I always want things to happen now. I make a decision and I act on it immediately. When a project calls for waiting from the time I do my work until the next step, I jump to the next step. Recently I went on a trip about three hours away. We arrived at the destination and the car was still about twenty feet from where it would park. I jumped out of the car to walk the last twenty feet. I jumped out of the car in such a hurry I hit my head very hard on the door, it still hurts badly five days later. I would have had a very difficult time in the ark after the rain stopped. When God commands me to do something I jump in with both feet and do it now. I don’t wait. I make plans. I forget to hear the rest of His plans and assume my own are the same as His. Proverbs 27:1 reminds us not to do that.
Do not boast about tomorrow,
for you do not know what a day may bring.
Noah and his family had been in the ark for a long time, for 40 days while the rain flooded the earth, then for 150 days while the water subsided. That is about 6 and half months. That’s an extremely long time to be cooped up inside. But even then it wasn’t time to open the door and go outside. Verses 1-5 read,
But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided. 2 The fountains of the deep and the windows of the heavens were closed, the rain from the heavens was restrained, 3 and the waters receded from the earth continually. At the end of 150 days the waters had abated, 4 and in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. 5 And the waters continued to abate until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains were seen.
So until the seventh month the ark was still afloat. It came to rest on Mount Ararat. I would have wanted to open the door and at least set my foot on the mountain. But it wasn’t time yet. I would have wondered what the harm would be in just opening the door. The earth was still covered up with water three months later, only the mountain tops were showing. The animals that may have gone outside would not have been able to live. We have to trust God’s time, not our own. He knows when it’s best. Noah chose to trust God’s sovereignty and judgement over his own judgement. Verses 6-12 read,
At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made 7 and sent forth a raven. It went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth. 8 Then he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground. 9 But the dove found no place to set her foot, and she returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took her and brought her into the ark with him. 10 He waited another seven days, and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark.11 And the dove came back to him in the evening, and behold, in her mouth was a freshly plucked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth. 12 Then he waited another seven days and sent forth the dove, and she did not return to him anymore.
Forty days later, after nearly a year in the ark, Noah opened a window and sent a raven out. By now the waters were certainly dropping and from there spot on the mountain they could not see it anymore. Noah needed to know when they could go out. The raven flew out and flew back and forth between the boat and what was out there. Ravens are opportunistic omnivores, which means that they will also be carrion eaters if they need to be. Noah knew that the raven would be able to survive out of the boat. As long as the raven kept coming back to rest on the ark, it was still not time. When the waters were dried up, the raven didn’t come back. For me that would have meant open the door we’re going outside! But no standing water didn’t mean dry ground ready for habitation. Then Noah sent out a dove. The dove’s diet is mainly grasses, herbs, and berries. They may eat some animals like snails but there were no land animals for the dove to eat outside the ark. So the dove flew out, couldn’t find a place to rest and came back to Noah. He waited a week and sent her out again and this time she came back to him with an olive leaf. Noah knew the plants and trees were flourishing, but the dove still found no place to rest. Seven days later, he sent her out again and this time she stayed gone. Now he knew the ground was dry.
If Noah had leaned on his own understanding as I lean on mine only too often, he would have left the ark much sooner but he was in the ark over a year trusting God. He sent out a dove, a symbol for you and me of the Holy Spirit (Luke 3:22). He waited for God to speak through the dove’s actions to tell him when it was time. Verse 13 reads,
In the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried from off the earth. And Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and behold, the face of the ground was dry.
Noah removed the covering of the ark. He didn’t open the door that the Lord had shut and rush outside. He let the sunshine and fresh air in but they remained inside. Why? Because the Lord had not yet told him to go outside. Noah was responsible for all the life on board. Every animal and every person was counting on Noah to keep them safe and alive. Noah was depending on God. Verses 14-19 read,
In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth had dried out. 15 Then God said to Noah, 16 “Go out from the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons' wives with you. 17 Bring out with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh—birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth—that they may swarm on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” 18 So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons' wives with him. 19 Every beast, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out by families from the ark.
They had been in the ark for nearly 15 months when The Lord said they could leave. It was finally time! It was not time because Noah thought so, or because a bird had returned with an olive leaf, but because the Lord said so. Did they rush out? Was there a stampede? No, God was even in control of the animals’ instincts. They left in an orderly fashion, by families.
What would you have done? Would you have kissed the ground or picked some fresh vegetables or fruit and chowed down? Noah worshipped the Lord. Verses 20-22 read,
Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”
This was no little altar with a meager offering. Noah offered some (more than one) of EVERY clean animal and bird. That was no small or easy feat. Building the altar, killing and butchering the animals, building the fire, and making the offerings was a great deal of work. Noah loved the Lord. And the Lord was pleased by the aroma. He loved Noah. He loved Noah so much and was so pleased by this righteous man that the earth had been saved, you and I were given the chance to live, and God made a promise to Himself. The Message puts it this way, “I’ll never again curse the ground because of people. I know they have this bent toward evil from an early age, but I’ll never again kill off everything living as I’ve just done. For as long as Earth lasts, planting and harvest, cold and heat, Summer and winter, day and night will never stop.”
God knows our hearts. He knows we are flawed and then we tend toward evil. Yet, He has chosen never to wipe us out again. He has said as long as the earth remains the seasons will continue, His sovereignty, provision, and wisdom will go on for us.
Do you trust your knowledge, your plans, and your wisdom, or do you trust God? Are you willing to wait on God, lean on His understanding, and enjoy the best rather than settle for yours?