Sunday, November 1, 2015

Noah's ark: The protective covering

"Look!", Ham shouted. Seven heads turned in time to see the giant door closing. They watched silently until it thudded closed, shutting them in, and dropping them into darkness.

Noah lit a lamp. He reached for a bucket of pitch and walked over to seal the edges of the doorway.

He had never gotten used to the smell, which surprised him. When he thought of the hours they had spent coating the wood, inside and out, he figured that he would have habituated by now. But who knew how long he would be sealed up with his family and these animals? With time, he thought, he might begin to appreciate how the pitch overwhelmed other odors.

He stood back to admire his handiwork. Seven days ago the Lord had told them that today would be the day. Of course, the ark was finsihed by then and most of the preparations had been made. But it had still taken most of the hours in those seven days to get everyone and everything loaded aboard and stowed away. It felt good to be still for a change.

His wife walked over and stood beside him. Together they stared at the doorway in silence for a few moments more before she spoke. "Do you think it will hold?"

"It will have to," he replied. "It is the only hope we have."

She slid her fingers into his, still not looking at him but at the door. They lingered there until they heard the first drops of rain hit the roof. Now they looked up. And the sound of the rain grew louder and louder as it beat upon the ark.

God gave Noah detailed instructions for the construction of the ark. Along with the material, He specified the dimensions, the number of decks, and the location of the door and the window. Noah was also told to "coat it with pitch inside and out."

There is some word-play in that particular instruction that gets lost in translation. The noun "pitch" is the Hebrew word kopher. In addition to referring to a tarry substance, it can also describe a sum of money, like a ransom or a bribe. The verb "coat with pitch" is the Hebrew word kaphar, which is more often translated as "atonement." Both these words hint at the figurative significance of the ark.

God's judgement was coming upon mankind. Yet a way of deliverance was prepared. There was protection for those who believed and responded to God's invitation. They would be covered while judgement passed over.

In the Epistle to the Romans, Paul writes "there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus." God's judgement for sin came down upon the Lord Jesus, but there is protection and deliverance for those who are in Him. He is our covering.

But just like the ark, there are aspects of atonement and ransom to the protection Christ provides. His work on the cross has atoned for our sins, reconciling us to God. The price paid at Calvary has also ransomed us, delivered us, from our slavery to sin. He is one in whom we can have complete and utter confidence. He is the only hope we need.

(Genesis 6–9; Romans 8:1)