We Need a Better Noah
by Tanner Fox
It has begun! The Year of the Book is off and running and I am returning from my “blog sabbatical.” Apparently, things around the church get a little busy during the Christmas season. Who knew?
As we begin our year of the book we must keep in mind one key concept: the idea is that the Bible is one story from beginning to end, and there is only one hero. This one big story can be outlined with these four simple words; Creation (Gen 1-2), Fall (Gen 3), Redemption (Gen 4 - Rev 20), and Consummation (Rev 21 - 22). And the hero is Jesus Christ.
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus has two encounters with his disciples: post-resurrection (after he has been raised from the dead), pre-ascension (before he is taken up to sit at the right hand of God). The first is in Luke 24:13-27. Jesus meets his friends on the famous road to Emmaus and they don’t recognize him. So Jesus decides to have a quick Bible study with his friends. Verse 27 says, “and beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”
The second encounter comes at the end of the same chapter as Jesus says in verse 44, “Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms. Then he opened their minds so that they could understand the Scriptures.”
So what does this mean for us? This means that throughout our reading we must remember that Jesus Christ is the missing link, the lynch pin, the climax, the answer, the hero in all of Scripture. Without this recognition we may fall into the trap of looking at each story of the Old and New Testament and treating it as if it stands alone.Or selecting a verse out of context without understanding the larger meaning.
God has chosen, throughout history, to communicate and deal with his people through mediators. Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, King David, etc. represent the people of God as a whole. Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, each of them fail personally and they are unable to make the people submit to God’s will.
Just this past week in the story of Noah and the flood, we might say that Noah is the hero. He was a man of incredible faith, so much so that he built an Ark (giant boat) really far from any large body of water because God told him to and God saved Noah, his family and all those animals! We might be caught up in analyzing Noah and saying, “Well If I could simply be more Noah-like then I will prove that I am a person of great faith and God will accept me and save me.”
But friends, that is not the point. Sure, we should look at his example of faithfulness and learn from his obedience, but don’t forget where Noah ends up… Just like Adam - naked and ashamed (Gen 9:20-25).
So then, who is our hero? Each week I hope to remind you that Christ Jesus is the hero of every story, and every story finds its eternal meaning, its climax and fulfillment in the person and work of Jesus.
Noah’s sin reminds us that though many of the evil men were killed in the flood, to truly get rid of all sin, you would have to get rid of all men. Despite his faithfulness and obedience, Noah cannot escape his own sinful heart. We need a better Noah.
In a sense, the world was baptized in the time of the flood. The flood waters represent the wrath and judgement of God on sin that has so badly contaminated his world. (We will see that water often serves as a symbol and the method of God’s judgement as we move through the Bible). When the world is baptized, only those whose God has given grace to can survive the wrath. Noah put his faith in God and his wife and sons, and their wives were saved. Jesus Christ commits his life to our cause, saving many more than 8 from sin and death, becoming our way of safe passage through the waters of wrath and judgment. We need a better Noah, and we need it to be Jesus.
One that will be faithful to the task set before him like Noah was (Jesus’s obedience in living perfectly and going to the cross). One that will carry God’s people through the waters of judgement as Noah did (Jesus was plunged into darkness on our behalf, taking our sin to the grave). And finally a mediator who continues in his work on the other side of judgement, unlike Noah (Jesus rose again, sealing the victory over sin and death).
We will continue to explore the Jesus is Better/our Hero theme all throughout the Year of the Book series. Why? Because connecting the dots to our Savior reveals the true meaning of the story. It is so much bigger than just me, you, Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, or King David. It is all about Jesus and his redemptive work in our hearts and in the world!
Tanner Fox is the Minister for Mission at First Pres. He’s a recent grad of Reformed Theological Seminary and holds deep affection for people, movies, sports and Jesus Christ. As Minister for Mission, he leads the charge to help you love and serve the city and the world. firstname.lastname@example.org