That was fast.
In a few short chapters, the crowning achievement of God’s creation moved from the glad description of being “made in the image of God” (Genesis 1:26) to the frightening statement that “every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). Sadly, that was just the beginning. The situation had gotten so bad that God actually expressed sorrow for making man and determined to send a worldwide flood to cleanse the earth of corruption and wash away the memory of mankind.
Now, don’t be fooled into thinking that Genesis 6-8 is recounting some particularly nasty breed of humans that filtered onto the scene in the time of the flood. No, these were normal, broken, and desperately wicked people like you and me (Jeremiah 17:9, Romans 3:11-12). Truth is, the flood narrative is where we get an unfiltered, no-holds-barred glimpse into the darkness of the human heart.
If that weren’t unsettling enough, we also learn in the story of the flood that God refuses to wink at our sin or sweep our wickedness under a rug. He will pour out His holy wrath against ungodliness and execute the full measure of His righteous justice against sin. Though patiently calling us to return to Him, wishing that none would perish but that all would come to eternal life (2 Peter 3:9), there comes a time when God’s patience with our sin gives way to God’s judgment for our sin.
Thankfully, God was not quite ready to throw in the towel on man. He had a plan for a new start with a man named Noah. The flood came and blotted out every living thing except Noah, his family, and the animals on the ark. They alone weathered the storm and found safe passage through the waves until they came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. After offering a sacrifice, God extended the mantle of Adam to Noah—to be fruitful, multiply, and subdue the earth. A new day had dawned.
Sadly, this new day wouldn’t last long. As you’ll find out soon enough in the unfolding story of Genesis, Noah was not the answer to the problem of sin. Yet, within the flood story, we get the outline of the answer: all men are sinners and God will punish sin, but God will also provide a way of escape for those who will put their trust in Him. This is a pattern that we’ll see time and again throughout the Scripture, culminating in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Water can kill, but it can also cleanse. In the gospel, it happens to do both. Jesus goes under the waves of Father’s wrath, experiencing the flood of judgment for sin, that we might receive the washing away of our sins and live in the cleansing power of the gospel forever.
Written by Nate Shurden