The text for this lesson is Genesis 6:9–9:17
- From the moment of birth, my heart is inclined toward evil and unbelief. I deserve to be drowned in the flood of God’s wrath.
- Law: In this world of sin, the Church of God will be persecuted on account of Christ, resulting in suffering for me and all believers.
- Gospel: Out of His pure goodness and mercy, God rescues me from sin, death, and the devil, washing away my sins for the sake of His Son, Jesus, who suffered, died, and rose again for me..
- In the generations before Noah, the world fell more and more into the sin of unbelief. One example of this widespread wickedness is given in the opening verses of Genesis 6. The “sons of God” were marrying the “daughters of man” (v. 2). This probably refers to believing descendants of Seth (“sons of God”) falling into apostasy because they married unbelieving descendants of Cain (“daughters of man”). The text also tells us that original sin had so corrupted humanity that the inclinations of their hearts were only evil, all of the time (v. 5). In response, God announces judgment on His fallen creation. All of humanity, indeed all living things, would be destroyed, except for Noah and his family, who trust in God. They and the animals they gather into the ark are saved.
- The account of the worldwide flood is one of the most scandalous in all the Scriptures. It is also one of the most beautiful in its presentation of the Gospel.Flood narratives were common in the ancient world. In the epics of Gilgamesh and Atrahasis, the gods decide to destroy the world with a flood because the people of the earth are too noisy (the earth has become overpopulated) and the gods cannot get the sleep they want. They save one man and his family so that the gods can continue to be worshiped.
Because of these epics, the world often tries to argue that what we have in the Scriptures is plagiarized from other Near Eastern literature. This allows them to discount the biblical flood account as a fictional story with no enduring historical or theological value. There are two problems with this perspective. First, the other accounts could just as easily have been derived from the biblical account. Second, the other accounts offer a theology that is completely at odds with that of the Scriptures.
The gods of the ancient epics are self-serving and care nothing for the welfare of humanity. The God of Scripture is at the same time angry with the people of the earth because of their unbelief, yet compassionate toward them. It grieves God that the coming judgment is necessary (Genesis 6:6–7). He would rather have not created humanity than be forced to destroy it. God saves Noah and his family because they still believe and trust in Him. Noah is a “righteous” man (v. 9). Righteousness in the Scriptures is always a matter of faith, never a matter of good or righteous deeds (15:6).
The Book of Hebrews says that Noah’s building of the ark “condemned the world” (11:7). It demonstrated that because of the world’s unbelief, wrath was coming to wipe out all life that was not saved in the ark. After Noah and his family enter the ark, God shuts the door. God Himself is taking responsibility for the flood. He alone has the authority to execute judgment against the unbelieving world.
The salvation of the eight people in the ark is used in the New Testament to point to the rescue we receive in Baptism. Our old Adam is drowned and dies, but we are saved and granted a clean conscience before God (1 Peter 3:18–21).
The flood shows us what we all deserve: wrath, death, and destruction. The ark shows us what we all receive on account of God’s mercy: eternal life, earned for us by Christ on the cross and given to us through the waters of Baptism.