I want to thank several of you for your positive and encouraging comments on our new study, “Surprised by Jesus: Encountering Christ in the Old Testament.” As I said previously, when I was first exposed to seeing Jesus in the Old Testament, it changed everything about how I read the Bible. I hope that you too will be delighted to discover Jesus in places you might never have seen Him before not so much to increase your knowledge, but rather, your love for Jesus. You can also go to our church web site to here these as sermons.
Last month we saw Jesus presented to us in God’s first Gospel proclamation in Genesis 3:15. This month we will examine one of the best-known stories in Scripture, Noah’s ark, which has been the subject of countless books for both children and adults, Christian art and Sunday school lessons. In Williamstown, Kentucky, you can experience the life-sized Noah’s ark, which was built by the creation ministry Answers in Genesis.
The formula for encountering Jesus in the Old Testament will be the same each month: We will unpack The Problem, The Promise and The Person. Are you ready to be surprised by Jesus in the story of Noah’s ark?
From the first sin in the Garden of Eden to the time of Noah, we see the dreadful effects of the fall of man in a sin-stained world.
“God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth, had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, ‘I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it’” (Genesis 6:12-13, 17).
The problem is sin. Real sin was about to be judged; real people and animals and birds were about to die.
Yet in the midst of God’s judgment we see His amazing grace to Noah and his family.
“Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. . . . ‘Make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high. Make a roof for it, leaving below the roof an opening one cubit high all around. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks. . . . I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark – you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you’” (Genesis 6:8, 14-16, 18-19).
The favor Noah found in the eyes of the Lord is the first mention of grace — God’s unmerited, undeserved favor. God promised Noah and his family protection from His judgment if they would trust in His Word. It is estimated that this boat-building project would have taken Noah some 50 to 70 years to complete, which is a wonderful picture of Noah’s complete trust in God’s promise. Imagine how Noah must have looked to his friends and neighbors, building a boat on dry land year after year, decade after decade . . . until the floodgates of the heavens were opened and the waters covered the entire earth, destroying all living creatures.
When Noah and his family finally disembarked from the ark nearly a year later, God gave them the sign of His covenant with them: “I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. . . . Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life” (Genesis 9:13, 15). Noah and his family had been delivered from the worldwide flood, but even so, they could not escape the corruption of their own hearts. They needed another ark to save them from their sin.
Jesus Christ is the true Ark who saves all His people (Matthew 1:21) from the flood of God’s judgment against the sins of mankind, which will inevitably engulf all who have rejected His Gospel. I only have space to show you a few ways in which Noah’s ark clearly points to Christ.
- Gift from God
The idea of the ark was in the heart of God, not the mind of man. The ark was God’s gift to Noah and his family, and Jesus is God’s gift to us, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).
- One Door
God instructed Noah to make a single door, the one way into the safety of the ark. Jesus is the only way into the safety of God’s eternal grace. He said quite plainly, “I am the door; if anyone enters by me, he will be saved” (John 10:9). “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
- God Shut the Door
God secured Noah and his family in the ark, and Jesus secures us in Him. “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish” Jesus said; “no one can snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28). In Christ we are completely secure, for as Paul wrote, “Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!
Dr. Tommy Boland is senior pastor of Cross Community Church in Deerfield Beach (www.thecrosscc.org). He blogs regularly at tommyboland.com.