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Sunday, December 4, 2016

December 5: Noah's Ark and Christmas

 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." -Genesis 6:13-14,ESV

Jesus is the Ark of Refuge to Save Us from the Judgment of God

Here's an interesting fact: The word for ark is only used to refer to two things in the Bible: a vessel so big it could hold two of every kind of animal on earth with room to spare and a vessel so small it held only a single baby. When we think of an ark, we think of Noah's ark. We may also think of the ark of the covenant, but that's a different Hebrew word. The ark connected to Moses did not hold the Ten Commandments on tablets of stone, but Moses himself  as a baby in the Nile river.

The exact origin of this Hebrew word, tebah, is unknown, but both of these were vessels covered in pitch which held life and protected it from wrath. The animals in Noah's ark were protected from God's judgment, and Baby Moses in his ark of bulrushes was saved from Pharaoh's wrath. Thus, in the Bible, the ark is a vessel of safety to carry life through judgment to salvation.

When Jesus was born to Mary, He was wrapped in swaddling cloths and was laid in a manger, another kind of box. He, too, was threatened by the jealous wrath of a king who saw Him as a threat. But Jesus was not placed in an ark to keep Him safe and hidden from Pharaoh. Jesus was also not put in an ark to save Him from God's wrath. No, Jesus Himself came to be our ark of refuge, to be the One in whom we can hide ourselves in order to be saved from judgment.

The Bible is very clear that all people are guilty of violating God's law willfully, repeatedly, wantonly and callously. The Bible also makes it clear that we all do this because it is our nature from birth. We're told of the human condition in the days of Noah when God decided to judge the whole earth: "The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (Gen. 6:5)." This fact of our humanity has not changed. Three times in the Bible - in Psalms 14 & 53 and in Romans 3 - we're told, "There is no one who does good, not even one." 

Our sin brings us into danger. As much as God had the right to destroy the earth in the days of Noah, so He also has the right to destroy everyone who rebels against His law and commits cosmic treason against the King of the Universe. He not only has the right to punish sinners, but His justice demands it. 

Thankfully, God sent His Son into the world to be our ark of refuge from His wrath. Just as Noah and His family found refuge on the ark, so believers find refuge in Jesus Himself. Hiding ourselves in Him, taking shelter in His perfection, shields us from the judgment of God. 

The ark itself was not shielded from the judgment of God, It was battered and tossed about by the storms of God's anger. Likewise, Jesus Himself was not shielded from God's anger either. On the cross, He bore the full wrath of God in His body, so that we might be able to hide ourselves in Him and be safe! 

Lord Jesus, thank you for being our ark of refuge. Thank You for taking the wrath we deserve, so that we can hide in You and find shelter from God's judgment. Let us trust and rest in You as our ark. Shield us and carry us always, we pray. Amen.       

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