It is not good to test God. A guy named "Jesus Christ" said that, so I have to believe it's true. But in Genesis 8 it almost feels like Noah tests God.
I'm of course talking about the verses in which Noah sends out the birds. I don’t think I ever realized how many times he sends them out. He sent a raven first and then three doves. Those actions have certainly come to symbolize hope in Christianity, the image of a dove flying with an olive leaf in its mouth, but I think they are more than that. There are three things I want to learn from this passage:
1. 40 meant 40
Noah didn't open the ark and send a bird out until it had been 40 days, which was the amount of time God had promised. His sending of the first bird was not just an aviary adventure, it was a testament to Noah's belief that God kept his word. If He said 40, then Noah trusted that He meant 40.
2. It's OK to change birds.
I really like that Noah started with a raven and ended with a dove. He was flexible. He didn't whine when the raven didn't work out, he was open to trying something new. Sometimes I get so focused on doing what I think God wants me to do that I get frozen in my methods. It has to be this job you want me at God. I have to marry this person and live in this town and have things exactly this way. But I think sometimes God wants us to start with ravens and end with doves.
3. Patience takes time.
Noah didn't expect things to change on day 41. In fact after the olive leaf dove he waited seven more days to send out another one. God's will takes time and Noah was willing to give God the time He wanted. How many times in my own life have I seen an olive leaf and rushed into action? How can I wait seven days and send out another bird if that's what God wants?
I like Genesis 8. It feels simple and honest and yet full of interesting things like ravens and doves and patience and rain. It feels like a slow start to a deep book, a gradual entry to deeper pools of knowledge. It's not complicated, but there are layers of ideas to unfold. Which is fun and challenging and what I hope to do with every chapter of the Bible.
Happy Father's Day.