Noah is a man who went through symbolic death. That is the meaning of the flood. The flood surrounded Noah, he rode upon it, he was preserved through it, and he was saved from it. The waters of judgment, the water of death could not overwhelm him. He was carried into a new world and a new life by His faith in a redeeming God.
Many books have been written depicting what the world might be like after an atomic holocaust. Yet this is virtually the same scenario produced in the days of the flood. Human civilization was destroyed, and Noah and his family were forced to begin afresh on a new earth. Here is a picture of regeneration, of new life. The beginning of life as a Christian is a transition from death into life in Christ, just as Noah passed from death to life in the flood.
God Remembers Noah, and Dries Up the Waters
But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and domestic animals that were with him in the ark. God caused a wind to blow over the earth and the waters receded.
Genesis 8:1 (NET)
The whole race of mankind, except Noah and his family, were now dead, so that God’s remembering Noah was the return of his mercy to mankind, of whom he would not make a full end.
“To remember” implies a previous commitment made by God and announces the fulfillment of that commitment. Noah, his family, and the animals had been together in the ark for over a year, which is a lot of “togetherness.”
Did they ever get impatient with each other or with the animals?
There’s no record that God spoke to them after He had shut them into the ark, so perhaps somebody in the family experienced an occasional fleeting fear that maybe God didn’t care for them anymore.
God not only remembered Noah and his family, but He also remembered the animals that were with them in the ark. God spared these creatures so they could live on the renewed earth and reproduce after then kind. It was His desire that His creatures enjoy the earth and contribute to the happiness of the people He had created in His own image. As we shall see later, the animals were included in God’s covenant with Noah. We can be sure that God never forgets or forsakes His people, not only because of His promises, but also because of His character. God is love, and where there’s love, there’s faithfulness. He can never deny Himself or His Word, for He’s the faithful God; and He can never change, because He’s immutable. Because He’s perfect, God can’t change for the better; and because He’s holy, He can’t change for the worse. We can depend on Him no matter what our circumstances or no matter how we feel.
God Renews His World
The subterranean waters from the depths of the earth and the casements of the heavens were again closed. The drenching rains that once fell from above finally stopped. All of the waters gradually receded from the land. At last, after 150 days, the waters abated; and on the 17th day of the 7th month, the ark at last came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.
Genesis 8:2-4 (VOICE)
The Flood reached its peak in 150 days. The torrential rain and the eruptions of water from beneath the earth had both ceased; and during the next five months, God caused the water to recede and leave the dry land behind.
Where did the floodwaters go?
Never underestimate the power of moving water! It’s possible that the Flood greatly altered the contours of the land and created new areas for the water to fill, both on the surface of the earth and underground. Since there were eruptions from beneath the earth, whole continents and mountain ranges could have risen and fallen, creating huge areas into which the water could spill. The winds that God sent over the earth helped to evaporate the water and also move it to the places God had provided. A God powerful enough to cover the earth with water is also wise enough to know how to dispose of it when its work is done.
On the seventeenth day of the seventh month, the ark rested on a peak in the mountains of Ararat, located in modern Turkey. We don’t know which peak it was; explorers searching for the remains of the ark can’t find much biblical data to help them. In later years, the seventh month was very special to the Jews, for during that month they ushered in the New Year with the Feast of Trumpets and celebrated the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles (Lev. 23:23-44).
The Hebrew text says that “the ark came to rest,” reminding us that Noah’s name means “rest” and that his father Lamech had hoped that his son would bring rest to a weary world (Gen. 5:28-29).
The Water Recedes
The waters kept on receding until the tenth month. On the first day of the tenth month, the tops of the mountains became visible.
At the end of forty days, Noah opened the window he had made in the ark and sent out a raven; it kept flying back and forth until the waters had dried up on the earth.
Genesis 8:5-7 (NET)
Though the ark had rested safely, Noah was waiting for the Lord to tell him what to do. He waited forty days and then sent out the raven; and being an unclean carrion-eating bird (Lev. 11:13-15), it felt right at home among the floating carcasses.
Then Noah sent out a dove to see if the waters had receded from the surface of the ground. The dove could not find a resting place for its feet because water still covered the surface of the entire earth, and so it returned to Noah in the ark. He stretched out his hand, took the dove, and brought it back into the ark. He waited seven more days and then sent out the dove again from the ark. When the dove returned to him in the evening, there was a freshly plucked olive leaf in its beak! Noah knew that the waters had receded from the earth. He waited another seven days and sent the dove out again, but it did not return to him this time.
In Noah’s six hundred and first year, in the first day of the first month, the waters had dried up from the earth, and Noah removed the covering from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry. And by the twenty-seventh day of the second month the earth was dry.
Genesis 8:8-14 (NET)
Noah waited a week and then sent out a dove, which, being a clean bird, found no place to land; so it returned to the ark. A week later Noah sent the dove out again, and when it returned with a fresh olive leaf, Noah knew that the plants were growing and fresh life had appeared on the earth. A dove bearing an olive branch is a familiar symbol of peace around the world. A week later, when Noah sent the dove out the third time, the dove never returned; so he knew the water had dried up.
Noah had built a “window” (hatch?) in the upper deck of the ark, and this he opened so he could survey the world around him. This was on the day the passengers had been in the ark one entire year. Noah saw that the ground indeed was dry, but he didn’t make a move out of the ark until the Lord told him to leave. Twenty-six days later, that order came and he obeyed it.
God Rewards Faith
Then God spoke to Noah and said, “Come out of the ark, you, your wife, your sons, and your sons’ wives with you. Bring out with you all the living creatures that are with you. Bring out every living thing, including the birds, animals, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. Let them increase and be fruitful and multiply on the earth!”
Noah went out along with his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives. Every living creature, every creeping thing, every bird, and everything that moves on the earth went out of the ark in their groups.
Genesis 8:15-19 (NET)
Noah was a man of faith whose name is recorded in Hebrews 11 with those of other heroes of faith. He had the faith to walk with God when the people of the world were ignoring and disobeying God. He had the faith to work for God and to witness for God when opposition to truth was the popular thing. Now that the Flood was over, he exercised faith to wait on God before leaving the ark.
After being confined to the ark for over a year, he and his family must have yearned to get back on dry land; but they waited for God’s directions. Circumstances on the earth looked suitable for their disembarking, but that was no guarantee that God wanted them to exit immediately and begin their new life. Obedient faith is our response to God’s Word, for “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17).
Was Noah revealing unbelief when he sent out the birds or opened the hatch to look at the terrain?
No, he was simply using available opportunities to gather data. It isn’t wrong to have an understanding of the situation; just don’t lean on your own understanding (Prov. 3:5-6). Obeying the will of God involves not only doing the right thing in the right way for the right motive, but it also means doing it at the right time. “My times are in Your hands” (Ps. 31:15).
God rewarded Noah’s faith, and the faith of his family, by caring for them in the ark for over a year and then preparing the earth for them so that they could leave the ark. Noah was like a “second Adam” as he made this new beginning for the human race. God had brought the earth out of the waters during Creation week, preparing it for Adam and Eve; and now He had brought the earth through the Flood and made it ready for Noah and his family. The Lord even gave Noah’s family and the animals the same mandate that He had given at the beginning: “Be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 8:17).
Noah prepared the ark “for the saving of his household”, and God was faithful to save his household. There’s no indication in Scripture that Noah in his witnessing invited others to join him and his family in the ark, but he certainly must have encouraged them to trust God and prepare their own arks. Of course, nobody took his message seriously; and the world of that day perished (2 Peter 3:6).
What was it that caused the population to reject God’s word and perish?
They were like the people in our Lord’s parable (Luke 14:16-24) who were occupied with the ordinary things of daily life (Matt. 24:37-39) and unconcerned about eternity. They believed that life would go on as it always had and that nothing would change. They said that God wouldn’t invade the world or interrupt the scheme of things, but He did! People today have the same attitude concerning the return of the Lord (2 Peter 3:1-9; 1 Thes. 5:1-10).
When it comes to saving faith, each of us must trust Jesus Christ personally; we can’t be saved by the faith of a substitute. Noah’s wife, their three sons, and their three daughters-in-law were also believers; and they proved it by standing with Noah while he worked and witnessed, and then by entering the ark in obedience to the Lord.
Father, I thank You for the system of seedtime and harvest that You have set in place. You have given me an abundance of seeds to sow. I can sow favor seeds and reap a harvest. I can sow love seeds and reap a harvest. I can sow cash seeds and reap a harvest. I commit myself to recognize that I will reap what I sow. From now on I will recognize that I always have a seed of blessing that I can sow into another person’s life.
I pray in Jesus’ mighty name!
DECLARATION OF FAITH
While the earth remains, I can absolutely count of seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night.
These fixed and certain laws remain in the earth. Therefore, I know beyond a shadow of doubt that I will reap what I have sown.
When I sow my seed, I can count on a harvest.
I pray this declaration of faith in Jesus’ name! Amen.