Days of Noah, Days of Grace
In times of uncertainty, we can turn to the Bible for comfort and proof of God’s enduring love and care for his people. In part one of a three-part series, Colleen Marshall shares with us the hope that can be ours as we consider the place of safety that is Christ.
Do you remember as a child hearing the story of Noah’s ark? The picture books show the ark with a bearded old man watching the animals stream in two by two. Was it just a far-fetched children’s fantasy or is there a message for us today?
Actually, it was a true event recorded in the Bible, in Genesis 6–9. The ark was God’s provision for a world gone mad. It would be a place of safety, a refuge from a great flood that threatened all existence on the face of the earth.
Up until that time, rain was unknown. Dew came up from the ground to water the earth, but no rain had ever fallen. When Noah’s building project took the form of an ark and he warned the people of a coming flood, he was mocked and ridiculed. They couldn’t imagine such a thing, and they would not acknowledge Noah’s God who gave instructions to build the boat, which they thought ludicrous.
Undaunted, Noah carried on. He taught God’s righteous standards, but his message was unpopular for a people bent on living for themselves and their own pleasures. No way did they consider themselves accountable to anyone, not Noah and not his God.
The invitation to turn back to God was snubbed, sealing their fate. When the great flood came, Noah and his family alone were saved, along with the animals. God in his grace had prepared a way of escape but no other person heeded the warnings.
In Noah’s day the world was a hotbed of violence, immorality and godlessness, ‘But Noah found favour in the eyes of the LORD’ (Genesis 6:8). God warned Noah that his mercy was wearing thin and that a flood would come and destroy the earth.
By faith, Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith (Hebrews 11:7). Noah was moved by faith and followed God’s blueprint to build the ark. He built it in full view, nothing was hidden. He pleaded with the people to change their ways, that the ark would be a place of refuge if they believed. As it neared completion his pleadings intensified. But the people partied away and carried on business as usual, mocking the monstrosity he had built. Salvation was offered—and rejected.
Noah wept at the shamelessness of the people around him, carousing and self-absorbed. His warnings went unheeded. Then he began storing supplies for his family and for the livestock. Imagine it—a year’s worth! They were on the ark for thirteen months. The logistics are mind-boggling. Did anyone question … or just dismiss him as a fanatic?
Once Noah and his family entered the ark, God himself shut the door. Forty days of relentless rain followed. An ominous foreboding gripped people’s minds. Their wailing cries drowned in a haunting silence. Noah had spoken the truth. Remember the film Titanic? How the orchestra played on. Finally, water engulfed the whole eerie scene as the ship went down.
Days of Christ
Fast forward four millennia to the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus had a following of disciples whom he taught about the coming of God’s kingdom. He was both loved and hated. Some were furious when he taught with authority, others on the fringes felt welcomed, and warmed to the one who showed grace and compassion to the outcasts and healed the sick.
Jesus, like Noah, also made clear the message that all are accountable to God. That in a future day there will be many signs to signal that life as we know it will radically change and judgement will come. The age of grace has a time limit. Like the prophets of old, Jesus said the choice was up to them. Choose today who you will serve, God or self. Choose life!
Jesus’ disciples wanted to know the timeframe and what God’s agenda looked like. Would there be a sign to warn people? In response, Jesus referred them back to the days of Noah.
‘Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all’ (Luke 17:26–27).
God’s rescue plan
We can’t ignore that our world is in upheaval. We can’t deny that weather events are more frequent and intense, often leaving destruction almost beyond belief. We can’t ignore that lawlessness is rampant and that the value of life is being desecrated. How long will our loving God tolerate such dishonour of his created order? Jesus spoke of a world in chaos as the beginning of birth pangs—see Matthew 24.
But we take courage in the certainties of our faith, God wants everyone to be saved; His heart is for the nations, for all people, young and old, rich and poor, none excluded. ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16). God has made a way of salvation, a way of escape from the tribulation to come. His agenda is not hidden, the Bible declares it in plain view for all to see.
We are living in days of grace. Jesus is the hope of the world. The cross, like Noah’s ark, is God’s provision for us. Jesus spoke plainly, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’ (John 14:6b). Choose grace, and to follow Jesus.
‘Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved’ (Acts 4:12). What amazing grace that God would save one such as me. May he reveal his grace and mercy toward you and your family that you too will choose the salvation he offers.