Apostle Barbara Childress
The cross typified: a significant event
Genesis 6:11 - 7:24
The sacrifice of animals was instituted by God himself for the express purpose of typifying, or picturing, the redeeming work of the coming Christ. It must, therefore, be considered the most significant of all the Old Testament types. Furthermore, by its very nature it most closely resembled the work Christ would actually perform. But there are other types of Christ's saving work as well. These types may be divided into two categories: events and persons.
Some think it is only legitimate to consider something a type of Christ if a New Testament passage expressly affirms it to be such. While it is possible to fall into the trap of type-mania, it is also safe to say there are some events and persons that so obviously embody the core truths of the gospel that they are meant to be considered as types. One of the Old Testament events of this nature is the ark of Noah (Genesis 6:11 - 7:24). The biblical account compels us to recognize a couple of major parallels.
Two kinds of rain
The rain of Noah's day
The rain that fell upon Noah's generation was no ordinary rain. That may seem to be one of the most notable understatements of all time. Of course it was no ordinary rain! Some think there had been no rain prior to this, but that the earth was watered by 'a mist' that 'went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground' (Genesis 2:6). If that was the case, the very fact that it rained at all was extraordinary.
But the extraordinariness of the event did not end there. It rained and rained, even to the point where Scripture says, 'The windows of heaven were opened.' In addition to that the account tells us, 'All the fountains of the great deep were broken up' (Genesis 7:11). This leads us to believe that vast reservoirs of water under the surface of the earth erupted. The outcome of it all is stated in these terse words: 'And the waters prevailed exceedingly on the earth, and all the high hills under the whole heaven were covered' (Genesis 7:19).
It was no ordinary rain; that is certain. But, having said all that, we still have not arrived at the one crucial factor that made this no ordinary rain. This rain was not just a freak natural event. It was not just nature going berserk. To get to the bottom of this flood of water, we have to say it was a rain of God's wrath. It came upon Noah's generation because of their callous disregard for God's laws.
Scripture is explicit about this matter. It tells us these people were 'corrupt' and violent (Genesis 6:11-12). The Lord Jesus himself had this to say about that generation: 'They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all' (Luke 17:27).
No, they did not come under the wrath of God just for eating, drinking, and marrying. There is nothing wrong with these things in themselves. But there is something wrong when people begin to live so much for them that they have no regard at all for God and his laws. And that is exactly what the people of Noah's day were doing. They went blissfully along their way as if there were no God and no eternity.
God gave them ample opportunity to repent. While Noah was building the ark, he was also warning his neighbours about the wrath to come (II Peter 2:5), but they dismissed him and his preaching and continued their love affair with iniquity.
The rain that fell upon Noah's generation was, then, a rain of wrath.
The rain of wrath that we face
Just as Noah's generation faced a rain of wrath, so do we. No, it is not the same type of rain that Noah's day faced. It is not water falling from the sky and bursting up from beneath the earth. The Bible speaks of it rather as a rain of fire. David says of the Lord: 'Upon the wicked he will rain coals; fire and brimstone and a burning wind' (Psalm 11:6).
Untold numbers have not learned from the rain of wrath on Noah's generation, and they are living just as those people did. They are living as if this world is all there is, or all that matters - as if God has died, or never existed at all. They hear about the commandments of God, but they are so absorbed with their own pursuits that they have no interest in those commandments.
All parents know something of how they would respond if their children, after receiving all manner of benefits from them, were to live with total disregard for their values. Multiply that by infinity and you can begin to understand how God feels about his creatures living without regard for his commandments after he has bestowed all manner of benefits upon them.
All those who live this way are destined to experience the flood of God's wrath. That wrath, even now evidencing itself in various ways (Romans 1:18), will finally be complete in a place of eternal destruction away 'from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power' (II Thessalonians 1:9).
The account of Noah brings before us, then, the grim reality of the wrath of God. But, thank God, that is not all it teaches us. Noah's experience allows us to talk about two arks.
When God told Noah about the impending flood of wrath, he also commanded him to build an ark according to certain specifications (Genesis 6:14-16). After years of hard work, the ark was finally completed and, just as God had said it would, the rain began to fall. That rain of his wrath fell and went on falling. But because of the ark that rain, while it fell on everyone else, did not fall on Noah and his family. They were in the ark, and the rain fell on the ark and not on them.
Christ as our ark
Noah's ark provides us with a remarkable picture of the ark that God has made available to sinners. That ark has a name - the Lord Jesus Christ.
All of us are sinners by nature, and by virtue of our sins we are facing this terrific storm of the wrath of God. But the situation is not hopeless. Jesus Christ, God's Son, took unto himself our humanity, and in that humanity went to die on the cross. Do you wonder what the cross is all about? On that cross Jesus took God's wrath in the place of guilty sinners. Just as the rain of wrath fell on the ark in Noah's day, so the wrath of God fell on Jesus there on the cross.
And because that wrath fell on Jesus, the good news of the gospel is this - not one drop of wrath will ever fall on those who are in Jesus. This is why the apostle Paul is able to assert triumphantly: 'There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus' (Romans 8:1).
When it comes to this matter of the wrath of God, there are only two positions: that wrath is either upon us, or it is upon Christ. If God finds our sin upon us, he will send his wrath to fall on us; but if he finds our sin upon Christ, his wrath against us will be averted.
That brings us back to the word 'propitiation'. That word conjures up this image. Here is wrath coming out from God and heading towards the sinner, but before it falls upon the sinner, someone steps between God and the sinner and absorbs the wrath.
Jesus Christ is the propitiation. He is the only safe refuge in the storm of God's wrath. Let the rain of wrath fall. Let the tide of judgment swell ever so high. All who are in Christ are safe.
JOURNEY TO THE CROSS, by Roger Ellsworth, Copyright 1997, EVANGELICAL PRESS.