The Flood of Divine Mercy

Light of truth

Jacob Chanikuzhy

Thirty percent of the birds are sexually monomorphic and their sex cannot be ascertained without modern veterinary techniques. Then how could Noah verify the sex of all the birds? How could Noah collect and preserve the immense amount of food needed for around 4 million creatures in his ark? After all, how did Noah, a pious farmer, learn to build such a sophisticated ark? Those who understand the story of Noah’s ark in the literal sense can explain everything by appealing to the miraculous intervention of God. But, from a scientific point of view there is a flood of unanswered questions which makes the story of Noah’s ark historically impossible.

Nevertheless, there was no draught for the flood stories in the Ancient Near Eastern cultures. In all probability, the author of the biblical flood story must have been aware of such stories and penned his own version with necessary adaptations. One major difference between the ANE flood stories and the biblical story of flood is the motive behind God’s decision to destroy the humankind. In the ANE stories the reason why gods decided to eliminate humankind was the inconvenience the humans caused to gods. In the other stories, either the humans over populated and disturbed the gods with their noise or the humans refused to do the domestic jobs for the gods. But, in the Bible, the motive behind eliminating humans is their moral decadence. Bible is crystal clear about the cause of flood: “The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually… so the Lord said, “I will blot out from the earth the human beings…with animals and creeping things and birds of the air” (Gen 6:5-7). As is evident, it was neither some isolated crimes the humans committed nor God’s sudden about of anger that provoked the punishment. Rather, it is the complete and continuous corruption of the human mind that drew God’s wrath. It is worth noting that God is here concerned about the thought world of humans. It indicates the seriousness of our thoughts and imaginations.

Even in the midst of a wicked generation, Noah lived a righteous life, proving that it is possible to do so. God notes this alone righteous man and saves him and on account of him his family also. But to save them God needed the full cooperation of Noah. Thus, in blind obedience to the instructions of God Noah makes an ark and saves all the species of this earth from the flood.

When Noah came out of the ark, he had a lot of work to do. First of all he needed to build a house for his family. But, the very first thing he did when he came out of the ark was to build an altar for the Lord. Before he started to work for himself and his family, he built an altar for the Lord. He gave priority to God than to the needs of his family. Then he offered a sacrifice to God with the clean animals. In fact he did not have many clean animals. They were only seven pairs. He did not reason that it would be foolish to kill those few animals. He did not wait for some time for the animals to multiply before sacrificing some of them. He did not consider it foolish to sacrifice some of those treasured animals. Thus he started a new world with God.

When God smelt the odour of Noah’s sacrifice God decided not to destroy the earth with flood again. But, the motive behind God’s decision is very strange – “For the inclination of the human heart is evil from the youth” (Gen 8;21). Actually it is the same reason why God decided to destroy the earth (Cf. Gen 6:5). Now, for the same reason God decided not to destroy. Why is this change of mind? We must look to the Noah’s sacrifice for the explanation. In all probability, it is Noah’s mediatorial role and the priestly sacrifice that brought about God’s decision. Pleased with Noah’s sacrifice, God decides to stand by His creation, not in spite of its sinfulness, but because of its sinfulness. God knows that without His mercy the human kind will not have any existence. If God looks with wrath at the human sinfulness, the floods will have no end… If the ancient flood killed, the new flood of divine mercy washes humans clean…

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