Old and New Testament Parallels, Symbols, and Ponderings Series Part 2 – Noah’s Ark

Old Testament stories like Noah’s Ark ( Genesis 6:5-9:17) sometimes conjure thoughts of an angry God fatally sweeping away humanity and life in a torrent of water. Sound familiar? Although the logistics of the story of Noah’s Ark are hard to imagine, it seems the impossible task of gathering pairs of animals and rainbowcramming them into a large boat is not the number one issue that bothers people. Instead, the most difficult piece of the story seems to be the not-so-obvious answers to perplexing questions about our Divine Creator: “Why does God seem to oscillate between two extremes — the angry, jealous God of judgment of the Old Testament and the loving, merciful Father of the New Testament?”, “Did God change His mind about humanity and decide we weren’t worth the grief we caused Him?”, “Does God hate humanity?”, and “What signs and symbols of mercy, if any, exist in stories like the one about Noah?”

God’s Character

Hollywood movies and the mainstream media sometimes typecast God inaccurately as a tyrannical master who can’t wait for humanity to slip up so He can wipe them off the face of the earth; but I encourage you to consider how Old Testament stories like Noah’s Ark reveal God’s grace and mercy and can be paralleled with Christ’s death and resurrection (like many other Old Testament stories believe it or not!).

God does not enjoy the destruction of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11). As the ultimate loving Father, He always provides hope and a way out of judgment. If you read closely enough, you will realize the Biblical account of Noah is a wonderful story filled with signs and symbols of a gracious and merciful God. As the Divine Creator, God could have chosen to wipe mankind from the earth, especially since the Bible says our wickedness was so great it caused an outcry from the heavens. The Scriptures say it deeply grieved God that His creation had become so morally bankrupt that no one except Noah was found to be righteous. How great is our God that He allowed man’s legacy to continue through Noah’s family line (Genesis 6:5-8)? Why would He do this? Although man’s wickedness grieved God, He loves us and promised to repair our broken relationship with Him (Isaiah 53:5-12).

Symbols of Grace – The Ark

floodAlthough God promised the flood would come, He also promised Noah a way to escape destruction onboard the Ark. The Ark provided complete protection from the flood in the same way the blood of Jesus covers us and provides grace over judgment. God invited Noah and His family into the Ark and sealed them inside to secure their protection (Genesis 6:9-7:24).

Symbols of Grace – The Raven

After several days of floating around on the flood waters, Noah released a raven. The Bible says the raven flew back and forth in the sky continuously until the Ark found its resting place in the mountains of Ararat. When I first read this statement, I was somewhat perplexed. In modern times, the raven is often used to symbolize death. I suppose it could be said the raven could not perch on anything because the earth was covered in water which symbolized death while the waters existed. Also, ravens were considered to be unclean birds because they feed on the dead (“Genesis 8 – Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Bible”, Bible Gateway).

Is it also possible there is a dual meaning to why the raven was sent out? In my research about Noah’s raven, I found several websites that indicated the bird is often used as a symbol of provision (see “1 Kings 17 – Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Bible”, Bible Gateway, “Vincent of Saragossa”, Wikipedia, and Luke 12:24). I have to wonder if the raven is meant to symbolize God’s provision for Noah, his family, and all the living creatures on the Ark while there was only death everywhere else upon the earth.

Symbols of Grace – The Dove and the Olive Branch

The dove shows up in many different passages of the Bible to symbolize the Holy Spirit, purity, peace, and new life. In the story of Noah’s Ark, the dove was sent out three separate times to find dry land. The first time the dove and olive branchdove was sent out, it flew back to Noah because there was nowhere to land (death upon the land). The second time the Noah released the dove, it returned with an olive branch, symbolizing peace. When the dove was released a third time, it did not return, symbolizing freedom and deliverance after the world’s submersion). Just as Noah’s Ark is often compared to the finished work of Christ, the dove can be compared to a believer’s baptism after salvation, signifying the Holy Spirit being with a follower of Jesus (“Why is the dove often used as a Symbol for the Holy Spirit?”, Got Questions.Org).

I love this interpretation from the Biblical Research Institute:

One could also argue that the dove is, in this particular case, a symbol of deliverance. The dove as a symbol of the love of God appeared, telling us that, as with the Flood, the storm of sin is not powerful enough to keep us permanently separated from the Father. Our planet is now connected with heaven through Christ. In accepting His Son, God signifies to us that we are also accepted in the Beloved through faith in the provision He made on our behalf.

Symbols of Grace – The Rainbow

The rainbow is a symbol of God’s covenant with Noah that He will never destroy the earth again by flood. The rainbow is a sign to God’s people of His enduring faithfulness (“Christian Rainbow: Christian Symbols Illustrated Glossary” by Mary Fairchild, Christianity.About.Com).

If you are interested in the meanings and symbolism of the colors of the rainbow, I would highly recommend the article found on Bible Study.Org titled “What does a rainbow mean in the Bible?”. There are multiple layers of meanings and so many interesting things to study on this topic that it would be easy to make a whole other blog post about it (and I just might!).

Parallels to Christ’s Work on the Cross

The parallels to Christ’s work are incredibly rich and detailed, and I would encourage you to explore the web and study it on your own. You won’t be disappointed. Here are a couple of interesting sites I found while I was doing some research:

“Noah’s Ark: Bible Story, Lessons, and Questions” by Jack Wellman, Christian Crier

“Seeing Jesus in Noah’s Ark” by David Armstrong, Looking into God’s Word

The Effective Evangelist

A wonderful post by my better half…

A good friend of mine has been struggling with some negative emotions related to the word “evangelist.” It makes him picture sidewalk preachers who hold signs saying “Repent!” and shout words of judgment about sins and how wicked people are living. It makes him angry, and I can see why he feels that way.  Christians who evangelize by yelling at people and trying to convert through fear make me uncomfortable too, especially as a Christian.  I can’t imagine how nonbelievers must feel.friends talking

I believe evangelists and Christians in general must demonstrate the love and mercy of Jesus to be an effectively evangelist. It can be as simple as talking to someone as a friend, meeting a stranger’s physical needs (like assisting with food, water, shelter, etc.), or looking into someone’s eyes and telling them “Jesus loves you.”  The eyes are the window to the soul, and people can see the love of Jesus shine through your eyes even if you never mention you are a Christian.  No matter how you talk to someone about Jesus, it is important to always approach people with love and without an agenda.

In the book Do What Jesus Did, Robby Dawkins tells a story about his experiences evangelizing on a university campus.  He ministered to people about Jesus by walking around campus and praying for people he’d encounter.  In one of his stories, he walked over to a man standing at a bus stop and asked if he can pray with him. The man said he was an atheist but agreed to let Robby pray with him if he could answer one question first. When Robby agreed, the man asked Robby, “If I were to rape, torture, and murder little girls, what would God say to me when I die?”  The man was trying to get Robby to condemn him and say he would go to Hell; but Robby, a smart guy who loves debate, felt led to lower himself and ask the man again if he could pray for him instead of getting into a defensive argument.  “You know, I can see that you’re really, really smart – way smarter than I am. I probably couldn’t answer all your arguments,” Robby began. “But sir, I am just a simple man, and if you would be so kind as to let me, I would still like to pray for you and bless you.” The man reluctantly agreed, probably just to get the religious guy to move along.  Robby prayed over him that God would show the man how much He loved him. When Robby finished praying the man looked at Robby and then burst into tears, weeping for quite a while. What Robby didn’t realize at the time was that the man he prayed for was the head of an atheist group at the university who often spoke out heatedly against Christianity.

Many times, we as Christians try to rely on our own intellect and our own means when evangelizing. Instead, we should humble ourselves and get of the way so that God can work through us to reach people. Talk to people, listen to them, listen for anything the Holy Spirit might reveal to you about the person, and pray for them. There is so much power in prayer. Even if nothing happens, people will usually just be happy that you cared enough to minister to them.

The biggest problem with the street evangelists who hold up the signs and shout judgment is that they are seeing people through their own eyes. We need to pray and ask God, “Father, how do you see this person? What are you saying to this one whom you love?” God loves every person so much and that is what we should be portraying. Jesus said in John 12:47, “For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.”

When I think of evangelism, I often think about a famous magician, Penn Jillette, who is an outspoken atheist. After one of his shows, a man walked over to Penn and complimented him on the show and handed him a Gideon’s New Testament Bible. I thought this would have rubbed Penn the wrong way with him being an atheist, but there is a YouTube video where he says doesn’t respect Christians who don’t evangelize. “How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? If I believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that a truck was coming at you; and you didn’t believe it, and that truck was bearing down on you, there’s a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that.”

Many times, evangelism refers to ministering to strangers; however, evangelism means also ministering to those around you – friends, coworkers, and students. It may involve discussions about Jesus, but it’s possible to evangelize effectively without saying a word about Jesus. You just have to live a life submitted to Jesus; others will take notice.

I will end with a quote my friend always loves to use: “Preach the gospel always; if necessary, use words.”

Stop Lying to Yourself: find freedom from mental bondage

We all struggle with things we’ve told ourselves we can’t escape. In some ways, what we’ve told ourselves is true because we give a self-fulfilling prophecy: “I have an issue (doubt, anger, hopelessness, a sense of worthlessness, etc.). It’s just the way it is, and I can’t escape it.” And guess what? You won’t escape because you’ve fulfilled what you’ve declared to be a truth in your life, but the whole truth is you do have power over your struggle.Staring out the window
Identify the lies and choose not to believe them. The Devil, our enemy, will lie and twist truths to convince you that you’re a slave. You may feel you’re not worthy, it’s something you can’t change, or you’re a victim. Those thoughts are lies.  Don’t listen to them.  In addition, we are good at lying to ourselves by making self-defeating statements like, “That’s just the way it is”, “But I’ve always struggled with that”, “That’s just something I can’t change”, or “I’m working on getting over that issue, but I guess it’s just going to take a while.” The enemy knows if you allow yourself to be enslaved, you will be distracted, paralyzed by your circumstances, and useless to the call the Father has put on your life. You have a choice to let enemy control you. You also have a choice to evict the thoughts, feelings, or negative emotions before they take root and darken your mind.
Confess the sin to the Father. Ask the Father to forgive you for the mental thing to which you’ve allowed yourself to be bound. For example, if you’ve struggled with bitterness over a situation that happened to you and you’ve used that as an excuse to become a hopeless or angry, confess those things to the Father and ask Him to forgive you. If you’re not sure where to look for inspiration about how to confess and talk with the Father for the issue you’re battling, here’s a great blog post from a fellow Christian blogger that may help: http://revivedlife.com/blog/prayer-to-release-anger/. There’s no magic formula or prayer template, but if you are sincere in confession and forgiveness, the Father is always faithful to forgive.
Make declarations over the situation. Know that you have power over the enemy because Jesus has given you that authority. Just as Jesus spoke directly to demons and disease to cast them out and bring healing, you can do the same thing. You can make declarations by stating something like the following: “In Jesus name, anger (or whatever it is you’re battling), be gone! You have no power over me. I chose to set my eyes on things that are good and righteous because they please the Lord. I cast out feelings and emotions that are not of God. I have been purchased by the blood of the Savior, and He is worthy to purchase my freedom.”
Troubles may come and go. Life happens, but you choose whether or not to allow your circumstances to open doorways to negative feelings, thoughts, and emotions. As soon as a new negative thought tries to enter your mind, immediately offer it up to God and choose not to allow it to take root. As a trusted friend once told me (and he was right) when I was swimming in self-pity and doubt, “You are a strong soldier of God. Now start acting like one!”
Believe and trust that God has freed you and move on. The keys to your chains have already been purchased. Live free. 🙂

My Encounter with the God of Love

I suffered from an anxiety disorder most of my life. In addition to this disorder, I felt shame and unworthy of God’s love and grace even though I had been a Christian for almost 20 years. But now, I can’t deny I’m loved.

In September 2012, I found myself sitting in a prayer service thanks to the strong urging Joy and freedomof a good friend. I remember listening to the live praise music and other Christians around me worshiping God with a love and adoration I didn’t yet understand. I felt nothing. After months of crying and begging God to pull me out of a desperate situation that had only deepened my anxiety and depression, I was completely drained.

“I know you’re real and powerful God, but where are you?” I remember thinking.

The prayer service message that night was all about oppression, mental and physical bondage and how our spirits are affected by these things. As the prayer director spoke, I realized I was the person who needed to hear the message.

“What an odd coincidence,” I remember thinking. But now I know it was a divine appointment.

When the message concluded, there was an opportunity for prayer and worship before we were dismissed. That’s when I felt a tug on my heart as if God was saying, “Go ask for prayer” – so I went to the alter. As the prayer director began to pray over me, she motioned for an intercessor to join us. The girl who assisted didn’t know my story, but immediately said words I’ll never forget, “God wants to know He hears your cries. You think He’s not listening; but He hears you, and He loves you. He calls you His precious daughter.”

After the young intercessor spoke, the prayer director placed her hand on my forehead and prayed for God to break the hold of spiritual oppression and restore my joy. Suddenly, I was overcome with an immediate feeling of immense love and joy. It struck me so hard and so fast that I felt like I might stagger backwards during the prayer, and that’s when the giggles started — and I couldn’t stop. During prayer, happiness overpowered me and the silly giggles increased into laughter. I felt the love of the Father completely engulf me, sweeping away the pain and the darkness that I have suffered from for so many years.

When the prayer ended, I realized I was a different person. My anxiety disorder was gone and peace had replaced it. I undeniably know that God loves me. I will never question His love for me again. For the first time in my life, I have learned to trust with my whole heart.

Thank you for reading to my story, and I hope it has encouraged you.

A Free Gift

Another great post written by a friend of mine:

One evening, my wife and I watched a video we borrowed from a friend called Finger of God.Finger of God is part of a trilogy of short films put out by Darren Wilson. The trilogy is a documentary where Mr. Wilson and company travel to meet people around the world in attempt to ask a simple question: who is God?

I was touched by one scene in Finger of God in particular. A group of Christian missionaries were visiting Turkey. One of the missionaries named Heidi Baker began talking to a Muslim woman through a local Christian pastor who was interpreting for her. The woman suffered from blindness in one eye which Heidi asked permission from the woman to pray for.  As the missionary and local pastor prayed, the woman was healed from her affliction. Afterwards, the woman praised Allah. In response, the local pastor tried to correct the woman by saying it was Jesus who had healed her, and he seemed quite annoyed the woman kept praising Allah. Finally, the missionary pulled him aside and asked him not to continue to correct her.  The point was the woman was healed.

As I watched the scene unfold, I thought, “Yes, the missionary is absolutely right.” The fact God loves all His children and He just healed one from her afflictions without any conditions attached was the point. The healing was a gift, no strings attached.  The local pastor was so focused on getting the old woman to acknowledge the healing was done through Jesus, he missed the most important part of it all. It is so obvious to me it’s like the 300lb gorilla in the room; yet he missed the point. With great sadness, I feel I can’t say it enough.

Sometimes, we miss the forest for the trees. We’ve all been guilty of this at some point in our lives. We get so wrapped up in the details of something that impassions us that we lose focus on the big picture and what we were trying to accomplish; therefore, I will ask an important question.  Do we know what we want to accomplish? Maybe more importantly, what is it that God really wants us to do?

Written by Leslie Hardin

The Artist

The blog post below was written by a godly man and a good friend of mine.  It was inspired by a dream and provides perspective of how to understand the world through someone else’s eyes.  Enjoy!

– The In-Place Missionary


Once, I had a dream. There were two brothers. Both liked to paint. Both men were well regarded for their craft by their neighbors. One loved to create magnificent landscapes on large sheets of canvas. Using vivid colors, he always managed to capture the very essence of nature. The other brother preferred to do portraits of people and particularly enjoyed painting portraits of his friends and family. The images he created almost seemed alive and full of emotion.

Which brother is an artist?

The two brothers have an uncle. He has made a living painting buildings for others. He gets up early to gather and prepare the materials he needs. He then labors during the day as long as the sun is up and he can see. His customers are very happy with the quality of his work. The paint he uses is of the finest quality and provides the perfect balance between bright color and being long lasting. He never tarries or wastes time while on the job. He always completes his tasks within the timeframe he promised. His customers appreciate that fact that he minimizes disrupting their shops and households while he works.

Is he an artist?

The two brothers have a younger sister. She is a child and loves to finger paint. She dips her tiny hands in small jars of paint provided by her brothers. She giggles happily while she applies it to whatever her mother will allow. Sometimes the shapes are unrecognizable; but she would tell you it is a bird or sunflower. Watching her warms the hearts of all who see her.

Is she an artist?

The brothers have a friend. He struggles every day with addictions; and, as a result, he is unable to hold down a regular job. This friend occasionally draws on whatever paper he can find at a nearby dump. The pictures consist of dark creatures that are frightening and nightmarish.

Is he an artist?

What if I tell you that his renderings help him cope with his addictions? Through his work, he is able to recognize the demons that haunt him and it helps fend off their attempts to lead him down to the abyss.

While skills and focus of the work varies, isn’t each person an artist in his or her own way?

Today there are over six billion souls on this world, and each person views the world around him with different eyes. The lenses he uses to see through are colored by life experiences. What he has been taught, sees, and hears helps to make him who he is today and tailors his understanding of the world around him. If each person was to paint a picture of life and his world as he sees it; each picture would be different; and if each person present his understanding of eternity, heaven, or God in some form of artistic rendering, each would be different.

You can’t explain the unexplainable, and you can’t describe the indescribable because no one can see the whole picture. No one can comprehend the nature of the question, much less the magnitude of the answer. Just understand you can find joy in what you DO see. And revel in it!

Written by Leslie Hardin

Be an Ambassador

It happened again.  This week, I sat in front of the television, watching the news and found myself angry, ashamed, and saddened.  It wasn’t the violence, desperation, or human condition, usually flooding media these days.  Instead, it was the realization of society’s view of Christianity today and how in some ways it’s our fault the world views us the way it does.

As I listened to a news anchor calls the values of my Father “outdated”, “backwards”, and “self righteous”, I felt the breaking of my heart for people who will never know His love because they don’t know the truth about Him or His Son based on how we represent Him.

Now don’t get my wrong, there are plenty of God fearing, completely sold-out-for-Him followers of Christ out there, but those representations don’t appear to be what the world sees.  They see a body of people who judge the world, live in excess but withhold giving abundantly to those in need, fight among themselves, and who speak love but do not appear to know how to love themselves.  They see people who confine themselves to a building of four walls where they go to upstage each other on supposed holiness and get their “Jesus fill for the week.”  They see a lot of fakes, and a lot of rules (Luke 11:35-44).  Would you want to follow a god that appears to condone such actions from His people?  Whether this is truth or not, this is how many people perceive us.  If you don’t believe me, try typing “christianity is outdated” into Google.

How do we change the world’s view of us?  We go back to His model.  We start loving people.  We live like we have a love worth dying for.  We start showing people the type of unconditional love Jesus died for, and we believe it and strive for it with ever fiber of our souls (John 3:16).  We build relationships among each other and among people in the world who may be wandering hopelessly seeking a love they’ve never known.  We build each other up instead of tearing each other down.  We always speak truth; but we speak it with grace, love, and peace.  We pray for each other.  We speak with the authority we’ve been given even when it scares us.  We do not only what’s right, but sometimes we even do what’s hard.  We speak to nations.  We become servants of one another (Matthew 23:11). As my pastor stated profoundly this morning, we should be obedient in carrying out what He tells us to do because “It may not even be about you.  It may be God getting you in a place to touch others around you…We need to start acting like who we are.”  We need to remember who we stand for even when we’re having a bad day because “God still speaks through you even when you’re having a bad day.”

I am just as guilty as anyone else, and I don’t mean to come across as preachy or condemning.  But as western world culture turns farther and farther from God, we should feel an urgency, not an apathy, for affecting those around us.  We should attempt to share His goodness and blessings in a positive, unmistakably different way every day.  We should be ambassadors and represent Him well (1 Corinthians 13:13).


  • Act as a new man/woman.
  • Act declaring (declare truth and His goodness).
  • Act as a conqueror instead of a prisoner.
  • Act as a blessed man/woman instead of a pauper (no matter how much or how little you have).
  • Act righteous and not as a sinner (He has made you worthy!) – Romans 6:11
  • Act free, not bound (He has freed you from the chains.  Go tell the world!)
  • Act as a son and an heir (let to world know how good your Father is).
  • Act forgiven (and forgive others).

* Wise words from Pastor Richard Marcello.

“Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.  Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God.  Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and He knows everything.” – 1 John 3:18-20

In love and peace,
The In-Place Missionary