The lectionary passages for this last day before Advent are as follows…
The recurring theme of each of these passages is that of a time and place. As Karl blogged yesterday for Psalm 122, Zion is a stronghold, a good place, and the only place for legitimate Israelite worship (Deut. 12:13-14, 16:16). Again, for the Matthew passage, the place is Jerusalem. This passage begins to answer the question “What will the end of our age look like?” There is a great deal there to talk about, too much for me. Perhaps one of the other bloggers can tackle it. The accompanying question to this one is “When will the end of the age happen? (Luke 21:20-24)” Zion is not surrounded by armies yet, so we’re not there yet.
Our Genesis text is an account Noah’s Ark, a passage that is a point of emphasis for children, but rarely looked at seriously by adults. What is really going on here is anything but “child’s play.” To begin with, the ark is a safe place, away from God’s flood judgement against the “corrupt and lawless” (v. 11). Noah is portrayed as the only person on earth willing to work with God (vv. 14-16).
The dimensions given seem reasonable to this semi-trained eye, especially compared to Greek mythology’s ship of Berosus that was reported to be 3000′ long, 1200′ wide at the beam and 260′ tall – silly big?! If one cubit = 18″, we get a vessel that is 450′ long by 75′ wide at the beam and 45′ tall. This is the approximate size of our modern day cruse ships. Certainly, the construction of Noah’s Ark was a monumental engineering challenge given the building technology available at that time or even today. My family and I are planning a little road trip to Kentucky this summer to experience the Ark for ourselves. Nevertheless, when compared to the centuries of Egyptian pyramid building, it looks doable with Noah’s unshakable will to “get ‘er done.”
The saving of two (v. 19) of every kind of animal was a confirmation to Noah that God’s purpose was not to wipe creation from the face of the earth, but to point creation in a new direction.
Finally, Peter uses Noah’s exploits to illustrate the meaning of our baptism (1 Pet. 3:20-21) and as a commentary on how readily folk scoff (2 Pet. 3:5-7) at judgement which is staring them in the face. What we have in our Bible are examples (1 Cor. 10:1-15) to inform and enlighten “whosoever.”