The patient hero of the Great Flood
Advent—hope, despair, expectation, stress … Here it is again, the time of year in which people want to enjoy the magic of the holiday season and relax and meditate, yet end up to be frazzled once again. Here is how to opt out. An old man showed us how.
His strengths were agriculture and wine-making. He became famous when he became commander of the ark: his name is Noah. Actually, this man from the first book of Moses has nothing to do with Christmas or Advent. But then again, maybe he does.
Advent comes from the Latin adventus, meaning “arrival”. It is a season of preparation, of active waiting. And children are not the only ones who are excited and hardly able to wait for Christmas, but also believers with respect to the promised return of Jesus Christ. At all times, human beings have patiently waited for help and deliverance.
One of the first to wait, of whom Scripture reports, was Noah. The descendant of Seth, the son of Lamech, drew God’s pleasure upon himself at a time when God wanted to destroy humankind. These circumstances put him in an unusual position, one not necessarily all that envious: he was commissioned to build the ark, a wooden box. It was going to rain for the first time in human history, and there was to be so much of it that meteorologists today would have been hard pressed to quantify the phenomenon in litres per square metre.
About 135 metres in length, 22 metres in width, and 13 metres in height. It was a big ship, built far away from any body of water, built without any approval procedures or engineers. It was built alone on the basis of divine instructions. Noah could be sure of the contempt and mockery of the people around him.
Patiently waiting – believing and trusting. Noah refused to allow any doubts to be raised with respect to the veracity of God’s instructions. He trusted in the promise he received. To what extent do believers today trust in the promise given them by God?
Patiently waiting – almost alone. Noah did not have a huge fan club who cheered him on every day. There was only God’s promise, himself, and his wife—and later his three sons and their wives. How many fellow believers does a believer need in order to trust in God? One? A hundred? A thousand?
Patiently waiting – across the generations. This was not a weekend family outing or a three-month project. Noah worked for years and decades and probably built the most famous ship of all times from the hull to the roof—until it was finished. How long do believers hang in there today? When does faith and trust become too much?
Patiently waiting – for a miracle. Something unprecedented, unbelievable, even apparently impossible was to happen. The fact that the statistical probability was very low did not prevent Noah from waiting to be saved. Do believers today need stochastics and probability theory to gain security for themselves?
Patiently waiting – but not resting. Noah did not sit around with nothing to do, but worked hard on the ark and his own rescue. Can we really just sit in the pew at church and wait to see what is going to happen? This cannot constitute an active Christian life.
In Genesis 6: 9 we read, “Noah walked with God.” Let us wait, believe, and be active like Noah—and believe incomprehensible things to be true. Noah is a good model for believers in the twenty-first century. Let us follow his example. After all, the time of Noah is an image for the time preceding the return of the Son of God, as Jesus said in His Olivet discourse, in which He described the signs of the times and the end of the age (Matthew 24). Welcome to the 2018 Advent season.
Photo: Jürgen Fälchle/fotolia