I, along with other iGo staff members, have been learning a lot lately about finding Jesus in the Old Testament. Special thanks to author Tim Keller for pointing us in the right direction. I taught this lesson a few weeks ago at church using Noah.
The 6th chapter of Genesis tells the story of God resolving to destroy the Earth with a flood because the earth was “corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence” (Gen. 6:11). However, God chooses by His mercy to save Noah and his family from the destruction.
The flood is obviously an act of judgement and a demonstration of holy wrath from a righteous God who “will by no means clear the guilty” (Numbers 14:18b). Noah was spared from God’s wrath why? Because he “was a Righteous man, blameless in his generation” (Gen. 6:9).
Noah of course was not free from sin, since “all have sinned…” (Rom. 3:23). However, there seemed to have been a very real, very practical holiness in which Noah walked. And because of that, he found favor in God’s eyes, and was spared. So in this story, the righteous one (Noah) is saved while the unrighteous (everyone else) were destroyed by the flood of God’s wrath for their sin.
Peter found a connection between the waters of the flood and the waters of baptism. “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 the water. Baptism which corresponds to this, now saves you not as removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 3:20-21).
So what is the connection between the flood and baptism? I think we find it a few verses up in 1 Pet. 3:18, “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.” When the flood came upon Noah, the unrighteous were destroyed and the righteous one was saved. However, when Jesus came, the unrighteous (us) were saved and the Righteous One (Jesus) suffered under the flood of God’s wrath.
This is Amazing! Jesus is the new and better Noah who, though Righteous, suffered under the flood of God’s wrath and spared the unrighteous.
Not only that, but after suffering under God’s wrath, Jesus rose. That is why we get baptized. Jesus, through suffering under the flood of God’s wrath and being resurrected, made a way for us to be cleansed and have a new life. “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:3-4).
The flood waters served two purposes: Wrath (The flood was God’s wrath carried out against the unrighteous) and Cleansing (The flood was God’s way of cleansing the earth). Similarly, the baptismal waters represent the wrath of God (which Jesus suffered under on our behalf) and cleansing (our old life was washed clean because of Jesus’ death, and through His resurrection, we have new life.)