Now, Peter would present his second and third examples, God’s cleansing the whole earth of abject wickedness, yet rescuing the tiny remnant of righteous ones.
As a life-long waterman, Peter may have preached often using the metaphors of Noah's ark and the Flood as symbolic for salvation through Jesus.
Peter drew from imagery that could portray the kind of fearless faith, godly character, and much-maligned yet God-affirmed lifestyle that he was seeking to encourage. Noah and his family of eight were a tiny remnant of faithful people in a very hostile world.
“We are the new humanity,” Noah had said quietly, his voice catching. “God has given us Shalom, and we will praise Him with all our hearts.”
Noah and his family rightly understood this was a sacred moment, and they were standing upon holy ground. The great drama of creation had been portrayed before them, and they, now, represented the Adams and Eves of the new age.
The rhythm and flow of the end of chapter 7 almost feels like the ebb and swell of waves. “The waters swelled and increased…” in verse 17, and in 18, then 19, and again in 20. Can you feel the movement of the creaking boat, taking the swell aft, the water lapping and splashing, the keel groaning, the swell pushing up and up, then releasing leeward.
A tale thousands of years old, pointing to a time even farther back, can be difficult to envision. How real, how concrete, is this story? What are we to take away from it? How important is it to reconcile every detail with what we know now, concerning geography, carbon dating, evidence of people groups, and timelines that don’t seem to dovetail with Genesis’ account of a world-wide cataclysmic event?
The difference between Noah and everyone else was merely their response to God’s grace. Everybody else scoffed, but Noah took God seriously. The difference between those who were saved and those who died in the flood was the difference between being in the ark and being outside it.
In thinking about the conditions the Flood story conveys about humanity, our own culture may not seem quite so grim today! And yet, this is one of the truths this ancient account imparts–the nature of what the Bible calls sin. Scripture explains that sin defiles, sin damages, and sin grieves and offends the heart of God.
Even for people who don’t know much about the Bible, this is a famous story. But for being so well-known, it raises a lot of questions and a lot of controversy: Did the Flood really happen? How widespread was it? Was it universal, or only regional? Was there really an ark, and was it large enough to hold all those animals? Where did the water come from? And who are the Nephilim?