I’m happy to announce that on Saturday the 21st at 14:27, my wife Fiona gave birth to a baby boy weighing 8 lbs. We decided to name him Noah. Every person I’ve spoken to so far has loved the name (or they were just being polite). I was surprised to find out that the name Noah actually ranks as the 2nd most popular name of 2015 according to BabyCentre. But we didn’t choose the name because it is popular, nor because it sounds good, and especially not because of the recent film starring Russell Crowe. I have always loved the name for different reasons.
“The narrative itself is not even about Noah, but rather God’s dealing with humanity.”
Since becoming a Christian I have been fascinated by the story of the flood found in Genesis 6-9. The narrative is set to the backdrop of a sinful and fallen world, where “every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5). God’s shining creation had been plunged into the darkness of human sin, and if I can say one good thing about the Russell Crowe interpretation, its depiction of human sin goes some way to correctly portray its severity. And so God resolved to wipe out the human race from the face of the earth, preserving two of every animal along with Noah and his family. Often the story of Noah’s Ark is told as a cuddly, cutesy, children’s tale, where Noah and his family smile as the animals enter two by two, before setting sail upon the newly formed sea. In reality though, what lies behind the fairytale is the real account of the terrifying reality of sin, and God’s justified cleansing of the earth. The narrative itself is not even about Noah, but rather God’s dealing with humanity. In fact, Noah doesn’t say a word until the waters have dried up. His first and only recorded words are his cursing of his son Ham, and blessing of Japheth and Shem. So why the name Noah you might ask?
“What sets Noah apart, is not his good behaviour, nor his ship building skills, nor his animal husbandry.”
I am writing this with our boy Noah sitting beside me squeaking away. As I look at him I am filled with all kinds of hopes and dreams for him; I hope he will be a good man, I hope he will find a career he loves, I hope he will have a wife and family, and I hope he too will know Jesus as I do. And I find great comfort in the Genesis narrative. The man Noah stands as a good man who walked faithfully with God (Genesis 6:9), but was given a monumental task. As a result he stood, not as a man petting the lions and elephants as they entered the Ark, but as a man who must have been full of doubt and conflict, calling out to those around him to turn from their ways, yet knowing deep inside he deserved the same fate.
What sets Noah apart, is not his good behaviour, nor his ship building skills, nor his animal husbandry. The Hebrew narrative is written in such a way that one verse stands at the centre of this whole story, and it is Genesis 8:1; “But God remembered Noah.” In the midst of a fallen world, of so much suffering and terror, by grace alone Noah is protected, shut inside the safety of the Ark. Actually, Noah is no different from any of us. What makes Noah special is that he knows God, and God remembers him. Like all of us, our baby Noah will make mistakes; like the man Noah he will sin, fall and fail. But we know that ultimately his fate lies not in our hands as parents, nor in his own decisions – good or bad, but in the hands of his Heavenly Father. In the midst of the storms of life I can trust, as we all can, that God will remember us.