Noah has now been waiting some time for the end of the flood and to return to the land in order to start populating the earth again. How will he know when it is time to act?

Read Genesis 8:6-19

Forty days after the mountain tops become visible, Noah opens up the window in the roof of the ark.  He sends out a raven and a dove to see whether they will return or find dry land.  The 40 days suggest Noah gets to work on the day after the Sabbath.[1] The birds represent an unclean and a clean kind.  Neither find land to settle on but the raven keeps flying whilst the dove returns to the ark (v6-9).

Noah waits seven days, in fact, he seems to act in seven day increments (see verse 12), following the weekly pattern of work and rest set by God. This also fits into a creation pattern.  Perhaps the two lots of seven show a doubling up for new/renewed creation.  He sends the dove out again and it returns this time with a leaf suggesting that not only have the waters receded but things are beginning to grow. It is getting close to the time when they can leave the ark (v10-11)

After the final seven days, when Noah sends out the dove, it does not return because it has found suitable habitat to settle and live (v12). The ground is continuing to dry out and Noah begins to make preparations to leave the ark, removing the protective canopy over the boat. Note that the calendar has now been reset and is dated from Noah’s birth 601 years previously  (8:13-14).

God now speaks and instructs Noah to leave the ark, together with his family and the animals. It’s now and only now that he acts and returns to the land (v15-19).

What are you waiting for?

Whilst Noah has been looking, observing, checking, preparing, he does not leave the ark until God speaks and commands him to come off of the boat.  Noah trusts God’s voice rather than his own judgement unlike Adam and Eve. 

It is important that we learn to act in line with God’s timing and obedient to his voice.  This may at times mean that we must act sooner than we would like and sometimes later.  The important thing is that in all we do, we seek to show our dependence upon him and not on ourselves.

[1] Wenham, Genesis 1-15, 186.

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