My first car started out as an ’82 Chevrolet Chevette but by the time I was done with it a better moniker would be Mastercraft Chevette, so many parts on it coming from Canadian Tire. Having done so much for and to that car it was time for a fresh start with ’84 Hyundai Pony. Under my ownership it turned into a Mastercraft Pony as repairs and repair bills mounted up. Having driven that car on three cylinders for over a year it was time for a fresh start, and so the Pony followed the Chevette to the wreckers as an ’86 Honda Accord took up the chariot duties. It was a great car apart from lacking cabin heat and sporting a drippy sunroof. Despite sounding troublesome these cars were not all bad news as they kept me mobile and Canadian Tire profitable during the nineties. Then came a promising fresh start with a brand new Neon. After replacing the head gasket, the transmission seal and the air conditioning it felt like it was time for another fresh start. And so car ownership has mostly been for me up until my Mitsubishi (no Mastercraft bits yet!), a series of fresh starts with the quick realization that not much had changed.
And so it is with Noah and family as they leave the ark. There is a fresh start for humanity, the parallels with the creation account being so numerous it feels like God has hit the reset button. There are the waters and the wind, the dry land appearing, all creatures great and small sent into the world, the recognition of humanity as being created in the image of God (see 9:6), and of course the command to go forth and multiply. This fresh start even feels promising as it all begins with a righteous man who pleased God. However we don’t get too far from the ark before we realize that nothing has changed really. The Tower of Babel is not too far off in the future with a familiar theme of people trying to be like God their way, a theme stretching back to Adam and Eve. We should not think God is surprised by this continuing sin. He gives no indication of hoping that a fresh start will lead to a better situation, in fact his thoughts on human potential are quite clear in His promise:
The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done. (Genesis 8:21 NIV italics mine)
Sin is expected to continue.
So has anything changed with this new beginning? Yes, and thankfully so. If all we had to go on was Genesis chapters one through five, we would have to conclude that all human destiny was in the hands of humanity. Adam and Eve were given a choice, to be obedient and live, or to eat the fruit and die. They chose death and so it seems that all human destiny is in human hands. We chose death. Death is our lot. As the apostle Paul has said, “For as in Adam all die” (1 Corinthians 15:22a NIV). But here is something new and remarkable following the flood: a covenant promise from God. At this point it is a promise of patience, a promise to not destroy the earth, a promise to not treat us with immediate justice as we deserve. But it is a first covenant promise in a long line of covenant promises that become more clear starting with Abraham and leading up to Christ. With each covenant it becomes more clear that God is taking human destiny out of our hands and into His own hands. Though we chose death, the way of life is opened for us: “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22 NIV). Of course we each still have a choice to make, to accept God’s love or reject it, but the choice of life is open to us because of God’s grace, initiative and covenant promises. So this is a promising fresh start indeed. Not because Noah was righteous, but because God is love.