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The Good News of God\'s Justice in the Flood

By Michael Roop

I’ve once again restarted my annual journey through the Bible. It’s a plan I’ve pulled together to read through the whole Bible in a year, the Psalms and Proverbs four times, and the Sermon on the Mount every month.

As I re-read the account of Noah and the flood, something jumped out at me. On the one hand, you’ve got the general populace. Just three short chapters after sin first entered the world, we read, “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” (Genesis 6:5). They have no time for God, no desire to know Him, love Him, trust Him, obey Him. They are living their lives for their own happiness, pleasure, and comfort at all times, always.

On the other hand, you’ve got Noah. In a stunning contrast to humanity, whose rampant violence and corruption has drawn the ire of God, Noah “found favor in the eyes of the LORD” (6:8). In the coming chapters, the refrain appears four times: “Noah did…all that God commanded him” (6:22; 7:5, 9, 16). It certainly wasn’t Noah’s moral perfection that earned God’s favor, as his post-flood encounter with wine proves. Instead, Noah’s obedience is rooted in faith. He trusts God and longs to honor Him with obedience.

The flood is an important revelation of God’s character, one that will eventually come to full maturity in Christ. Those who reject God and live a life only to themselves are destined to their own destruction. No human survives the flood, which was brought on by their sin. In the same way, no human can survive the eternal retribution for rejecting God.

And yet, in His mercy, God allows a man to pass through the waters of death and become the firstborn of a new humanity (9:1). And herein lies the good news of God’s justice: In the same way that God impartially judges those who reject Him, He is faithful to save those who have faith.
This is the Apostle John’s message in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The assurance that we are forgiven and accepted by God – that we have become a source of eternal delight to Him – is found in His justice, not in the adequacy of our faith, sufficiency of our repentance, or achievement of some standard of obedience.

Those who died in the flood received just consequence for their sins, but One has already passed through that consequence on our behalf, and this infinitely just God will never punish sin twice. For those of us who are trusting in Jesus for the satisfaction of God’s appropriate and awesome wrath against our sin, that is very good news.