The Better Version of Noah’s Ark
by Brandon D. Smith
The famous (or infamous, depending whom you ask) story of Noah and the flood fills Sunday school classes, kids’ books, and Christian art. The depictions are always the same—a bunch of cute zoo animals on a boat captained by a jolly old man, sun shining overhead, clouds puffier than cotton candy. If you had no backstory, you might think Noah loaded up some exotic animals to tour the Atlantic Ocean.
Others think the flood is an ancient recounting of an angry God who arbitrarily hates people. Non-Christians are especially susceptible to this idea, though many Christians also assume “the God of the Old Testament” is like a petulant child with a magnifying glass, scorching us like ants out of sheer maniacal pleasure.
Both postures are wrong.
Noah’s flood isn’t simply a Sunday school story about sunny skies and rainbows. Real people died; real sin was punished in a real flood. At the same time, Noah’s life isn’t just a grim story about fury and death. Even though God did execute judgment because people refused to forsake sin, he still showed grace to those who trusted him.
The problem, though, is that Noah’s ability to build an ark and survive the flood didn’t include any power to escape the corruption in his own heart. There needed to be another Noah story that didn’t end in sin or curses—one that would conclude with consistent obedience, salvation, and a guarantee that water judgment would never be needed again.
Jesus brings us this better story. Here are four ways he fulfills and retells Noah’s story.
1. Jesus’s Return Reflects Noah’s Flood
Jesus preached to people who, for the most part, imitated the attitudes of Noah’s generation. Even more amazingly, Jesus predicted that the kind of crowd that rejected God in Noah’s day would also be around when he returns to establish his kingdom on earth. Therefore, the climate in which Noah lived would be replicated when Jesus returns in two ways…