Genesis 8 – Earth 2.0 Compliant

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Today’s PassageGenesis 8

Flood’s over, folks. Time to go home.

The account of the flood waters receding gives the most precise chronology we’ve seen in Genesis to date, noting the day of the month on which the ark finds a dry spot to land, plus the month and day when other mountaintops become visible. Amusingly enough, when it comes time to disembark, the account notes: “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” (13). It’s employing a Noahic calendar, dating time AN: “Anno Noe,” as it were. In the Year of Our Noah 601. I’m not sure if there’s any significance to that, although ancient folks often measured time by the reigns of kings. Perhaps as the only Head of Household to survive the deluge, Noah was the only real extant benchmark for post-flood chronology.

But moving on: flood’s over, time to go home. God tells Noah to exit the ark with his family, and additionally orders him: “Bring out with you every living thing…that they may breed abundantly on the earth” (17). Noah, of course, complies; I expect he’d be glad to after roughly a year in the ark. And it occurs to me: Noah is really good at obeying. God tells him to build a giant boat in a particular way, and he builds a giant boat in a particular way. God tells him to load it up with animals, and he loads it up with animals. God tells him it’s time to get back to life and repopulate the earth, and you know the rest. I think God must have selected Noah in part for his readiness to follow instructions. After all, had he not been good at following instructions, I might well not be here to write this.

But then Noah does something that God hasn’t commanded him to do. He puts those extra pairs of clean, sacrifice-ready animals to use. “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” (20), the text reports. Noah takes initiative. He steps out, does something on his own, and gives God some animals.

And guess what? Apparently, God likes it. Smelling the “soothing aroma,” God promises, “I will never again curse the ground on account of man” (21). It’s not because Noah has proved humanity’s worth, because God still notes that man’s heart is still inclined toward garbage from day one, but he still promises not to wipe the slate again as long as things exist. It’s the feel-good smell of cooked meat. It’s Noah’s freewill gift to God for bringing him through the flood.

And God is down with it.

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