This morning, I read Genesis 7 and the account of the Flood, probably the most romanticized story in all of Scripture (cf. your typical Sunday school/VBS portrayal of Noah and his ark). This is tragic on so many levels. It distorts our vision of God. It confuses our understanding of ourselves. And most tragically of all, it blinds us to the Cross of Christ.
Genesis 7 and Jesus’ Cross are connected: they’re both Flood stories. Which Flood looks bigger to you?
They both reveal the holiness of God, the sinfulness of man, and how the Lord Himself acts in response to this collision. Both accounts depict God’s holy wrath poured out against the sin of man, but their relationship is not one of identity but of shadow to substance, pattern to fulfillment. The focus of today’s post will be on themes of the gravity of sin and God’s judgment against it in the Noah account. Tomorrow’s post will reflect on the theme of God’s grace in this same account.
Noah: Above the Flood of God’s Wrath The story of the Lord’s dealings with Noah confronts my heart with this question: do I take sin—its damage, its pollution, its evil, its unreformability—as seriously as God does? In all honesty, I have to admit that I do not look at it or the world upon which it has brought such ruination with the eyes of God. My lightheartedness about sin—in my own heart or its scarring of Creation—is utterly out of alignment with God’s assessment of it. As I study the Lord’s dealings with Noah, I learn that I cannot trust my own reactions and assessments of sin’s gravity. If I think that the Flood is God’s overreaction to sin, that reveals my own “underreaction” to its reality and destructiveness. I must yield to His assessment, His evaluation, of it.
Jesus: Under the Flood of God’s Wrath. This leads me to ask of my own heart whether I am not equally prone to underestimate and “underreact” to what occurred at the Cross of our Lord Jesus. This is ironic: just as I look at the Flood and am overwhelmed by the massive scale of the Lord’s response to sin, do I also look upon the Cross of His Son and under-appreciate, am I under-awed by, the scandal of the devastation wrought there upon Him in my place? Sadly, I have to answer, Yes. I come from a long line of under-reactors to the reality of the Gospel.
For there, at Calvary, a much greater Flood was unleashed. The Cross was the inverse of the Flood. In the Flood, the judgment of God against sin falls upon the many, while the righteous remnant of one (Noah–Genesis 7:1) is spared. By contrast, at the Cross, the full weight of God’s wrath fell upon the Righteous Remnant of One in order that sinful men, women, and children all across the world and history might be spared. Just as happens when I consider the Flood, so I see far less and react with far less emotion than I should when I consider the Cross of God’s Son and what God unleashed and accomplished there.
The Flood cuts against the grain of my ‘logic.’ The scale of the Cross’ scandal is also counter-intuitive to my logic: how can the death of One Man be so valuable that He would be able to accomplish what the Flood—global aquatic devastation—could not: atonement? How can the life of a single man be so perfectly satisfying to the Lord that He becomes the source of eternal salvation to all who will trust Him?
Just like the Flood, my first reaction to the Cross proves that I do not take sin as seriously as God does—that the Incarnation and suffering of His Son would be necessary is the staggering and most accurate index of its true character.
May God correct our vision! May He grant to each of us that we would see as He sees! That we would stand before the Cross with our hands over our mouths in silent wonder at both the magnitude of sin’s pollution and hatefulness in the sight of God and the magnitude of Christ’s righteousness which answers, in His life and death, for all who will entrust themselves to Him.