TODAY’S READING: Genesis 8-11
The flood was universal. ALL the high hills under the whole heaven were covered (Gen. 7:19). ALL flesh died (7:21). ALL in whose nostrils was the breath of life…died. We have flood stories from the time of Ammisaduqa (King of Babylon, 1646-1626 B.C.). In that story, the Mesopotamian gods destroy humans because they were noisy. I guess sin bothers the heart AND ears of God. The Gilgamesh (King of Uruk, around 2600 B.C.) flood story is allegedly related by flood survivor Utnapishtim from the edge of the world. The point here is, the flood affected all men everywhere, it’s not a particular or parochial event—the flood was an all nations judgment requiring an all nations cure.
When the ark docks between Turkey and Armenia, God gives universal promises and proscriptions. First of all, God shows He is for population growth, telling us all to be fruitful and multiply in all the earth (8:18; 9:7) and that all men (black, white, red, yellow, and any other combined hue and race) are made in His image (9:6). Second, God promises regularity to all men of all races: “While the EARTH remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease” (8.22), which is where our great hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” gets its lyrics. Finally, the covenant, signified by the rainbow, is “between Me and you and every living creature of ALL flesh” (9:15). The whole earth is to be populated from the sons of Noah (9:19) and the rainbow is the sign that all those tribes and tongues are in covenant with God.
Every time we see the rainbow of the gay and lesbian community, whether a flag, bumper sticker, or t-shirt, we should both wince and warm—wince because they haven’t understood the lesson of the flood, and warm because the promise of the rainbow includes them (as well as Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Animists, and secularists) and ALL who will repent. The rainbow does indeed stand for inclusion and universalism—the biblical style which says all men and all women of all orientations and races are sinful and will be judged by a holy God AND all men and all women of all orientations and races can escape judgment if they will repent.
When the eight survivors emerged from the ark, God makes a promise to dwell in the tents of Shem (9:27). “This promise to ‘dwell’ was most encouraging, for it assured mortals that despite God’s transcendence he would come to planet earth to take up residence.” That God picked the Semites and started with an Iraqi named Abraham is startling—and purposeful—as we shall see.
 Walter C. Kaiser Jr. Mission in the Old Testament: Israel as a Light to Nations. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2000, 17.