The story of Noah is familiar to most of us. There was great evil throughout the world and the only people that lived in harmony with creation and God were Noah and his family. God decided to make a fresh start so he gave Noah specific instructions on the building of an ark. In the ark Noah was to bring in two of every living creature that flew in the air, or walked or crawled on the earth. When all this had been completed the rain began. It rained and rained for forty days until all the earth was covered. Then there was a long period of time floating around until the water subsided (anywhere from 5 months to a year). When finally the ark came to rest, God put a rainbow in the sky and made a promise to Noah, his descendants, and all creatures that he would never destroy the earth by flood again. The rainbow was a reminder to God that he had made this promise and to creation of the faithfulness of God.
For people who feel the Bible is the literal truth, there are many discrepancies within this story and many questions. What did the carnivores eat? Why does it say in one part of the story there were to be two of every kind and a few verses later, say there were seven of certain kinds of animals? Where did the water come from and where did it go after the flood? Why is there no evidence of such a world wide flood? The questions abound. We need to look at this story as both legend and myth, but we also need to know that something does not have to be literally true to be a source of truth.
The good news of the Noah story is that in spite of human sin and violence God is committed to the earth and honours the promise made on the rainbow. The story of Noah and the flood is the story of God re-committing to creation and of God’s faithfulness to creation. This is the story of God who is grieved by the sin and violence of the world, but believes in creation and so does a ‘reboot’. The rainbow is a sign of God’s steadfast love for creation. God has chosen to work in creation, with creation to bring about his purpose which is peace, justice and love on earth. We know this because God came to live among us in the form of a servant, in Jesus. God continues to work through imperfect and flawed humans to bring into fulness the kingdom of heaven on earth.