If you’ve argued with an atheist before, you’ll know that Noah’s Ark is one of the go-to stories to try and disprove Biblical belief. Honestly, "Noah's Ark" became unwanted words in my ears during my husband's deconversion.
I'll not discuss archeological evidence or scientific defiance here. But, the fact is, according to my pastor's sermon this Sunday, all the ancient near east cultures had a flood story, and the one that Christians believe has caveats that I'd never considered before.
If you’ve grown up in church, you might have it in your head that Noah’s ark is a child’s story. That in itself is unbelievable. Killing off the entire world an appropriate tale glorified for children? Ah, but we are easily distracted by the cute two by twos. I am. I was. In honesty, they were painted on my son’s wall as an infant.
Funny how this particular Bible story keeps cropping up in my life over time...and yet, it always seemed glossy and tied with a bow before my husband deconverted. You know, the evil and unworthy were completely annihilated. Only the good guys were left. Right?
The first time I stepped into a new church after my husband turned away, the flood swelled tension in my heart—the kids ministry was teaching this story to my children, and I was afraid of the conflict it would cause at home. But, God placed a rainbow in the sky that day, and I found peace.
Yet, there is so much more to God in that story, something that if I knew then, my peace wouldn't have been found in the rainbow, but even more assuredly in the Father and His Son.
I might not have taken so seriously the atheistic arguments that tried to turn that pretty bow into a choking noose against the anti-Science churched. The atheist's attempt to choke out its relevance is insignificant compared to the unbreakable thread of God's identity from ancient to Christ to those perished.
In 1Peter 3:18-22 we see that Christ truly wasn't just here to fulfill the law, but to redeem the whole world to Himself...even those who didn't deserve it. Even those who perished by God's righteous act:
"For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits—to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him."
Yes, even those evil, unworthy souls receive a visit from Christ Himself. If they didn't matter, why would He go to them? If God was a heartless ruler, why would His Son return to the righteously slaughtered?
Oh the hope there is in that! The treasure of a story of old being completely redeemed by a Savior.
My days are long. The years whip by as if they are the dusty gales of a desert without any relief. But nothing is too long gone for God to redeem. Nothing is without the hope of Christ's redemption completely. He remembers all. Even the atheist.
No matter our evil acts, our hopeless trials, our disbelief, we are remembered. Not by a Killer god who wants to punish, but by a Loving Father who is desperate to save us even from the depths, even after the consequence of our behavior, even after the children's Bible shuts down the bad guy, even after the world has given up on us.
May you find hope for those loved ones who've walked away, for those corners of disbelief in your heart, in our world. May we wonder what is in store for this world with more expectancy than dread. For it is a world He so loved, He loves still. May He remember all of us.
I encourage you to listen to the sermon—see link below— to really grasp the goodness of it....and fill in the gaps of my imperfect explanation. This is especially important for those of you who love your own atheist or agnostic. It’s worth 20 minutes, promise. Video for 2-21-21, Start at 37:54.