By Scott Armstrong
“God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways” (Genesis 6:12).
(Read Genesis 6:9-22)
I always wondered why the story of Noah was a kids’ story. Isn’t this about the judgment and wrath of God? While Noah and his family are cooped up as temporary zookeepers, the heavens are opened, the waters start to rise from the earth, and everybody else drowns. Can you imagine how terrifying that would be if we told little Billy all the details? I guess it’s the animals.
But that’s not the only thing that strikes me as strange in this story. We have to acknowledge that God is ticked off here. He’s grieved, and his heart is filled with pain (v.6). The wickedness was so bad that this same “compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love…” (Ps. 86:15) puts his fist down and shouts, “Enough!”
Here’s the weird part: in the midst of sharing with Noah his plans to destroy humanity, he stops and gives detailed instructions about the boat Noah is supposed to build. “I want three decks on this baby, Noah, and you have to use a certain type of wood….” And then after specifying how Noah is supposed to gather his family and all the animals, the same God who is absolutely furious…waits. Most scholars agree that it took Noah 120 years to build this massive ocean liner. Why didn’t God just wipe everyone out when his anger was boiling? Or why didn’t he just tell Noah, “Build an ark, Noah; I’m sick of this”?
The answer is the key to the story. Even in his anger, God can’t not be gracious. He loves his creation. The very essence of his character is love. So he takes the time to stop and tell the one guy who’s living a holy life what he needs to do to save mankind. Isn’t that awesome? That means, as God’s children, we do not have to serve him out of fear, but are free to serve him out of love. We can obey him, like Noah did, simply because we truly love him. Are you at that point in your life?
Remember: even in judgment there’s grace. Even in wrath there’s love. And even a child’s story can teach us that.