Genesis 7:1-16 Believers must put to death their ego without which they cannot progress
Then the Lord said to Noah, “Enter the ark, you and all your household, for you alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this time. 2 You shall take with you of every clean animal by sevens, a male and his female; and of the animals that are not clean two, a male and his female; 3 also of the birds of the sky, by sevens, male and female, to keep offspring alive on the face of all the earth. 4 For after seven more days, I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights; and I will blot out from the face of the land every living thing that I have made.” 5 Noah did according to all that the Lord had commanded him.
6 Now Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of water came upon the earth. 7 Then Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him entered the ark because of the water of the flood. 8 Of clean animals and animals that are not clean and birds and everything that creeps on the ground, 9 there went into the ark to Noah by twos, male and female, as God had commanded Noah.
10 It came about after the seven days, that the water of the flood came upon the earth. 11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened. 12 The rain fell upon the earth for forty days and forty nights. 13 On the very same day Noah and Shem and Ham and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them, entered the ark, 14 they and every beast after its kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth after its kind, and every bird after its kind, all sorts of birds. 15 So they went into the ark to Noah, by twos of all flesh in which was the breath of life. 16 Those that entered, male and female of all flesh, entered as God had commanded him; and the Lord closed it behind him.
God gives explicit instructions to Noah as the day of the flood draws near. Noah obeys God’s every command and enters the ark together with all that God has given him. The waters come upon the earth as God has promised to destroy all life. On a global scale, God destroys the earth in order to create a new humanity. At the individual level, God strips man of the things that he deems as important so that his ego may be put down. Today’s devotion teaches us God’s renewal process in the believer’s life; of creating, destroying and renewing. The believer must put down his ego to depend on God. In so doing, God may renew his soul causing him to experience abundant life to the full.
Enter the ark, you and all your household, … You shall take with you of every clean animal by sevens, a male and his female …
This is a divine command containing two instructions, “Enter” and “You shall take”. Noah is to enter the ark and he must take with him additional clean land animals and birds. The ratio being seven pairs of clean animals to one pair of not clean animals. The need for this measure becomes apparent when after the flood, clean animals will be offered as sacrifices to God. As for the birds, they will be released to survey the earth. Here, God gives specific details of its timing, “after seven more days” and “rain on the earth forty days and forty nights”. Noah, a righteous man he is did according to all that the Lord had commanded him. Noah’s fidelity towards God leads to his preservation and all who are with him.
Now Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of water came upon the earth.
The second panel of verses 10-16 seems to be a repeat of first panel, verses 6-9 but only more precise (see below figure).
It came about after the seven days, that the water of the flood came upon the earth.
“The seven days” hints at God’s pattern of working around a seven-day cycle. Notice a similar pattern in Noah while he waits for the flood to subside (Genesis 8); he releases a bird at intervals of seven days.
The precise date of the flood that marks the destruction of old creation attest to its gravity and solemnity. Also hidden in it are the principles that God uses to renew the world towards the New Heaven and New Earth (see Isaiah 65:17) that which cannot be shaken or marred by sin. It is likely that the primeval calendar system in used here is the Jubilee calendar (364 days a year) as opposed to the Solar calendar (365) that the modern world uses. In the Jubilee calendar, every date is therefore anchored to a specific day of the week, and does not change from year to year. For example, in the Jubilee calendar, the 1st of January always falls on a Wednesday regardless of the year. Wednesday, in the ancient tradition is considered as the beginning of things. Hence, using the Jubilee system, we can calculate the day of the week the flood waters actually come: the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month (7:11); which is a Sunday. With the information available in the text, events may be dated with 600 as the year that represents Noah’s age:
Notice the trend: the declaration and commencement of destruction by flood falls on a Sunday. Sunday, the first day of the week is also the commencement of creation according to Genesis 1 and the day that Jesus resurrects. Friday signifies consummation; it spells the end of God’s work of creation according to Genesis 1 and also God’s destructive act upon the earth in Genesis 7. Wednesday signifies new beginning: the appearance of mountains (8:5), the drying of the waters (8:13) culminating at Noah’s exit from the ark (8:14) which also falls on a Wednesday.
We see a pattern emerging: Sunday – Friday – Wednesday through which God creates and consummates; He destroys and recreates the world towards a new beginning. What God has created, He will also destroy albeit much regret so that He may recreate and renew the earth. At an individual level, God is constantly renewing and sanctifying the soul of man by putting to death his old man while recreating the new man according to the virtues of Christ. However, when humanity irreparably hardens his heart against God, God albeit much regret proceeds to wipe them out so that a new humanity may emerge.
The rain fell upon the earth for forty days and forty… On the very same day Noah…, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them, entered the ark.
The rare phrase “On the very same day” underscores that fateful day when the rain falls, when Noah and all with him enter the ark and the Lord closes the door behind him. These verses portends the founding of a new humanity and animal kingdom. Noah’s act of obedience not only saves himself but ushers in a new world order whose existence is sustained by covenant.
Believers must put to death their ego without which they cannot progress.
The flood reveals a divine scheme through which God causes humanity and all creation to progress towards a New Heaven and New Earth. God creates the earth for good, but destroys it in order to renew it again. The flood hurts humanity as much as it pains God; He makes an oath afterwards to never again curse and destroy the earth. Nevertheless, it is paramount that the old be obliterated before the new can emerge. On a global scale, God destroys the earth in order to create a new humanity. At the individual level, God often has to strip a man down to his last penny, to have his ego put down before he can be built up again. The story of Job attests to God’s wisdom of taking from him his family, his health and his finances so that his soul may become a new creation.
The process of renewal involves first putting to death the ego without which man cannot progress. In the process of renewal, man’s ego is usually the last remaining relic of the old creation. Reaching the ego involves tearing down the structures surrounding it making the process excruciating and arduous. Nevertheless, the ego is the stumbling block to success and the singular cause of failures, regrets and broken dreams. Jesus teaches about the stumbling properties of the ego,
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. John 12:24-25
By using the analogy of a grain of wheat, Jesus describes man’s ego (He who loves his life) as the singular cause of failure (loses it). Only when man considers his self-esteem and his achievements as unworthy (he who hates his life), will he progress towards perfection (will keep it to life eternal). Jesus, on His way to the cross is paraded on the streets and openly humiliated like an animal so that His ego may be razed to the ground and reset to zero. The Father considers it a requisite for all (including Jesus) to be subjected to extreme mortification so that all may be perfected.
Ego seeks to be exalted, to be seen as better than others. Jesus responds to a rich young ruler who calls Him “Good Teacher” saying, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” Jesus, knowing that He has yet to be extensively tested at the cross humbles Himself by looking to God as the standard of perfection. Likewise, believers must harbour the same attitude: to consider himself as not being good enough and always seeking to be taught.
Most of us (with me included), at the slightest hint of discredit or criticism impetuously slide into defensive mode spewing mindless excuses looking sheepish and irreparably pathetic. A humble person who has no ego is true to himself. And he commands utmost respect and favour before God and man.
Are you always concerned about how others perceive you? This constant preoccupation weighs on your soul and depletes the peace, joy and love of the Spirit. It prevents you from hearing God’s voice and receive feedbacks that are critical for your growth. Let us humble ourselves as true praise comes from God who alone knows and assesses all things.
Dear Lord, I humble myself before you and before the world. I acknowledge that there is no one who is good except God. Help me accept others and love them by not trying to change them. I ask you to regenerate my soul by your word and by the teachings of my friends and mentors. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.