Noah and his family are still in the ark. The rains have been pounding the earth for 40 days. But now the time has come for the rains to stop, and for Noah and his family to leave the ark and come back to dry ground.
The Mission Continues
After leaving the ark, God gives Noah’s family the same command he gave to Adam and Eve in the beginning - be fruitful and multiply. Have kids! Fill the earth with God’s image and presence. God’s plan for the world and his mission for humanity has not drowned in the waters. No matter how messed up things get, God is still bringing about his plans and working through people - even flawed people.
The Promise Continues
Along with this command, God makes a promise, a covenant to Noah and his descendants. He promises to never again wipe out all humanity with a flood. This promise means a lot.
This certainly doesn’t mean that God will never again punish sin. It certainly doesn’t mean that humans will stop being sinful. Instead, it means that there will always be a remnant from the earth that will not be punished but will be saved. Like Noah, there will always be those to whom God provides a way of escape.
God seals this promise with a sign. He puts a rainbow in the clouds so that when the rain comes, people will see the rainbow and remember that rains may come, but God will not flood the whole earth again. That which brought punishment becomes a sign of the promise. In the rainbow, people could see the punishment of the past and the promise of the future.
The bow in the sky was also meant to be seen as a warrior’s bow. But if the arch of a rainbow formed the arch of a bow, the arrow would fly right into heaven. That is the point God is making. A time will come when punishment won’t come down to on the earth but will fall upon God himself in a supreme act of mercy.
The Curse Continues
Then right after God gives this promise, we see something similar. As there was a division between Adam’s children after the garden of Eden, there is a division between Noah’s children after the flood. Ham is cursed because he sees his father’s nakedness.
Exactly what happened is hard to tell. It at least involved Ham seeing his father naked and spreading his father’s shame outside his tent by telling his brothers. At most, it could be a euphemism for a sexual act of incest. Whatever the reason, for his actions, a curse comes upon Ham. By contrast, a blessing is given to one of his brothers, Shem.
Which means the remnant God has promised would save would come through Shem.
Where is Jesus?
This blessing proves to have been sovereignly placed. In the Gospel of Luke, in the New Testament, we read the genealogy of Jesus. And whose name do we see? Shem, the son of Noah. Jesus is the one who fulfills the blessing Noah gave to his sons.
The Mission Completed and Continued
Jesus completes the mission given to Noah and his family after the flood. They were supposed to fill the earth with the image of God. But sin continued to spread. However, when Jesus saves an individual he makes them into his image. Through his Christians and his Church, Jesus is covering the world with God’s image.
The privilege of this mission extends to us today. Jesus commands us to be fruitful and multiply by sharing the good news of his salvation to the ends of the earth.
The Promise Fulfilled and Extended
That good news is seen beautifully here in the story of the rainbow. Jesus took our punishment and turns it into a promise. On the cross, the punishment we deserved fell upon Jesus. The bow turned toward heaven.
We can look to the cross and see our punishment in the past, but also the promise of our future. We can see what should have happened to us, but because of the promise never will.
The Curse Ended and Ongoing
Jesus put an end to the curse for everyone who puts their trust in him. But that does not mean that all evil is out of the world. Neither does it mean that we are instantly perfect. Much like the story of Genesis, blessing and curse coexist and continue side by side. But when Jesus returns, and the whole earth is filled with his glory, the curse of sin and death will be ended forever.
See For Yourself
I pray that the Holy Spirit would open your eyes to see God as one who has always been making a way to keep a remnant of undeserving people for himself. And that you would see Jesus as the one who makes the saving of undeserving people possible by turning our punishment into a promise on the cross.