The first few chapters of Genesis, the
first book in the Bible, contain stories which span many
hundreds of years. Our lesson this week is about a man
called Noah who lived about one thousand years after God
created Adam and Eve. In the beginning people lived much
longer lives than we do now, often 800-900 years. During
the years between Adam and Eve and the time of Noah, lots
and lots of people had been born and as they all lived
much longer there were now hundreds of thousands of people
spread over the earth.
In the beginning Adam and Eve had a choice:
they could obey God or go their own way. The same choice
lay with all men. Some chose to do what God wanted, some
did not like God's arrangements and chose their own way.
But God had intended that all men should praise Him and
that the world should be full of peace and happiness.
God was very sorrowful when He saw men deliberately doing
wrong. At the time of Noah the people were very wicked
and when God looked for good men and women He only found
God had to punish the wicked people,
but in His love He was willing to save as many as would
turn to Him. This was why Noah was told to build the ark.
It took 120 years to build, and all the time that Noah,
and later his three sons also were building the ark, Noah
warned the people that God was about to destroy the world
with a flood of water. No one listened or took any notice
- they were far too busy with things that did not matter.
So when the ark was finished and God called Noah into
the ark there only eight people willing to go in: Noah
and his wife, their three sons and their wives.
God told Noah to take two of every living
creature into the ark and seven of every clean animal.
So the animals came to Noah in twos and in sevens and
he gave them all safe places inside and collected enough
food for them all. When they were all inside God shut
the door. He was going to keep them all safe. [Read
Genesis 9 v. 11-16].
It was one year later when God told Noah
and his family to go forth out of the ark. The great flood
had come, as God had said it would. The whole earth had
been covered with water for months and all living things
had perished that were not inside the ark. Gradually the
water drained and sank away. It was a long time to be
shut up inside the ark, and even though they knew that
God was watching over them, it must have been difficult
for the family crowded together with the animals. The
ark went aground among the mountains, so Noah did not
know when the valleys had dried out. He let out two birds
to find out what it was like. Do you know which birds
they were? See if you can find out if you are not sure.
But there was no need to worry, however, for when the
right moment came God spoke to Noah and told him to go
out of the ark and to bring all the animals out too.
The first thing that Noah did was to
offer prayers of thanksgiving and sacrifices to God. God
was pleased with Noah and made a promise to him and to
all mankind. Read it for yourself in Genesis
8 v. 21-22.
You see that God promised that there
would not be another flood to destroy the whole of the
earth, and that the seasons would continue without interruption.
In the second reading you read of the sign which God uses
to remind men of His promise: the rainbow. Every time
we see this sign we can remember God's promise and His
love. Ever since the time of Noah all men have been able
to do the same.