I know most of you have heard the story of Noah that begins in Genesis 6, but today I thought it might be fun to hear it again.
A long time after Adam and Eve, God looked down on His earth and was very sad and disappointed in what He saw. All the people had become evil, mean, and wicked; God knew He had to do something, but what? The Bible says that God was so upset with what He saw happening that He even regretted He had made the earth and its people. (Genesis 6: 6) That is a very strong statement for God to make about His creation!
But in His grief and planning, God noticed Noah and his family. They had stayed true to God’s plan and still worshipped God. They were good and kind and tried to always do right. God decided that He would destroy the earth and all that lived on it with a huge flood. Then the earth would begin again. Since Noah “walked with God” still, (Genesis 6:9) God’s plan was for Noah to build a huge boat, an ark it was called, to live in during the time of the flood. He and his family would stay on the boat while everything else was washed away. Noah was to take two (a male and female) of every kind of animal on the earth on the ark with his family. (That way, there would be animals to repopulate the earth later.) Noah was also to take whatever his family and the animals would need during this time.
Well, Noah did exactly what God asked him. It was the hardest thing Noah had ever had to do. He built a boat that was three stories high and longer than a football field. He filled it with food, water, bedding, blankets, supplies – whatever would be needed for his family and the animals to survive. The other people laughed and made fun of Noah when they asked, and he explained why he was doing these things. Then the animals started arriving at God’s command, two of every kind you can think of: cows, camels, lions, hippos, dogs, cats, birds, horses, mice, elephants, sheep, turtles, rabbits, aardvarks, and on and on. Noah gathered them all in the ark.
Finally, God told Noah to shut the door to the ark tight, and it started to rain. It didn’t just rain; it poured like it had never rained before – all day and all night. It didn’t stop, but Noah, his family, and the animals were safe inside. It rained nonstop for 40 days and 40 nights. Can you imagine that? The earth was covered with water everywhere, and no one was left alive. Sad, isn’t it, but the ark floated safely on the water.
One day, just as suddenly as the rain started, it stopped. There was still water everywhere, so Noah waited a little while, and then he sent out a dove to search for dry ground. The dove finally returned with a green branch, so Noah knew the water was receding. A little while later, the ark landed on dry ground, and Noah and his family came out along with all the animals. The first thing that Noah did was to thank God for saving them. God promised Noah (and us too) that He would never again destroy the earth with water like He had done.
As a sign of this promise and His love for us, God put a beautiful rainbow in the sky. Whenever we see a rainbow, we know that God keeps His commitments and that He loves us very much! Next time, you see a rainbow, remember the story of Noah, God’s promise, and how important it is to follow God even when it seems hard to do.
Let’s pray. Father God, thank You for saving the earth and us. You gave us the rainbow as a reminder of just how much You love us all. Help us to follow You and be kind. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Ann Moody is pastor of Wilkesville First Presbyterian Church.