The story of Noah is very exciting until you get to Genesis 7. At that point, the story seems to get bogged down in details.
There is information about the various animals brought on board, and also a very specific accounting regarding the precise dates when certain events relating to the flood took place.
It’s easy to skim over this chapter and the next one in order to resume the “action” in Genesis 9.
But that would be a great mistake.
For one thing, it’s hard to imagine any “action” greater than a worldwide flood.
These details are placed in the Bible for a reason.
The Lord wants us to know what happened and how it happened, step by step.
Here’s a brief summary of those details:
Noah entered the ark when he was 600 years, 2 months, and 10 days old.
Seven days later the rain began to fall.
The rain fell for 40 days and 40 nights.
The “fountains of the great deep” (evidently subterranean caverns) also burst forth with water.
The floodwaters spread across the entire earth, covering the mountains to a depth of 20 feet.
All living creatures on dry land were wiped out.
The flood covered the earth for 150 days.
As the floodwaters receded, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat, evidently the region of far eastern Turkey, near the border with Russia.
Seventy-four days later the tops of the mountains became visible.
Forty days later Noah sent out a raven.
Noah then sent out a dove on three occasions. The third time it did not return.
Two weeks later he saw dry land.
Noah stayed in the ark another 57 days until the Lord told him to leave.
Noah was 601 years, 2 months, and 27 days old when he left the ark.
If you add it all up, Noah spent one year and 17 days in the ark.
That’s a long time in a cramped space with lots and lots of animals.
This was no luxury cruise. The ark was not equipped with a swimming pool.
There were no movies, no entertainers, and no fancy buffets.
There was nothing to do but stay in the boat while it floated aimlessly on the surface of the ocean.
It was no picnic being on the ark.
The Bible does not tell us anything about Noah’s personal emotions during the long time he spent in the ark.
We know that he was a man of faith who took God at his Word (Hebrews 11:7).
That’s why he built the ark in the first place. But he was human, too.
The sea is a lonely place. It could not have been easy to be shut up inside the ark with his family and all those animals.
Did he wonder if God had forgotten him?
I could not blame him if he had his doubts.
He had done what God had said.
He had preached to the unbelieving world.
He had built the enormous ark.
He led the animals two by two into the ark.
Then he entered with his family.
Now he is in a giant boat bobbing up and down with the waves.
One day fades into another.
He cannot see the sun because of the cloud cover.
There is no course to follow, just drifting on the surface of the endless, endless ocean.
Gone and Forgotten
Have you ever felt abandoned by God?
Have you ever wondered if God has forgotten you?
Have you ever felt as if your prayers were bouncing off the ceiling and hitting you on the head?
If so, Genesis 8 is for you.
The message of the chapter is given in verse 1: “But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.” Consider that simple phrase:
“God remembered Noah.”
Those three words tell us a great deal about the Lord.
One of the greatest human fears is to be forgotten.
We fear death because it means that ultimately we will be buried in a grave, the world will go on without us, and we will eventually be forgotten.
If you doubt that, go to an old graveyard and study the tombstones of those who were buried in the early 1800s.
Who are they? Where did they come from? What were they like? What did they do? And the greatest question: Does anyone today remember them?
In most cases the answer is no. And if you go back far enough you can find thousands of graves of forgotten people who lived and died and it is as if they were never here at all.
When the text tells us that God “remembered” Noah, it doesn’t mean that God had forgotten him.
It simply means that in the midst of the great flood, God stayed true to his promises.
He promised to deliver Noah and his family and all those animals, and during the flood, with all its death and destruction, the Lord looked down on the earth and remembered to have mercy on eight people floating in a big barge with all those animals. Perhaps Noah felt forgotten by God.
If so, he is in good company because the greatest saints of the ages have felt the same way.