Noah – The World of the Text, Part Two

This week in our reading we are continuing to look at the heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11.  We will be looking at Noah as found in Genesis 6 and 7.

7 Then the Lord said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you alone are righteous before me in this generation. 2 Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and its mate; and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and its mate; 3 and seven pairs of the birds of the air also, male and female, to keep their kind alive on the face of all the earth. 4 For in seven days I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights; and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground.” 5 And Noah did all that the Lord had commanded him.

Today we are going to look at what we see in chapter 7: 1-5.  There are a lot of things about the Bible that I do not understand, but one of the things that I am far from an expert at is the concept of numbers within scripture.  Today we see a good bit of numbers, and they bring with them their symbology within the Bible.

We see a number repeated several times within these verses – Seven.  Seven is a very important number within scripture, it is the number of perfection and completion.  Think about the number of days of creation.  How many where there?  Seven.  That was how long it took God to perfectly create all things.  We see references in scripture to seven regarding forgiveness, healing, and the keeping of one’s word.

So when we see seven pairs of clean animals, we see that this is symbolic as well, telling us that all of creation is not being destroyed.  God is preparing a way of life, even in judgment.  All life is not being destroyed.  All life is not being wiped away.  In the same way that seven days gave life, seven pairs gave life.

We see that it will rain for forty days.  Forty is another number of great significance within scripture.  How many years did the Israelites wander in the desert?  Forty.  How many days was Jesus tempted?  Forty.  We see that Forty is a number that is linked in scripture to temptation and struggle.  For the forty days, Noah and his family struggled, I’m sure. Creation struggled.  All things and people struggled.

But the struggle was not forever. It was ended at the end of forty days.   That is another significant thing about forty in the bible with our struggles.  It is not a time that lasts forever. It is only temporary.

Tomorrow we’ll look deeper at what this passage can speak to us in our lives.

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