When God told Noah to move his family, (I’m just filling in the pieces here) I bet Mrs. Noah had some questions about their temporary housing situation.
Today as I write this lesson about Noah, my family is in the middle of a move. In just a few weeks we will be packing up and moving from Arizona to Southern California. Our temporary housing has been secured, but we have only seen it online. Today my husband is walking through our rental house in California for the first time, and I have lots of questions about the details of where we will be living. Is that extra space really a bedroom or just a glorified closet? What is the square footage? Will our furniture fit? Is there space for all of our stuff, or do I need to have a garage sale? How close is it to the school? How close are the neighbors? Is there air conditioning?
My questions are not about why we are moving or whether or not God is leading our family. I trust God completely with my life and my future, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have questions about some of the details.
If God told your husband to build a gigantic boat because a catastrophic flood was coming, you might have a few questions about the details, too.
Each detail of the plan was likely met with a question:
Genesis 6:13 (NIV)
So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.”
I bet Mrs. Noah was quick to ask what would happen to their family. “Is God relocating our whole family? The kids, too? And their wives?”
Genesis 6:18 (NIV)
“But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark – you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you.”
Noah had three sons (vs. 10): Shem, Ham and Japheth, so that makes eight people on the move.
Genesis 6:14 (NIV)
So make yourself an ark…
I bet Mrs. Noah asked something like, “What’s the square footage?”
Noah had never built an ark before, so God gave lots of details.
He would build an ark of cypress wood with rooms in it, 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high.
All that square footage meant they wouldn’t be traveling alone. “What about pets?”
Genesis 6:19 (NIV)
You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you.
So that’s a yes to pets. Two of every kind, male and female. Genesis 7 explains that Noah should also take 7 of every kind of clean animal. These would be used in a sacrificial offering to God on the other side of the big move.
Well now, that probably brought up a whole new set of questions: “Where will we put all of them? How many bedrooms? Bathrooms?”
It is estimated the ark could hold 100,000 sheep-sized animals, but they weren’t just hauling sheep-sized animals, so there were likely about 35,000 animals on the ark.
When God gave Noah instructions for the ark, he said to make “rooms” inside (vs. 14). Think of something like “nests” for each animal – perfect for hibernation, and I’m guessing the sons were put in charge of mucking the stalls.
My first question about a new house is, “What is the kitchen like?” So I’m betting Mrs. Noah had similar concerns.
Genesis 6:21 (NIV)
You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.
This must have been an overwhelming task. I’m guessing Mrs. Noah probably asked, “What moving company are we using?”
Genesis 6:20 (NIV)
Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive.
Will come to you? I guess migration is a possibility in this scenario. Animals weren’t afraid of man just yet since God didn’t clear them for food until after the flood. And God did set man up to rule over the animals, but even so, I have a hard time imagining Noah and his sons wrangling 35,000 wild animals into an oversized cage through one door.
God can do things that are impossible for man to do, and I believe He can communicate with animals, so maybe He just whispered in their ears to make a beeline for the ark, and they did. The animals came to Noah.
Check out what happened in Genesis 7:8-16
“When is our move-in date?”
Genesis 7:4 (NIV)
Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights…
“What’s our lease agreement?”
Genesis 7:24 (NIV)
The waters flooded the earth for one hundred and fifty days
So it rained for 40 days, but then the water continued to build for 4-5 months and then took 7 months to recede. Noah & family were in the ark for over a year!
God takes care of the details
We often worry about details over which we have no control. Noah and his sons couldn’t have possibly forced all those animals to get to the boat AND go in the boat AND stay there!
We worry about these details that God is already taking care of, but we neglect to take care of our attitudes, our relationships, and our responsibilities that ARE under our control.
When you trust God to lead you, you will obey His commands and trust Him to take care of the details.
Trust builds relationship
Genesis 8:4 (NIV)
…the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat
I have to wonder if the animals started to get restless without the rocking motion of the waves. If some of the animals had been hibernating on board, perhaps the sudden stop startled them out of their slumber.
Noah sent out a raven, then a dove. He sent the dove out three times. The first time, it just flew back to him, indicating that the water was still covering the land. The second time, the dove brought back hope in the form of an olive leaf. And the third time, the dove never returned to the boat.
Then God told Noah he could come out of the ark.
Genesis 8:15-17 (NIV)
Then God said to 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 upon it.”
Noah’s family must have been so relieved to finally be released from the ark. Their temporary housing situation was likely feeling smaller and smelling stronger as the days parked on the mountain dragged on.
But stepping out into the bright sunlight probably prompted another question, “Now what?”
God destroyed the earth by flood because He wanted to slow down the progression of sin. Now He would set up Noah as the authority to rule over the people.
Then He sent Noah and his family out to start over with new adventures and strong relationships.
Genesis 9:1 (NIV)
Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.”
Blessing always follows obedience
Living out the adventures God takes you on can take you through a wide range of emotional highs and lows. It must have been overwhelming for Mr. & Mrs. Noah to think of starting over. It must have felt lonely, like being stranded on a desert island.
Noah and his family needed a reminder of why they had committed to all of this change.
In Genesis 6:8, God mentioned a covenant He was making with Noah and his family.
A covenant is a promise, a contract, or a mutual agreement.
Chapter 9 has a lot more to say about that covenant.
Genesis 9:13 (NIV)
I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.
God gave a reassuring promise with a colorful reminder: never again will a flood do such destruction. As long as the earth remains, the seasons will always come as expected, and a rainbow will be visible when it rains as a sign to all that God will keep His promises.
Noah obeyed everything the Lord commanded.
It doesn’t say he understood everything the Lord commanded.
Proverbs 3:5,6 (NIV)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.