The sky was turning gray, and Noah thought to himself, “It looks like rain.”
And so, with one, big last push, he got that reluctant elephant up into the ark.
Whew! 1oo years is a long time to work on one job!
Noah sat down by the door of the ark and wiped the sweat from his forehead. At last he was finished with all that God had asked him to do. Noah was 600 years old when he did all that God asked him to.
Seven days went by, one for each day it took to make the word God was about wash clean.
And then the flood came.
“Now it’s time for you and your family to get into the ark!” The Lord said to Noah.
So Noah and his wife, and his three sons; Shem, Ham, and Japheth and their wives; all got into the ark. Then the Lord himself reached down from heaven and shut the door.
Water poured from the sky and rushed up from the ground.
The Great Flood had come.
Lightning flashed. Thunder crashed. The winds blew huge waves across the water.
The water lifted the giant wooden boat from the ground. It lifted it above Noah’s house. It lifted it above the trees in his backyard.
The ark tossed in the storm above Noah's neighbor’s house, above the whole town, and everyone who lived there.
It rained for forty days and forty nights.
It rained so hard that Noah’s ark floated above even the highest mountains. There was no dry ground left at all.
And everything that breathed on the earth died.
What terrible things happen when people sin.
Noah and his family waited in the ark.
Up and down, and up and down, they tossed on the waves.
Everywhere they looked, they saw nothing but water.
For 150 days the ark tossed on those waves.
That’s longer than a whole summer vacation. A lot longer. Only this couldn’t have been much of a vacation.
What do you suppose they did all day? There wasn’t cable TV to watch. No portable CD players to listen to. No video games to play. Maybe that’s when Shuffleboard and “Pin the Tail on the Donkey” were invented.
I’ll bet the donkey wasn’t too happy about that.
But there was probably enough work to do every day, just trying to keep all those animals fed and the ark cleaned up.
And maybe at the end of a long day, they sat around the kitchen fire and told stories, and tried to remember what it was like to take a walk through the trees on a warm summer evening.
But with the racket of all those animals, and the creaking of the heavy wooden beams of the ark, how did they get to sleep at night?
And how did they keep from rolling out of their beds? Maybe they didn’t even HAVE beds.
But God hadn’t forgotten about them.
One day God caused a warm wind to blow. The rain stopped, and the water began to go down.
It was another 150 days before the ark came to rest on the very top of a mountain called Ararat.
Noah and his family and all those animals had all been together in that ark for almost a year!
After 40 more days, Noah opened the window of the ark and let a raven fly out. He wanted to see whether it could find some dry ground. Noah waited and waited, but the raven never came back.
So Noah tried again. This time he sent out a dove. The dove flew around and around. But it couldn't find any dry ground, and it had to come back.
Noah waited seven more days, and then he let the dove fly out again.
That evening the dove came back with a fresh olive leaf in its beak. That was a sign for Noah. Now he knew the water had gone down, because the dove had found an olive bush growing on dry land.
Noah waited another seven days, and then he sent the dove out again. This time it didn’t come back. It had found a new place to live.
Finally, God told Noah it was all right to leave the ark. Noah opened the door, and all those animals rushed out!
They found new homes in the world God had washed clean.
God had saved them!
God provided the ark, and it had brought them all safely through the water. It carried them to a new life.
Noah was 601 years old when he left the ark. And was he ever glad to be walking on dry ground again!
At least it would seem very strange to us today.
The ark was safely on dry ground again. A few minutes before, it was filled with growling, barking, honking, purring animals. Now the door was wide open and the giant boat sat on a mountain top, all empty and quiet.
All the animals had rushed out the door to fill the earth again.
So what was Noah doing?
He was picking up rocks.
He was so thankful to be alive, he was going to build an altar to God. So Noah piled up the rocks to build a fire on them. Then he took the best of some special animals he had kept aside, killed them, and burned them on the altar. This was a sacrifice Noah offered to God to thank him for saving his life.
It might seem like a strange thing to do.
It couldn’t have been an easy thing to do either. But that’s what people did in those long ago days. That way they would know that dealing with God is a very serious thing.
God was pleased with Noah’s sacrifice. But most of all, God was pleased that Noah was truly thankful.
And so God made this promise to Noah,
“Never again will I destroy the world with a flood.
I make this covenant with you and with all creatures.
From this day on,
there will always come a time for planting,
and a time for gathering up what was planted.
Day will always follow night,
the warm days of summer
will always follow
the cold and snow of winter,
as long as the earth shall be."
God knew that there is something inside each of us that tries to keep us from doing what is right. That is what causes all the trouble in the world.
God also knew that one day he would send his Son to save us from that. God saved Noah and his family to show us that he has the power to save us all, and one day bring us to a new life with him in heaven.
So God blessed Noah and his family. He told them to have many children and fill the earth with people again. He gave them the plants and the animals for food. And he made people the boss of everything on earth (Think of it this way. You might have a pet dog or a cat. There aren’t any dogs who have pet people!).
And then God said to Noah, "Look up in the sky."
Noah looked up. The storm clouds were drifting away, the bright sun was shining against Noah's back. And against the dark grey sky, God made a brilliant rainbow appear. God said to Noah,
“You see, I have set my rainbow in the sky. This will be the sign of the covenant I have made with you and all creatures, never again to destroy the earth by a flood. It will always remind us of the promise between you and me.”
So, the next time you see a rainbow, think of Noah and the flood. Remember that God loves you, and that no matter how bad the storm, there will always come a bright new day.
That is God's promise, and God always keeps his promises.