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. 2 Now the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens had been closed, and the rain had stopped falling from the sky. 3 The water receded steadily from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down, 4 and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. 5 The waters continued to recede until the tenth month, and on the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains became visible.
6 After forty days Noah opened a window he had made in the ark 7 and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth. 8 Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. 9 But the dove could find nowhere to perch because there was water over all the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark. 10 He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. 11 When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth. 12 He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him.
13 By the first day of the first month of Noah’s six hundred and first year, the water had dried up from the earth. Noah then removed the covering from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry. 14 By the twenty-seventh day of the second month the earth was completely dry.
15 Then God said to Noah, 16 “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. 17 Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you—the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground—so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number on it.”
18 So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives. 19 All the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birds—everything that moves on land—came out of the ark, one kind after another.
20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it.
What to do when the storm is over
Noah and his family have endured a lot.
They have separated themselves from their neighbors–for better or for worse–and likely felt loneliness either from their different way of life or for their call to this holy task of building an ark. They have been stuck over a month on a boat, tossed and turned by a storm, enduring the sounds and smells of their animal companions. There is nothing but water around them, and as the storm raged there is no sunlight.
When things begin to clear up, they are met with uncertainty, sending out birds to find hope of dry land. It takes multiple attempts before they have any reassurance that there will be normalcy. But finally they come out of the Ark, inhabit earth again, and what is the first thing Noah does?
He gives thanks. He makes a sacrifice to God.
What a strange gesture.
We are to believe that the only animals left on the earth belong to the Ark, and so a sacrifice of animals is a strain to say the least on the circle of life. Noah gives this animal back to God as a token of trust and gratitude, of consecrating new ground: the new earth baptized.
Here is the first implication: consecration. Noah gives nature back to God in sacrifice, consecrating over a precious and limited commodity to God. Noah plants a spiritual flag in the earth through this sacrifice, claiming it as God’s earth. The stewardship man abused in previous generations is restored in a way as humanity realizes this is not a playground to make amuck of, but a precious gift that we are honored to enjoy that will be expected to be given back into God’s hands.
The other implication of this sacrifice is trust. As mentioned, Noah is endangering new life through this sacrifice as it comes at a cost. Perhaps that burnt offering was supposed to be their next meal, or their livestock they would have raised to sustain themselves with. Noah and his family are sure to be no strangers of scarcity after seeing all things perish by the deluge, and perhaps they have considered another flood could come, or perhaps even a drought. The sacrifice is a leap of faith by Noah, a bold gesture that communicates to God: this is yours, I’m giving it back knowing full well that I might need it, but I trust you’ll take care of me.
The last piece of this sacrifice is the gesture of gratitude. Noah easily could have become bitter by this whole operation, said no to God outright, tore his clothes for all that he had to endure and for knowing what kind of destruction lays all around him. Instead, Noah gives thanks to God. Perhaps this thanksgiving was for being spared, or for giving creation a second chance. After the turmoil, however, Noah does not walk away feeling entitled or jaded, but rather chooses to be grateful through an act of sacrifice.
do we have a responsibility to sacrifice?
What bearing does this simple act have upon us?
As mentioned before, we all will encounter our own storms, our own deluge, our own floods. Sickness, loss, trials, suffering, whatever it may be, we all will find life tests us in different ways. When we are so fortunate, so blessed, to come out of said circumstances and find dry, stable ground again, the question must be posed to us: what are you going to do with this?
Too often I’ve met individuals who walk away from their malady, giving little consideration as to any change or feeling they ought to feel leaving the clinic, the hospital, their sickness. Should one just carry on, back to normal? Or shouldn’t we give pause to how to consecrate the new ground of our new life? Shouldn’t we, after enduring such a storm, learn or endeavor to trust having come out alive and well? Shouldn’t we lift our eyes, our hearts, and hands in thanksgiving to God, rising up to acknowledge what He has done, and give testimony to the blessings in our life?
Today, consider the following:
- When you experienced a particularly “flood-like” trial, what did you do after going through it? Was it something self-serving or negative? Was it something gracious or positive?
- Who are those you can trust? Who are those you can’t? Do you find yourself beholden to a schedule or routine? What is your relationship with the word control?
- What are your first thoughts or actions when you first wake up? Where is your attention? What are five things you can be grateful for any given morning, and how d you put this gratitude into a habit?
- What is something you can “set aside” for God and understand your role as steward?