Though some of us do not enjoy learning the details of past events, history is frequently used in the Biblical text as reference point for connecting with readers to teach them. In the mid-60s AD, Christians were undergoing vast amounts of persecution and Peter was writing to give them hope. Peter used Noah as a historical illustration in 1 Peter 3:17-21 to latch onto the readers’ minds. Though the water of the flood was judgement upon the disobedient, it was salvation for Noah and his family. The Jewish mind would have understood that well. Peter used that to say that the suffering taking place for them was beneficial for salvation if they handled it through the hope of their salvation.
Likened to the intended readers of Peter, Christians today can get very worn down by the pressure and the varied forms of persecution that the world inflicts. When the world claims we are too different, it gets easier to think about giving up. When the world hates us for denouncing “new social norms” because it is against Scripture, it gets easier to think about giving up. When we are called judgmental for maintaining God’s judgements, it gets easier to think about giving up. Scripture is God’s absolute standard, which acts as judgement for the disobedient and salvation for the faithful Christian. Noah endured 120 years of what had to have been difficult persecution, then justice was served. History does, indeed, teach. As the readers of Peter’s letter were being encouraged to stand firm in the hope that was in them through persecution, we should also not be pressured to crumble. As the equivalent waters of judgement and the waters of salvation rise, let us heed Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:58. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”