By Commissioner Peter H. Chang –
The epic of Noah is a parable of a terrible reality. The story of God and Noah, of God and Noah’s neighbors, and that menagerie of gorgeous and something-less-than-gorgeous animals and birds reflects both the cruel darkness and the magnificent light that seems eternally to be at the heart of divine-human encounters.
What would you have done, had you been God and were being pestered continually by Gabriel who just couldn’t wait to blow the trumpet of final judgment? Remember: all things bright and beautiful, all things both great and small, all things wise and wonderful–you had made them all.
Not only had you created them but you had sustained them as well. Everywhere on earth your presence was a beneficent one. You had made an incredibly pluralistic, multicolored creation, including human beings with spirits as free, flowing, and fun-loving as mountain brooks. But now these free spirits had become mean-spirited. Even of the original brothers, one had died at the hand of the other. Terrible!
It had been your intention for all to live as one big happy family, yet few wanted to identify with more than one small fraction of it. As a result, the world was filled with violence. The physical violence was now more vulgar than Cain’s remorse. While the psychological violence was getting mighty subtle–as when a man would do anything to please his wife but didn’t have the nerve to please himself, so she couldn’t stop thinking that he was thinking something she couldn’t understand. Weird!
Faced with this situation, what would you have done, had you been God?
Had the choice been mine, I think I would have engaged in what psychiatrists call “premature closure.” I’d have told Gabriel, “Go for it, blow your horn! I’m sick of this miscellaneous irresponsibility, this general rowdiness, this downright wickedness and willful ignorance. I’ve had enough. I’m bringing down the curtain on the whole show.”
But that’s me speaking, not God; because in Genesis we read, “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” God always finds exceptions to our angry little human rules. There’s always a Noah, a Moses, a Mary, a Martin, a Booth and so many others whose names we shall never know. Had there been 10 righteous people, Sodom would have been saved; and Jews to this day believe that as long as there are 36 righteous people alive somewhere, the world will be saved.
“Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord… Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation.” No doubt he made his faith in God not only his religion but also his business. No doubt he sought to be faithful rather than successful. Instead of worrying, I’m sure he cast all his anxieties on God, knowing how God cared for him.
How does Noah contrast with his neighbors, of whom Jesus said, “In those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they did not know until the flood came.” Can’t you hear those neighbors: “Noah, look at the sky. The weather’s promising!”
In later times, Jesus had said, “You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.” In other words, “You know all about the way the wind is blowing in your little world, but you are so totally oblivious to the mighty gale about to smash your little world to pieces.”
Why is it that in human history a crisis is never a crisis until it is validated by disaster?
“But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” He didn’t care about the big parade; he marched to a different drum. So he built the ark, collected the animals two by two, did just as the Lord had instructed; and then shut the door of the ark–and so the rain began to fall.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that in due time God may exalt you. Cast all your anxieties on God, for God cares about you. Be watchful. After you have suffered a little while, eternal glory in Christ will be yours. God will himself restore, establish, and strengthen you.” “…to God be the dominion for ever and ever.”
Noah was faithful. He did just as the Lord had instructed “…and God remembered Noah.” For you too, he asks only that you do as he instructs you. Be faithful to God and he will remember you.