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Noah Obeys God

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Play (Preschool)Old TestamentSession 4

Noah Obeys God

God saved Noah and his family.
Faith Nurture Goals
  • Tell how God took care of Noah and his family.
  • Feel sure that God will take care of us too.
  • Thank God for caring of the whole world—including us.

Leader Reflection

Preparing to Tell God's Story

A tidal wave of sin and violence continues to wash over God’s creation after the fall and themurder of Abel. “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time” (6:5). Though God is still present to his creation, and even merciful, as shown by his treatment of Cain, the onrush of sin threatens to overwhelm everything.

But notice God’s response. This passage does not paint God as a cold, indifferent, heavenly judge. Rather, it says that God “regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled” (6:6). Like a painter whose precious work of art has been defaced, like a parent whose beloved child has gotten into shameful trouble, the Lord refuses to shrug off human sin. God’s beautiful creation has been spoiled and made ugly by the very ones created to be its crown.

“But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (6:8). By God’s sustaining power, some bit of goodness remains, even in the cesspit of sin and violence. Of course, God could have acted without Noah at all, but God always seeks to work out his will with a human partner. So God enlists Noah to build an ark by which God will save a remnant of the creation and start over.

But God isn’t just interested in saving his human creatures. God instructs Noah to build a vessel big enough to house two of every creature. By doing so, Noah fulfills his responsibility to care for God’s creation. God loves everything he has made, and the gruesome act of judgment to come in the flood is not meant to destroy creation, but to save it.

Then, one day, the heavens open up and the waters flow out from the deep. This is uncreation. Just as God had walled off the waters in the ground and held them back from the firmament in Genesis 1, now in this terrible judgment God releases the waters. But the saving ark, with Noah and his family and all the wildlife, floats above the waters of judgment. Over the centuries, the ark has become a symbol for the church, the community of salvation.

Finally, the ark comes to rest on a mountain, and Noah, his family, and the animals set foot on dry land again. Noah builds an altar and offers a sacrifice to the Lord who saves. But

God has something to offer to Noah and to us as well. God places the rainbow in the sky as a sign of his commitment to graciously save his creation. Never again will there be a flood that destroys the whole world. Instead, “Look at the rainbow,” God says. “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come” (9:12).

This covenant means that God now promises that no matter what, no matter how wicked humans become, God will not abandon the creation he has made. So, as with Adam and Eve, and with Cain, God’s judgment contains mercy. God will restore his creation.

In the New Testament, Peter points to the waters of the flood as a sign that points the way to another watery sign—the sacrament of baptism. “This [flood] water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God . . .” (1 Pet. 3:21).

  • What do you think the sinful world described in Genesis 6 was like?

  • What does it mean that God regretted the world he had made?

  • How do you relate God’s judgment to God’s mercy, and how are they both shown in Jesus Christ?

  • If the children in your group are familiar with this story at all, they probably have heard a cute and sanitized version. Make sure you also present it as a serious and tragic story of God’s disappointment and God’s amazing grace in committing himself again to his creation.

  • Noah’s story can be disturbing to kids and adults alike—all those people and other living creatures destroyed! Focus on the outcome: God saved Noah, his family, and the animals so that our world could continue to be a wonderful place, full of beauty and variety.


Step 1 Gathering for God's Story

  • body smart
  • music smart

Before the children arrive, use masking tape to make a large boat shape on your classroom floor—big enough so that the whole group can climb “on board” and fit inside. Place a large board leading onto your boat like a gangplank. Hold your nametag basket as the kids gather around you, and explain that you’re going to board your “boat” one by one.

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