Genesis 8:6-22 God has entrusted to the righteous the destiny of humanity
Then it came about at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made; 7 and he sent out a raven, and it flew here and there until the water was dried up from the earth. 8 Then he sent out a dove from him, to see if the water was abated from the face of the land; 9 but the dove found no resting place for the sole of her foot, so she returned to him into the ark, for the water was on the surface of all the earth. Then he put out his hand and took her, and brought her into the ark to himself. 10 So he waited yet another seven days; and again he sent out the dove from the ark. 11 The dove came to him toward evening, and behold, in her beak was a freshly picked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the water was abated from the earth. 12 Then he waited yet another seven days, and sent out the dove; but she did not return to him again.
13 Now it came about in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, on the first of the month, the water was dried up from the earth. Then Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and behold, the surface of the ground was dried up. 14 In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry.
15 Then God spoke to Noah, saying, 16 “Go out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. 17 Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you, birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, that they may breed abundantly 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 their families from the ark.
20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 The Lord smelled the soothing aroma; and the Lord said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done.”
22 “While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,
And cold and heat,
And summer and winter,
And day and night
Shall not cease.”
After a year of flood resulting in the tragic destruction of humanity, Noah disembarks looking to a whole new world. Noah intercedes for new humanity. His sacrifices rises up to God’s nostrils prompting Him to promise never to destroy every living thing but to save it. In today’s devotion, we learn of the efficacious prayers of the righteous in securing salvation for humanity. God has entrusted to the righteous the destiny of the human race.
Then it came about at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made; and he sent out a raven…
“End of forty days” marks the day as a Sunday when Noah starts surveying the new world. As the position of the window may not allow Noah to eye ball the state of the earth, he sends out a raven, a stronger bird that kept on flying “until the water was dried up from the earth”. Apparently, the raven does not return with useful information regarding the state of the flood. Noah resorts to sending out another bird, a dove to “to see if the water was abated from the face of the land”. The dove returns shortly having found “no resting place for the sole of her foot”. After seven days, Noah sends out another dove and it returns in the evening with a “freshly picked olive leaf” signalling that “the water was abated from the earth”. After seven more days, a dove is again sent out but this time it does not return and the text says nothing about the water.
Then Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and behold, the surface of the ground was dried up.
Noah sees for himself that the earth is dry. For it takes almost two months from the time Noah looks out to see the “surface of the ground was dried up” (1.1.601) to the time “the earth was dry” (27.2.601). Interestingly, the two dates (1.1601 and 27.2.601) according to the Jubilee Calendar fall on Wednesday which is also when the sun, moon, and stars are created. The detailed recording of the dates emphasises the importance of this stage of the narration: a whole new world has risen from the watery grave. A new era has come.
Then God spoke to Noah, saying, “Go out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and your sons’ wives with you.”
The divine word to disembark has finally come. This speaks of the fortitude of the man, Noah who having endured the weariness of being cramped in for a full year, upon the coming of a new dawn, does not move an inch out of the ark without the expressed instruction of God. Interestingly, the blessing “be fruitful and multiply on the earth” originally given only to the fish and the birds (see Genesis 1:20-22) is now extended to all land animals. The commandment to disembark in this post-flood era symbolically mirrors the first creative act by God and is very much a start of a new creation as in Genesis 1.
Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
Here, Noah builds the first altar and makes the first burnt offerings in biblical records. In burnt offerings, the whole animal is burnt on the altar and is the most common and basic type of sacrifice prescribed in the law. As the Lord smells the soothing aroma of Noah’s sacrifice, He responds by making a covenant with Noah: I will never again curse the ground on account of man. Notwithstanding man’s nature remaining unchanged, the threat of another flood is eliminated: for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done. The seasons that all life depend on that are disrupted by the flood will be maintained as God’s covenantal blessing to the world.
What drives Noah’s act of worship and sacrifice? Is Noah’s sacrifice propitiatory in appeasing God’s anger? Or is it of thanksgiving having been preserved from destruction? I believe Noah’s sacrifice is intercessory in nature. Noah, having witnessed the horror of his generation and family members being wiped out, intercedes and seeks a covenant of protection and mercy for a new humanity. It is a fact that God’s anger is already appeased by the just destruction of the old generation. Hence, a propitiatory sacrifice will carry little significance. A sacrifice of thanksgiving is deemed as inappropriate as humanity has just emerged from a catastrophic tragedy. But rather a sacrifice that is mediatory in purpose while seeking mercy and providence for a new generation will be most pressing on Noah’s mind. Noah’s intercessory sacrifice is indeed efficacious in producing within God gracious thoughts and intentions towards humanity.
The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
God preserves Noah’s life so that he may be the mediator and intercessor for a new humanity. There is something about Noah that moves God towards making a covenant to never again destroy every living thing. The sacrifice is merely a transport through which the soothing aroma of Noah’s righteousness rises up to the nostrils of God. It is Noah’s virtues that is the essence of the aroma. Likewise, it is the aroma of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross that moves God to forgive the sins of the world (see Ephesians 5:2). Therefore, the intercession of the righteous is to God a sweet and irresistible aroma (1 Corinthians 2:14-15), which is key to the salvation of any generation. Not the intercession of any man, but only of the righteous will do. What are the virtues of Noah that makes him righteous and efficacious in his intercession? Here are Noah’s virtues,
a. Blameless (Genesis 6:9) – Noah does not indulge himself in the corrupt desires of the flesh in eating, drinking, marrying and given in marriage (see Luke 17:27).
b. Faithful (Hebrews 11:7) – Noah believes every word that God says concerning the flood even though it seems incredible. And in reverence he obeys all of God’s instructions from the day he builds the ark, enters it and disembarks.
c. Zealous concerning the mission of God (2 Peter 2:5) – Noah is a preacher of righteousness while the rest of humanity indulges in worldly pursuits.
Many churchgoers considers themselves righteous having understood the power of the cross to forgive sins. But they have none of the righteousness and virtues that Noah possesses. Even as they continually pray for peace and seek divine blessings, God will not listen to them. King David says, “If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear.” Psalms 66:18. The apostle James says to the church, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” James 4:3. The criteria for efficacious prayers and intercession remains the same throughout the Old and the New Testaments. James likens the prayer of righteous Elijah as powerful effecting the supply of rain over Israel (see James 5:16-18). Therefore, it is not the frequency of prayer that accomplishes much; nor is it a series of carefully worded prayers invoked through Jesus’ name, but the posture of our hearts. Jesus teaches the disciples to pray as how the righteous would in interceding for the advancement of God’s kingdom while putting their personal needs aside (see Matthew 6:33). And at the close of His ministry, Jesus waits for the unrighteous Judas to take his leave before entrusting the authority of prayer to the disciples. Here, Jesus promises to do all that they ask in Jesus’ name (see John 14:13-14).
If God’s people desire their prayers to be answered like that of Noah, Elijah or the disciples of Jesus, they must set their hearts aright; to put the concerns of God’s kingdom above all concerns. God will only entrust His authority to those whom He can trust to advance His kingdom on the earth.
God has entrusted the destiny of humanity into the hands of the righteous.
God is moved into making covenants of blessings following the intercession of righteous men and women of God. God responds to the sweet aroma of their righteousness as it ascends to His heavenly throne. I have often question why God, being infinitely wise and with unlimited capacity to forgive will require the intercession of mortal men. Is God fundamentally harsh and judgmental in nature that He requires the aid of mere mortals to exercise divine mercy?
God, since the beginning has involved His sons in the creation of the world and in charting the course of human history. The fact is – the sovereign God never acts alone. The term “God”, “In the beginning, God…” (Genesis 1:1), (Elohim אֱלֹהִ֑ים in Hebrew) is plural in number. And again He says, “Let Us make man in Our image…” (Genesis 1:26). The prophet Amos, who is acquainted with God’s working style of involving the righteous in His course says,
Surely the Lord God does nothing
Unless He reveals His secret counsel
To His servants the prophets. Amos 3:7
Therefore, God requires His sons to play their part in charting the course of human history and in working out the salvation of the world. In order for God’s salvation plan to work, Noah has to play his part in constructing the ark and in interceding for new humanity. Jesus, as Son of man gives His life to redeem humanity which He is a part of. Paul considers his suffering as filling up what is lacking in Christ’s suffering for the course of the gospel (Colossians 1:24). The sacrifices of the righteous and their intercession is indeed consequential and necessary for the salvation of their generation.
What is your goal and purpose for your life? The righteous are those who are blameless, faithful and zealous for God’s kingdom. Make a commitment to be a vessel of righteousness and a sweet aroma in your lifestyle and intercession towards God. God will listen to your prayers and execute justice and mercy upon your generation and nation.
Dear Lord, I desire to be a vessel of righteousness, a fragrant of Christ in the world. Even as you promise to preserve the righteous from danger, I pray that you exercise mercy and justice in my nation by putting the righteous in positions of authority. Preserve the nations from the tide of evil and turn this generation towards you. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.