Sunday, February 27, 2011

Scripture Sunday: The Flood & The Blood

The Lord saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.  The Lord was grieved that He had made man on the earth, and His heart was filled with pain.  So the Lord said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth - men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and the birds of the air - for I am grieved that I have made them."  But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord......Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God......... So God said to Noah, I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them......So make yourself an ark.....I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it.  Everything on earth will perish.  But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark - you and your sons and your wife and your sons' wives with you.  You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female.....Noah did everything just as God commanded him.  Genesis 6:5-9, 13-14, 17-19, 22 (NIV)

As I was reading this passage a few weeks ago, I began questioning why chapters 6 & 7 were fairly repetitive?  Then it occurred to me that perhaps God really wanted to get a point across.  After all, when we repeat something, isn't it usually because we either don't think someone is listening or we really want to emphasize the importance of something?  So I decided to delve a little deeper.  I believe that God didn't give us the Old Testament just so we'd have a history lesson (although much of that information is helpful), but rather to teach us something of importance.  I also believe that much of the Old Testament foreshadows or points to Jesus Christ.  As I continued reading & researching, many parallels between Noah's ark and the cross of Jesus began to be revealed to me.  

Genesis 6:8 (NIV) says, "But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.." Another word for "favor", as the King James Version states it, is "grace."  It's interesting to me that Noah was only saved by the grace of God.  Ephesians 2:8 (NIV) states, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God." It is only by the grace of God that we are saved from His judgment!  In addition, Noah had to trust God that the flood was actually going to come and that he truly needed to build and enter the ark.  Had Noah not trusted (had faith) in God, he would have been destroyed.

Genesis 6:14 (NIV) says, "So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out."  The King James Version says it like this, "Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch."

I thought it was interesting that the KJV used the word "pitch" twice.  As I researched, I discovered that the Hebrew word for "pitch," when used as a verb ("shalt pitch") is "kaphar," which is used seventy times in the Bible to mean atonement as it relates to blood sacrifice.  The Hebrew word for "pitch," when used as a noun ("with pitch"), is "kopher" and means "price of a life" or "ransom."  In other words, Noah & his family were protected from the flood (God's judgment on the earth) by atonement.  Could it be that the pitch is symbolic of the blood of Jesus, who sacrificed His life, covering all our sins, so that we would be protected from God's judgment?

I also found one reference that stated that wood in the Bible often represents man.  If this is so, could it be foreshadowing that God would become "flesh" or man (John 1:14) in order to be our salvation?

"Put a door in the side of the ark...." (Genesis 6:16 NIV).  Notice that although the ark is huge, there is only one door to the ark....only one way to enter.  In John 10:9 (NIV), Jesus states, "I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved."   The KJV uses the word "door" in place of  "gate."  Just as in the ark, there is only one way to be saved.....through Jesus!

"...and make lower, middle, and upper decks" (Genesis 6:16 NIV).  It makes sense that the bottom deck is likely where the larger animals were.  It was probably crowded, dark, & smelly (and it's possible you'd get trampled on by animals!).  The middle deck likely had the smaller animals, but it was still dark & probably smelly.  The upper deck, however, had a window, which could allow both light & air in.  I began to see that although every creature on the ark was saved from the flood, there was definitely a difference in the decks.  Sometimes as Christians, we may feel that just being saved (entering the ark) is enough, but God wants so much more for us!  He wants us to grow in our relationship with Him!  He wants us to have abundant life (John 10:10)!  (This may be a stretch, but I also think it is interesting that a window's primary function is to let light & air in because in the Bible, Jesus is referred to as the light & the Holy Spirit is referred to as wind or breath.) 

Genesis 7:1 (KJV) says, "And the LORD said unto Noah, "Come thou and all thy house into the ark..."  Notice that God gently invited Noah into the ark, but Noah had to make the decision to enter.  ("Come" also implies that God would be there with Noah.  In Matthew 11:28 (NIV), Jesus says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."  We are gently & graciously invited to come to Jesus, to trust in Him, but ultimately, we have to make the decision.

After Noah had done all that God commanded him & entered the ark, ..."the Lord shut him in" (Genesis 7:16 NIV).  What powerful words!  God, Himself, seals us in. John 10:28 (NIV) says, "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand."  That does make me wonder though, did Noah have no control over the door?  Hmmm....that gives me something to think about.  (We do know, though, that he had control over the much light & air he let in.)

After the flood had receded, the Bible states that "the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat" (Genesis 8:4).  After researching, I discovered that "Ararat" likely means "curse is reversed."  The curse of sin & death was reversed by Jesus' death on the cross (Galations 3:13)!

Although the flood represents the judgment, the thought also crossed my mind regarding it's similarity to baptism.  Besides the obvious fact that they both involve water, with the flood, the old was gone, and the new began.  Isn't that what baptism represents, that through faith in Christ Jesus, we are a new creation and the old is gone  (II Corinthians 5:17)?

Finally, Genesis 9:13-15 (NIV) states, "I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth......I will remember my covenant between me and you....Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life."   I found that Revelations 10:1-2 refers to an angel who is robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head, his right foot planted on the sea and his left on the land, and he is holding a scroll containing a message affecting the destiny of the world.  In my research, I also read that it points to "no judgment" for those who are in Christ.  It's interesting that the rainbow God set in the sky represents the very important message to the world that God will no longer destroy the earth by a flood.

One last note: Although I didn't completely research this myself to confirm it's truth, I did find an article that spoke of the meanings of names from Adam to Noah, and if accurate, it is very interesting.

Adam = Man
Seth = Appointed
Enosh = Mortal
Kenan = Sorrow
Mahalalel = The Blessed God
Jared = Shall come down
Enoch = Teaching
Methuselah = His death shall bring
Lamech = The Despairing
Noah = Comfort (or Rest)

If you put them all together, it says, "Man (is) appointed mortal sorrow; (but) the blessed God shall come down teaching (that) His death shall bring (the) despairing rest.”

I am convinced that all of these parallels aren't just coincidences, but that the great flood definitely is symbolic of the blood of Jesus Christ.  What do you think?  I would love to hear your thoughts!

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