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The Flood

In recent times we have seen a number of catastrophic weather events. From the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011, the world has experienced the destructive powers of water. But even these natural disasters do not compare to the Flood of Genesis. Scripture emphasizes the Flood’s utter destruction. Just as God promised to “wipe from the face of the earth every living creature” (7:4), so by the end we are told that every living thing “perished,” “died,” and was “wiped out” (vv. 21–23). Only those with Noah in the ark were spared.

But notice that even this destructive punishment was bringing about a new creation. The parallels with the creation narrative in Genesis 1 are striking. Just as the original lands emerged from the waters covering the earth, so now God re-covered the whole earth with water, from which land emerged. Just as God’s Spirit hovered over the original waters of creation, so now God sent a wind to bring forth land after the flood. Just as God called His original creation to multiply, so after the Flood the inhabitants of the ark were commanded to “be fruitful and increase in number” (8:17). And just as humanity’s original sin brought curses upon themselves and the created order, now after the Flood God promised never again to “curse the ground because of humans” (8:24).

Through the waters of the Flood, God had renewed and restored His creation, purging humanity’s pervasive violence and wickedness from the earth. Scripture’s words in Genesis 8:1 summarize well the central point: “But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark.” God’s punishment often has merciful aims, and even in His judgment, God does not forget His people.

Apply the Word

This Independence Day, when we remember the freedoms Americans enjoy, be reminded also of the true spiritual freedom from sin and death we have in Christ. Just as God brought forth a new creation for Noah and his family, so too for us: “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Cor. 5:17).

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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