Noah’ Ark Revisited

EcoChaplain Roger Wharton

The biblical story of Noah speaks to our human responsibility to be careful stewards of God’s Creation. Recall the story with me. “God said to Noah, ‘I have decided that the end has come for all living things, for the earth is full of lawlessness because of human beings.'” (Gen. 6:13 NJB) Notice that God’s decision rests on God’s evaluation of human behavior and how it has affected all of creation. Noah then learns that he has found favor with God and is to build an ark so that he will be saved from the floods to come. Noah, however, is to learn more….

No matter how righteous Noah feels in his selection by God, he soon discovers that he is to take his family with him on the ark. In this, Noah and humankind should see that there is no salvation or wholeness without community. Next, Noah is instructed to load pairs of all the living animals on board. The lesson here is that there is no salvation without ecological wholeness. This point is made even more clear at the end of story.

When the floods are over and the earth is ready for habitation again, God establishes a covenant, not just with human beings but with all of creation. “I am now establishing my covenant with you and your descendants to come, and with every living creature that was with you: birds, cattle and every wild animal with you; everything that came out of the ark, every living thing on earth.” (Gen. 9: 9 & 10) God goes on to say that the rainbow is set in the sky as a reminder of that covenant between God and every living creature on earth.

It seems that human beings have forgotten the lessons of Noah. Many think that they are complete unto themselves and need to remember that salvation and wholeness is found within our relationship to others in the global human community. The human community, however, is not the total picture. Real wholeness can only be experienced within an ecological wholeness.

As Christians and as global citizens, let us work for world understanding and peace between individuals and nations. As God’s stewards of creation, let us each become a person who cares deeply for the earth and God’s creatures and works for ecological wholeness. The Earth can not much longer take the abuse that we are giving her and sustain human life as we know it. It will be humans that God will hold responsible for the destruction of this gem of creation, which was chosen out of all the cosmos to be the home of Jesus Christ and the point of initiation of the New Creation.