The Story of Patriarchs and Prophets
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 8: After the Flood
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The waters rose fifteen cubits above the highest mountains.
It often seemed to the family within the ark that they must
perish, as for five long months their boat was tossed about,
apparently at the mercy of wind and wave. It was a trying ordeal;
but Noah's faith did not waver, for he had the assurance that the
divine hand was upon the helm.
As the waters began to subside, the Lord caused the ark to
drift into a spot protected by a group of mountains that had been
preserved by His power. These mountains were but a little
distance apart, and the ark moved about in this quiet haven, and
was no longer driven upon the boundless ocean. This gave great
relief to the weary, tempest-tossed voyagers.
Noah and his family anxiously waited for the decrease of the
waters, for they longed to go forth again upon the earth. Forty
days after the tops of the mountains became visible, they sent
out a raven, a bird of quick scent, to discover whether the earth
had become dry. This bird, finding nothing but water, continued
to fly to and from the ark. Seven days later a dove was sent forth,
which, finding no footing, returned to the ark. Noah waited seven
days longer, and again sent forth the dove. When she returned
at evening with an olive leaf in her mouth, there was great
rejoicing. Later "Noah removed the covering of the ark, and
looked, and, behold, the face of the ground was dry." Still he
waited patiently within the ark. As he had entered at God's
command, he waited for special directions to depart.
At last an angel descended from heaven, opened the massive
door, and bade the patriarch and his household go forth upon
the earth and take with them every living thing. In the joy of
their release Noah did not forget Him by whose gracious care
they had been preserved. His first act after leaving the ark was [p. 106] to build an altar and offer from every kind of clean beast and
fowl a sacrifice, thus manifesting his gratitude to God for
deliverance and his faith in Christ, the great sacrifice. This offering
was pleasing to the Lord; and a blessing resulted, not only to
the patriarch and his family, but to all who should live upon
the earth. "The Lord smelled a sweet savor; and the Lord said
in His heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for
man's sake. . . . While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest,
and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and
night shall not cease." Here was a lesson for all succeeding
generations. Noah had come forth upon a desolate earth, but
before preparing a house for himself he built an altar to God.
His stock of cattle was small, and had been preserved at great
expense; yet he cheerfully gave a part to the Lord as an
acknowledgment that all was His. In like manner it should be our
first care to render our freewill offerings to God. Every
manifestation of His mercy and love toward us should be gratefully
acknowledged, both by acts of devotion and by gifts to His cause.
Lest the gathering clouds and falling rain should fill men
with constant terror, from fear of another flood, the Lord
encouraged the family of Noah by a promise: "I will establish My
covenant with you; . . . neither shall there any more be a flood
to destroy the earth. . . . I do set My bow in the cloud, and it
shall be for a token of a covenant between Me and the earth.
And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth,
that the bow shall be seen in the cloud. . . . And I will look
upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between
God and every living creature."
How great the condescension of God and His compassion for
His erring creatures in thus placing the beautiful rainbow in the
clouds as a token of His covenant with men! The Lord declares
that when He looks upon the bow, He will remember His
covenant. This does not imply that He would ever forget; but
He speaks to us in our own language, that we may better understand
Him. It was God's purpose that as the children of after
generations should ask the meaning of the glorious arch which
spans the heavens, their parents should repeat the story of the
Flood, and tell them that the Most High had bended the bow
and placed it in the clouds as an assurance that the waters should
never again overflow the earth. Thus from generation to generation [p. 107] it would testify of divine love to man and would strengthen
his confidence in God.
In heaven the semblance of a rainbow encircles the throne
and overarches the head of Christ. The prophet says, "As the
appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so
was the appearance of the brightness round about [the throne].
This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of Jehovah."
Ezekiel 1:28. The revelator declares, "Behold, a throne was set
in heaven, and one sat on the throne. . . . There was a rainbow
round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald." Revelation
4:2, 3. When man by his great wickedness invites the divine
judgments, the Saviour, interceding with the Father in his behalf,
points to the bow in the clouds, to the rainbow around the throne
and above His own head, as a token of the mercy of God toward
the repentant sinner.
With the assurance given to Noah concerning the Flood, God
Himself has linked one of the most precious promises of His
grace: "As I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more
go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with
thee, nor rebuke thee. For the mountains shall depart, and the
hills be removed; but My kindness shall not depart from thee,
neither shall the covenant of My peace be removed, saith Jehovah
that hath mercy on thee." Isaiah 54:9, 10.
As Noah looked upon the powerful beasts of prey that came
forth with him from the ark, he feared that his family, numbering
only eight persons, would be destroyed by them. But the
Lord sent an angel to His servant with the assuring message:
"The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast
of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth
upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand
are they delivered. Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat
for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things."
Before this time God had given man no permission to eat animal
food; He intended that the race should subsist wholly upon the
productions of the earth; but now that every green thing had
been destroyed. He allowed them to eat the flesh of the clean
beasts that had been preserved in the ark.
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