As winter rains turn to spring rains, without interruption, and as floodings abound along the creeks and rivers; it is perhaps natural that the mind of the biblical student recalls the great rains and floods of Noah’s day.
Noah, you will remember, found grace in the eyes of the Lord, and so God gave him a plan by which he and his household, all eight, would be saved. Noah, moved with godly fear, constructed an ark according to the commands of God, doing all that God had told him to do, and thus when the rains came, he was secure, dry, and possessed of a future. (cf. Genesis 6-7; Hebrews 11:7)
Even from the security of the ark, one imagines that the deluge was not an altogether pleasant experience for Noah and his family. The rains came for forty days. The ark floated on the water for almost a year before Noah and his family, and all the creatures aboard were able to exit the ark. That’s quite a long time to be stuck in a single ship, moving according to the motion of the water, without the sight of sun and sky, surrounded by the confined smells of the various animals. One hopes that the skunks behaved themselves.
But after the rain, when the door was opened, and all egressed it was a new world and a new life, filled with opportunity and promise. Noah, after the rain, worshipped God with sacrifices, and God made a promise to him, announcing the rainbow as the sign of that new covenant. Never again, said God, would He destroy all the earth with water. (cf. Genesis 8:20-22, 9:8-17)
When we see the rainbow in the sky, we should be mindful of the promise that God had made. It is unfortunate that so many have lost sight of that ancient symbol’s true meaning: that though the rains may fall, God is mindful of men, and the floods will never be more than the earth can handle.
As with the weather, so with life, there are times of storms.
As with the ancient world, so today, sin brings judgment, despair and heartache.
As with Noah, so with ourselves, God, in His grace, is able to provide a plan of salvation.
Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30; NKJV)
When we are troubled by the storms of life, we have one to whom we can turn in order to find a better way. Jesus has a plan by which our sins can be forgiven, and we can learn to walk with God, living as God intended for us to live. Speaking of Noah, the apostle Peter likened the salvation of Noah, in the ark upon the water, to our own salvation, found in the waters of baptism. (1 Peter 3:20-22)
If we are allowed to take the analogy a step further, we might note that the salvation of our souls is not the guarantee that all will be always pleasant in this life. Jesus said, “take my yoke.” A yoke is still, when all is said and done, an instrument of work. The apostle Paul warned his listeners, “We must, through many tribulations, enter the Kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22b) Just as it was not necessarily pleasant in the ark of Noah, so the service of God might call us to do things outside our comfort zone, or experience troubles we would rather not have to deal with. Yet we should remember this point: it was always more pleasant in the ark than out. The yoke of Jesus is always lighter than the yoke of sin.
And then, after the rain comes the promise. When the flood has come and gone, and salvation is fully realized, there awaits something better.
“Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter 3:13; NKJV)
“Let not your heart be troubled,” says Jesus, and, “I go to prepare a place for you.” (cf. John 14:1-4)
Even in Christ, this life has its difficulties, its trials and its temptations. But the hope of the saint is not diminished by these events. God who promised is faithful. The rainbow in the sky bears testimony to His love and grace. The message of Christ on the Cross reconfirms it.
If you would like to learn more about the promises of God, and how to obtain them, the church of Christ invites you to study and worship with us at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis, Ohio. Likewise, if you have any questions, please share them with us through our website: chapelhillchurchofchrist.org
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ.