Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson for January 14

Here’s the Explore the Bible Sunday School lesson commentary for Jan. 14, written by Douglas K. Wilson, Ph.D. professor of biblical studies, University of Mobile.

Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson for January 14

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By Douglas K. Wilson, Ph.D.
Professor of Biblical Studies, University of Mobile


GENESIS 8:10–22

God’s timing is perfect. For 40 days and nights, it rained on the earth. For another 150 days the waters prevailed on the land until the ark rested on the mountains of Ararat. After another 40 days, Noah opened the windows and sent out a raven to search the earth for dry ground. The Noah family is ready to walk on solid earth again.

Wait (10–14)

In God’s timing, the raven does not return. It must have somewhere to land or something to scavenge. Noah then sends out a dove. The dove brings nothing back to indicate solid ground, so the family waits another week before sending the dove again. Upon returning this time, the dove brings back an olive branch. After another week, Noah sends the dove again, but she does not return.

The olive branch has become a familiar symbol of peace. We even utilize an idiom based on the symbol: “They are extending an olive branch.” In this narrative, the peace that the branch represents is a renewed fellowship initiated by God that is dependent on submission to God. One must remember that the thoughts and intents of humanity’s hearts were evil all the time (6:5). Even after the flood, this is true of Noah’s family, yet God extends His grace to them. The world in which we live is still stained with sin, and even now we wait for the redemption of the whole earth (Rom. 8:18–23). 

We walk by faith, in part, by trusting God to work out His redemptive purposes in His own time. As followers of Christ, we recognize that every good and perfect gift comes from God (James 1:17) and that everything we receive is by God’s grace, for our good and for His glory. This is true as we wait upon the Lord individually, as a family and as a church family.

Exit (15–19)

In God’s timing, Noah receives instructions to disembark. After more than a year on this floating zoo, the animals are leaving the ark. His sons and their wives are leaving the Ararat cruise ship.  Mr. and Mrs. Noah — no, her name is not Joan of Ark — are receiving mercy from God. They are also going to be entrusted with new responsibilities.

“Be fruitful and multiply” (v. 17). If this statement about the departing animals sounds familiar, it should. Back in Genesis 1, both animals (v. 22) and humanity (v. 28) were instructed to be fruitful and multiply. Later in this narrative, Noah and his family will again be instructed to do so (9:1, 7).

Worship (20–22)

In God’s timing, Noah builds an altar for worship, taking one of each of the types of clean animals, and then offering them as burnt offerings to God.  How did Noah know which animals God considered to be clean? After all, Moses does not identify them to Israel in the dietary code until Leviticus 11. God brought a different number of each of the clean animals — either seven or seven pairs — prior to the flood.

Noah’s act of worship looks back and looks ahead. It points back to Genesis 3, where God initiated blood sacrifice as a sign of God’s redemptive plan for substitutionary atonement from sin. It also points ahead to the once-for-all blood sacrifice for sin through Jesus Christ (Heb. 7:27; 9:11–12, 26; 10:10).