I’m teaching the Old Testament at Lander University and I am also teaching it at our church this Fall. As I prepare, I am noticing many things about the Old Testament that are misunderstood. One of them is that Noah and the Ark is not a children’s story. It’s a story for all of us. It’s deeper than rain and animals. It has to do with the fact that God takes sin seriously.
Adam and Eve sinned and were banished from the Garden. Their son, Cain, killed their other son, Abel. After this event, God blesses them with another son. When Eve births another son, Seth (Gen. 4:25), solemnity is slowing taking over. Seth’s birth gives a subtle indication of deeper things transpiring with Mankind.
While the first people were made in the image of God, Seth is curiously described as a son in Adam’s “own likeness, after his image” (Gen. 5:3). On the external level, this reveals that Seth’s appearance is similar to that of his father’s. This phrase possibly also acknowledges the fact that these following generations are more and more marred by the curse of sin first seen in the father Adam.
This sinful nature and Adamic likeness grows. Sin continues to pervert, distort, and destroy what is good in God’s creation. Evil increases greatly, and God becomes evermore grieved over Mankind. God begins to impose an age limit of 120 years (Gen. 6:3) except for a few unique exceptions (Abraham lives to 175, Gen. 25:7).
Further, God declares that he is going to destroy his Creation which was good before sin corrupted it. “‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.’ But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD'” (Gen. 6:7-8). The fact that God feels “sorry” does not indicate that he is now aware of something he didn’t see coming and he wish he would have never done it in the first place. God foreknew all that had transpired and all that would transpire. The actualization of enduring Mankind’s sinfulness produces a different type of grief within God than previously described.
Noah is the exception here. Chosen by God for a specific task, Noah “was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God” (Gen. 6:9). God’s wrath was coming for earth ever so filled with violence and corruption (Gen. 6:11-12). To save himself, his family, and a remnant of animals, God instructed Noah to build an ark that could sustain the coming wrath of God (Gen. 6:14-22).
Noah and the Ark was never intended to be a mere children’s story.