God told Noah to build the ark and fill it with the creatures of the earth. Then he sent the rains. The downpour came for forty days and forty nights. The waters rose up above the treetops. It rose above the hills. The waters rose along the steep sides of the mountains and finally swallowed them all the way to the top. God’s rain of judgment had complete victory over every part of creation. It was all cleansed from the pollution and contamination of sin that the human race had brought. Anything still alive was in the floating ark where Noah and his family were safe and dry.
The whole earth was flooded with an ocean of high water for a hundred and fifty days. The Bible says that after that time, God remembered that Noah and the animals were afloat on that big boat. Do you really think that God forgot they were there? Did an angel have to remind him? No. When the Bible says that God “remembered” something, it means that the time has come when God is going to give something his special attention. The moment had come for him to act.
God sent a wind to blow across the waters. This “wind” is the same word used to describe the Spirit of God. This is the same Spirit that moved through the chaos at the beginning of creation and brought order. Now the Spirit was bringing order out of chaos once again.
The waters slowly began to go down. Soon, the top of Mount Ararat could be seen rising up out of the flood. The ark landed on Ararat, and the tops of other mountains began to appear.
After another forty days, Noah opened the window in the ark. He let a raven fly off to find land. It kept flying back to the ark because there was no land. Then Noah sent out a dove. The dove returned as well. When Noah saw the dove coming towards him, he reached out his hand and brought the gentle bird back into the ark. Seven days later, he tried again. This time, the dove returned with something in its beak. It was an olive leaf, plucked freshly off a tree! Life was returning to the earth! Trees were growing and their leaves were sprouting once again! The disastrous waters were going away. Noah waited another seven days to send out the dove. This time, it never came back. It had found a home somewhere in the world that was slowly drying out.
On the first day of the first month of Noah’s six hundred and first year of life, he took the covering off of the ark for the first time. That was quite a birthday present! Two months later, the earth was completely dry. God told Noah, “‘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 on it’” (Genesis 8:15-17).
Imagine how wonderful it was for Noah and his family as they stepped out and stretched under the bright sun! They had been on board with all of those animals for over a year. Can you imagine what it was like as the animals were let loose? How they must have pranced about in their newfound freedom! How the horses must run and kicked! How the dogs must have barked and rolled in on the ground with their tails wagging. As most of the animals went to find homes for themselves, Noah kept some of the clean animals for himself. You see, in that time, God had put it on the heart of men to offer animal sacrifices to him as a part of righteous worship. This ritual was something that was a critical part of faith right from the beginning. It was Abel’s offering of an animal that had so pleased God and offended Cain.
Certain kinds of animals were set apart to be used as burnt offerings. They were called “clean.” Noah built an altar to the LORD and offered some of the clean animals as burnt sacrifices to him. This is what the Bible 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 his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures as I have done.
“‘As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease’”
Then the LORD told them about some things that would be different from life as it was before the flood. The animals would be afraid of humans from that time on. God told Noah that from then on, humans could eat animals as food. Before this, humans had only eaten the food that came from plants! Now God allowed them to eat meat as well. The only rule was that they were not allowed to eat anything that still had blood in it. The blood was the life of the animal, and it was a terrible offense to God if they ate it.
God also protected the lives of humans. This is what he went on to say;
“‘…from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man.
“‘Whoever sheds the blood of man,
by man shall his blood be shed;
for in the image of God
has God made man.
“‘As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it’”
God told Noah that every single person is made in the image of God. Through this tremendous gift, each person is given high and unimaginable worth! The LORD identified himself with every member of the human race and gave each one his protection. It is impossible to hurt a human without causing injury to the Lord.
The Lord declared that anyone who took the life of any human would have to face God. This new world of humanity would be different from the one before the flood. The violence and murder that was happening before the flood would not be allowed to go on without severe punishment. The fear of death would stop many evil men who followed the ways of Satan. It would keep them from doing the worst sins.
And what is more, God gave men and women the responsibility to act as his judges and rulers on earth. They had a command from God to protect the innocent and punish those who murder. Once a person has stolen the life of an innocent, the murderer should never have a chance to kill again. Woe to the ruler or leader that does not protect the lives of those God has put under their protection! They violate the very commands of God!
Things were different from what God wanted for humanity in the Garden Temple. The place of perfect safety and rest, where they could walk and talk with the Lord in the cool of the day, must have seemed like a forgotten dream. Humanity would have stood in the power and strength of God’s holiness, bold to live in constant righteousness.
As God restarted humanity through Noah in a broken world, they had to look forward with wisdom. Man was cursed and sinful, and many would live as the offspring of Satan. They would not choose to live in dependence on God. They would work to make the world a much more vicious and dangerous place. The battle between the Kingdom of Light and the Kingdom of Darkness was going to be waged in the depths of every soul on earth. God had given humanity a fresh chance to start over again. Would the great rebellion continue?