Daily Reading – Genesis 6-8:22
The epic of Gilgamesh is one of the earliest surviving pieces of literature in human history. Written in Akkadian, the epic describes a great flood with such similar detail to the Bible’s version that critics claim Moses must have stolen the story from the Babylonians… And, therefore, the Bible is clearly a mythological storybook.
Before we rush to judgment let’s take a step back. Mankind has perfected the art of exchanging the truth of God for a lie in an attempt to justify evil behavior throughout all of human history. This was a driving force for Nimrod who laid the foundation for his capital city Babylon with the goal that it would serve as “a gateway to the gods.” We will look at his story next week in Genesis 10-11. Nimrod’s desire to avoid God by creating an alternate reality is evident in the literature of the time as well.
In the ancient flood narratives, the gods who bring destruction are described as “unreasoning” by other gods. One reason for mankind’s destruction given in the accounts is that they have become too numerous and are making “too much noise.” Apart from the Bible, the closest any version comes to accusing man of wrongdoing is the Gilgamesh Epic, which alludes to the heart of men leading to the flood. There is still no mention of sin or judgment and the gods, again, are described as unreasoning in their decision to wipe out men for being too noisy.
In every secular ancient version there is a negligible gap between God and man and no concept of right and wrong. If God is not holy and man is not sinful, there is no need for humility and repentance. The Epic of Gilgamesh describes a historical event in a way that explains God away and allows mankind to continue living in pride. Accusing Moses of stealing the story accomplishes the same thing.
The True Flood Story.
Similar to today, every scheme in man’s imagination had become nothing but evil in the days of Noah. The wickedness of man caused God’s heart pain. God determined in his heart to bring deserved and necessary judgment wiping from the face of the earth man whom he created.
But not yet!
For the Lord is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
And “God’s patience waited in the days of Noah” (1 Peter 3:20)
God gave Noah somewhere between 20-100 years to build the ark, and every time his hammer came down on the gopher wood an echo would ring through the valley calling men to repentance. Final judgment was sure, but God gave men time to repent.
Noah was a special guy destined to bring the people of his day Rest. He was counted righteous by God and found favor with him. When he was born his father said, “Out of the ground that the Lord has cursed, this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands.”
Through one man God determined to bring deliverance to a remnant of mankind. But death awaited the children of disobedience, who despised his patience and continued in wickedness.
The Apostle Peter reveals something incredible about this event.
1 Peter 3:18-21
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ
The Flood was the first baptism in the Bible! There will be two more events in the life of Israel that correspond to baptism. The first is Moses at the Red Sea. (1 Corinthians 10:1-2) The second is Joshua crossing of the Jordan. (Joshua 4:23)
In each instance you have the people of God follow the man of God safely through the waters of judgment. By the same waters the enemies of God are deluged and destroyed. This is a picture of what baptism is. Just like the covenant people of God in the Old Testament, we follow God’s man safely through the waters of judgment. Just like Noah, Moses, and Joshua, Jesus went first so we could come along for the ride.
This is why Jesus was baptized, because the only way for anyone to be buried and then Raised to Life is if they go with God’s Prophet through the water.
The Bible gives us the true history of the world’s first baptism which includes the holiness of God and the sinfulness of man. The Bible also gives us a description of the world’s final baptism.
We are reminded of God’s promise to never again destroy the earth by water whenever we see a rainbow. However, God does promise another baptism, just not of water.
“For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings.”
I’m sure Noah encountered quite a few skeptics in his day. The impending judgment he preached seemed like less of a reality year after year as everything went on just as it had the day before. While God was patient, Noah continued to build.
Peter warned us that we will have to face some doubters as well. People who deny the coming of Christ saying, “Christians keep talking about it yet nothing seems to be happening.”
1 Peter 3:3-10
Scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
Then he says,
Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
What sort of people ought we be?
Just as Noah lived each day knowing the first baptism was coming, we continue to build lives of holiness and godliness. We let our good deeds ring out through the valley that some may see and believe, knowing that it is God’s patience that has delayed the final judgment as he does not want any to perish, but all to come to repentance.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
Whether it is our first baptism of death and burial or the final baptism fire, you will get to rise up out of the water and walk through the flames if you go with Jesus.
The Emmaus Trail is a weekly devotional study that explores the theme found in all of Scripture of God reconciling himself to the world through the redemption of his Son.
That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.