The Water Goes Down
1God did not forget about Noah and the animals with him in the boat. So God made a wind blow, and the water started going down. 2God stopped up the places where the water had been gushing out from under the earth. He also closed up the sky, and the rain stopped. 3For 150 days the water slowly went down. 4Then on the seventeenth day of the seventh month of the year, the boat came to rest somewhere in the Ararat mountains. 5The water kept going down, and the mountain tops could be seen on the first day of the tenth month.
6-7Forty days later Noah opened a window to send out a raven, but it kept flying around until the water had dried up. 8Noah wanted to find out if the water had gone down, so he sent out a dove. 9Deep water was still everywhere, and when the dove could not find a place to land, it flew back to the boat. Then Noah held out his hand and helped it back in.
10Seven days later Noah sent the dove out again. 11It returned in the evening, holding in its beak a green leaf from an olive tree. Noah knew the water was finally going down. 12He waited seven more days before sending the dove out again, and this time it did not return.
13Noah was now 601 years old. And by the first day of that year, almost all the water had gone away. Noah made an opening in the roof of the boat and saw that the ground was getting dry. 14By the twenty-seventh day of the second month, the earth was completely dry.
15God said to Noah, 16“You, your wife, your sons, and your daughters-in-law may now leave the boat. 17Let out the birds, animals, and reptiles, so they can mate and live all over the earth.” 18After Noah and his family had left the boat, 19the living creatures left in groups of their own kind.
The Lord's Promise
20Noah built an altar where he could offer sacrifices to the Lord. Then he offered on the altar one of each kind of animal and bird that could be used for a sacrifice. 21The smell of the burning offering pleased the Lord, and he said:
Never again will I punish the earth for the sinful things its people do. All of them have evil thoughts from the time they are young, but I will never destroy everything that breathes, as I did this time.
22As long as the earth remains,
there will be planting
cold and heat;
winter and summer,
day and night.
Up till now in the account of Noah, judgment and punishment have been theStory. Then chapter eight of today’s reading opens with the heart warming phrase, “But God remembered Noah…”
There can be no moral universe if God does not hate and judge sin. In this case if he had not “shut the door of the ark” himself, sealing Noah and his family in and thus judging those left out, then he would not be a holy God. But he did carry out the judgment himself and then in time “God remembered Noah.”
Often when the Bible says “God remembered” it is an expression of loving concern. See Abraham in Genesis19:29, Rachel in Genesis 30:22 or the Israelites in Exodus 2:24-25. God remembers us; his love is far reaching and gives a context to his judgments. With Noah’s departure from the ark and his first foot step on the freshly cleansed dry ground a new beginning commences. The animals are released so they can multiply and fill the earth. Noah and his family worship God with a sacrifice and the pleasing aroma delights God who then says he will never curse the earth again nor destroy the living creatures, even though he is still aware of man’s inherently sinful nature. The chapter then concludes with a beautiful promise of continuance; that growth, climate, seasons and day and night will carry on “as long as the earth endures” (Genesis 8:22), and we can still hope in this today.
Historically, Noah was a man, used to begin the human race over again in a new relationship with God and the earth. Symbolically, this is a story of passing through the waters of death into new life, like baptism, that would follow in man’s eventual relationship with Jesus.
God of new life, you are absolute and true. Release in me the desire to worship you and make me righteous in my generation to bring glory to the Father’s name, I ask this through Jesus my Lord. Amen.