Recreation, Rest and a Sparkle in the Eyes
November 12, 2017
The story of Noah and the flood is a story about God’s salvation. Many people died in the judgment of water because of their sin. But Noah and his family lived through it. God saved them in the ark. What a wonderful story of salvation! And what a wonderful picture of the ultimate salvation that we have in Jesus Christ. As we consider the eighth chapter of Genesis this morning, let us be in awe of God and let us be thankful for his covenant of grace.
First, let us praise the Lord because we are a new creation.
In a recent sermon not to long ago, we looked at how God’s judgment of the flood was very much an act of decreation. God blotted out man from the face of the earth. He erased them. He destroyed them. It was an act of decreation. But once the fountains of the deep and the windows of the heavens were closed, once the rain from the heavens was restrained, God began an act of recreation. He would bring forth a kind of new creation.
I say this because the story of Noah is profoundly connected to the story of creation. It is connected to creation in two big ways.
First, the wind that blew over the earth and dried the waters of the flood is connected to the Spirit that hovered over the face of the waters in the beginning of creation. The “wind” in Genesis 8 and the “Spirit” in Genesis 1 is the same exact Hebrew word. That is not coincidence. That is theology.
Second, the commands that Noah received here is connected to the commands that Adam received before the fall. Both were commanded to be fruitful and multiply on the earth. That is not coincidence either. That is theology.
These two connections are remarkable. People say that history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme. Well, redemptive history does not repeat itself, but boy oh boy does Genesis 8 and the story of Noah rhyme with Genesis 1 and the story of creation. These connections poetically convey the thought that the story of Noah is a story of recreation.
And recreation - or being a new creation - is what our salvation in Christ is all about.
God in his love and wisdom has described our salvation for us in terms of a new creation. And he does not get any clearer than in 2 Corinthians 5:17, where it is written, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” And in 2 Corinthians 4:6, it is written, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
Brothers and sisters, you are a new creation. And the reason is because Jesus is the beginning of a new creation.
When Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” When Jesus was baptized, he inaugurated the new creation. When Jesus was baptized, it marked the end of the beginning and the beginning of the end. When Jesus was baptized, he began to make all things new.
Brothers and sisters, you are a new creation. God has given you a new life. He made you new again (justification) and he is making you new again (sanctification). This is not something that you make for yourself. You do not create a new creation. You cannot fix yourself or save yourself. Just as God brought life out of nothing in creation, so does God bring new life out of certain death in salvation. Our old selves have died with Christ and we can take of what is old. Our new selves have been raised with Christ and we can put on what is new. The very Spirit that was there in creation of God and the very power that was there in the recreation story of Noah is the same Holy Spirit that regenerated you and now dwells in you.
I hope that these gospel words put a sparkle in your eyes. It’s nice when you get a brand new pair of shoes or a brand new cell phone. It’s mind-blowing to see pictures of before-and-after home interior remodelings. And the world loves to leave their hearts in places like New York City or New Zealand.
But nothing compares to the New Jerusalem - the New Jerusalem of the new heavens and the new earth. Nothing compares to the Holy Spirit’s renovation of your heart and renewal of your mind. Nothing compares to getting a brand new resurrection body. Nothing compares to the glorious words, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”
Brothers and sisters, you have the best new thing. You are a new creation in Christ Jesus! Why then are you sad or lonely or angry or indifferent? May God put a sparkle back in your eyes. May you praise the Lord with joy and thanksgiving because you are a new creation in Christ Jesus!
Second, let us praise the Lord because we have rest.
When God made man in his image, he meant for Adam and Eve to reflect the pattern of God and follow after him. Just as God created and filled the earth, so Adam was to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. Just as God had dominion and rule over everything, so Adam was to have dominion and rule over everything. And just as God worked and then rested, so Adam was to work and then rest.
What is this rest? This rest is a reward for obedience and righteousness. This rest is a perfect and permanent communion with God. This rest is exaltation and glorification. This rest is the ultimate end of our existence.
Adam failed to enter that rest. He sinned against God. He broke the terms of the covenant of works. And instead he earned the opposite of rest: the curse and punishment of misery and death.
But God made a new covenant: a covenant of grace. And God promised that he would provide a new representative, a second and final Adam, who would fulfill the covenant of works for us and save us by earning God’s rest for us - by earning the reward for obedience and righteousness, by earning a perfect and pernament communion with God, by earning exaltation and glorification - and then giving and sharing this rest with us.
This promise was beautifully and poetically highlighted for Noah as he endured the flood. In verse 4, we are told that the ark came to rest on a mountain. It did not park itself. It did not get stuck. It came to rest. That word is very intentional. It is profoundly connected with the very name of Noah, which means “rest.” So you could say then that the ark “Noahed.” What a cool nod to the rest that God promised in his covenant of grace!
But the cool thing is not just that the ark came to rest. The cool thing is that the ark came to rest on a mountain. It could have come to rest in a valley. It might have been rather nice and convenient if it came to rest in the backyard of Noah’s home right before the flood so that Noah could just pick up right where he left off. But no, it did not rest in any of those places. It rested on a mountain! Why a mountain? Because later on in the Old Testament, the temple of God would be on a mountain. It would be built in Jerusalem, on Mount Zion. This location is very intentional. It is profoundly connected with everything that is bound up with the idea of the temple. It is connected with the promise that God would be with his people. It is connected with the promise that we can have rest with God. The ark rested on a mountain because God was going to visit Noah and be with him.
These two highlights are remarkable. People say that history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme. Well, redemptive history does not repeat itself, but boy oh boy does Genesis 8 and the hope of Noah rhyme with Genesis 1 and the hope of rest. These highlights poetically convey the thought that the story of Noah is a story of rest.
And rest is what our salvation in Christ is all about.
God in his grace and mercy has saved us and given us rest. And he does not get any clearer than in Matthew 11:28, where Jesus Christ says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” And in Hebrews 4:9-11, it is written, “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest….”
Brothers and sisters, you will have rest. And the reason is because Jesus has rest.
When Jesus ascended into heaven, he took his rightful and glorious place at the right hand of the Father. Jesus is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven. Jesus as our representative has victoriously laid hold of the tree of life, which is a symbol of glorious sabbath rest. And his rest will soon be ours.
Brothers and sisters, you will have rest. You will have a perfect and face-to-face communion with God. You will finally arrive at the ultimate goal of your existence. You are going to be with Jesus.
I hope that these gospel words put a sparkle in your eyes. It’s nice when you can set your alarm late and sleep in the next morning. The world loves achievements and accomplishments and acclaim. And entering an early retirement would be great.
But nothing will compare to entering the Sabbath rest of God. Nothing will compare to the exaltation and glorification that we will have in Christ. Nothing will compare to waking up and using for the first time your brand new resurrection eyes to see the Lord Jesus Christ face to face. Nothing compares to the glorious words, “And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.”
Brothers and sisters, you have the best rest of all. You have Sabbath rest in Christ Jesus! Why then are you worried or scared or too busy or aimless? May God put a sparkle back in your eyes. May you praise the Lord with joy and thanksgiving because you have rest in Christ Jesus!