Humanity has seen some dark times. And we, as individuals, will experience corruption, chaos, and violence in our lives. It seems an inescapeable part of the human condition. We may wonder where God is in all the mess, or why he lets things get as bad as they are. Somewhere in the crap going on around us, God is moving, and may yet have one decent person in the background ready to turn the situation around — make it ultimately work out for the good.
Genesis 6:5 – 9:17
Humanity had become very corrupt, and the world was full of violence. God was grieved that he had ever made people, so he decided to wipe mankind off the face of the earth and start over. But Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God. So God decided to spare him and preserve humanity through Noah’s family.
He told Noah to build a huge ark, and gave him specific instructions with the exact dimensions. God warned Noah that he was about to send a flood to destroy everything alive on the earth. God told Noah to bring into the ark two of every kind of animal, a male and female, and seven pair of each type of animal approved for eating and for sacrifice. And he was to stock the ark with plenty of food. So Noah did everything exactly the way God had commanded him.
Finally, when Noah had finished building the ark and everything was ready, God told Noah to take his family into the boat. Noah, his wife, and his three sons and their wives all got into the boat along with all the animals, and God shut the door behind them. The rains began to fall, and the underground water erupted to cover the earth. It rained for 40 days and 40 nights. The floods rose, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. Every living creature on the land was wiped out; the only people to survive were Noah and those with him. Water covered the earth for 150 days, until the ark settled in the mountains of Ararat. God sent a wind to blow across the earth and the waters began to recede.
Nine months after it had begun to rain, Noah sent out a raven to see how far the flood had subsided, and it flew here and there until the water was dried up. Then he sent out a dove, but the dove found no place to land and returned to the ark. Noah waited another week and then sent the dove out again. This time, the dove came back with a fresh olive leaf in its beak, and Noah knew the flood waters were almost gone. After another week Noah released the dove again, but this time it did not return.
Twelve and half months after the rains had begun, God told Noah to leave the ark, and to release all the animals so that they could be fruitful and multiply throughout the earth. Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and sacrificed some of the animals approved for that purpose as burnt offerings. And God promised himself that he would never curse the ground and destroy all living things again because of humans, even though everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood. As long as the earth endures, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.
And God blessed Noah and his family, and told them to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. And he said, “I have placed all the animals of the earth in your power. They will look on you with fear. I have given them to you for food, just as I gave you grain and vegetables. But you must never eat any meat that still has the lifeblood still in it. And I will require the blood of anyone who takes another person’s life, for humans are made in my image.”
Then God placed a rainbow in the clouds as a sign of his promise to Noah, his descendants and to all the animals of the earth.
- Gen 9:13-15 “I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth … Never again will the floodwaters destroy all life.”
- Noah & the Ark • Rainbow • 40 days and 40 nights
Discussion & Life Lessons
- Why do you think God was so grieved about the world? What does is tell you about his nature? Notice the words, “Humanity had become very corrupt, and the world was full of violence.” This suggests a “trigger point”: God indulges us often, tolerates our faulty ways – until we become abusive of each other. He abhors it when we treat each other violently. Why?
- Why did God decide to spare Noah and his family? For us, we can take the clue that even in the darkest times in our lives, there is always somebody (good) there in the midst of all the crap going on. Notice that Noah is described as walking in close fellowship with God. How might maintaining close relationship with God help get us through crises?
- God gave Noah very specific instructions to prepare him for what was about to happen, and Noah did his part. What does this suggest about us worrying over every detail in our lives, or God’s part in that?
- God told Noah when to get into the ark and when to come out. And Noah obeyed. Regardless of how impatient he must have been, how uncomfortable they must have been crammed on that boat, he waited on God’s timing. Any thoughts on this?
- Do you see the story of the flood more as a story of judgment or rescue and salvation? Why? Do you think God still punishes disobedience with natural disaster today?
- What was the promise God made? How does this color our view of what the apocalypse might look like?
- Note that God made the covenant not just with Noah and his family, but with all living creatures of the earth as well. What does this suggest about God’s view of animals?
- We often view God’s command to Noah not to eat any meat with the lifeblood still in it as a ritual law. With the specific mention of “violence” in the first sentence of the story, and God’s promise to all living creatures, could this perhaps also be a subtle reference about cruelty to animals? God abhors not just violence against humans, but also violence against animals that are subject to human care.
- What does the promise about day and night and the seasons continuing show us about God’s desire to preserve order / order from chaos?
- God gave humans a new set of commands. What were they? How are they related to the original cause of God’s anger and decision to start over again?
- Notice the same instructions given to Noah and humanity that were originally given to Adam and Eve in the garden: to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth (Gen 1:28). Even when it looks like crisis and destruction have thrown us off course, have ruined everything, afterwards God still puts things back on track. The plan continues.