Genesis 8: Becoming An Olive Tree!
When I think of this part of Noah’s story, I am amused by the first verse of the chapter. “God remembered Noah and dried up the land” It sounds like God forgot him!
I want to have a little fun with this story so please indulge me…..here’s how it went down. There were people on earth that really were not good and God needed to punish them. God had had enough. He got mad and decided to just drown them in a flood. But then, there was his friend, Noah. Noah didn’t deserve punishment so He put Noah and his family along with a bunch of animal in an ark and started pouring rain. By that time, God got tired of it all and needed to rest. Forty days and nights it rained. Then he stopped the rain and went into some kind of forgetfulness. Is that what happened?? Did He just forget about Noah and his family floating around on the waters? The chapter starts by saying, “God remembered Noah”
When someone tells me that they remember me or they remembered something, I tend to think that they had forgotten something. I had a great laugh thinking about how God must have just forgotten about Noah and gone to sleep. When God woke up he thought, oops! That poor guy is just floating around aimlessly in that ark, surrounded by animals. There is also a raven and a dove flying around trying to land someplace and couldn’t. Those creatures caught the attention of God and then God remembers.
Ok. That’s nice. Finally, God remembers. So there must be more to this remembrance of God than simple forgetfulness. If we take the meaning to be that God literally forgot, then I’m glad God finally remembered about Noah’s situation and did something about it! I’m glad God decided to take action to correct his mistake. I’m actually glad even God can forget things and when He becomes aware of it, God can change course and make it right. But, I’m sure that simply ‘remembering Noah’ is not what the story is all about.
When we read that God remembered Noah, it really means that the Lord heard Noah’s prayers. The Lord thought of Noah. God paid attention to the cries of Noah. God was listening to him. God was near him. God was watching over him.
There’s another great symbolism in these passages of Genesis. We read that the dove found an olive branch. The Olive tree doesn’t grow on the tops of mountains but rather is found in valleys. That means the flood waters had receded. But it also means something else. It’s not just about God remembering Noah while he and the ark floated in the water. It is also about finding the olive branch in the valley. Prayers offered in humility to God are like an olive branch in the valley.
God remembering Noah points to one thing…that humble constant prayers catch God’s attention. The one who does not give up in the midst of life-threatening anxieties and fears has God’s attention through it all. Like the olive branch that grows in lower altitude, we are invited to grow in our valleys with an attitude of humility and openness to God. God will remember us like he did Noah. He will recognize our spiritual nature when we act like his children and show him the humility of our unceasing prayers and supplications. He will not forget us.
Making every effort to maintain a deep relationship is the key to understanding this story. God connects with Noah because Noah makes every effort to connect with God. It is reciprocal and joyful for both God and Man.