GEMS FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT
Big events have big results. Generally, the bigger the event, the wider its consequences. The bombing of Dresden destroyed that city, impacted Germany, and perhaps intimidated the Soviet Union. But the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima changed our world. So also the Genesis Flood had world-wide results. All air-breathing life was destroyed, but eight people were saved alive. The topography of the earth was affected, along with weather patterns and plate tectonics. Consequential results indeed!
But St. Peter also drew a connection between that Flood and us today. Not only did the flood waters buoy up Noah’s ark, saving the passengers inside, but the apostle also stated that those waters have an antitype—God’s baptismal waters (1 Peter 3:21). Our Baptism does not just signify our salvation, it actually works faith and gives us salvation in Christ Jesus. Those waters do not wash our skin; they give us a clean conscience by removing the filth of sin.
Many people reject this saving miracle, even as many reject the universal Flood. Some state that almost every ancient culture had a “flood myth.” So what’s the big deal if Genesis adds one more? Others claim that Moses actually borrowed his account from earlier flood mythologies—namely the Epic of Gilgamesh. This seems implausible if not laughable. Just one detail should debunk that theory. The boat in the Mesopotamian account was reportedly cube-shaped, and not like a floating barge as was Noah’s ark. God knew very well what would survive the boisterous waters of the flood. A boat shaped like a top-heavy cube would soon topple over.
No life boats needed.
Indeed, God gave to Noah instructions as to the size and shape of the ark, including the details that it was to have a window close to the top, three decks, and a single door in its side (Genesis 6:16). Surely God knew that life boats and multiple emergency doors would not be needed—not on His boat. And all the animals that were brought into the ark no doubt were gathered up and led there by God Himself—two of each kind and seven of the clean kinds.
Only One Door.
If the ark can be likened to God’s ship of eternal salvation, what remains striking is that there is only one such ship and one door by which one enters. Jesus testified that He alone is the Way to the eternal Father. St. Peter insisted that, except for the Lord Jesus Christ, “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) To the minds of many, this seems outrageous, exclusive, and unfair. One TV evangelist, when asked if only Christ-believers were going to heaven (and not Jews, Muslims, and others), gave a repeated and very uncertain answer, “I just don’t know.” Many others voice the same opinion. What is needed is pastors and Christian people who do know. As there was one door in the ark, so there is One Door by which sinners can access heaven. And Jesus Christ is that Door, as He Himself testified.
As God rounded up and led specific animals to the ark, so also God by His Spirit calls, gathers, and leads His elect to the Door that is Jesus Christ. He is the Keel of the ship and the only Way to the Father because only He fulfilled all Law and atoned for all sin by His substitutionary death on the cross. Only He has redeemed and reconciled us to God with His own blood. Only He is our Savior, resurrected from death. Only He is the one Door in the side of the one ship of our salvation—the glorious ship named Grace Alone! This we must know and believe as receivers and proclaimers of righteousness.
David Fuerstenau is pastor of Holy Truth Lutheran Church in Ketchikan, Alaska.