Great stories of the Bible: The flood
Joel S. Heckendorf
Many estimate it took more than 50 years to build the 450 x 75 x 45 ft. box we know as the ark. I wonder if Noah ever thought, God, did you forget about me? When his neighbors had Friday night fires, do you think it got old for Noah to hear them ask again and again, “Hey Noah, got any firewood?” Each jab may have caused him to think God had forgotten him.
How about when Noah was in the ark? The Bible says, “The LORD shut him in” (Genesis 7:16). No excursions. No escapes. Just 370 days shut in with 7 other humans, 2 rhinoceroses, 2 zebras, 2 elephants, 2 pigs, and 16,000 other animals and birds. The noise and the smell would have led me to ask, “God, have you forgotten about me?”
Noah could have and might have asked that. “But God remembered Noah” (Genesis 8:1). Highlight that verse in your Bible. The same powerful God who could focus his power to exercise universal wrath on a world of people who had so blatantly turned their backs on him—that same powerful God—remembered Noah.
But does God remember me? I’m no Noah. I doubt I would have the patience to swing a hammer for 50-plus years to build a boat so far from the water. I get it that God remembers his people, but how do I know that includes me? Does God remember me?
Simple answer: yes. Not because you’re as good or blameless or righteous as Noah. God remembers his people because God remembers his promises.
Jump ahead to the end of the flood account. With the smell of Noah’s burnt offerings in the air, God promised, “Never again. Even though every inclination of a man’s heart will continue to evil from childhood, never again will I destroy all living creatures. Whenever the rainbow appears in the sky, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth” (see Genesis chapters 8 and 9). God has remembered that promise.
That isn’t the only covenant God has ever made with you. With the scent of his Son’s sacrifice—his sweat and drying blood—God promises forgiveness, life, and salvation. God remembers his promises. Yes, God remembers you.
The flood is the most popular children’s story. But don’t let it just be about a boat and some animals or universal destruction. See the deliverance. Because God in his grace saved Noah, he preserved the line of the One who would save the universe. Even though God destroyed every living thing, he also preserved the path for life everlasting. He remembered a blessing and a promise for you. That’s the ultimate comfort of this popular story.
Exploring the Word
1. Tell the story in your own words. Then read the account. Which details did you omit or mistakenly add?
Answers will vary. If studying in a group, split up into smaller groups and see how many different details are included in the exercise. Why do you think some details made every list and other details didn’t make any lists?
2. Why do you think this story is the most popular story included in children’s Bibles?
Answers will vary. Boats and animals are common themes in children’s books, thus it’s fitting to have the flood be the most popular children’s story. Even the deliverance of Noah and his family will be important to many.
3. Look up the following passages—Genesis 19:29, Genesis 30:22, Exodus 2:24, Leviticus 26:42, 1 Samuel 1:19, Judges 16:28, Luke 23:42. What comfort does each provide?
All these passage speak of God remembering people.
● Genesis 19: God remembers Abraham by rescuing Lot.
● Genesis 30: God remembers Rachel and her inability to have children.
● Exodus 2: God remembers his promises to Israel as they are groaning in Egypt.
● Leviticus 26: God will remember his promises to Abraham even when people disobey.
● Judges 16: God remembers Samson.
● 1 Samuel 1: God remembers Hannah and her prayer for a son.
● Luke 23: Jesus remembers the thief on the cross.
The various situations remind us that no matter our situation, God’s grace leads him to remember us.
4. List other “covenants” that God made with people. What is your takeaway?
● Abraham (Genesis 15 & 17): covenant of land, to be the father of a great nation, and the promise of a Savior.
● Sinai (Exodus 19–24): God would be the God of Israel, and they would be his people.
● David (2 Samuel 7): everlasting kingdom, promise of a Savior.
● New Covenant (Jeremiah 31): promise of forgiveness.
There are many takeaways, not the least of which is that God is serious about keeping his Word. He has promised us salvation through faith in Jesus and will keep that promise.
Contributing editor Joel Heckendorf is pastor at Immanuel, Greenville, Wisconsin.
This is the last article in a ten-part series on the top ten stories included in children’s Bibles and how they apply to our lives today. Find answers online after Sept. 5.
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Author: Joel S. Heckendorf
Volume 103, Number 9
Issue: September 2016
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