon . God for protection and salvation from the judgment which would come upon the sinful earth.
And the judgment did come. The flood was a terrifying reality. For forty days and forty nights rain fell from the skies and great springs burst forth from the earth. As God had said, and as Noah had warned the people, everyone outside the ark died in the awful waters. Noah was protected by the ark and by the covenant which God had established.
The water flooded the earth. Then God closed the springs of the deep and stopped the rain from falling. He sent a wind to evaporate the water, and eventually the ground was dry again. God said to Noah, “Come out of the ark.” He told Noah that the people and animals should begin to multiply once more, and make the earth fruitful.
As soon as he was on dry ground Noah built an altar to God and offered Him burned sacrifices, in worship and thanksgiving. God was pleased with this, and said to Noah, “Even though the inclination of man’s heart is evil, I will not destroy all living creatures again in the way that I have done.” And God made the rainbow to be a sign of His promise to mankind.
We can understand by the words of God that the sinful condition of man had not been destroyed in the flood. Sinful people had been destroyed, but the sinful condition remained. We learn from this that Noah was not saved because he was free from the condition of sin, but rather because he had trusted God to make a way of escape for him. Because Noah believed God and obeyed, God placed him in a position of safety. He was safe from the flood waters while he was in the ark. He was safe from the judgment which came upon the sinful earth. Trust and obedience builds for each of us a kind of ark which keeps us safe from judgment.
Yes, God said to Noah after the flood, just as He had said before the flood, every inclination of the heart of man is evil. Yet God was willing to make a new covenant with Noah, and this time He extended His promise to all of Noah’s descendants. God had expressed His displeasure with the sinful ways of men by sending the flood. He had demonstrated that sin is terrible and must lead to judgment. He had shown that an individual person, who trusts and obeys God will not be subject to judgment.
Now, as He said, “I establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you,” and made the rainbow His sign, God demonstrated once more His concern and His hope for mankind. We know that He intended the story of Noah to be told through the years to many generations, for we find it used often as an illustration of the lessons God wants us all to learn.
“Remember Noah,” God says to us, “as things were in his day, and sinful men paid no attention to him until the flood came and took them all away, so will there come an awful day when God will judge the earth.” Remember Noah. He was faithful, and God accepted him. “Remember Noah,” God has said to us “when I swore that the waters would never again cover the earth. . . . my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed.”
Oh God! Protector and Guardian of those who are of the righteous. Praise be unto you forever. As you personally instructed Noah in the building of the ark which protected him from the flood, may you be pleased as well, to instruct me in the building of an ark for my own life; in the building of a relationship with you, that will likewise protect me from the great and terrible day of judgment. Implant within my own heart a relationship of devotion and obedience; for my soul cries out unto you for that same kind of covenant, in which I too can know for sure that you are my refuge, and that my salvation from destruction and hell is absolutely certain. For only then can my soul rest in peace. Amen.