Reader: “God’s word given to us.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
Scripture: Genesis 8:1-19
But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and livestock with him in the boat. He sent a wind to blow across the earth, and the floodwaters began to recede. The underground waters stopped flowing, and the torrential rains from the sky were stopped. So the floodwaters gradually receded from the earth. After 150 days, exactly five months from the time the flood began, the boat came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. Two and a half months later, as the waters continued to go down, other mountain peaks became visible.
After another forty days, Noah opened the window he had made in the boat and released a raven. The bird flew back and forth until the floodwaters on the earth had dried up. He also released a dove to see if the water had receded and it could find dry ground. But the dove could find no place to land because the water still covered the ground. So it returned to the boat, and Noah held out his hand and drew the dove back inside. After waiting another seven days, Noah released the dove again. This time the dove returned to him in the evening with a fresh olive leaf in its beak. Then Noah knew that the floodwaters were almost gone. He waited another seven days and then released the dove again. This time it did not come back.
Noah was now 601 years old. On the first day of the new year, ten and a half months after the flood began, the floodwaters had almost dried up from the earth. Noah lifted back the covering of the boat and saw that the surface of the ground was drying. Two more months went by, and at last the earth was dry!
Then God said to Noah, “Leave the boat, all of you—you and your wife, and your sons and their wives. Release all the animals—the birds, the livestock, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—so they can be fruitful and multiply throughout the earth.”
So Noah, his wife, and his sons and their wives left the boat. And all of the large and small animals and birds came out of the boat, pair by pair.
Reader: “An account of what happened.”
Response: “Thank you Lord, for your word.”
Does God forget? In the first verse we read that God “remembered” Noah and all the creatures in his boat. A proper understanding of the Hebrew word for “remembered” simply means “God decided to act.” In some pretty specific ways we have a description of a “new creation.” Note the language. “In the beginning God created…,” God decided to act. The wind blew over the face of the waters (Gen.1:2 & 8:1). Eventually, as the waters receded dry land appeared (Gen.1:10 & 8:14). In the initial Creation, birds were created before people. In this account, the birds left the ark first. A “clean” bird, the dove, a vegetarian, returned to the ark, the raven, an unclean bird and carrion did not return. In verses sixteen and seventeen note that the birds and livestock left the ark and “animals that scurry along the ground” (Gen. 1:24 & 8:17) before the people. It is the same order in the first Creation. We also read the same phrase “be fruitful and multiply.” Noah’s first act in coming out of the ark was to offer a burnt offering sacrifice. This particular type of sacrifice always indicted a complete devotion of one’s entire being to the Lord. The burning completely consumed the offering. The extra pairs of animals taken into the ark were for this purpose. The concept of pagan sacrifices was that the offering fed the gods in order to appease their anger and keep them in a good mood. Pagan gods were generally in a bad mood! How very different were the offerings to the Creator. At this point, God made a covenant to never again curse the ground because of the human race and their continual bent to evil. He would never destroy all living things. Planting and harvest and seasons would continue as long as the earth remained. One other thing you may have noticed in your reading―there is continual reference to so many days or months throughout the pericope. The point is the Flood happened in real time; it is not an allegory or myth. There is so much more to say, but we need to stop.
By now you are really wondering, “What in the world does this have to do with Advent? Where is Christmas?” As long as we see Advent only in the light of a couple of weeks leading up to Christmas Day, we’ll kind of miss the point. Advent is about the coming of the infant Redeemer of the world, Redeemer of the whole created order, and not just the Redeemer of people. Secondly, he comes into the hearts of all those who believe. As we’ve said, this season thematically begins with the end of the world when Jesus comes a third time and establishes his eternal Kingdom. The account of Noah paints the picture of God stepping into his Creation to make it anew, being aware that even then, the hearts of the people are not fully redeemed. In his Return, Christ will make all things new. Hearts will be fully redeemed; no more sin. Like the account of the Flood, at the end of Advent, God again steps into creation to bring redemption to a very broken world. With the coming of the child in the manger, God “remembered” his creation.
Music: “What Child Is This?” Andrea Bocelli and Mary J. Blige
As Thou makest the outgoings of the morning and evening to rejoice, so lift up the light of Thy countenance upon us, and make us glad with the tokens of Thy love. Be Thou with us, O Lord, and let Thy grace follow us this day, and all the days of our life. Be Thou our Guide unto death, in death our comfort, and, after death, our Portion and Happiness as we enter Thy everlasting Kingdom where there is no more morning and evening but one glorious Light of Thy presence for ever and ever. Amen ―Benjamin Jenks, adapted D.S.