But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded. Gen. 8:1
God has just sent a flood to cover the whole earth, having destroyed all of mankind except for one man and his family–and oh yes, two of every living creature upon the earth. Here they are floating on the sea for 150 days, and God remembered Noah, and all the animals on the ark. God was present in the deepest, darkest recesses of these waters. He was present when I’m sure Noah’s hope faltered again and again, when fear seized him, wondering when they would ever get out of the boat, having brought his three sons, their wives and his own wife with him, knowing that yes, they would be questioning, wondering too, “Has God forgotten us?”
No, He hasn’t.
He loves us and he has a plan.
And I love that his plan for Noah unfolded little by little while still floating on this small (compared to the seas covering the earth) vessel.
First, the springs of the deep and the floodgates of heaven close and the rain stopped falling (1:2)
Then, the water receded from the earth slowly, steadily, for 150 days (vs. 3)
Then, the ark came to rest on the the mountains of Ararat and many more days later, the tops of the mountains became visible (vs. 4-5)
Do you sense it? There’s hope coming. We can begin to see dry land. Opportunities avail themselves, someone says an encouraging word, you are beginning to feel like the sun is peeking through in the tiniest way. The small seed has germinated and it’s sweet, little fresh head is pushing itself out of the loamy soil.
Forty days after this, Noah opens the window to the ark and releases a raven. The raven comes back. Next, he sends out a dove to see if the water has receded from the ground. Has the dove been able to find any material with which to make it’s home? No, the dove returns…seven days go by and Noah sends out the dove again:
When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf!
(Hooray for the exclamation point at the end of this verse. Such joy, such hope!)
Then Noah knew that the water had receded.
He waited seven more days, sent the dove out, but the dove did not return.
Noah was 601 years old when the water was dried up from the earth. He removed the covering from the ark and saw that the earth was dry. Can you imagine that moment for even a minute? The joy, the anticipation, the excitement the RESTLESSNESS in the bones of every single creature on that boat–human and non?
More waiting? Yes.
Then, two more months go by and the earth was completely dry.
God spoke to Noah, saying to him, “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you–the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground–so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number upon it.”
And so Noah and his whole family exit the ark, in what I envision to be some glorious, majestic procession, there is not a stampede, because we read, “All the animals…came out of the ark, one kind after another.” The act itself should have had trumpets and pomp and circumstance–a choir, at least, but there wasn’t, just this glorious, undefiled new earth, this new thing that God had created out of something very ugly and base and scary.
And upon this earth was a new beginning.
Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and sacrificed some of the clean animals and birds. Wow. Even then, Noah had everything he could possibly need to offer thanks to the Lord. I am completely overwhelmed. How good, how amazing, how perfect is God?
And the Lord was there, because it says, “The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: ‘Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of this heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures as I have done.'”
More beautiful beyond words…