“Rain, rain go away, come again another day!” As simplistic as this little nursery rhyme is, it does make a good point. Just take a look at your fellow passengers as you ride the tube in London on a rainy day and note on the one hand the happiness to be inside and dry and on the other the frustration of yet another day filled with rain. And as we slowly roll into autumn, it doesn’t look like the rain is going to ease up anytime soon.
Why do we generally connect rain with sadness?
Why do we generally connect rain with sadness? As much as we can emphasise with the rational reasons for the necessity of rain, we can’t help but sigh as we look out the window, see the clouds and pick up our umbrella once again. Perhaps it’s something deep down in the human psyche that connects rain with sorrow.
We might even find an answer as we turn to this week’s parasha. Simply called Noach, it’s all about the man who bears that name – the first famous shipbuilder! While the story of Noah is a children’s favourite that makes its appearance across a wide range of media, the irony is that the message behind it is pretty gruesome and not really suitable for children at all. God looked down at the earth and the people who He has made and “…saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Bereshit/Genesis 6:5). What a damning description of humanity! In just a few thousand years, we’d managed to wreck everything and become so depraved, that we couldn’t even think of doing anything good anymore! What follows next is perhaps the saddest verse in the whole Tanakh: “And the LORD regretted that He had made man on the earth and it grieved Him in His heart.” The nail in the coffin – not even our Maker could find anything good in us and actually wished that He had never made us!
The exception in his generation was Noah, who “found favour in the eyes of the LORD”. So God tells Noah that He’s going to destroy everyone and that Noah needs to build a big boat to save some animals and his family. I can imagine Noah’s reaction to God’s instructions. “What?! Me, build a boat?!” Or, perhaps more likely, he quietly and obediently listened. And built the boat.
Scripture is frustrating silent on the details of the boat-building extravaganza.
Scripture is frustrating silent on the details of the boat-building extravaganza. We are left to ponder on how Noah’s neighbours, friends and distant relatives reacted to such a strange undertaking. After all, according to Scripture there had been no rain up until this point. And it doesn’t sound like Noah lived right next to a river or a sea. I suspect that they thought he’d completely lost it!
However, I’m sure that they didn’t think that once the boat was finished and great globs of water fell out of the sky. I’m sure that as the rain cascaded down, they started to panic. They’d seen Noah build the boat day by day and never taken any notice of it. But now it was too late. I’m sure that Noah begged them as he was building the boat, “Come with me! You have no idea what God is going to do!” They had literally missed the boat – they’d missed the chance to turn back from all their evil and be rescued.
As they rain hammered down all around the world I’m sure that there was water falling somewhere else too. I’m sure our Maker was crying out of deep sorrow at what He had had to do. And I’m convinced that that’s one reason why we connect rain with sadness – because of the flood that destroyed most of humanity and because of the resulting sadness of God. Often we think God is unaware of our sorrow, when in reality He is sitting next to us weeping with us.
So God made a clean slate and started again with Noah. And yet after just a few generations we humans corrupted ourselves again, built the famous Tower of Babel and God had to scatter us across the earth. Destroying most of us hadn’t worked, because the corrupting virus was also in Noah, even though he found favour in God’s eyes. Ever since the Fall, sin had eaten its way into us and we’d become its slave – doomed in every generation to corrupt ourselves further still.
No, the Waterworld wasn’t the solution. But it did give us a hint at what was the answer. And it did give us a pattern to follow.
When the Messiah Yeshua came to the earth to save us, very few people actually believed him and his message. Yeshayahu (Isaiah) puts it best, “…as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised and we esteemed him not.” (53:3) He was scorned like Noah, even though he had the very solution to saving us. Even today, the majority of our people are ignorant of or scorn his message of love and forgiveness of our brokenness, just like our ancestors rejected Noah. But just as Noah didn’t let up building the boat, neither did Yeshua shrink back from his mission – to die for our sins and to rise again in order to give us eternal life in the future as well as a new life and a restored relationship with God in the present. Just as those who believed Noah went into the boat and were saved from the deluge, so those who put their trust in Yeshua as Messiah and Master will be saved at the “great and awesome day of the LORD” (see Yoel/Joel 2:31).
Yeshua did what Noah could never do. He broke sin’s control over our lives and freed us from the corruption that it causes. Through Yeshua we are able to live lives that are honouring to God, because God has given us a new heart, just as He promised (see Yechezkiel/Ezekiel 36). I’m sure that as the sun broke on that morning when Yeshua rose from the dead, God was no longer crying. The Son had risen and the rain was gone!
Kevin Reynolds 1995 film Waterworld posits a future world almost totally covered by water where few survive. Perhaps he took his inspiration from Noah. And while God gives us the assurance that there will never ever be a Waterworld again, He warns us later on that one day the world will come to an end. Will we be like Noah’s generation that sees the warnings but ignores them until it is too late? Or will we, similar to Noah’s family, choose to put our trust in the Messiah Yeshua as the one and only Rescuer from sin, death and God’s judgement to come? “Rain, rain go away, come again another day!” We might want to put off the rain, but we shouldn’t put off our decision to trust in Yeshua. After all, you don’t want to miss the boat!