Thanksgiving and Noah’s Ark

Thanksgiving and Noah's Ark

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. (Genesis 8:20)

I think Noah demonstrates for us one of the most important keys there is to walking closely with Jesus Christ. The very first thing Noah did after he stepped off the ark was to sacrifice some of the clean animals and birds to God. I can’t imagine doing that. In my own flesh I would have said, “I have just seven sheep here, should I take the seventh and make a sacrifice? I have to populate the whole world from this diminished tiny herd. Doesn’t it make more sense to wait until the animals have multiplied before sacrificing to You Lord?”

But in the words of Matthew Henry, “Serving God with our little is the way to make it more; and we must never think that wasted with which God is honoured.” Obviously Noah had a grasp of this truth.

And Noah had a grasp of the power of thanksgiving. Imagine with me that you’ve been cooped up in an ark with thousands of animals (and with all of the sanitation issues that implies). You’ve been cooped up like this for more than a year! For 377 days! What’s the first thing you want to do when you get out? Celebrate with a party? Go for a long walk just because you finally can? Build a house for yourself? Play some frisbee football? That’s what I’d want to do but that’s not what Noah did. Noah Continue reading

Genesis 8:10-22 — 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

The Sacrifice of Noah c. 1640 by Sebastien Bourdon

He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. 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. He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him.

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. By the twenty-seventh day of the second month the earth was completely dry.

Then God said to Noah, “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. 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.”

So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives. 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.

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. The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.

“As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”

Genesis 8:10-22

When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! (v.11) As we saw in the last post, the raven, a symbol of living life in the flesh, never returned with anything. (see previous post: He Sent Out a Dove) The dove, a symbol of living the spirit filled life that God desires for you, returned with an olive leaf, a symbol of peace. If you’re interested in having peace in your life, ask God for His holy spirit. Just ask. (see special post about living the spirit filled life)

Then God said to Noah, “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives.” (v.15-16) Isn’t it interesting that we see in verse 13 that on the first day of the first month Noah saw that the earth was dry. Yet Noah remained in the ark until he heard God’s word on the twenty-seventh day of the second month. Noah was a man who lived his life in obedience to God’s word. He saw how listening to God’s words had saved him and his family so he waited. He waited to hear from his Lord. From the time he heard God’s instructions to build the ark until the time his feet hit the ground Noah heeded God. Today it’s the same for you and it’s the same for me. If you want to live, if you want to survive life’s floods, if you want your family to live, listen to God’s word.

We’re inundated with information today, primarily because of the internet. The internet is an amazing resource, a great and powerful tool. With it we can learn practical wisdom, we can find distraction in the form of entertainment, we can communicate with friends and family like never before. But all of that is no substitute for God’s word.

He’s waiting to speak with you. His scripture is there, available to you. Wisdom from the Faithful and True One. (Revelation 1:11) Wisdom from the Almighty Most High God. (Revelation 1:8, Hebrews 7:1)

He waits for you — in His Bible.

Even as Noah enjoyed life as a result of obeying God’s word, you too can enjoy life in such greater measure if you listen to God’s words.

Just open the book.

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. (v.20) This verse provides for us a wonderful lesson in giving. In my own flesh I would have said, “I have just seven sheep here, should I take the seventh and make a sacrifice? I have to populate the whole world from this diminished tiny herd. Doesn’t it make more sense to wait until the animals have multiplied before sacrificing to You Lord?”

R.G. LeTourneau began life as a man of modest means. But when he started his business, a manufacturer of earth moving machines, he decided to tithe 90% of his profit and keep only 10% for himself. Incredibly, his business exploded to become the premiere giant earth moving equipment manufacturer in the world. He was the first to build giant equipment of this kind. I mean giant equipment, the type with tires twice as tall as a man. He became rich beyond what I can even comprehend. He himself said the money just came in faster than he could spend it. Speaking of his practice of giving 90% of his income he said, “I shovel it out and God shovels it back, but God has a bigger shovel.” Research his story, it’s amazing. Or read his biography, Mover of Men and Mountains.

In the words of Matthew Henry, “Serving God with our little is the way to make it more; and we must never think that wasted with which God is honoured.” Obviously Noah had a good grasp of this truth.

Now imagine with me that you’ve been cooped up in an ark with thousands of animals (and with all of the sanitation issues that that implies). You’ve been cooped up like this for more than a year! For 377 days! What’s the first thing you want to do when you get out? Celebrate? Throw a party? Play some frisbee football? Go for a long walk just because you finally can? Build a house for yourself? That’s what I’d want to do but that’s not what Noah did. Noah built an alter and sacrificed to his Lord. Noah gave thanks!

This is such a key in our walk with the Lord — recognizing that everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving. (1 Timothy 4:4) Paul was talking about those on whom God’s wrath falls when he said in Romans 1:21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him…

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18) Thanksgiving is a pleasing aroma to our God. (Genesis 8:21) The flood didn’t eradicate the problem of sin as we see in verse 21 that still every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. But it was Noah’s sacrifice that prompted God to say, “…never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.” (v.21) Our Lord’s sacrifice, Jesus’ sacrifice, the ultimate sacrifice is what prompts God to show us mercy in spite of our sin today.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Colossians 2:6-7

References:

Blue Letter Bible

Jon Courson

Ray Stedman

Matthew Henry

North Shore News

Genesis 8:2-9 — he sent out a dove

Now the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens had been closed, and the rain had stopped falling from the sky. The water receded steadily from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down, and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. 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. After forty days Noah opened a window he had made in the ark and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth. Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. 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.

Genesis 8:2-9

…on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. (v.4) After the Jews were delivered from Egypt, the seventh month became the first month of the Hebrew calendar. (Exodus 12:1-5) It was on the fourteenth day of the first month, the day of Passover, when Jesus was crucified. Three days later Jesus rose from the dead. Three days after the fourteenth day was, of course, the seventeenth day. (Luke 23:53-56)

So it happened that the Ark came to rest on the same day that the resurrection came to pass.

Even as the ark came to rest, you and I can rest in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. His resurrection is the validation that Jesus is who He says He is.

“…we want to see a sign…” the Pharisees said, unbelieving. Jesus replied, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matthew 12:38-40)

…God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. (Acts 10:40)

Noah opened a window he had made in the ark and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth. (v.6-7) The raven, sent out into the world, never came  back. Perhaps finding the floating bloated bodies of the dead animals that succumbed to the flood, the raven did as ravens do, and tore into the flesh of the carrion. The raven here represents your flesh and my flesh. Our desire to feed on things that are dead in God’s economy, things that are dead to the eternal. The raven never returned to Noah, the raven never brought anything back as we’ll see that the dove does in the next post. Acting in the flesh, in our own energy, apart from God’s spirit, like the raven, results in nothing of eternal value in return. Acting in the energy of our flesh results in a life without love.

The story is told of the Drill Sergeant who received a phone call informing him that Private Johnson’s mother had died. The Sergeant, being a can-do-git-er-done-and-move-on kind of guy, simply walked up to Private Johnson at morning line-up and told him straight out, “Johnson, your mother died.”

Johnson, who was horrified at the news, broke down and cried in front of the whole platoon. Later it got back to the Sergeant’s superior who called him in for a reprimand. “You can’t just come right out and tell someone that their mother died! Next time, you have to break it to them gently.”

The Drill Sergeant took his reprimand like a man, humbly nodded his understanding, and went his way.

Sure enough a week later the Sergeant received a phone call informing him that someone’s mother died, this time it was Private Jones’.

That morning at line up the Sergeant started toward Jones, but, suddenly, remembering the words of his superior, the Drill Sergeant stopped and barked, “Everyone with a mother take one step forward…”

“…not so fast Jones!”

Noah sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. 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. (v. 8-9) The dove, a representation of the Holy Spirit in scripture, provides for us an insight into God’s heart for you and for me. Even as the dove ranged throughout the earth looking for a place to perch, 2 Chronicles 16:9 tells us that the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth looking for someone He can strengthen and use. God’s eyes range throughout the earth looking for someone to bless with His Holy Spirit. Someone He can pour out His Spirit upon to strengthen and use.

Lord help me to be that person. In today’s world we’re inundated with the opportunity to do more. Home has become an office away from the office. Family and friends text and email and call your cell phone and post on facebook and water your plants on Farmville. “What kind of person am I?” we think, if we don’t respond to the emails from work, if we don’t reply to that text message, if we don’t answer the cell phone, if we don’t return the favor on Farmville.

Fast internet

fast food

fast forward

move fast, fast, fast!

Scripture points to a problem with the rapid pace lifestyle many of us are living today – a lack of love. The dove released by Noah, is the symbol of God’s Holy Spirit, and the fruit of God’s Holy Spirit is love. (Galatians 5:22 – see previous post) When we become caught up in the rapid pace of life a disconnect with God’s Holy Spirit often creeps in. Yes we may be connected with family and friends, yes we may be more productive at work, yes our Farmville farm may be expanding, but this is all for naught without the fruit of the Holy Spirit, without love.

We might be more productive than ever in terms of accomplishing tasks, but when we’re in the can-do-git-er-done-and-move-forward mode, like the Drill Sergeant we can leave out the most important ingredient in life:

Love.

1 Corinthians 13 tells us that of faith, hope, and love, love is the greatest. (1 Corinthians 13:13) And the same chapter of scripture tells me that when I’m buzzing about, accomplishing much, pushing myself to the limit in the energy of my flesh, gritting my teeth and pressing on, I can be drained and disagreeable: I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. (1 Corinthians 13:1)

Less really can be more! When I’m pushing myself, when you’re pressing forward too hard, we often fall into a pattern of moving through life without love. This is contrary to what God wants for us! Jesus said that we would be known as belonging to Him by our love! When I push too hard, I can push God’s love right out of my heart. (See related post: Rest)

In scripture, is Jesus ever seen buzzing about? Is Jesus ever seen in a hurry? Never. Not once. You and I must live the same way. Avoid the trap of doing just a little bit more. Be rejuvenated, rested, and ready to love people.

Leave a place for the dove to land.

Leave room in your life for love.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

John 13:34-35

See related post: Rest

References:

Bible Gateway

Jon Courson

Ray Stedman

Illustration by Joseph Miller

Genesis 8:1 — God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark

God Remembered by danN

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.

Genesis 8:1

God spoke with Noah when He told him to come into the ark. (See post on Genesis 7:1-5) After that, we have no record of God speaking with Noah for another three hundred and seventy-seven days.

Just last night I learned the story of Temple Grandin. By the time she was four years old she still hadn’t spoken her first word at which point doctors diagnosed her with autism. Temple’s mother, Eustacia, was told that she may never speak at all. Her doctors recommended that Temple be institutionalized. Eustacia was completely flooded with confusion and doubt. What had gone wrong? She had another child that was completely normal. How could she possibly cope with all that came with having an autistic child? Temple’s mother decided on a different course of action from that recommended by the doctors. She decided to work with Temple herself, at home, on the basics: learning words, learning manners, being in the same room with people. Anyone who’s life has been touched by someone with autism knows that this is an incredibly tedious grind. In Temple’s case this travail lasted for years and years.

Had God forgotten about Temple Grandin?

After years of hard work Temple was eventually able to attend school. School was painful, Temple was often ridiculed for her awkward way with people. But while in school it was discovered that Temple’s mind worked in pictures which in turn, led to the discovery of special abilities with spatial perception and mechanical design. Temple Grandin could do things that ordinary people couldn’t do. Incredibly she went to college and received her Bachelors degree from Franklin Pierce College, her Masters from Arizona State, and her Doctorate from the University of Illinois. On her aunt’s ranch it was discovered that in addition to her mechanical design abilities she also had a knack for working with livestock. Combining these gifts she published articles in ranching magazines and eventually published a book titled Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior.

Today McDonalds and several other of the largest processors of beef in the United States use Temple Grandin’s designs in their processing plants. Today Temple Grandin is an associate professor of animal science at Colorado State University.

God remembered.

Is your world flooded with problems right now? Flooded with debt? Flooded with illness? Flooded with heartbreak?

Has it been three hundred and seventy-seven days since you’ve heard from the Lord? Are you starting to wonder if God has forgotten about you?

Listen, God will never forget about you. The same God who loves you so much that He sent His only Son to be tortured for you, to die for you, is the same God who will never forget you. It’s not rational for an omniscient God who has gone to the extreme of sacrificing what’s most dear to him on your behalf to forget you. It doesn’t matter if you think you haven’t heard from Him in three hundred and seventy-seven days, three hundred and seventy-seven weeks, or three hundred and seventy-seven months, He won’t forget you. He can’t forget you. He loves you too much.

And just as He was with Noah, He wants His very best for you.

Sometimes that means waiting.

…we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Romans 5:3-4


References:

Bible Gateway

Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, Old Testament, Vol. 1

Encyclopedia of World Biography

Temple Grandin on Amazon.com

Temple Grandin, the Movie