Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Way of the Cross (2)

Yesterday we began our journey towards the cross from the Garden of Eden. Following the fall of Adam and Eve, the population of the world has grown, but sin has prevailed as well. By Genesis 6, God is grieved at the wickedness on earth, and resolves to do something about it. God's judgement comes upon the earth, in the form of water - not just an afternoon of heavy rain, but forty days of continual rain, so that the whole earth is flooded. Everyone will face the consequence of their sin - death. Waterworld becomes a reality.

Except one man is spared the watery grave. He and his family are rescued from destruction, along with a floating zoo. Noah is saved by his ark (built by an amateur, which got on better than the Titanic, built by professionals!). The contrast is clear, as God reveals to Noah what is about to happen:

For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. 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. (Genesis 6:17-18)

Immediately when we read those verses we think that Noah was special in some way. That Noah was different from everyone else. That everyone else was very bad, and Noah was very good. Why else would God rescue him when all the bad people were condemned to the judgement of the flood? To think that is to miss what God has just said - everyone deserves to die; Noah included.

Noah isn't saved because he is good. He is saved because he is graced. Back a few verses we're told the crucial fact about Noah which explains why he is saved when everyone else perishes: 'But Noah found favour in the eyes of the LORD.' (Gen 6:8) Favour, or grace, is why the text goes on to say that Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. His salvation is rooted in God's grace, not in Noah's goodness.

Christ Jesus is our ark - our rescue from the worldwide judgement that is coming - in Jesus there is safety, without him there is only judgement. Those who are saved aren't there because of their goodness or giving, performance or perfection. They have found favour in the eyes of the Lord. It's why we can't boast - we don't deserve it. Rather, we just marvel at the unexpected, undeserved grace gift of God.

As Noah, the one who found favour in God's eyes emerged from the ark, well, it was like a new creation. The animals are released and begin all over again. Noah and his family begin to populate the earth. Everything is new, yet just the same. Sin continues - Noah himself being a drunkard. But one day those who have been graced and gifted with salvation in Christ will step into the new heavens and the new earth, where there will be no more sin, sickness, sadness or suffering. Eden restored and indeed, surpassed. What a day that will be!

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