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The Rev. Charlie Camlin: “The Ark of Salvation” (Exodus 2:3)

September 30, 2007

One really great aspect of the sermons we have seen from the Rev. Charlie Camlin of Holy Trinity REC in Fairfax, Virginia is that he relates Old Testament passages to New Testament passages very well.  This is the case with the message The Ark of Salvation, based on Exodus 2:3, the account of Moses’ being left in the ark in the water-reeds to be found by Pharaoh’s daughter.  Fr. Camlin sets the stage by comparing Moses to Noah:

I brought out the point last week that the word “ark” is the literal translation of the word used to describe the vessel that Moses’ mother made for him to float on the river. The King James and the New King James Versions maintain this literal translation; but sadly, most modern translations use the word “basket” instead. As a result, the people who only read those translations miss the connection that is being made with Noah’s ark. I find it ironic that many of the people who insist on translating and interpreting the Scriptures “literally” ignore the fact that this word should literally be translated “ark.” One of the reasons is that many of them would discount the connections that I am going to make today. I strive in my preaching and teaching to demonstrate that the Bible is one continuous story. Because of this, there are connections between the passages. This is not something unique to me but is something that I have found by reading older commentators. In fact, I believe that this speaks to the nature of the Scriptures. We believe that the Scriptures were inspired by God. That means that regardless of whom the human author may have been who wrote a particular book, his inspiration ultimately came from the Holy Spirit who guided his thoughts. If we believe that, then we should have our eyes open to see these connections in the Scriptures.

By using the word “ark” to describe the vessel made by his mother for him to float on the river, Moses is making a connection to the story of Noah in the Book of Genesis. Remember, the traditional view is that Moses was the author of Genesis through Deuteronomy. That means that he was led by the Spirit of God to write down the story of Noah and his ark and the story of his own ark in which he was saved through the water. The connection seems clear based on three factors in the text. First of all, the word tevah which is translated “ark” in both passages is only used these two times in the entire Hebrew Bible. Of course, this connection is strengthened when you consider that Moses wrote both passages. Second, in both passages, the outer portion of each ark was covered with pitch to make it watertight. Is that a coincidence? Third, both arks were used by God as vessels of salvation. The Book of Hebrews tells us: (Heb 11:7) “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” Noah was moved by God to build the ark to “save” his household.

In our story today, Moses’ mother was presumably moved by God to build a small ark by which her son would be saved. But when Moses was saved through the water, it was not only Moses who was saved but also all of the Hebrews who later came out of Egypt with him. This may sound strange to you at first, but Noah and Moses are both types of Jesus Christ. Noah built an ark through which his family was saved. God would later use Moses to part the Red Sea and to lead the Hebrews through the waters in the exodus from Egypt. St. Paul uses this story in the tenth chapter of his epistle to the Corinthians. He reminds them that (1 Cor 10:1-2) “all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, 2 all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.” Notice that in crossing through the Red Sea with Moses, they were baptized “into Moses.” They were saved through the waters in Moses.

He then goes on to tie the accounts of Noah and Moses to Jesus in the New Testament–and how the Church through the ages has viewed itself as the “ark of salvation.”  This is another effort from Fr. Camlin that I think you’ll find most rewarding.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 30, 2007 6:08 pm

    Fr. Camlin says, “I strive in my preaching and teaching to demonstrate that the Bible is one continuous story.” He acts as though the Bible were written by a single Author, for a single purpose. Well, all I can say is, “Amen!” If we had more priests mining such pure gold from the Word of Life, people would be much more able to spot heresies when they arise.

  2. October 1, 2007 1:28 pm

    Another first rate effort by the Rev. Camlin…this is one rich sermon…and Dss. Teresa’s comments about the single Author (capital A)are much appreciated. Put this sermon with its great lessons regarding salvation, baptisim and the Church next to the obfuscations being spun out by ECUSA bishops during the past week and there is little surprise at my delight that I have been relocated in the REC.

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