The time had come. Noah had waited while he built an ark to see exactly why God had told him to build an ark. Oh God had already revealed that his plan was to destroy the living creatures of the earth through a flood because of the corruption and violence that they brought to His creation. But Noah did not know what rain would look like, he did not know where the flood would come from, he had simply been obedient. So he built the ark. But his wait had really just begun. Up to now, Noah’s wait was filled with something to do.
In chapter 7 of Genesis we read that Noah had seven days to load his family and all the animals into the ark. I wonder what the people around thought when they saw the animals coming toward the ark and Noah and his family, packing in their earthly possessions. I wonder if Noah’s family were reluctant or did they fully trust Noah’s relationship with God. I wonder if as they were packing it in, if one of them, just one thought well he’s a little crazy but we will humor him for a little while. Then ~
“In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights.” Genesis 7:11
Picture this, Noah and his family have spent seven days packing the ark. They have led animals to their stalls, they have probably brought food to eat, they may have taken things that were important to them. And they entered the ark and the Lord shut them in, and the rains came.
“The flood continued forty days on the earth. The waters increased and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth.” Genesis 7:17
Now we have been in a bit of a rainy season around here. In fact just a couple of weeks ago we had rains so hard that our lake rose so fast water got in some boathouses. Some were living spaces. I know that when we have seasons like we have had lately where it seems to rain every day, I get tired of it and while rain is a good thing, it waters the earth and makes our plants grow and we need it to survive, you can sometimes feel like you have too much of a good thing, can’t you? But can you imagine being on a boat and it rained so much that eventually you felt that boat lift off the ground and begin to float. I wonder if it was somewhat soundproof or could they hear the people outside as they started to panic. And it rained and it rained.
“And the waters prevailed on the earth 150 days.” Genesis 7:24
Have you ever given much thought to the timeline of this part of Noah’s wait? In the Sunday school stories of our childhood, it all seemed to move a little faster. Maybe it’s the benefit of having lived a few years that the realization of the number of days that Noah and his family would have been in that boat would have felt like an eternity to them at the time. Maybe it’s having lived through a few waiting periods of my life, while I was waiting for God to act, to move on my behalf is what makes me realize the wait that Noah and his family had to live through. Also think on this, while they were on this boat there were animals, that were living as well, they were stinky and smelly, they had to be fed and cared for. Can you imagine the smells, and the sounds. And they had already been there 190 days, doing the same routines day in and day out with no sunshine. Do you think they felt depressed, do you think they may have felt forgotten? They weren’t.
“But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided.” Genesis 8:1
Now this “remembered” is not like when we remember something that we had forgotten. God certainly never forgot that He had put Noah and his family on the ark. God sustained Noah and his family on the ark. But God is turning his active attention to Noah and his family again and just like God brought the rain, God is bringing the wind which will dry up the water.
“and the waters receded from the earth continually. At the end of 150 days the waters had abated.” Genesis 8:3
Noah and his family have now been on a stinky, smelly, possibly noisy boat for 340 days.
“and in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.” Genesis 8:4
We are at the tenth month and the tops of the mountains could be seen. Then
“At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made and sent forth a raven. It went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth. Then he sent forth a dove from him to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground. But the dove found no place to set her foot, and she returned to him to the ark.” Genesis 8:6-9
“He waited another seven days, and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark. And the dove came back to him the evening, and behold, in her mouth was a freshly plucked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth.” Genesis 8:10-11
Oh can you imagine the hope that the olive leaf represented to them?
“Then he waited another seven days and sent forth the dove, and she did not return to him anymore.” Genesis 8:12
If my calculations are correct, Noah and his family have been on this boat for approximately 400 days, when~
“In the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried from off the earth. And Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and behold, the face of the ground was dry.” Genesis 8:13
After days and days of rain and months and months of stinky, smelly animals, and probably darkness, and maybe some arguing and high tempers and frazzled nerves, Noah removes the covering of the ark and he sees the face of the dry ground and probably the sunshine. His wait was almost over. I do wonder about some of the things that may have happened on that ark during that very long year. I wonder what they did to pass the time. I wonder if they ever felt forgotten by God.
I wonder if you have ever been through a very long year or maybe even years of waiting in stinky, smelly circumstances. Or are you there now? You are probably not sitting on a boat with stinky, smelly animals, but your circumstances maybe stinky and smelly just the same. While reading this and counting the timeline and thinking of the long days and the rain and the monotony of day after day on the boat might make you turn your nose up, please do not miss the most important line of the story. It came back in the first verse of chapter 8.
“But God remembered.” Genesis 8:1
Just like God never forgot that He had put Noah and his family on that boat. God has not forgotten you either. I can’t tell you why the wind hasn’t blown over your circumstances yet to dry up your flood waters. But I can tell you this, that if you are His child that God remembers you! Just like He remembered Noah. We can be assured of that.