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The Call of Noah: Build an Ark

The world’s population today stands at some seven billion people. Following God’s original command to “be fruitful and increase” (Gen. 1:28), the world is now full of human beings. But as our reading shows, humanity’s original increase suffered from the consequences of the Fall.

Whatever the enigmatic references to “sons of God” and the Nephilim might be (and scholars do not all agree), the underlying point remains clear: with the increase of humanity came an increase in depravity. Scripture explains the extent of human sin: God saw “how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time” (v. 5). Later, God described the earth as corrupted by the people and “filled with violence” (vv. 12–13). As a result, God “regretted” (literally “was grieved about”) the state in which humanity now lived (v. 6). The joy of God’s creation had now become His sorrow.

In response, God determined to put an end to humanity’s destructive violence with a violent judgment. But notice His underlying mercy and grace, even in judgment. Rather than leave humanity to its destructive end, God would not abandon His original purposes for them to be in a life-giving relationship with Himself. The flood was a means of re- creation, with Noah and the ark being His instruments of that merciful restart.

And so God called Noah, a “righteous man” who “walked faithfully with God” (v. 9), to build an ark of rescue. God made a covenant with Noah, a call of relationship and salvation, for this is God’s way throughout Genesis and throughout the Bible. Despite human sin, God does not abandon us; rather, through His grace and mercy, He calls us into a covenantal, saving relationship.

Apply the Word

Isaiah 49:15–16 aptly summarizes God’s tireless love for us, His unwillingness to give up on us despite our sin. Look up that passage today and copy it on a notecard. Then put it in a prominent place at work, school, or home to remind you throughout the coming week that God’s love and compassion for us are never ending.

BY Bryan Stewart

Bryan A. Stewart is associate professor of religion at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas. His particular interests are the history of Christian thought and the way that early Christians interpreted the biblical canon. He is the editor of a volume on the Gospel of John in The Church’s Bible series (Eerdmans), and he has done extensive research on the ways that the early Church preached on this Gospel. He is an ordained minister. 

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