“Then the ark rested in the seventh month, the seventeenth day of the month, on the mountains of Ararat.”
What a joyful day of deliverance and hope. It had to have been a terrifying five months being tossed about in the torrential flood. For five months the angry hand of God was destroying every corruption of mankind together with every living thing that lived on dry land. Now at last the ark came to rest on Mount Ararat. The fierce judgment of God was past, and the ark was now back on solid ground. It would be another seven months before Noah and the others could leave the ark and make a new life in the new world, but landing on solid ground gave them the promise and hope of the new life that lay ahead.
What does this have to do with Easter? Ask yourself why God identifies the specific day the ark landed. Is there anything special about the “seventh month, the seventeenth day of the month”? The Children of Israel left Egypt in the seventh month. Moses told Israel, “This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.” (Exodus 12:2) Every year after that they were to sacrifice the Passover lamb on the fourteenth day of that month. Jesus and His disciples, together with all Israel, sacrificed and ate the Passover lamb according to the command on the fourteenth day, the Thursday of Holy Week. Count it out! Friday was the fifteenth, Saturday the sixteenth, and Easter Sunday—the day Christ rose from the dead—was the seventeenth day of the month. Yes, Jesus rose from the dead on the very same day that the ark came to rest on Mount Ararat.
That certainly is not a coincidence! That monumental day in the life of Noah and his family was pointing ahead to the most monumental day of all history, the day of Christ’s resurrection. That was a joyful day of deliverance and hope. The fierce wrath and judgment of God over our sins was past. It burned against Jesus Christ on the cross until every last sin was destroyed. With our sins paid for and removed, Christ now places us on the solid ground of God’s grace. Forgiveness is won! Eternal life is given!
Now we wait. Like Noah, we remain on the ark of this world for a time, anticipating the new life in the new heavens and new earth which Christ has prepared for us. How did Noah spend those remaining days on the ark? In anticipation: sending out birds, waiting for their return; taking off the roof to see, ever more eager for the day of departure. Judging by the fact that the first thing he did when they got off the ark was to offer sacrifices of praise, one can easily imagine that they spent those days in amazement and thanksgiving that God had spared them from the punishment that had come upon all flesh.
Shall we not do the same? When we really consider that we deserved to perish in the flood together with the rest of humanity, that we should have hung on the cross instead of Jesus, then we will spend our days in wonder and praise that God has saved us. The day of judgment is past, the day of God’s grace and salvation is here. Rejoice! Praise God! And look forward to the day when God calls us to come out of the ark into the new and glorious life that He has prepared for us.
David Reim is pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Vernon, British Columbia.