The first sentence of this passage is worthy of full remembrance. “Then God remembered Noah.” It’s so important, because this very remembrane is salvation. All throughout the Holy Scriptures, each time we see the word “remember” in reference to the Lord, it is in reference to salvation. In the Psalms, we read, “do not remember the sins of my youth or ignorance, but remember me according to your mercy” (Psalm 24:7). The thief on the cross says, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” (Luke 23:42). In our daily prayers on behalf of the departed, we interceed to the Lord, “remember, O Lord, and have mercy on your servants…” When we read the words of Scripture, we so often associate words with their contemporary meaning, but when Scripture says remember, it is not the opposite of “forget,” as though Jesus could forget His children, but rather it is fully in reference to the salvation of their souls; His mercy and grace.
And we see Noah send out a dove to test the waters to see if they had receeded. This dove itself is the very image of the Holy Spirit, about Whom it was written at Jesus’ baptism that He descended “as like a dove.” Consider the imagery here, in each setting, a dove flies above the water, foreshadowing the salvation of humanity. Allegorically speaking, the ark represents the Mother of God, our most holy lady Theotokos, carrying within her the future salvation of mankind; the dove represents the Holy Spirit foreshadowing the salvation of humanity; the entirety of the story of Noah and the ark prefigures the birth of Jesus and the new life, the new world which is to come. I say that statement in no way to question the historicity of the account of the flood, but merely to show that the Lord slowly unveils His mysteries to us as we are able to comprehend them to even the smallest degree.
And, this passage ends with a huge lesson for all of us. This is imperative that we understand. As it begins with the statement, “God remembers Noah,” so too it ends with the statement, “And Noah remembered God.” When Noah and his family exit the ark, the first thing that Noah does is set up an altar to God, to offer worship and praise for their salvation. There is no pride in him for being the “chosen of God,” no claims of superiority or self-righteousness; there is only thanksgiving and adoration for God’s mercy.
This humble approach is the approach that we all must take. We must recognize that in our own sinfulness we could never be worthy of this salvation that Jesus offers to each of us. In our own willpower we could never conquer the influences and temptations that the world throws at us. We have no right to judge others sins merely because their sins are different than ours. Rather, we must recognize our own sinfulness and set up an altar to the Lord of our own; offering up the aroma of thanksgiving and the sacrifice of praise. We must recognize our own sinfulness rather than seeing the sins of others, and remain eternally grateful to the Lord for His grace, praying that others would find the same grace and mercy that we ourselves seek. This is the beautiful example that we see here. Noah laid aside all other cares and concerns, worries and anxieties, even in the midst of all that had happened; and thanked the Lord for the grace that he had been granted. May we all do the same.
Christ is in our midst.