Come Into the Ark
“I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you” (Gen. 6:18).
- Genesis 6:17–18
In today’s passage, God, for the first time, explains to Noah how He will bring His judgment upon the earth. Mankind has corrupted the beautiful world He made, and there must be a reckoning. The earth will be deluged with water, and only Noah and his family will escape unharmed (Gen. 6:17–18).
In our analysis of how the flood story preaches Christ, we have seen that Noah’s rescue typifies the New Testament’s clear teaching that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone (Eph. 2:8–9). Today we will consider how the story also prefigures Jesus by foreshadowing the church established by the Messiah’s ministry.
As evangelicals, we stress the need to have a personal relationship with the Lord. While we must not lose sight of this precious truth, let us also remember that our Creator will build an entire community of worshipers. Victory over Satan is promised to the seed of the woman, a collective triumph since those who are crucified with Christ share in His reign (2 Tim. 2:11–13). Despite ancient Israel’s idolatry, God preserved not one faithful covenant-keeper but thousands (1 Kings 19:1–18). In Scripture, salvation usually comes to an entire household (for example, Josh. 2; 6:22–25). Paul spends chapter twelve of 1 Corinthians addressing the corporate body.
Today’s passage reveals that God purposed to save Noah and his family from His watery judgment. When Noah’s relatives went into the ark, they all joined the visible covenant community. This does not mean that they all will be resurrected to eternal life in the new heavens and earth. Ham exhibited faith by entering the ark, but we do not know the ultimate reality of his faith (Gen. 9:20–29). We see that it is possible to join the visible church and yet lack true faith.
First Peter 2:1–10 tells us that believers are built together as a group into a living house — the invisible church that includes some, but not all, members of the visible church (Rom. 9:6b). Nevertheless, the visible church fortifies us to be strong walls in God’s house (Eph. 4:11–14). The Lord covenants with individuals and a corporate body (Rom. 11); thus, loving Him means we love His church as well.
The Westminster Confession of Faith summarizes the biblical teaching on the visible church when it says that outside of the church there is no ordinary possibility of salvation (25.2). Being a visible church member does not guarantee a place in the kingdom of God, but the Lord has ordained the church’s preaching, worship, and fellowship to make and equip disciples. If you are not a member of a local church, join one and strive to help build up other believers.
Passages for Further Study:
Zeph. 3:9–13, Eph. 2:11–22, Heb. 10:24–25, 1 Peter 2:9–10