An Old New Year


As I began my Bible reading plan for this year, I came across a passage that I had read multiple times before and one that most people are familiar with as well, the story of Noah’s Flood (Why don’t we call it God’s Flood?).  The historical account of the global flood begins in Genesis 6 with an observation made by God:

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” Genesis 6:5-8

We arrive at Noah, whose birth brought eager expectations (Gen. 5:28-29) in the next verse (9) and read of God’s command for him to build an ark.  Recounting the familiar details of this passage, we see the ark’s dimensions given to Noah, the promise of the global flood to destroy all flesh, the promise of a covenant, the two by two requirement, clean vs. unclean animals (ever thought about this one?), and the promise of rain for forty days and forty nights.  As we know, the rains did come though Noah and his family along with all the animals were safe inside the ark.

In Genesis 7:11 we see a summary statement of the initiation of the flood, “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened” followed by several additional summary verses of the event (remember Moses is writing the record of this about a 1500 years after the fact).

As chapter 7 continues, we are given details of the expansiveness and depth of the flood along with the duration, 150 days.  This last statement is expounded upon in Chapter 8 of Genesis and leads me to an interesting observation that I had not seen before.

13 In the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried from off the earth. And Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and behold, the face of the ground was dry.” Genesis 8:13

Did you catch that?

The 601st year (presumably of Noah’s life), in the first month, the first day of the month the flood ended and dry ground appeared.

Now I know there are many people who know far more about calendars, dating, etc. than I do, but my initial observation from this passage is that it is talking about New Years day and I think it is a significant detail.  Moses, under divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is very specific about the days and time in the flood account.  It’s no accident or mere coincidence that the flood ended at the introduction of the New Year.  It is a precise date 1) To show the historicity of the flood and 2) To symbolize the introduction of a new creation.  In this way, Noah acts as a type of Adam (Be fruitful and Multiply – Gen. 9:1,7) in a post-flood Eden.

Barnes’ Notes offer the following commentary on this passage:

“Noah delays apparently another month, and, on the first day of the new year, ventures to remove the covering of the ark and look around. The date of the complete drying of the land is then given. The interval from the entrance to the exit consists of the following periods:

Rain continued 40 days; Waters prevailed 150 days; Waters subside 99 days; Noah delays 40 days; Sending of the raven and the dove 20 days; Another month 29 days; Interval until the 27th of the 2nd month 57 days; Sum-total of days 365 days

Hence, it appears that the interval was a lunar year of three hundred and fifty-six days nearly, and ten days; that is, as nearly as possible, a solar year. This passage is important on account of the divisions of time which it brings out at this early epoch. The week of seven days is plainly intimated. The lunar month and year are evidently known. It is remarkable that the ten additional days bring up the lunar year in whole numbers to the solar. It seems a tacit agreement with the real order of nature. According to the Hebrew text, the deluge commenced in the 1656th year of the race of man. According to all texts it occurred in the time of Noah, the ninth in descent from Adam.”

A fascinating detail in the midst of a familiar Bible passage.  That is why reading and re-reading the Bible year after year is so beneficial.  We will never mine the depths of revelation that God has provided in His Holy Word.

So how did you spend your New Year’s? Noah spent his resting in the promises of God, rejoicing in the faithfulness of God, and anticipating the unfolding of a new creation.

In a sense, that old new year anticipated the second coming of Christ and the unfolding of The New Creation, when Christ establishes His earthly kingdom.  Every New Year that we celebrate should be one  filled with hope that this may be the year that the promises of God are fulfilled in Christ when he returns.

“He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” Revelation 22:20

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