Summary: A different look at the story of The Flood and Rainbow. How the rainbow reminds us of God’s grace restrains Him from doing what He COULD do, but chooses NOT to do. What we learn from the story about judgment and justice.
Is there anyone here this morning who hasn’t at least heard something about Noah and The Flood? Is there anyone here this morning who hasn’t heard at least something about “Noah’s Ark?”
I’m willing to bet that when you think about Noah and the flood, your mind usually goes directly to the “ark” and all those animals…. And the happy ending to the story.
Well, today, we are going to look at the story proceeding the happy ending… and it is anything but a fun filled story. Now, before we get all worried, remember… there is a happy ending….. but…..
To set the tone, let me paint a picture for you. Imagine a Mom and Dad wandering the aisles of the toy store. They’re looking for the perfect birthday gift for their little one. After passing Elmos and Doras and Barbies, they come across a horrific toy concept — the Concentration Camp play set complete with Holocaust action figures of Hitler, Nazi soldiers and Jewish prisoners. On the shelf right next to it is the 9/11 Twin Towers 3-D puzzle, the Darfur Ethnic Cleansing game and the Bosnian Genocide paint-by-numbers book.
Now, while these are actual events…. how do you think the parents would react to play sets recreating these events?? I would hope they would be outraged…and well they should be don’t you think?
But, think about this….. In the Bible, we have an event that would fit right in with the stories and events I just mentioned! It’s the story of THE flood. The Big One. Back in aught 10,000 B.C. or whatever.
Really, think about it for a minute. There is a torrential rain resulting in a horrendous flood drowning everyone in the countryside…save Noah and his family. This event wasn’t a calm and serene end to Noah’s neighbors: It was a horrific and panic filled tragic event.
Yet, we usually hear Noah’s Ark portrayed as a cherry children’s story. Fisher Price Noah’s Ark toys and church preschool rooms painted with blue skies, smiling animals and a beautiful rainbow. Happy melodies that our kids sing in church:
God told Noah to build him an arky-arky
Build it out of gopher barky-barky.
Then after the flood:
The sun came out and dried up the landy, landy.
Everything was fine and dandy, dandy.
Fine and dandy… except for the corpses that floated off and landed somewhere to decay.
Now, we all at some point accept the fact that one day, we will die. But, there are some ways we hear about people dying that terrify us. What do you believe is the most feared way to die? The most two often cited fears are burning to death or drowning.
This part of the “Noah and The Flood” story are not fun…. I often use something called the Lectionary to begin preparing a Sunday morning message.. The Lectionary is a schedule of readings from the Bible for Christian church services during the course of the year. It is broken down into three cycles… A, B & C. I discovered that even the lectionary prefers to skip the gruesome realities of The Flood.
Nowhere in Cycle A, B or C do we read “the Lord was sorry he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, ‘I will blot out from the earth the human beings I have created’” (Genesis 6:6-7). Nor do we ever read the repeated theme of Genesis 7:21-23: “All flesh died that moved on the earth.”
Does that feel just a bit like a cover-up; Kind of, like we’d prefer to ignore the hard parts of Scripture? We seem to want to get God off the hook for the whole Noah story.
Now, there are some who say the flood had minimal impact, i.e., it was local and not global. Some claim the story was merely a myth. Or, like the lectionary readings, some just ignore the death of many in favor of the saving of Noah’s clan.
Surely it’s a hard story, and maybe there are some good reasons to narrow the scope of the story… but one point still sticks out: its here. It’s in the Bible.
We may want to get God off the hook for the death of many, but God’s perfectly comfortable staying on the hook! Ignoring this part of the story, we miss a vital message. God wants us to know that He took lives and it was for a reason.
Now we can all understand that when we tell our children this story, surely it’s appropriate to leave out the full reality and carnage of the flood. However, as adults, recognizing that like it or not, comfortable or not, if God did it, and if God put the story in the Bible, then we must ask “why?” And that’s where today’s text focuses its attention.