“How long can you tread water?”
It’s the line from a skit Bill Cosby did back in 1963. At one point, it goes like this:
Cosby: What would be the effect of an Ark on the average neighbor? Now, here’s a guy going to work, 7 o’clock in the morning. Noah’s next door neighbor. And he sees the Ark.
Neighbor: Hey! You up there!
Noah: What you want?
Neighbor: What is this?
Noah: It’s an Ark
Neighbor: Aha. You wanna get it outta my driveway? I gotta get to work. Listen, what this thing for anyway?
Noah: I can’t tell you.
Neighbor: Well, I mean can’t you give me a little hint?
Noah: You wanna a hint?
Neighbor: Yes, please!
Noah:How long can you tread water?
When I was ten, I laughed myself silly at the thought. But there was nothing funny about the original story.
The world was in a mess: “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways” (6:11).
God had had enough.
Modern people focus on the historicity of the Noah story. Some even try to find the ark. But they miss the very important points. First, God holds everyone in the world accountable to His standard of behavior – believer and unbeliever alike. Second, the world is His and he can do with it as he jolly well likes. Third, God is gracious. Though he could always make a new world, he preferred to save the old one. Fourth, what gets God’s favorable attention is righteousness. It’s what God saw in Noah. It’s going too far to say Noah earned God’s grace. But it’s legitimate to say that the gracious favor of God, ultimately, rests on those who live right.