Verse 1: The past few Sundays, we’ve been climbing up the front side of this story about Noah and now we’ve reached the peak. What we find here in this very important part of the history of God’s people is God remembering. Now, when it is written in Scripture that God remembers, it is not the same as the English idea. When we speak of “remembering” we think of “mental recall,” like we’re bringing to our minds something that had left and that we might have otherwise forgotten. God did not remember Noah and the ark like you might remember a pot you had left boiling in the kitchen. This story was originally written in Hebrew, and the Hebrew idea of God remembering is him acting on a previous commitment he had made to his people.
Because of our imperfection, being messed up with sin and fallible, we can make promises, but because we don’t know the future, we might end up in a position where we can’t follow through with them. We don’t know what is going to happen an hour from now or a week from now, so we can’t properly commit to something. But God never ever fails to come through on a commitment that he makes. He always remembers, always acts on the previous commitments that he makes to his people.
Verses 2-19: A key word in the passage leading up to this was “prevailed” or “triumphed.” The floodwaters prevailed and continued to prevail over every living thing. In this section, the key words are “subsided,””receded,” and “abated,” which mean the opposite of “prevailed.” Just as we saw the waters prevail over all things, we see them beginning to recede and everything starts to dry out. God is taking away the flood that he brought about. God remembered his commitment to Noah, and demonstrated this by ending the flood.
Not only did God remember his commitment to Noah and demonstrate it by ending the flood, but he also saw to it that the historical record of his remembering was written in Scripture. We’re not told explicitly, but all signs point to the book of Genesis being written when the Israelites were wandering for 40 years in the desert after the exodus before they reached the Promised Land. God had promised the Israelites long ago that they would have this land, yet they had spent hundreds of years as slaves to the Egyptians and now were wandering around, preparing to conquer a land full of great nations. What they needed during that time was assurance that their God would come through for them. Was he really going to do what he said? So God had this story of Noah written down and given to his people to say, “Yes, I always come through on what I say I’m going to do. Just as I remembered Noah and my commitments to him, I remember you and my commitments to you. I will always act and I will never fail.”
The message for us is to remember that God remembers. Even in great upheaval, remember that God remembers. Think of all the upheaval in Noah’s life: the world was comprehensively evil and corrupt, and then God promised to destroy it all. As he constructed the ark, he trusted that the Lord would do what he said he would do. Think of the Israelites living for hundreds of years in slavery, then wandering 40 years in the wilderness, and ahead having to face the armies of the Promised Land. They needed to remember that God would do what he said he would do.
Remember that God Remembers
Could you trust that God would do what he said he would do if you had to wait as long as Noah or the Israelites did? Could you trust in the Lord that long for him to answer your prayers? What about waiting hundreds of years like the Israelites did? If God was up to something on the grand scheme of human history that was so far above and beyond the little thing that we’re focused on that we don’t ever see it during our lifetime, could we find contentment in him?
No matter how many promises God has made, in Christ they are all “yes” (2 Cor. 1:20). So what are some things that God has promised us?
- Salvation to all who believe in his Son (Rom. 10:9-10).
- All things will work out for those who love him and are called according to his purposes (Rom. 8:28).
- He will finish the work he started (Phil. 1:6).
- He will provide for our needs (Phil. 4:19).
- Jesus will return for his people (Rev. 22:12).
Even during great upheaval and in times of long waiting, we need to remember that God remembers. We can be content and at peace right now, knowing that God always acts on his commitments.