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Floods are definitely on our minds these days. The town branch has swollen to very high levels. The Mississippi is near record levels. There are plenty of news reports of people losing their homes and property, and many fields and farms are under water waiting for drier days.
We have seen floods before, and we will continue to see them in the future. However, we have God’s promise that he will never use a worldwide flood to destroy the entire world again (Genesis 9:11). He has hung his (rain) bow in the sky as a reminder of his promise.
In the days of Noah, the world became so evil that the LORD God planned to destroy all life on Earth. This worldwide flood would come and cleanse all the Earth. All life, both human and animal, on the Earth would die. The LORD God directed Noah to build an ark, with the dimensions he had supplied. This ark was to be a vessel of life, both for man and beast. Noah listened to God and built the ark during the next 100 years.
This ark would hold Noah and his family, a male and female of every kind of animal, and food for the long journey. And at just the right time, God sent the animals into the ark to float above this worldwide destruction of the flood.
In all, eight were saved: Noah and his wife, his three sons and their three wives. Only those on the ark survived this devastating flood. God promised that he would never again send a worldwide flood upon the Earth. The LORD put his bow in the sky. The word bow is the same word for a bow that an archer uses. It is as if God is hanging up his instrument of war, never to be used again.
We will continue to have localized flooding. But never again will a worldwide flood occur. We have God’s promise that there will never again be a worldwide flood.
Why do we have so many floods? Since we live in a fallen, sinful world, we will continue to have droughts, fires, tornadoes, tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes and, yes, even floods.
Another, more devastating, disaster – our sin – separates us from God. To remain separated would be disastrous. So, where is our hope? Our hope is in a savior who came down to Earth to rescue us from our sin.
If we remain in our sin, we would be swept away in God’s judgement. Jesus comes to save us, not in an ark made of wood, but on the wood of a Roman cross. On the cross, Jesus took upon himself the sins of the whole world. On the cross, God the Father’s wrath was emptied out upon Jesus, the one and perfect sacrifice for all the world. On the cross, Jesus paid the price for every sinner’s sin. Through Jesus’ perfect life, sacrificial death and resurrection, he gives life eternal.
Since Jesus has earned forgiveness, he places the forgiveness within the ark of the church to be delivered to sinners. This forgiveness is delivered in his Word, in Baptism and in the Lord’s Supper. St. Peter writes:
“Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities and powers having been subjected to him.” (1 Peter 3:18-21)
St. Matthew expounds on this forgiveness in the Lord’s Supper: “Now, as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it, broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:26-28)
My prayer is that you, the reader, will continue to hear about Jesus and his forgiveness week after week in the ark of the church.