Genesis 5-8
(Noah and the Flood)
January 2nd


Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verses

But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

- Genesis 6:8 (NIV)

Summary of Chapters

Chapter 5 reviews the genealogy and family tree leading from Adam to Noah, a series of people with great longevity. The next chapter reports that the LORD decided to limit human life to 120 years, and then he decided to wipe them out because they were evil, except for Noah, who was righteous and blameless.

In chapter 7, God instructed Noah to build an ark and fill it with his family members and representatives of each animal species. “ ‘seven of every kind of clean animal…two of every kind of unclean animal...and seven of every kind of bird’ (7:2-3 - NIV).” The flood came as God said it would, covering every mountaintop with water and wiping out all the evil on earth. Chapter 8 describes the end of the flood:

    He (Noah) waited another seven days, and again he sent out the dove from the ark; and the dove came back to him in the evening, and there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf; so Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth. Then he waited another seven days, and sent out the dove; and it did not return to him any more.

    - Genesis 8:10-12 (NRSV)

Subsequently, the LORD told Noah and his family to go out of the ark and to let the animals free. Noah built an alter and offered a sacrifice to give thanks. The sacrifice was pleasing to the LORD who promised to never flood the earth like that again.

    Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and choosing from every clean animal and every clean bird, he offered burnt offerings on the altar.

    When the LORD smelled the sweet odor, the LORD said to himself: Never again will I curse the ground because of human beings, since the desires of the human heart are evil from youth; nor will I ever again strike down every living being, as I have done.

    All the days of the earth,
       seedtime and harvest,
      cold and heat,
    Summer and winter,
      and day and night
      shall not cease.

    - Genesis 8:21-22 (NAB)


Reflection and Application

The account of Noah and the Ark is deeply embedded in our culture, as can be seen by its representation in many artistic recreations throughout history. For example, the image of the dove returning back to the ark with an olive branch (or leaf), as described in chapter 8, has become an international symbol of peace. In the story of Noah, it is the branch itself that represents peace and forgiveness, because it demonstrated that God had allowed the waters to recede, allowing man to live in peace once more.

However, it has been the combination of the dove with the olive branch, as seen by Noah, that has become a popular image. In the first few years after the independence of the United States, some of the southern states used the symbol of the dove and the branch on their currency. In the first half of the 20th century, Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) depicted the image in his painting Dove of Peace. A photograph of a reproduction of this famous painting is shown at the top of this page. The painting gained global awareness when it was featured in a banner above the main stage at the 1952 World Peace Conference ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/wiki/Peace_symbols).

The anti-war protestors and peace advocates of the 1960s and 1970s also adopted variations of this image, sometimes with the branch and sometimes without the branch. One of the most famous examples was the drawing of a dove sitting on a guitar in a poster for a music festival held near Woodstock, NY in 1969.

Another example from popular culture is an animated depiction of the story of Noah preparing and launching the ark with background music from Elgar’s classical score Pomp and Circumstance. This animation can be found in the Noah segment of Disney’s Fantasia. The entire animated film was re-released on DVD and Blue-Ray in 2010. You can click the link below to view a version of Disney’s Noah:

"A Arca de Noé (Noah's Ark)"

The narrative of survival by ark also received a modern update in the science-fiction disaster movie titled 2012, which was released in 2009. In this movie, scientists predicted that the Earth would once again be covered in water, but a selection of animals and 400,000 humans survive in a pair of metal and mechanical arks launched from the Himalayas.

The story of Noah also inspired a man in the Netherlands to organize the building of a life-size replica. He began in 2005, completed it in 2012, and opened it up for visitors in December 2012. The Dutchman who started the project, Johann Huibers noted that "If you have faith, anything is possible(1)." You can read more about this man, his faith, and the Dutch ark at the following link:

"Noah's Ark Replica in the Netherlands"

It’s an interesting dichotomy to observe the popularity of the Noah story versus the challenge of fully believing every report in this group of chapters. For some people, this section may be one of the harder parts of the Bible to accept, perhaps even more difficult than the resurrection of Jesus as recorded in the New Testament.

Questions that might come to mind include these: Who were the Nephilim and Sons of God described in Genesis 6:4? How is that humans lived for hundreds of years and how did God rebuild the earth with the members of just one family and two or seven of each species? Was the whole earth really covered with water? Where is the geological evidence and where is the ark? Jesus answers this question when he says that " 'with God all things are possible' (Matt 19:26 - NIV)." Perhaps it’s good for us to raise these questions and discuss them freely with God, but we might be well-advised to not get stuck on these points of contention.

Instead, we might want to contemplate the following theme: Although everyone around him was evil, Noah somehow refused to be influenced by them. A question that we may want to consider for ourselves is “am I influenced by others or do I influence them?”

Jesus reminded his disciples of one of the lessons of Noah’s story when he explained that the other people of Noah’s day were taken by surprise:

    "The time of the Son of Man will be just like the time of Noah— everyone carrying on as usual, having a good time right up to the day Noah boarded the ship. They suspected nothing until the flood hit and swept everything away."

    Luke 17-26-27 (MSG)

With this reference Jesus advises us to follow Noah’s example of moral living and faithfulness, and reminds us to be ready at all times, because no man knows when the day of the LORD will come.

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. In what ways are we influenced by others?
    2. In what ways do we influence others?
    3. How can we contribute to creating an environment of peace and forgiveness in our world?

    Recommended Prayer
    Father, please help us to be faithful to you and uninfluenced by the world.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    Zookeepers, Game Wardens and others who work with wild animals

    Footnote

    (1) "Noah's Ark full-scale replica opens in Netherlands," CBC News website, http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/noah-s-ark-full-scale-replica-opens-in-netherlands-1.1289548 , December 10th, 2012

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Genesis 9-12 (Two Eternal Promises).

    Comments and Questions
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