Friday, 2 December 2011

Noah - hope for a people in exile?

If you were one of God's people in the exile, would the story of Noah have encouraged you? I think it might well have done and that it can encourage many of God's people today in similar ways. God's people are effectively "aliens" or "strangers" (1 Peter) who are living apart from their promised land (Hebrews 11:13-16?) and are surrounded by competing philosophies and alternative faiths (including the "faith" commitment of atheism!?). So, we are often in a position to relate (partially, not completely of course!!) to Jews and Israelites in exile who were away from the promised land , wondering whether it was worth trying to be righteous and if continuing faith in God was worth the trouble.

Noah is pictured as a righteous man living in a world that is otherwise hostile to God. He is told of God's plans and granted a way of "salvation" to keep him safe. By remaining faithful to God, Noah is able to take part in a new or renewed creation. Looking at the story from the end of chapter 8 through the start of Genesis 9, we see clear parallels with the opening creation story in Genesis 1. The waters and land are once again separated as the waters are subdued. Creatures of various kinds are sent out to populate the various parts of the earth. The rhythm of days and seasons is established. Humans are charged with multiplying and filling the earth and given food. There are differences, but the pattern is clearly there that suggests this is a kind of new creation.

So, Noah, the faithful man is preserved and brought into a new creation. It is worth being faithful after all.

Maybe this helped to inspire the new creation language of Isaiah 65? Maybe this story of Noah gave hope that despite being surrounded by ungodly people and wondering if it was worth being faithful, God would look after His own and bring judgement. It surely must have been reassuring to know that God wasn't like the Ancient Near Eastern gods of the Gilgamesh Epic or Atrahasis story - God is not capricious or whimsical and He plans everything carefully, looking after those who are righteous.

As Christians, we look forward to the completion of a new creation that has already begun in Christ (see,e.g., 2 Corinthians 5:17). The new creation has started with Christ and God is reconciling all things to Himself in Him (Colossians 1:20), which will include the release of all creation from its bondage to decay as humanity is redeemed (Romans 8). If we find ourselves wondering if it is worth being faithful, then this story of Noah can encourage us too. A perfect new creation is coming. Head for the ark while there is still time and know that your God will protect you all the way through the chaotic waters of death to new life in a renewed world.

No comments:

Post a Comment