A lesson – Genesis 6:11-22
And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence because of them; now I am going to destroy them along with the earth. Make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above; and put the door of the ark in its side; make it with lower, second, and third decks. For my part, I am going to bring a flood of waters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die. But I will establish my covenant with you; and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. And of every living thing, of all flesh, you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground according to its kind, two of every kind shall come in to you, to keep them alive. Also take with you every kind of food that is eaten, and store it up; and it shall serve as food for you and for them.”
Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.
For some ridiculous reason, we just love refashioning the story of Noah into a cute, cartoonish, kid-friendly tale. Can’t you see the drawings and the baby toys? The smiling Noah? The purple elephant? The awkward giraffe with his neck sticking out of a round port-side window? The animals going on by twosies, and coming off again in threesies?
It’s ridiculous because the story of Noah is anything but cute and cartoonish. People are sinning so horrifically that with grief and anger God sets out to wipeout everyone, and everything. It’s a story of death on an unthinkably massive scale. It’s a story of pitch black clouds, of a foaming raging sea, and lives being drowned out in every direction.
Luke includes Noah in Jesus’ family tree. Noah’s inclusion reminds us of the evil things that humans can do – as if we need much of a reminder of that these days. However, while God responded to the depths of human sin with a flood in the days of Noah, God responded with love and grace in the days of Jesus.
When we juxtapose Noah and Jesus, as Luke does in his version of the genealogy, we see the remarkable consistency of human failing, and we see a remarkable difference in how God chooses to relate to us.
The gift of that child born in a manger becomes even more beautiful than a rainbow.
O God, who made a covenant with all living things in the days of Noah, and set a bow in the sky; give us grace to see our failings and strength to live according to your way, that we may evermore be people who reflect your love in the world. Amen.