9 November 2012

Genesis 8:6-22

"The Lord said in his heart, 'I will never again curse the ground because of humankind, for the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth; nor will I destroy every living creature as I have done.'" (v. 21)


It took time for the flood to abate, a very long time, 150 days. So in this chapter of Genesis we see two very basic yet contrasting attitudes towards God in Noah - an attitude of desperation to begin with and an attitude of thankfulness at the end.

Firstly Noah gets impatient - he had not quite reckoned on spending so long in the ark. Things were probably getting a bit tense in there people in such close confinement with each and with their animals. Noah must have thought out loud repeatedly, 'how long is this going to go on, Lord?'.

So when we read that God was mindful (Genesis 8:1) of Noah, what a relief that must have been. At last, God was thinking, 'this is long enough, I've made my point'. The rain ceased and the waters drained away (verses 2-3). In thankfulness Noah built an altar and sacrificed to God.

In the flood God had effectively undone God's own creation, so now it was time to start all over again - to begin the recreation of all that was good and beautiful. The passage is written in such a way that it is almost as if God has learnt something from this experience (see verse 21). God's learning is, 'if this is how humanity is, I must acknowledge this and work with this reality'.

To Ponder

  • When difficult or challenging things happen to us do we want immediate redress from God? How difficult do we find it to wait upon God's time for restoration and recreation?
  • We can empathise with Noah's impatience and frustration with God but do with empathise equally with the thankfulness to God which he showed. When we experience the resolution of an issue how do we give thanks to God?

Bible notes author

The Revd Jennifer Potter

The Revd Jennifer Potter is a Methodist minister at Wesley's Chapel, City Road, London. Prior to being appointed to serve there she worked in the Connexional Team from 1996-2002 as the secretary for international affairs.