Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Real Noah Story (Part 1)

In my film review of Noah (, I mentioned that the Creator was only "tangentially connected to the Christian God of the Bible".  Thinking back, I realize this was an understatement, as the god pictured in Aronofsky's opus has more in common with the God of Deism, a blind watchmaker, who might speak from time to time but overall leaves humanity with little in the way of directions.  This is certainly true of Noah's plight in Aronofsky's film, after the initial vision Noah is more or less blindfolded as to God's intentions once the Ark has set sail, so much so that Noah believes for no reason apart from the weather that God wishes him to commit infanticide on Shem's twin daughters,
and for his whole family to commit suicide once they reach land.  Noah's belief in the film is more akin to Greek mythology, describing the kind of gods that communicate ambiguously through natural weather events and demand instant appeasement.  A cruel, capricious God who acts against his own just Law is not our Heavenly Father who is holy, righteous and pure and has issued the command throughout the generations not to commit murder.  In actuality the triune God gave clear, concise and direct commands for Noah to follow, as described in Genesis 6 and 7:

Genesis 6: 9-21

These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons' wives with you. And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.” Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.

As shown by these verses, God established a covenant with Noah, having declared him and his household to be "righteous before [God] in [his] generation" (Genesis 7:1), out of God's sheer mercy and grace.  Therefore Noah and his family were not to be destroyed along with the "wickedness of men", as the film suggests (Genesis 5: 5).  Part of the Noahic covenant was God's command to Noah and his family to "go out from the ark", and to "be fruitful and multiply on the earth" (Genesis 8: 16, 17). In return God promised them salvation in the shape of the ark, and his enduring promise that "never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth" (Genesis 9:11). Noah and his family were left in no doubt as to God's wishes within that covenant, and Noah was certainly not left to decide for himself who lived and who died,  as God commanded that "two of all flesh", male and female", should enter the ark.  These included every living creature but also Noah and his wife, his sons and their wives (yes Mr. Aronofsky, Noah's sons HAD WIVES!!!), who were saved not as New Age environmentalists to begin over again (God isn't against industrialization by the way) as the film suggests, but that they might receive God's blessings, and that they would worship him in spirit and truth for all he had done for them by his acts of grace.

In Part 2 I will move away from the film somewhat, and talk in terms of typology, relating Noah's story to our covenantal relationship in Christ which will become keenly clear to us
as we move into Holy Week.

In the meantime....

Thank you heavenly Father that you are not absent from us, but that you have spoken to us clearly through your Word, and that you continue to speak through the words of your Son, through whom you have purchased salvation for us by the shedding of his blood, now
and forever.

In the name of Christ.  Amen.

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