Did you know that the story of a great flood can be seen in stories from other ancient cultures besides the Hebrews? Ancient Israelites undoubtedly fully believed that a flood had once destroyed the earth. Indeed, almost every nation around them also believed that a major flood had occurred near the beginning of time.
The Epic of Gilgamesh contains the story of a flood but the major difference is Israel’s understanding of God. The story of Noah and the ark is one of the best known stories of the Bible. In looking at this story, it was written to subvert the flood stories of other cultures! As we saw in the story of creation, humans are not an accident, but rather the high point of creation. The flood does not come because God feels threatened by humanity, or because he cannot sleep, but rather because there is a deep moral problem with the world. God wants to wash away the violence and bloodshed of the world! In the Epic, the gods tremble when they unleash the waters because they cannot control them.
But the one true God is in complete control of the mighty waters and of creation. Noah had found favor with God so when God decides he must punish the world for its sin, he spares Noah, the one man who has been faithful to him by allowing him to ride out the flood on an ark. Sin and wickedness have led to the “unmaking” of God’s creation. Where the waters once parted to make room for the land, now the land will be swallowed up by the water. When the disaster is over, God restores his covenant with the world through this man. In a sense, Noah becomes the “new” Adam. God says to Noah “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.” (Genesis 9:1) God establishes this covenant with a rainbow.
This is the second of six major covenants of the Old Testament.
In the Babylonian epic, god is seen as moody and unstable. This god does things because he “feels” it is the right thing to do. But in the Hebrew version, God is someone whose will can be known, His way lived, and His blessings fulfilled. God wants to save humanity but also wants to bring humans into a personal relationship with him. The Lord wants us to be his followers, to know his will, to DO his will and to love the people around us! We are all ministers of God’s love and compassion. It is important to see that as faithful followers of God, we will be blessed, as long as our hearts and will are turned toward God and toward ourselves!
See you soon!