To: en & others
From: Su Min
Subject: The Flood
My dearest En,
As much as I would like to appear modern and keep up with the times, the electronic etiquette of "Hi" as a greeting falls short of how I would like to open my message to you: more appropriate would be some epistle like apostolic New Testament style greeting such as "To my precious one and only sweet dearest daughter in Poole, grace and peace be with you": sounds good, feels good!
Today's meditation centres on the text of Genesis Chapter 7 . My bible commentary says Noah took 100 years to build his ark, 100 years all compressed into Gen 6:22. If you compare Gen 5:32 with Gen 7:6 it would seem that this arithmetic is correct. We can assume that Noah got Shem, Ham and Japheth to help him, and the wives probably pitched in too. (If we look at the pitch in Gen 6: 14 that is a bit of a pun! So we have eight people: one Noah, three sons and 4 wives to work to build the humongeos 140 metre by 23 metre boat, 13 metre high, roof it and caulk it with pitch inside and out. Seems reasonable that this boat building took 100 years. Luckily they all had long lives! Meanwhile his neighbours must have thought that the Noah family had gone crazy. Spending all their time building this enormous boat in the middle of the dry land. They must have noticed that Noah and his family did not participate in any of the common corrupt and violent practices. They must have noticed that the family was God fearing and polite. Noah and his family must have witnessed to the neighbours, if not by word, by their very deeds and way of life. And I believe that this is a lesson for us too, that amidst the violence and corruption of the fallen world around us, we are to live upright God fearing lives, to be shining examples of how God wants man to behave. Indeed Jesus tells us that we are the light of the world (Matt 5:14). But their witness was in vain, and all the neighbours and indeed everyone else was to perish.
God made provision for preservation of the species. Here we see the action of the First Conservationist and Ecologist of the Universe. A pair of all ordinary unclean animals was to be saved, and seven pairs of each clean animal were to be saved (Gen 7:2) and also seven pairs of each kind of birds were to be put on the ark. I always thought it was only one pair of each of any type of animal, but we see the wisdom of having seven pairs of each type of clean animal, both in having a wider genetic pool and in providing clean animals for roasting in sacrifice (Gen 8:20). Would have been tragic/comic to have sacrificed the one and only pair of doves! The creationists suggest that pairs of dinosaurs were also placed on the ark.
God instructs and Noah obeys. Both in 6:22 and 7:5 the bible tells us that Noah did all that God had commanded him. [Noah was a righteous man, blameless amongst the people of his time, and he walked with God (6:9)]. There is but 7 days to load the ship (7:4). The eight selected people (Noah and his family), the animals and the birds, pair by pair, are loaded onto the ark. There are many cabins set out in three decks (Gen 6:16) So it appears all is in order and all is ship shape. God shut Noah into the ark, sealed the ark we believe with his protective hand (Gen 7:16)
Then it rained for forty days. Forty days is a special time interval in the bible. The forty day interval that I remember most clearly is the 40 days of fasting in the wilderness leading up to the Temptation as recorded in the gospel of Luke (4:2). The place is vivid in my mind as we were shown the arid desert and the monastery built into the hill above the Jordan valley where they reckon The Temptation must have taken place.
There are another 10 periods of forty days listed in my commentary: after the flood the raven is sent (Gen 8:6) embalming of Jacob (Gen 50:3) Moses fasting (Ex 34:28), spying in Canaan (Nu 13:25), Moses prostrate praying (Deut 9:25) Goliath's defiance (1 Sam 17:16) Elijah's strength from a meal (1 King 19:8) Ezekiel's typical period (Ez 4:6) Jonah warns Nineveh (Jonah 3:4) Jesus reappears (Acts 1:3). More than just bible trivia, I believe God has a message for us in this sub-study of "40 days". Perhaps when we have blocks of 40 days (months a half, 6 weeks), we can dedicate the use of these time blocks appropriately.
So after 7 days, as God promised, the flood waters came. And indeed it was the mother of all floods, the mother of all storms, and not only did the flood gates of the heavens open up and the rains pour down, but also springs of water from the great deep burst forth, and some great fountains of water from the bottom of the ocean depths opened up (Gen 7:11), flooding the earth with an almighty flood, extinguishing all life on earth (Gen 7:23). All, that is except the contents of Noah's ark. And the flood lasted for 150 days, one day each for each of the psalms. Which brings us to the end of Genesis Chapter 7.
For any comments or enquiries please write to Dr. Lim Su Min
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