Noah’s Ark and the myth of an angry God

Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat by Simon de Myle

“God said to Noah, “The end has come for all creatures, since they have filled the earth with violence. I am now about to destroy them along with the earth”
Genesis 6:13

“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”
John 10:10

“love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”
Matthew 5:44

“Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, how many times should I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Should I forgive as many as seven times?” Jesus said, “Not just seven times, but rather as many as seventy-seven (an infinite number of) times.”
Matthew 18:21‭-‬22

So is God the theif that destroys and takes life? Is God not like Jesus and so doesn’t forgive God’s own enemies?

These are important questions to ask when reading the biblical story of Noah and the flood. Is this what we teach our children? Really? That God murders those who go against God’s will? Does this really jive with what we know about Jesus? If not then how as Christians with the full revelation of God we have in Christ do we interpret this? Do we just say God was different back then? Well that would directly contradict passages in the New testament scriptures.

“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the one who is first over all creation”
Colossians 1:15

“The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God”
Hebrews 1:3

“He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me.”
John 12:45

Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!”
John 14:9

No, I can’t come to any other conclusion except that God is like Jesus and has always been. But maybe, in the light of Christ, we can see the “traditional” narrative we’ve been handed has been interpreted wrong. Maybe there is something more going on.

In the ancient near east there were many flood stories. In fact every tribe from Babylon to the tribes in Africa had their own flood story. The Israelites story is like other flood stories at the time. The “epic of gilgamesh” is one way older than the Noah story with the oldest manuscripts dating to 1200 BCE. The oldest Genesis manuscript is noted to be dated 4th or 5th century BCE. One important thing to note is all ancient cultures made God the sender of the flood in their story. It’s how all ancient civilization thought. They didn’t understand weather patterns and most thought if anything happened locally, like a flood, it happened everywhere.

In the Israelite story it’s not about what it says, but where does it take us compared to where we were. The difference in the Isrealite narrative is that God saves the human race and makes a Covenant and promise with the human race. What you have to understand is this was a completely new idea at the time. This was very proactive and scandalous.

So we have a story that is formed from primitive people that begins like every other flood story from every other tribe at the time but in the Noah story EVERYTHING CHANGES. God is for humanity! God makes a Covenant and wants to participate with humanity. God is good in this narrative!

With the revelation that God is like Jesus we know that God is love and does not kill, steal or destroy and forgives God’s enemies, period. But didn’t Jesus acknowledge the flood story?

Yes, the gospel writers write the Jesus acknowledges the Noah story. When read in its context, what is being discussed when Jesus mentions it is in the Olivet discourse (Matthew 24), which seems to be prophecy of the tragic events of the massacre in 70 CE and is an event that will happen soon at that time, not ours (Matthew 24:34). Also Jesus, in my opinion, does not espouse God sent the flood in these verses but uses it as a way to prophecy the destruction of those who do not follow the way of Jesus. And of course the Roman army does the destruction, not God. Nor does God want his people destroyed but warns them of possible, and as we now know, certain doom. To me this actually is saying that the flood is represented as an evil act not wanted or sent by God, just are the acts of Romes army in 70 CE. For more on the historical and biblical prophecies of 70 AD feel free to Google the subject.

So what we see in the Noah flood story is a common primitive myth known to many cultures but looking at it from the trajectory the Bible narrative points to, we see a God that is doing something completely different! It’s provocative, scandalous, and beautiful. It tells of a God, that unlike other gods worshiped at that time, is willing to make Covenant and participate in creation with humanity. It brings the story forward and in the process the entire human perception of God changes for the better! In this story God is better than ever imagined! The story isn’t about God destroying creation but instead about making Covenant with creation and moving forward our knowledge of a God fully revealed in Jesus.

One thought on “Noah’s Ark and the myth of an angry God

  1. Thanks for the article. I do not know of earlier myths where the great creator makes a covenant with humanity, but it would not matter, if you never heard the story before it is news to you. I have a question however, whether a covenant was made or not doesn’t it still portrays a destroying deity despite a change of operating agreement? Then there is the idea that the creator did make a dangerous world where many still die and suffer from nature & God is not stopping, therefore allowing a lot of suffering, which is probably a notion off the main subject.

    Like

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