Genesis 8:14-19: Stepping Out of the Ark

In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth became dry. God spoke to Noah, saying, Come out from the ark, you, and your wife, and your sons, and your sons' wives with you. Every living thing that is with you from all living flesh — that which flies and the beast and every creeping thing which creeps upon the earth — you shall cause to go out with you, that they may move about in the earth and be fruitful and become numerous on the earth. Noah came out, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him. Every beast, every creeping thing, and every thing that flies — every thing which moves on the earth — came forth by their families from the ark. — Genesis 8:14-19 (my translation)

These are statements that have enormous significance for anthropology and zoology, or more specifically for our understanding of the development of human genetic and ethnic characteristics, and the origins and movements of human civilization; as well as the origins and movements of animal and bird populations. If we believe that what is written here is true and literal history, we are believing that all human beings alive today have descended from a family of eight individuals, and that all human civilization has spread out from one geographic location somewhere in the middle east. Likewise, all land animals and birds spread outwards at the same time and from the same place; animals that live now in remote places like Australia would have had to have transported themselves there somehow from the middle east, perhaps by land bridges that no longer exist today.

The goal of releasing the animals from the ark was "that they may move about in the earth and be fruitful and become numerous on the earth". It is helpful for us, in the study of animals, to recognize that the spread and growth of animal populations is not driven by some chance, random process, or by some law of biological evolution; but rather, animals are designed by their Creator for this purpose, and God has somehow instilled in them the drives or instincts necessary to fulfill this purpose. It is a feature of creation science that we are regularly discovering interesting ways in which animals are designed to adapt to the varied environments in which they find themselves; this makes the study of animals not only interesting, but gives us many reasons to praise the Creator for his creative handiwork.

A key point in this passage, or possibly the key point, is that Noah and his family left the ark and released the animals at God's direction. Just as God's express instructions had directed Noah's family and the animals into the ark at a specific time, so now God's express instructions dictated the time of their departure from it. For Noah at least, and presumably his family also[1] faith in God's word was required in both cases, a faith lived out or expressed in an act of obedience.

What were Noah and his family feeling at this point? The text does not say, and therefore we must be cautious about making assumptions. But if we assume that they were basically the same in nature as the rest of us today, the following seems likely enough: on the one hand, there might have been an eagerness to get off the ark, having been shut in to the floating zoo for over a year, and longing to feel dirt and green grass and open spaces again. Waiting for the right moment to leave the ark might have been difficult.

On the other hand, they would naturally have felt fear and uncertainty in leaving the ark. The earth had been pounded and devastated by the global flood. Who knows what they would find? They were stepping out as pioneers in the most brutal sense of the word. All other human civilization had been wiped out — all support networks were gone. Would they be able to find and grow the resources they needed to survive? Would there be enough food and building materials, before they ran out of their supplies from the ark? What would the weather be like in the new world? What dangers would they face? Would they be able to rebuild a functional civilization, that didn't fail in the same way as the old one?

After everyone left the ark, God would address some of these questions, with certain new promises and permissions. In the end, however, they would still need to face their fears and get to work building new lives, while hopefully continuing to maintain their faith in God, walk in his ways, and pass their faith and knowledge on to the following generations.

There are parallels here to the Christian life. Our journey starts in faith, when we put our trust in Christ, are saved from God's wrath, and become new creations in Christ. But for most of us (those who are not converted on our deathbed) the journey continues, there is a lot of work remaining to be done, challenges to overcome, and dangers to be faced (spiritual or otherwise) as life continues. Each day, it takes faith and courage to step forward, as it were, putting our trust in God and doing his will, while facing whatever adventures and challenges he brings our way.

End Notes

[1] In an age of strong tribal influences, it seems conceivable that some of his family (Ham?) might have entered the ark out of a sense of obligation to Noah, rather than personal faith.

Proxied content from gemini://

Gemini request details:

Original URL
Status code
Proxied by

Be advised that no attempt was made to verify the remote SSL certificate.