Genesis 6:11-17, 7:21-8:1, 9:1-11 Death & Resurrection in the Ark and Cross
The new NOAH film starring Russell Crowe has come at a good time. Although it doesn’t represent the Bible account very well, it is at least a reminder of the basic story and Noah’s story is full of things we should be thinking about at Easter. Oh, some may say, what could the flood story have in common with Easter? Quite a lot actually, but especially the idea of death and resurrection. In the flood story we see how sin is judged so a new creation can follow; and these are the main elements we see in the cross of Christ. In fact the author of Genesis composed the flood story in what is known as a ‘chiasm’ (a cross X pattern) to emphasize God’s judgement of the old creation and his raising up of a new one. You can see the left half of the X pattern below (a complete X would look like an hour-glass). The verse ‘God remembers Noah’ is at the centre of the X and it separates verses on the coming flood (or judgement) from verses on the subsequent new life (or resurrection). Verses above have a sort of mirror affect on verses below. For example 7 days waiting for the flood (judgement) is mirrored with 7 days waiting for the water to subside (resurrection).
Although the chiasm (cross pattern) highlights death and resurrection there are a number of other interesting parallels between the salvation of Noah’s ark and the salvation of Christ’s cross.
1. Both Noah and Christ are a kind of Adam. Noah is the second Adam while Christ is the last Adam (1 Co 15:45). Noah is the second Adam in the sense that he is in charge of the new earth after the flood just as Adam was in charge of the new earth at the beginning. Christ is the last Adam in the sense that he is in charge of new creation after the cross; this new creation starts with believers receiving newly created hearts and is completed when there is a new heaven and earth.
2. Both the ark and Christ are life vessels. Just as those in the ark were saved while those outside perished, so those in Christ are saved, while those outside perish. And because Christ is the last Adam, he is the last life boat. If we miss his salvation there is no other.
3. Both Noah and Christ head up a covenant between heaven and earth. With Noah God vows to never destroy the earth by water again, with Christ God vows a creation that will never perish.
4. Both the saved in Noah’s ark and the saved in Christ are commissioned. Noah and his family are told to ‘Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth’ (like Adam was told). Christ’s disciples are told to ‘Go make disciples of all nations,’ which is another way of populating the earth with people saved by God.
5. Both accounts have a future kingdom promised and both have tastes of that future kingdom breaking into the present. With Noah the dove brings an olive leaf from the promised-land and with Christ the Holy Spirit brings the power of the future kingdom in the form of healings and miracles.
So there are some striking similarities between the salvation of Noah’s ark and the salvation of Christ’s cross. But the main one is death and new life, and this is the story of Easter.
Now we may ask why there is a parallel between the salvation of Noah and the salvation of Christ. The Bible calls such a phenomenon a fore-shadow or ‘a shadow of things to come’ (Col 2:17). Noah’s ark is a fore-shadow of Christ’s cross. A shadow is made by an object. It has the same basic shape as the object but it is not the object. If a shadow precedes a moving object it tells you the object itself is about to arrive. Noah’s salvation had the same basic shape as Christ’s and God used it to warn people that the real salvation in Christ was about to arrive. Once it arrived it could be recognized because Noah’s salvation which had already come had the same shape.
Now think of the magnitude of all this. The account of Noah’s flood was composed hundreds of years before Christ and yet it stands like a massive billboard (see our picture above) announcing his salvation. This is huge, and we believers ought to get with the program. If God was shouting ‘salvation’ so long ago, we should be shouting it too. We dare not be silent. So here’s an idea. Why not use the publicity surrounding the new Noah movie for Jesus Christ? Instead of focusing on what was wrong with the movie why not show people how the salvation of Christ was foretold in Noah’s story so long ago. The cross has said it all, but the ark is a shadow of it. May your days following Easter impact your community for Jesus Christ.