Noah, the herald of righteousness

Noah, the herald of righteousness

2nd December

“Nor did he spare the ancient world, even though he saved Noah, a herald of righteousness, one of eight, when he brought a flood upon the world with its godless people.” (2 Peter 2:5)

The story of how Noah saved his family and various animals from a great flood is found at the start of the book of Genesis. Noah is singled out by God and given instructions on how to build a giant ship, or ‘ark’, in which to survive an upcoming flood. After doing so, he and his family spent a year on board the ship – along with the animals – as they waited for the floodwaters to go down.

Noah was a man of great faith – as Genesis puts it, “he walked with God” (Genesis 6:9; cf Hebrews 11:7). After the flood, God made a covenant, or ‘deal’, with both him and his descendants that never again would there be a flood on that scale (Genesis 9:1-17). St Luke’s gospel tells us that Christ was one of those descendants (Luke 3:23,36).

The Second Letter of St Peter describes Noah as “a herald of righteousness” for his efforts to warn others about the flood and for trying to bring them to repentance (2 Peter 2:5 cf 3:6,9). In this he symbolises Christ, who announced: “I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:32)

The story of Noah’s flood also reminds us of Christ’s Second Coming (or ‘Advent’) at the end of time. As Jesus himself said: “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it also be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating and drinking, marrying and being given in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed all of them.” (Luke 17:26-27)

In this stained glass scene, we see Noah in the final stages of boarding the ark with his family and the animals. The window is found within the Cathedral of St John the Evangelist, in Portsmouth. Dating to 1906, it was produced by the Lavers & Westlake studio. In it we see various animals trooping into the ark two by two while Noah refers to his construction plans.

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