Monday after the First Sunday after the Festival of the Epiphany of our Lord
Scripture: Genesis 8:1-22 (NKJV)
1 Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters subsided. 2 The fountains of the deep and the windows of heaven were also stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained. 3 And the waters receded continually from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters decreased. 4 Then the ark rested in the seventh month, the seventeenth day of the month, on the mountains of Ararat. 5 And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month. In the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains were seen.
6 So it came to pass, at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made. 7 Then he sent out a raven, which kept going to and fro until the waters had dried up from the earth. 8 He also sent out from himself a dove, to see if the waters had receded from the face of the ground. 9 But the dove found no resting place for the sole of her foot, and she returned into the ark to him, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took her, and drew her into the ark to himself. 10 And he waited yet another seven days, and again he sent the dove out from the ark. 11 Then the dove came to him in the evening, and behold, a freshly plucked olive leaf was in her mouth; and Noah knew that the waters had receded from the earth. 12 So he waited yet another seven days and sent out the dove, which did not return again to him anymore.
13 And it came to pass in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, that the waters were dried up from the earth; and Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and indeed the surface of the ground was dry. 14 And in the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dried.
15 Then God spoke to Noah, saying, 16 “Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. 17 Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you: birds and cattle and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, so that they may abound on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” 18 So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him. 19 Every animal, every creeping thing, every bird, and whatever creeps on the earth, according to their families, went out of the ark.
20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And the Lord smelled a soothing aroma. Then the Lord said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.
22 “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease.”
People might read this passage and get tangled in figuring and counting. Exactly how long were Noah and his people aboard the ark with the various pairs of creatures? What is the gestation period for the sundry animals, the hatching time for the birds’ eggs? How long would it take an olive tree which had been submerged once again to produce healthy leaves and what effect would ocean saltwater, which surely blended with the flood waters, have had on dry-land plant life? Did the building of the altar and the burnt offering take place immediately, or was there an intervening period of time so as to allow replenishment of the species before their sacrificial death at the altar? Or was the sacrifice taken from the original seven pairs of each creature?
God was in charge of these things from beginning to end. It was God Who said when to board the ark, and it was God Who said when to disembark. God has kept His promise not to destroy the Earth again with a flood, and even though the seasons march along in natural order (seedtime and harvest, winter and summer) on the Day of the Lord this Earth will be destroyed. Not by flood, but there will be a new Heaven and a new Earth, the home of righteousness.
We pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, grant for Jesus’ sake that all who have passed through the waters of Holy Baptism be faithfully transformed by the renewing of their minds to believe that which You have spoken, and not to second-guess You where, in Your wisdom, You have remained silent. Amen.