Could God ever forget Noah? If not, why does chapter eight begin with “God remembered Noah”?
The notion of “remembering” in the Old Testament is not a matter of bringing something to mind that has been forgotten. It denotes a process of God moving toward someone or some thing. Later, when God “remembers” Rachel (Genesis 30:22), He takes note of her condition and moves toward her to provide what she needs. You see this most clearly in Leviticus 26. There, the Lord foretells that Israel will be unfaithful to Him. He will bring punishment on her for her disobedience. But she will not be destroyed. God promises to “remember” his covenant and move toward her for rescue.
In the first mention of this idea, Noah and his family and livestock are adrift on the sea after a devastating flood. That God “remembers” Noah is a picture of the Lord, coming on the wings of glory, for Noah’s rescue.
At the end of chapter eight is another phrase you will not see again. “The Lord . . . said in His heart.” God isn’t regretting the flood. But the whole sorry scene has affected God to the very depth of His being. It causes the Him to say: “I’m not going to do this again.” From this point forward, the earth and its inhabitants will be disciplined. Sometimes severely. But the earth will continue – until it doesn’t. It’s a long term project, but it will have an end.
I’m intrigued by the raven. Why does Moses mention it? It seems almost an unnecessary addition to the story.
But the raven has a significance for Israel and for us. God rescued the raven. The raven continued to take shelter on the ark (note “it kept flying back and forth). But it cooperated not one whit in communicating anything to Noah.
A bit like some of God’s own people. They don’t mind God preserving them, or even providing for them. But they have no intention of participating in God’s community. They are out to serve themselves, and usually, like the raven, they serve themselves on the carrion that is the world.