There’s an interesting pattern that presents itself all throughout the Scriptures. Before God carries out his judgement of sin, he always prepares a way to show his grace and mercy to sinners.
We saw this first example of this pattern in the Old Testament reading for the First Sunday in Lent from Genesis 3. Before he expelled Adam and Eve from paradise, God not only provided them with clothing, but he sent them out with the promise of a Redeemer who would undo the curse.
We see the pattern again in the story of Cain and Abel. Before God sends Cain away in exile, he places a mark on him to protect him against revenge killing.
And in this morning’s reading, we see the pattern a third time when God announces his intention to destroy “all flesh” with a catastrophic flood. The text doesn’t paint a pretty picture of the state of things in Noah’s day. Whereas the creation account tells us that: “God saw everything that he had made and behold it was very good.” (1:31) After just a few generations we are told that: “God saw the earth, and behold it was corrupt….” (6:12) The word corrupt can carry the sense of something that has spoiled or become rotten. That’s what sin and man’s participation in sin had done to God’s good creation. It had transformed it into something unholy and disgusting.
And yet, before God carries out his sentence of judgment, he makes a determination to demonstrate his grace and mercy to sinners. Notice how this pattern helps us better understand the comment in vs. 9 that “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.” Even in this mess of a world, the promise that God shows mercy to those who trust in him had preserved this man and his family. Noah was a sinner like every other human born since the time of Adam, but God in his grace had put true faith in his heart. In other words, the Ark was simply the capstone to the plan that God had already been carrying out for the salvation of Noah and his family. In this disgusting mess of a world, God had graciously created and sustained faith in Noah, and now, God would graciously sustain he and his family through the coming judgment.
All of this should point us directly to what God has done and is doing for us because of Christ. As we live in the world that is increasingly full of filth and disgusting displays of evil. As we battle the filth and corruption that characterize the nature of our sinful flesh. As we sense in our hearts that God’s final judgement must come soon. Nevertheless, in all these things, we can live confident that God has already prepared a way to preserve those who he has made righteous through faith in the name of the crucified and risen Christ. The pattern of God’s grace shown to sinners extends even to us. In Christ, God has already carried out his plan to save you from his coming wrath and bring you safely into his eternal kingdom.