God shut them in…
For those who in obedience responded to God there was rescue. There was an ark. The scriptures have this wonderful phrase: Gen 7:13-16….Then God shut them in
This three storey boat, 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high was effectively a prison. They are entombed here in order to pass safely through divine judgment. And by Noah’s willing obedience to God he becomes the means whereby his family are saved and the creation is reborn.
In a sense Noah had to go down into this ‘grave’ bury himself there in the ark in order to find safety. He had to seek life through the waters of death. To forsake the old world in order to find a new one. There could be no resurrection until the death of the old.
No wonder the ark has been a Christian symbol of salvation in Christ, and as a picture of God’s church. The world outside Christ, the world outside the church is judged, whilst those inside find safety. And our safety inside the ark is secured not by the excellence of our handiwork, nor the effectiveness of the pitch to repel the water, our safety is guaranteed because it is God who shuts us in.
But what is often missed, in this picture of exclusion, is that Noah and his family are shut in with the animals. In a sense the people are shut in with and for the created order. There is no salvation other than with the rest of creation.
In these days of global environmental crisis this story has much to teach us. We have a responsibility as stewards of God’s good creation and we will live and die with it. The salvation God has worked in Christ is not some exclusive thing for ‘whosoever will’; there is a cosmic dimension to what God has done. I believe Paul knows this in Romans 8:22ff when he says that the whole created order groans as in the pains of childbirth, as we ourselves do also, as we wait for our adoption, the redemption of our bodies.
So we need to remember that when the scriptures record that,
Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark
The ‘those’ referred to also includes a whole zoo of animals.