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Threads of Scripture - Mt Ararat

This is the fourth part of a multi-part series looking at creation and re-creation through the lens of mountains in the Bible.

With the fall of Adam, the first family was banished from the summit of the first mountain of God, Eden. The gates to the sanctuary of God were barred, but God did give hope of a return. He spoke in Genesis 3 of the seed of the women who would crush the head of the serpent. With the birth of Cain, there seems to be hope for humanity. But very quickly, we come to find out that things are not well with the offspring of Adam. Cain kills his brother in Genesis 4, and then Lamech, the offspring of Cain, gets worse. This downward spiral of depravity continues in Genesis 6 to the point that “The Lordsaw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen 6:5). Thus, the text tells us that God grieved the state of his creation and resolved to wipe it out (6:7). Thus, shortly after the creation of all things, we read of de-creation in Genesis 6-7.

But all is not lost. In what should be a remarkable statement to us, we read of one man who “found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (6:8). With this man, Noah, and his family, God promises to establish a covenant after he has de-created and re-created the world. Noah will be the new Adam in the new creation.

And this all starts with wiping the slate clean, as it were, by means of the flood. Importantly, the flood narrative presents God’s de-creation as a rewinding of the tape. OT scholar Gordon Wenham notes that the description that "the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened" (Gen 7:11) suggests this unraveling. "The earth is going back to Gen 1:2, when the waters covered the face."[1]The means by which the waters revert to a Gen 1:2 situation is also significant. That the flood proceeded from both the "great deep" and from "the windows of the heavens" was a further reversal of Yahweh's differentiation of the waters above and the waters below (Gen 1:7).[2]

Moreover, the list of animals "according to their kinds" in Gen 7:14 is meant to remind the reader of the initial creation of the animal kingdom "according to their kinds" in Gen 1:21, 24-25.[3]And though the animals were supposed to be fruitful and multiply in creation (Gen 1:22), in de-creation, there is a contraction as only a few of each kind enters the ark in Genesis 7. Truly, the flood narrative is a rewinding of creation back to the beginning.

But once the tape is rewound to the beginning, a new creation emerges. The earth emerges again from the chaotic waters of the deep and the ark comes to rest on the mountains of Ararat (Gen 8:4). Interestingly, Gen 8:5 goes on to say that “the tops of the mountains were seen” two and a half months after the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. From that, we should understand that the ark came to rest on the highest mountains.

Thus, the new Adam begins his new life in the new creation on the highest mountain, which symbolically puts him closest to God. The picture of the first Adam in the garden sanctuary on top of the first mountain of God is repeated for the second Adam. Except, all is not the same, and almost immediately there is a yearning for something better. Communion with God is at a distance in this new creation by means of sacrifice (Gen 8:20) rather than a face-to-face meeting. Man’s relationship with creation is still alienated, evidenced by both the fear placed between man and beast and the permission to eat the animals (Gen 9:2-3). Most significantly, man’s heart has not changed in this new creation, as God says (Gen 8:21), and Noah’s subsequent actions prove it (Gen 9:20-21). Paradise is still lost; a better new creation, new Adam, and mountain of God are still needed.

  1. [1] Wenham, Genesis 1 - 15, 1:181. So also, Belcher, Genesis, 95; Kidner, Genesis, 91. [2]This correlation between creation and the flood is used by Laurence A. Turner to argue for a convincing interpretation of the significance of the rainbow as the sign of the Noahic Covenant [“The Rainbow as the Sign of the Covenant in Genesis Ix 11-13,” VT 43.1 (1993): 119–24]. [3] Belcher, Genesis, 96; Wenham, Genesis 1 - 15, 1:182.

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