Every time I hear the flood story I am reminded of a song we used to sing as children in Sunday School called "Rise and Shine". It was all about the children's story of the ark, where Noah put animals on by twosies, twosies. However, the account we have says he took pairs of unclean animals and then seven pairs of clean animals and birds.
He took the beginning of herds/flocks of clean animals. The significance behind this is two-fold. One, it tells us that clean and unclean foods were so important to the tellers of the story that here, even before the giving of the law, there is a point made that clean animals were available. Two, it allows Noah to have appropriate animals to sacrifice in worship. Again, this is important to the tellers of the story. Noah would not have yet "known" these rules, but they are mentioned here as a way of explaining why Noah and his family were spared. Essentially because of their righteousness in the mind of the author.
What stands out to you about the story as it is written verses how you may have it in your memory?
This is the first record in the Bible of rain. I'm not sure if rains had come before, but this is the first mention. I can't help but imagine how it would have felt to see water coming down from the sky for the first time. I would imagine there would have been a fear that the whole sky was going to collapse. I also imagine what it must have felt like to be Noah and his family, safe in the ark, knowing that everyone else they knew had drowned. I'm not really sure where to put that emotion.
Noah and his family members were inside the ark for at least 150 days and nights. (If that doesn't sound to bad to you, remember that this family included three daughter-in-laws.) As the days passed and the rain ceased Noah began sending out birds to see if there might be enough dry land. Eventually the bird he sent did not return and they left the ark. What is the first thing Noah does? Builds an altar.
Noah's first reaction is one of praise and thanksgiving. He offers a sacrifice, he worships. When we have been through trials and tribulation our first inclination should be worship, a recognition that God, greater than us, has been in control the whole time. Worship is about honoring God and placing God first.
This passage is one of my favorite and least favorite ones in the whole book of Genesis. God tells Noah and his family that the whole of the earth is at their use, but not to abuse that privilege. God also makes a covenant with humanity. The rainbow.
What I like about this covenant is not that we get a pretty thing to hang in the sky and draw pictures of and sing sentimental songs about. What I like is that it is a one-sided covenant. God establishes this with the earth and does not require anything of the earth to keep this covenant. God is the one with power and control. God uses the rainbow as a reminder to God-self of the promise made.
I am not a fan of what follows. Noah is a wine maker. As he is a righteous man, I can only assume that being a wine maker is not bad. However, he gets so intoxicated by his creation as to fall asleep naked in a place he could be seen. As I understand things, nakedness was not a sin, but viewing another's nakedness put you in the place of sinning, being shamed. In walks Ham. Ham sees what's going on and runs to tell his brothers. His brothers walk backwards with a coat between them so that they may cover their father without being embarrassed themselves.
When Noah awakes he learns what has happened and curses Canaan. Canaan is Ham's youngest son. That seems so unfair to me. What did he do wrong? It doesn't sit well for some reason.
We are introduced to John the Baptist in this chapter. John is a wild man, with unkempt hair, strange clothing and an even stranger diet. He come on the scene preaching repentance. He says God can raise up children of Abraham from the stones, a quote in another Gospel attributed to Jesus.
John is a man who drew great interest and curiosity. But he did not seek to capitalize on that, only to prepare people for the coming of Christ.
Jesus comes to John seeking baptism. John's reply is that John should be seeking Jesus to do this for him. They work out their differences and John proceeds to baptize Jesus. The Spirit of God alights on Jesus and a voice from heaven says "This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased."
I have been honored to baptize several individuals through my ministry and each time I feel this sense of the Holy. Each time I feel unworthy to do the task I am asked to do. Each time I am reminded that we are all beloved children of God, claimed by God's Spirit. Each time I leave knowing I have been in the presence of God.
My name is Cardelia Howell-Diamond and I pastor a congregation in Alabama. I'm a clergymama, with a clergymama! I have three lovely littles and an amazing clergyman husband. I love life in the church, even when I don't! I knit, crochet, read, write and sew, though none of these as often as I'd like.