Formations 02.13.2022: The Rains Came Down and the Floods Came Up

Genesis 7:1-16

The rains come.

In obedience to God’s command, Noah enters the ark with his family and all the animals he has gathered. The mention of seven pairs of clean animals and one pair of unclean animals, in contrast to the simpler instructions in chapter 6, has been taken as evidence of a later, priestly source for this detail. At last, the floods come in a violent upheaval (v. 11). When all is secured, God personally shuts the people and animals in.

In the midst of God’s calamitous judgment, God spares Noah. Though disaster is crashing down all around, Noah and his family are spared. It is an image of divine protection and provision.

And yet, we all know people to whom the rains have come and protection seemed in short supply. Maybe we’ve been there ourselves. Who am I kidding—we’ve all been there, haven’t we? We’ve all been in the doctor’s office and heard the bad news. We’ve all had tearful conversations with spouses or children that we had prayed to God we would never have to have. We’ve sat at the kitchen table at the end of the month with a stack of bills and a heavy heart.

Where is God when the flood comes?

And why are some rescued while others are not?

We might be tempted to say it’s because we somehow earned it. We might remember the words of Jesus about the wise man who built his house on a sure foundation while the foolish man built his house on sand. “The rain fell,” Jesus says, “and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house,” and, well, you know the rest of the story (Matt 7:24-27).

But is that always the best explanation? The book of Job would suggest that it is not. In Job 22:15-17, Eliphaz points to the flood as an example of God’s punishment of the wicked. By contrast, God spares the righteous, who take joy in seeing God’s justice done.

But the point of the book of Job is that things aren’t always that easy. Job’s friends propose simplistic answers to the question of human suffering, but Job isn’t having any of it.

Have you ever wondered what made Noah so worthy of God’s favor? According to Genesis 6:9, Noah was “blameless in his generation.” By some rabbinic interpretations, this points to Noah’s comparative goodness. Truth be told, he wasn’t all that righteous—one of the first things he does after emerging from the ark is to make wine and get drunk!—but given the overall state of humanity during his lifetime, he was pretty good. God often works with people who are, at best, pretty good. That should give us comfort.

The truth is, I don’t know why God sometimes spares some people but doesn’t spare others. And neither do you. But perhaps our lesson this week can remind us to be grateful for the times that we have known God’s protective care.


• When has God protected or provided for you in ways you didn’t deserve?
• What can we learn from this passage about how God takes care of God’s own?
• How can we express thanks to God without feeling superior to those who have not enjoyed the same blessings that we have received?
• How can this passage give us comfort when the floods threaten to sweep over us?

Darrell Pursiful is the editor of Formations. He is an adjunct professor at Mercer University and an active member of the First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon, Georgia.


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