♬ “The Lord told Noah to build him an arky, arky” ♫
“I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth…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, to keep them alive with you” – Genesis 6:17-20
What do you remember about the story of Noah’s ark?
- A lot of rain? ✓
- A big boat? ✓
- Animals? ✓
- The first rainbow? ✓
If the story is new to you then I’d suggest revisiting it (Genesis 6:5-9:22). Even if you do remember the story, it’s worth revisiting. It’s a story often told to children (with quite a few edits) that looks very different to adult eyes. This week we’ll be looking at the Bible character of Noah. And while the Bible tags Noah as the second longest living person, we really only know one story from his life, the flood.
Often the emphasis of the flood narrative is placed on the ark or the animals. But the story is about much more than the world’s first floating zoo. It’s about the first covenant.
The Bible talks a lot about the relationship between humanity and divinity, creation and creator. There are lots of ways of understanding this relationship. Some talk of the relationship as that between a parent and a child or between a king and a subject, or a teacher and a student. Yet one of the most powerful ways the Bible defines the relationship is as a partnership. It does this through the language of covenant. Put simply, the Biblical covenants are comprised of God’s promises and humanity’s commitments. It is a collaborative relationship working towards a shared goal. God wants to partner with us to bring about life and love, justice and peace.
The story of Noah is the first time God extends such a covenant. After the waters subside and Noah disembarks, God says, “I now establish my covenant with you and with every living creature on earth: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood.” It is a promise of preservation. God sent the flood because people seemed hopelessly wicked (6:5-7). This covenant is God’s promise to continue to have hope in humanity. The fascinating and wonderful part of this first covenant, is that it is all promise. God doesn’t say, “If you commit to doing X, then I will promise to continue to have hope in you.” This is the only Old Testament covenant to be all promise without asking for a commitment from us.
The story of Noah says that God believes in you. You have never been, are not now, and never will be hopeless. None us are. God promises to never give up on his hope in you.