Genesis 8:1-5 (NIV) 1 But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded. 2 Now the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens had been closed, and the rain had stopped falling from the sky. 3 The water receded steadily from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down, 4 and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. 5 The waters continued to recede until the tenth month, and on the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains became visible.
On verses 1-5: If God’s wrath is sometimes compared to a flood (e.g. Psalm 88:16-17), the fact that the floodwaters receded after 150 days reminds me that after God’s wrath comes God’s mercy. It reminds me of this beautiful verse in Scripture: “For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5; see also Isaiah 54:8). In this case, 150 days of flooding would be followed by God re-establishing his covenant with mankind, a covenant that would last much, much longer than the flood. It goes to show that in the great plan of God, as terrible as God’s judgment is, in the end “mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 5:13b). We see this in the overarching story of the Bible: God made human beings. Human beings fell into sin. God punished and judged human beings, ousting them from His presence. Yet God also sent a Saviour to make forgiveness, salvation and eternal life available to mankind so that, by trusting in Jesus, we could be with God again.
Genesis 8:6-12 (NIV) 6 After forty days Noah opened the window he had made in the ark 7 and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth. 8 Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. 9 But the dove could find no place to set its feet because there was water over all the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark. 10 He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. 11 When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth. 12 He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him.
On verses 6-12: Whereas the raven did its own thing, flying back and forth incessantly until the water dried up, the dove worked in cooperation with Noah.
At the risk of getting too allegorical, let me suggest to you this: elsewhere in Scripture – in fact in all four gospels – the Holy Spirit is compared to a dove (Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:32). When I read of the way that Noah repeatedly sought the assistance of a dove to help him discern whether it was time to exit the ark or not, to me it’s a reminder that the Holy Spirit is our counselour who helps us to have a sense of what our next step is and when we should take it. So when making important decisions, seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Don’t just try to figure things out yourself, but ask the Holy Spirit to help you discern your next step and when to take it.
Heavenly Father, thank You that in Your kingdom, mercy triumphs over judgment. Thank You also for sending Your Holy Spirit to be our Counselour and to guide us to do what is best. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!