After the Flood

Noah and the Rainbow

Children grow up learning about Noah and the ark. As adults, we study the record of the flood and strive to learn the lessons it teaches – why it happened, how Noah was saved, Noah’s example of obedience, as so on. But there are also important lessons for us that came immediately after the flood. We will notice a few in this article.

Noah Went Out of the Ark

This may seem obvious. Of course Noah went out of the ark (Genesis 8:18). But what is notable is when he went out of the ark. Several things had to happen before it was possible for Noah to leave the ark – the rain stopped (Genesis 8:2), the water receded (Genesis 8:3), the ark came to rest (Genesis 8:4), he sent out the raven and the dove (Genesis 8:7-12), and he saw dry ground (Genesis 8:13). These things had to happen before Noah could leave the ark.

However, when we consider the timeline of events it becomes more interesting. Notice when the rain and the flood began: “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month” (Genesis 7:11). After the rain stopped, the water receded, Noah received proof from the dove that vegetation was growing, and he saw with his own eyes that the ground was dry, almost a year had passed since he first entered the ark: “Now it came about in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, on the first of the month, the water was dried up from the earth. Then Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and behold, the surface of the ground was dried up” (Genesis 8:13).

Noah was surely eager to leave the ark after being confined there with all of the animals for almost a year. Yet he waited several weeks before leaving the ark. Why? Notice what the text says: “In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry. Then God spoke to Noah, saying, ‘Go out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and your sons’ wives with you’” (Genesis 8:14-16). Noah waited for the Lord’s instruction. Just as he did when building the ark (Genesis 6:22; 7:5), he acted with respect for divine authority, just as we must do today (Colossians 3:17). Though it could have seemed wise from a human perspective to exit the ark on the first day of the first month, Noah did not act presumptuously. He put his trust in God rather than his own wisdom. The wise man warned about failing to learn this lesson: “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12).

Noah Built an Altar

Immediately after leaving the ark, the record tells us about Noah building an altar: “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” (Genesis 8:20). This was the first thing we see Noah doing after the flood. This shows us that worshipping God is to be a priority. Properly understanding the importance of worship will cause us to view it with gladness as David did (Psalm 122:1), rather than with weariness (Malachi 1:13).

Why would worship and sacrifices be offered to God? The Hebrew writer explained that sacrifice to God is by its very nature a product of our gratitude: “Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe” (Hebrews 12:28). Just as Noah could be grateful for his salvation and the physical blessings that the Lord provided, we can be thankful for these things today (1 Corinthians 15:56-57; James 1:17).

Also notice that Noah sacrificed of every clean animal and bird. His offerings were complete, not withholding anything that would be pleasing to God. We are not to be like the unfaithful priests who would “present the blind for sacrifice,” as well as “the lame and sick” (Malachi 1:8). Rather, all of our service to God must be a wholehearted commitment. Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). Paul said, “Present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice” (Romans 12:1). We should strive to do all we can in pleasing the Lord, so that “we may offer to God an acceptable sacrifice” (Hebrews 12:28).

God’s Promise and Covenant

Following Noah’s sacrifices, God made a promise: “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22). God created a world in which man can survive (cf. Acts 14:17; Proverbs 27:23-27). This is true today and will continue until the Lord returns.

It is interesting though that this promise was made despite man’s corruption. Just before this promise, God said, “I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Genesis 8:21). God knew man would become corrupt again. Yet He still allows man to enjoy the physical blessings He has made available in His creation. Jesus said, “He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and send rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45). It is true that God’s goodness should encourage us to faithfulness (Romans 2:4); but even when man rejects God, the promise which He made to Noah stands.

In establishing His covenant, God made a promise regarding destruction: “I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth” (Genesis 9:11). This was an “everlasting covenant” (Genesis 9:16). The earth would not be destroyed again by water.

We can be fully assured that this promise made to Noah will stand. However, the earth will be destroyed one day – not by water, but by fire. Peter wrote, “The world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:6-10). Just as sure as His promise that He will not destroy the world by water is His promise that He will destroy it by fire. He said He will do this. He has shown His power to do so. Now we must believe Him and live in a righteous manner so we can be ready whenever this day comes (2 Peter 3:11, 14).

Noah Planted a Vineyard

Sometime after leaving the ark and receiving God’s promise, Noah planted a vineyard: “Then Noah began farming and planted a vineyard. He drank of the wine and became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent” (Genesis 9:20-21). This is an important reminder for us. It shows us that a child of God can become guilty of sin and abuse the blessings which God has given.

By God’s providence, the vineyard was fruitful (cf. Genesis 8:22). What Noah had planted was acting as God had designed it (Genesis 1:11-12). All of this together was described by God as being “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Yet Noah sinned in his use of the fruit produced from the vineyard. The fault for sin is not to be placed upon God – the giver of the blessings (cf. James 1:13-17), but upon Noah (man) – the user of the blessings.

It is possible for us to use God’s blessings improperly. Noah did this with the wine from the vineyard. This could be used properly (1 Timothy 5:23) or improperly (1 Peter 4:3). The same is true for many of the blessings God gives – certain drugs (Galatians 5:20), money (1 Timothy 6:10, 17), and even our own bodies (1 Corinthians 6:18-20). There is a right way and a wrong way to use many of these things. We must use them properly to honor God and be good stewards of His blessings rather than use them in a way that dishonors Him.

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