The first verse of Genesis 7 furnishes us with the first instance of how God, in dealing with men on the earth, links a man's house with himself—"thou and all thy house" occurs for the first time. Salvation from judgment poured out on earth is before us here, but in Acts 16: 31 the same principle holds good in regard to eternal salvation. How thankful we should be for that word!
If we read verses 1-16, we might be tempted to think that here was a good deal of repetition, but we believe the passage is so worded to impress us with two things: first, the exact and careful way in which Noah obeyed God's instructions; second, the exact ordering and timing of all God's actions in judgment; as also, that the great catastrophe was of a nature wholly transcending any ordinary convulsion of nature and altogether an act of God.
The term, "windows of heaven," is very expressive. It denotes an outpouring from God above; it may be in blessing, as Malachi 3: 10 shows, but here it was in judgment. The devastating waters descended for forty days and forty nights, a period that we meet again in the Scripture several times, indicating a full period of testing. But also there was from beneath a breaking up of the established order. What exactly is signified, when we read that, "the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up," it is impossible to say. The tremendous event had never happened before, and it will never happen again, for we read, "neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth" (Genesis 9: 11). So obviously we must be content to know that there were immense internal convulsions, that produced a mighty upsurge of earth's waters, to meet the waters descending from above.
Verse 13 makes it plain that Noah and his family entered the ark on the very day that the storm broke. Noah had been a preacher of righteousness, just as Enoch had been a prophet of the Advent. He is the first preacher of whom we have any record, and his theme was that which stands in the very forefront of the Gospel that is preached today, as Romans 1: 17 declares. Only today, it is God's righteousness revealed in Christ and established in His death and resurrection, which is presented as the basis of blessing for men. Noah had to preach God's righteousness as outraged by man's violence and corruption, and demanding judgment. Still to the very last day the door of the ark stood open, and nothing would have prevented a repentant man from entering, had such an one been found.
The last day came however, and each of the four men and four women took the last decisive step which ensured their preservation from destruction. The decisive step for each was when they planted one foot on the ark, and removed the other from the earth that was under judgment. It was impossible to have one foot in and one foot out. It was either both feet in, or both feet out. Which thing is a useful parable for Gospel preachers today. Their action endorsed God's judgment against the world, and expressed their faith in the Divinely appointed way of salvation. Once inside the ark, "the Lord shut him in." When the Lord shuts, no man can open—not even Noah himself had he wished to do so. The shut door secured salvation for the eight souls, and ensured destruction for the world of the ungodly.
In our day the Gospel is too often preached as a way of escape from merited judgment, without any emphasis on the other side which is presented here. By building and entering the ark Noah "condemned the world" (Heb. 11: 7), and the reception in faith of Christ as Saviour and Lord today involves just the same thing. Let us not shirk the issue, as though it could be Christ and the world. It must be one or the other; and may God help all who preach the Gospel to declare this with boldness.
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