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"As in the days of Noah..." (4)

By Rev. Daniel Holstege. Previous article in the series: "As in the days of Noah..." (3)

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The fourth topic I would like to consider is the fact that God designed the flood to be a type of the waters of baptism, and therefore a prefiguration of that mighty salvation he would accomplish through the blood of the cross of Christ. God preaches the gospel to us in the history of the flood.  

Peter writes that “the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a-preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (I Pet. 3:20-21).

We must remember that in the days of Noah the whole world was corrupt with the filth of sin. There were only eight persons left on earth whom God loved, and by nature they too were sinners who were part of that spiritually filthy world. Therefore, God poured out the flood of many waters to cleanse the world. God cleansed the earth of its filthiness by destroying the unbelieving and unrepentant world with the flood. But God used the very same water to cleanse the ark in a figure. God baptized the eight souls in the ark, the believers and their seed, when he opened the windows of heaven and caused a tremendous volume of rain to beat upon the ark for 40 days and 40 nights. But whereas the water cleansed the earth by destroying the wicked, it cleansed the ark without destroying it. Indeed, the flood lifted the ark out of that old corrupt world, delivering its inhabitants from the hostile ungodly and carrying them into a newly cleansed world.  

So, of what was that powerful cleansing water of the flood a picture? God designed it to be a figure of baptism. But not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, Peter says, but the answer of a good conscience toward God. What then has given us a good conscience toward God? The powerful cleansing blood of Christ which he shed for us on the cross. 

“Was there no mention or prefiguration of Christ in the flood?” asks Prof. Herman Hanko in his book God’s Everlasting Covenant of Grace. “What did the flood reveal concerning what Christ did on Calvary? The answer to these questions is that the Scriptures plainly teach us that the water of the flood was a picture of the blood of Christ. And, furthermore, because the water of the flood was a picture of the blood of Christ, the water of the flood was a picture of the water of baptism. Noah and his family were baptized in the flood and received the sign of the cleansing from sin through the blood of atonement” (p. 60). 

Prof. Hanko gives a very beautiful description of the typology of the flood which shows that this history is the gospel of Christ crucified: “On the far side of the flood Noah and his family lived in that wicked and corrupt world of which they were a part. Through the waters of the flood, however, they were saved from that wicked world and taken out of it. By those same waters of the flood the world was destroyed. Carried on the tide of the flood Noah and his family were transferred into a new creation which God had given them for their inheritance. In like manner also the blood of Christ, symbolized in baptism, is the power to save. On this side of the blood of Christ, we are conceived and born in sin, a part of this wicked and corrupt world in which we live and to which we belong. But God takes us on the powerful and cleansing tide of the blood of Christ out of this world into His new and heavenly creation…” (p. 61). 

We deserve to be drowned under the flood of the wrath of God in hell with the unbelieving and unrepentant world. But God has sent Christ into this world to suffer the outpouring of that flood on the cross in our place. Our baptism is a sign and seal to us that his blood has cleansed us of all our sins and will carry us out of this filthy and doomed world into a heavenly paradise. As the water of the flood beat on the roof and sides of the ark, cleansing it but not destroying it, so the blood of Christ that he willingly shed for us on the cross washed away all our guilt and continues to beat out and purge away our indwelling sins, cleansing us but not destroying us. Though God will destroy this world with fire, he will carry us inside the ark of his grace and mercy safely into the world to come because of the cleansing blood of the cross. 

Thanks be to God for the precious blood of Christ by which God has cleansed us and given us hope for eternal life.

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