While this basic overview is true, a very important truth is sometimes left out of this account of the flood: the wickedness of humanity and the tyranny of violence that reigned upon the earth. In startling honesty, the Bible reminds us how heartbroken God was at the appalling violence and evil that dominated the hearts of the people on earth:
The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled (Genesis 6:5-6).
When the Creator looked on the fallen world he had created, he saw evil, corruption, and violence ruling the hearts of humanity. These three problems have afflicted humanity since Cain chose not to master his evil intention, but killed his brother (Genesis 4:1-8). We still wrestle with these three faces of wickedness — evil, corruption, and violence. However, in our interconnected and instant access world, eruptions of evil, corruption, and violence come at us with overwhelming visual intensity from all directions. We often witness these eruptions of violence first hand through TV, the internet, social media, violent video games, and streaming video services.
We are awash in these images and can easily become calloused to them, fearful of them, or try to dismiss them by blaming them on one group or another. So, what are we to do in our world of violence? How do Noah's story and the rest of the Bible speak to humanity's struggle with violence?
How does God feel about the evil, corruption, and violence he sees?
How are we to live in a world so wracked by wickedness?
Where are we to turn to deal with the violence that surrounds us?
How do we resist the temptation to do evil and act with violence in our self-interest?
God made clear in Noah's story that violence breaks his heart (Genesis 6:5-6). Throughout the Bible, God lets us know he detests human violence:
Do not envy the violent
or choose any of their ways (Proverbs 3:31).
For the Lord is righteous,
he loves justice;
the upright will see his face (Psalm 11:7).
This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place (Jeremiah 22:3).
God's people are even taught to pray:
Bring to an end the violence of the wicked
and make the righteous secure —
you, the righteous God
who probes minds and hearts (Psalm 7:9).
As we approach the story of Noah, we must listen to the broken heart of God as he moves to deliver Noah and his family — flawed as they may be — from a world consumed with violence:
God showed grace toward Noah by delivering him and his family from the overwhelming evil of his day by saving him through the ark. God showed grace to his created world by delivering the animals that accompanied Noah on the ark. God showed grace to Noah and to all of us who have come after him by placing a rainbow in the sky as a reminder that the Creator will not destroy his world again through a flood.
God has also shown grace to us who are caught in a world where violence often intrudes. His grace was demonstrated in Jesus, who entered our violent world and suffered rejection, abuse, scorn, ridicule, torture, and death (1 Peter 2:24). We are assured that because Jesus faced such awful things, God knows the pain of our hearts caused by violence (Hebrews 2:14-18; Hebrews 4:14-16). He knows these things not just because he is God and knows all things, but because he endured the pain of it all, first hand in Jesus. God raised Jesus from death to triumph over death for us, assuring us that violence and death will not have the final word in our lives and that our lives are not lived in vain even if snuffed out by the violence of the wicked (1 Corinthians 15:1-58).
Now, God calls us as his children to bring grace to our broken world and share the promise of a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness reigns — not evil, corruption, and violence (2 Peter 3:13). God's children now live with the promise of life without pain, tears, suffering, and violence (Revelation 7:17; Revelation 21:4). Until the dawning of that day, we are called to share grace with those who have suffered violence. We are called to share the Father's message of hope with those who need it. We are called to remind the world of God's promise to redeem what humanity has spoiled and to bring an end to the violence of the wicked for all who have called on the name of Jesus.
For a free discussion guide for today's video and article, follow the link to God's Grace to Noah — part 1.
Special thanks for the images in this article and video taken at the Ark Encounter — follow the link to learn more about this powerful experience.