This week a group of NASA recruits, have begun an experiment to simulate what it would be like to live on Mars. The six people will live in a dome 11 metres across and 6 metres high, near a barren volcano in Hawaii for a year. They will be without fresh air; fresh food or privacy and any journey outside will require a spacesuit. My suspicion is that not many of us would find the prospect of being one of the volunteers appealing, but it may be easier than it was for eight people and hundreds of animals shut up inside the ark for a year.
‘But God remembered Noah.’ It wasn’t that God forgot him; things do not slip from God’s mind as they do for us. God turned his active attention to Noah and all those on the ark. God was at work; he sent a wind, the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens were closed (we can only speculate as to what that means), the rain was stopped and the waters began to recede. The ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. For those on the ark, it may have seemed that nothing was happening but actually God was at work, bringing things about for their deliverance.
Noah is a lovely example of obedience once again. He is active, rather than just sitting around, after the ark had come to rest, he waited forty days and then opened the window. He sent out birds to check the condition of the ground, then after another week sent out the dove once more and found out that the waters were receding. After another week, he sent out the dove once more and when it didn’t return, he knew that the waters had receded further. Months later, he removed the covering from the ark and could then see that the ground was dry. There must have been a temptation for those on the ark to just get out but Noah waited several week until at last God said; ‘Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives’. God had shut Noah in and he wasn’t leaving until he heard God’s command to do so.
Noah’s first act on leaving the ark was to worship God. It was of course the appropriate thing to do; God had led him and his family through a great trial and had proven himself to be awesome, in the true sense of the word, and yet loving and faithful – how else could Noah respond? God was pleased with the sacrifice; ‘The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma’. I think the Lord was pleased with Noah’s heart rather than the smell of the offering. He made a covenant with Noah, the first in Scripture. Why should God make a covenant with a man? It is hardly a meeting of equals – God is all powerful, holy, righteous, and eternal and human being are not. God binds himself to his people by means of precious promises, he doesn’t have to but because of his great love, it is what he does. What a Saviour!
Great God of wonders! all thy ways
Are matchless, godlike and divine;
But the fair glories of thy grace
More godlike and unrivaled shine.
Who is a pard’ning God like thee?
Or who has grace so rich and free? (Samuel Davies)