Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Noah as a new Adam: Creation Redemption and Renewal

I was just reading the account of Noah again (see Genesis 6-9). The echoes of Adam and the creation account are very strong. Once again there is only water, a great deep over the face of the whole earth. Out of that water God brings a new beginning to life, to repopulate the world. God's covenant with Noah has the familiar words "be fruitful and multiply" as well as the familiar idea of dominion.

But there are also some striking differences.

In the case of Noah there is a new sense of hope. Never again will God send a flood to destroy the earth, or curse the ground for man's sake, even though the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth (Gen. 8:21-22, 9:11-16). The first creation account carried the gloomy shadow of the curse. At the very beginning of this renewed creation, the LORD covenants not to curse. This is a better covenent!

After the first creation account, the reign of death also begins, and there is a marring of the whole scene by the black marks of Cain killing Abel (Gen. 4:1-15), and Lamech's murderous boastings (Gen. 4:23-24). This culminates in God sending the flood to purge a world filled with violence (Gen. 6:11-13). And significantly, in this new creation account, from the beginning God pre-empts murder and violence with strong explicit law, not present in the first creation account (Gen. 9:5-7). The prospect of a better creation!

But at the end of this new creation account, there is failure again, as the creation is disfigured by th shame of sin and curse (Gen. 9:20-25). While there are clear pictures in this account of redemption and renewal, of God healing the creation he loves, rather than completely abandoning it, Noah is not the true answer to problems of humanity. The continuing presence of sin in the world after Noah tells use that something even better is still to come. The account of Noah is not the end of God's work of redemption, but only the beginnings of showing us what really needs to happen.

Now in our age we have the privilege of seeing more fully what God had in store the whole time, of what is and will be perfectly accomplished in Christ. And so we look for a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells, as we say "Come, Lord Jesus!"