All the Animals Were on Noah’s Ark
5 And God seeing that the wickedness of men was great on the earth, and that all the thought of their heart was bent upon evil at all times,
6 It repented him that he had made man on the earth. And being touched inwardly with sorrow of heart, 7 He said: I will destroy man, whom I have created, from the face of the earth, from man even to beasts, from the creeping thing even to the fowls of the air, for it repenteth me that I have made them. 8 But Noah found grace before the Lord.
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By the time Noah was on the earth, all of mankind had forgotten God. All, that is, except for Noah and his family, who still managed to live righteous lives in the midst of the depravity that surrounded them. We don’t know what God had done to reach out to the people of the world before the Flood, but whatever it was, apparently no one really cared. And so God told Noah to prepare to be the new beginning for mankind.
“Noah found favor with the Lord” the Bible says. Noah, at least, was striving to live a holy life, even if no one else did. God saved Noah and his family (and all the animals) in the ark and cleansed the world from sin with the flood. Ever since the early Church, this has been seen as a type for the Church Herself. The Church is like the Ark, carrying us through the waters of Baptism and into a new life in God. Our sin is washed away with water, just like the sins of the world were washed away by the flood.
And even though Noah might have faced ridicule, he still did what God asked of him. In 2007, Tom Shadyac made a modern-day re-telling of Noah’s story with his movie Evan Almighty
. In it, Evan hears (and sees) God and builds an enormous ark exactly like Noah’s – right in the middle of his half-build housing development. With Evan, we get to imagine what Noah probably went through as he built the original ark: ridicule, gossip, and self-doubt as he wondered if this was really what God wanted from him in life. (The movie is actually a favorite of our family.)
With Noah, he was on the ark for a very long time. We think about the 40 days and 40 nights of rain, but after the rain stopped, there was still a lot of water that covered the earth. Genesis 7:24 tells us “The waters maintained their crest over the earth for one hundred and fifty days.” (Imagine spending six months on an ark with your immediate family and untold numbers of animals!) And that’s when God “remembered” Noah and his family. Of course, God didn’t actually forget Noah. This is how the ancient Hebrews would phrase it when God was ready to act. God knew Noah was there, and it was by His providence that Noah had survived all this time. But now, it was time to do something more. Now was the time for Noah to prepare to leave the safety of the ark and begin again.
It was still another couple of months after the ark was land-bound before the ground was dry enough to venture out. And when the family finally left the ark, Noah built an altar to the Lord, chose one of each clean animal and clean bird from the ark, and offered a sacrifice right there in thanksgiving. God was pleased with this, and He made a new covenant with Noah: never again would He destroy the earth. And to help Noah to remember this, God placed a rainbow in the sky as a visible reminder of His covenant and promise.
No matter what happened after that, no matter how bad things seemed, God has continued to send us a visible reminder of His promise that He loves us and cares for us. The rainbow still appears, and people seem to have an innate, joyful reaction to it. It’s as if our very souls know what it means to see the rainbow, and we rejoice at the sight.
When we’re feeling overwhelmed by life, when things seem to all be going wrong, we can remember the rainbow. We can remember that God loves us every time one appears in the sky. When you see your next rainbow, whether it’s in person or on Instagram, take a moment and thank God for His providence and love. Thank Him for his covenant.
Meditation text and pictures © Christine Johnson