Apr 15, 2006

A Door of Safety in a Time of Judgment

Having determined to bring a catastrophic judgment upon the earth, God commanded Noah to make an ark that would provide safety for his household during the flood. So God told Noah to “set the door of the ark in its side” (Gen. 6:16). After the

ark was finished and Noah and his family were safely inside the door, the Scripture says, “the Lord shut him in” (Gen. 7:16). What a division God made! One family is delivered from death that none need despair of mercy. But one family only is saved, that none should presume upon grace. By Noah’s deliverance God testifies to His covenant faithfulness, for He will not destroy the righteous with the wicked (see Gen. 18:23). As Calvin observed regarding the deliverance of Noah’s house: “In a world full of tares, God’s eye of mercy separated out this single stalk of wheat.”

A door both shuts in and shuts out, so it is a striking symbol of the finality of the destiny of the righteous and the wicked. What a sobering thought to realize that some day the door of salvation will be shut forever to separate the saved and the damned! What would it mean to have the door of mercy everlastingly shut against us by God Himself. Like the foolish virgins of our Lord’s parable, there will be those who will come to the wedding feast too late. They will find the door shut against them. However so earnestly they may plea, saying, “Lord, lord open to us,” the day of grace will have passed forever, and the only sound heard will be the muffled voice speaking through a door that cannot be opened, saying, “Truly, I say to you, I do not know you” (Matt. 25:12).

But the door likewise promises safety in a time of judgment. We see something similar many years after the judgment of the flood when God expressed His wrath against sin by judging Sodom. Once again the door of Lot’s house was made to separate those who were to be delivered from those who were to be judged. Just as God Himself shut the door of Noah’s ark, so His angels shut the door of Lot’s house (Gen. 19:10). Only those safely inside Lot’s door were to be delivered from the fiery wrath God rained down upon the wicked cities of the plain (Gen. 19:24–25).

Many years later in redemptive history, we are told about the judgment of death God’s angel brought against the firstborn of Egypt. But once again God provided a door of safety in a time of judgment. Moses instructed the sons of Israel to sacrifice a lamb and mark the doorposts and lintels of their houses with lamb’s blood (Ex. 12:7). All of those behind the door marked with the blood of the covenant were delivered as the angel of death passed over their door: “At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock” (v. 29). And through those doors of safety could be heard the muffled cry of a great mourning throughout the land as God visited terrible judgment on all of Egypt (v. 30).

And still later in redemptive history, after the cup of the iniquity of the Amorites was full, God commanded a great judgment on Canaan. Noah had cursed Canaan (Gen. 9:25), and Moses commanded Joshua to destroy the Canaanite nations by the entirety of their households (Deut. 20:16–18). But Rahab the harlot of Jericho made a covenant of peace with the messengers of Joshua who had come into her house. Rahab’s deliverance teaches us that the covenant is more powerful than both the curse of Noah and the law of Moses. By her faith Rahab delivered her household from the sword and fire of God’s judgment brought by Joshua upon Jericho. Once again we observe that the covenant made her door a door of safety in a time of judgment. For the spies she delivered instructed her to “gather into your house…all your father’s household. Then if anyone goes out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we shall be guiltless. But if a hand is laid on anyone who is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head” (Josh. 2:18–19). 

These scriptural accounts of Noah, Lot, Israel during the Passover, and Rahab instruct us that God’s mercy always provides a door of safety in a time of judgment. That door may be sealed by an oath and a covenant, like Rahab’s door, or marked by lamb’s blood, like the door of the Passover, or made secure by the angels of heaven, as Lot’s door, or sealed by God Himself, who protected the door of Noah. But those inside the door need fear no judgment, for their security is from God Himself. Does anyone fear the final judgment to come? Do you want to know where you may find that door of safety in a time of judgment? Jesus assures us, “I am the door” (John 10:7). The blood of the Lamb of God has become our Passover to deliver us from the angel of death. His oath and covenant secure us against the curse and the Law. He alone is sufficient to shelter us from the outpouring of the wrath of God against our sin. He is the Door
of Safety in our time of judgment.

For Further Study