“Everything that is on the earth shall die. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.” (Gen. 6:17c-18)
Amid the rampant rebellion, God responds in judgment. But it’s not the wrath that is so arresting here; it’s the mercy.
We are all likely familiar with the details. God instructs Noah to build an ark and vows to destroy the world with a flood. He will soon baptize the planet in divine judgment.
But there is provision made for Noah and his family. Out of the echo of the promise of death (everything shall die), there is a breath of life (you shall come into the ark).
Can’t you identify with Noah? Waking up today and looking around you are reminded that everything in this world has an expiration date. It is all “passing away along with its desires (1 John 2:17). His judgment is sure even as it is fast approaching (2 Pet. 3:7).
Like Noah, however, you God has spoken to you the tender words of grace and mercy. Divine love has laid a hand upon your shoulder. He has spoken to you with the pearls of grace and bid you come into the ark of his salvation. There is nothing that merits this grace. We don’t deserve it. God bestows grace and mercy on the helpless.
Let’s not forget that a trip into God’s ark to escape judgment does not mean there was a miscarriage of justice. The only way that God could save us from the floodwaters of wrath was to immerse Christ in them. Like Noah, God saves us through judgment. Christ bears the divine wrath we deserve. He endures the unrelenting torrent of hell in our place. While our wickedness was great upon the earth, Christ stepped in to suffer our blame and earn our righteousness. The only way God could speak a word of welcoming mercy to sinners like me and you is to speak a word of judgment to Christ in our place. Justice had to be satisfied.
This whole scene was an act of divine sovereignty from start to finish. Just as God closed the ark door and rained down judgment from heaven (Gen. 7:16), so too, God calls us to himself (John 6:44), regenerates us (Titus 3:5), and makes us alive (Eph. 2:5). Furthermore, he will be our captain through the choppy, turbulent waters of this world until we arrive on the shoreline of Immanuel’s land (Heb. 13:5-6).
He is the great captain of the ark, heaven’s mariner, who brings us home to the Celestial City. Praise our great God who saves you through judgment!
Editor's Note: This originally published at The Gospel Coalition