Summary: God delivers his people by a mighty hand and outstretched arm.
Near the end of his life, Moses exhorts the congregation to faithfulness by reminding them of God’s great work of salvation in their lives. Deuteronomy 4.34: “Has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, and by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great deeds of terror, all of which the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?”
The Bible is so big that it is accurate to call it a “library” – 66 books, written by forty different people who lived over a period of about one thousand five hundred years. Yet for all the great variety of authors and times, one message unifies the whole: God delivers his people by a mighty hand and outstretched arm. That work began in Genesis 7, the beginning of deliverance. Genesis 7, beginning with verse 1.
[Read Genesis 7.1-8.19. Pray.]
Johann Georg Hamann (1730-1788) was a leader among Enlightenment intellectuals when he was converted and become a follower of Jesus. His friend, Immanuel Kant, sought to bring him back, because he felt Hamann could contribute so much to the cause. Hamann refused (instead trying to convert Kant to Christ), and became known as a man who, “in the age of the Enlightenment, was one of fiercest critics.” Isaiah Berlin was so angry with Hamann’s criticism that he called him, “the founder of modern irrationalism.”
Hamann was not irrational. What bothered the secular thinkers was that he saw that the key to God’s character was divine humility:
• God the Father humbled himself in creating out of nothing – mud made in his image;
• God the Son humbled himself in dying on the cross – holiness made sin; and
• God the Holy Spirit humbled himself in writing Scripture—the Infinite speaking to the creature through the creature.
This last point, the glory and humility of God in writing the Bible, especially fascinated Hamann. He realized that Enlightenment confidence in reason separated from history and revelation was prideful, even destructive. Additionally, God converted Hamann while reading Genesis, which especially enabled him to appreciate the humility required for true knowledge as Paul teaches in 1Corinthians 8.2-3: “If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.” Hamann realized that it was not so much that he was reading the Bible, but that the Bible was reading him. He was stunned as his life and heart were laid bare by the Scriptures. He was not coming to know God; God was knowing him.
This was especially egregious to enlightenment sensibilities because revelation was anti-intellectual, vulgar, common. But Hamann realized that the events which God caused to transpire in the lives of these Old Testament saints were his events – this was his story. The same must be true of us. With events as significant and familiar as these, we can read them as interesting studies, while not allowing them to read us. With Hamann, we must hear God speak into our lives; we must board the ark ourselves and have God shut us in.
One word of warning. Sometimes Christians interpret the Bible as allegory. An allegorical interpretation sees every detail as having some mystical-spiritual significance. A. W. Pink, a very well-respected and evangelical Bible teacher, is so excited to find the “spiritual application” that he falls into this error at times. For example, he comments on the fact that the ark has three separate decks: “We have already seen that the ark itself unmistakably foreshadowed the Lord Jesus. Passing through the waters of judgment, being itself submerged by them; grounding on the seventeenth day of the month—as we shall see, the day of our Lord’s Resurrection; and affording a shelter to all who were within it, the ark was a very clear type of Christ. Therefore the inside of the ark must speak to us of what we have in Christ. Is it not clear then that the ark divided into three stories more than hints at our threefold salvation in Christ? The salvation which we have in Christ is a threefold one, and that in a double sense. It is a salvation which embraces each part of our threefold constitution, making provision for the redemption of our spirit, and soul, and body (1 Thess. 5:23); and further, our salvation is a three tense salvation—we have been saved from the penalty of sin, are being saved from the power of sin, we shall yet be saved from the presence of sin” (Gleanings in Genesis, 106-7).
That is cute and fun, but not the correct interpretation. The ark is not an allegory, but an analogy to salvation. Each screw and bolt does not have a hidden, secret meaning; instead, there are similarities between the way God saved Noah from the flood and the way God saves from the final judgment. To have God read us this way, first notice that…