Genesis 8 – Noah and His Family Leave the Ark
A. God remembers Noah.
1. (1) God focuses His attention on Noah again.
Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters subsided.
a. God remembered Noah: This is an anthropomorphism (a non-literal picture of God in human terms we can understand). Certainly, God never forgot Noah, sustaining him every day on the ark. But at this point, God again turned His active attention towards Noah. It was truly as if He remembered Noah again.
i. “Noah had been shut up in the ark for many a day, and at the right time God thought of him, practically thought of him, and came to visit him. Dear heart, you have been shut out from the world now for many days, but God has not forgotten you. God remembered Noah, and he remembers you.” (Spurgeon)
b. God made a wind to pass over the earth: God knew how to make the waters subside. Even a big problem like this was not a big problem to God. The God who created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1) could also do this.
2. (2-5) As the floodwaters recede, the ark rests on Mount Ararat.
The fountains of the deep and the windows of heaven were also stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained. And the waters receded continually from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters decreased. Then the ark rested in the seventh month, the seventeenth day of the month, on the mountains of Ararat. And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month. In the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains were seen.
a. The fountains of the deep and the windows of heaven were also stopped: The rain that began in Genesis 7:11-12 was now stopped. God was in control of when the rain and other waters began, and when they stopped.
b. On the mountains of Ararat: In one way of thinking, Mount Ararat was not a good place to leave the ark. Leaving the ark at a high altitude and mountainous terrain meant a difficult departure for everyone and everything in the ark. However, if God’s purpose was to put the ark in a place where it might be preserved for thousands of years, He chose an excellent place for it.
c. The tops of the mountains were seen: This is another indication in the Biblical record that this was a worldwide flood. It was so significant that for a time the tops of the mountains were covered, and now they were seen again as the waters decreased continually.
3. (6-12) Birds are used to test the condition of the earth.
So it came to pass, at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made. Then he sent out a raven, which kept going to and fro until the waters had dried up from the earth. He also sent out from himself a dove, to see if the waters had receded from the face of the ground. But the dove found no resting place for the sole of her foot, and she returned into the ark to him, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took her, and drew her into the ark to himself. And he waited yet another seven days, and again he sent the dove out from the ark. Then the dove came to him in the evening, and behold, a freshly plucked olive leaf was in her mouth; and Noah knew that the waters had receded from the earth. So he waited yet another seven days and sent out the dove, which did not return again to him anymore.
a. At the end of forty days: This was counted from the time when the rain and other water sources began (Genesis 7:11-12).
i. “God told Noah when to go into the ark, but he did not tell him when he should come out again. The Lord told Noah when to go in, for it was necessary for him to know that; but he did not tell him when he should come out, for it was unnecessary that he should know that. God always lets his people know what is practically for their good.” (Spurgeon)
b. Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made: Genesis 6:16 describes the window that was to be made in the upper portion of the ark. The window was also made with some kind of covering that could be closed and opened.
i. “Because he believed in God, therefore he removed the covering of the ark, and looked abroad, expecting by-and-by to see not only the tops of the mountains, but also a dry and green earth once more. True faith often goes to the window. If your faith turns her face to the wall, and expects nothing, I do not think it is genuine faith.” (Spurgeon)
c. He sent out a raven, which kept going to and fro: Apparently the raven did not return to the ark. Perhaps this was because the raven is a scavenger, and might rest and feed upon dead, floating carcasses.
d. The dove found no resting place… she returned into the ark: Being a clean, non-scavenging bird, the dove would not land upon the earth until there was a dry, suitable place to land. When the dove returned into the ark, Noah knew that the waters had not yet drained enough to leave the ark.
i. Charles Spurgeon made a spiritual point from the idea that the dove found no resting place. He explained that like the dove, the believer finds no true resting place in this world. “The world is said to be progressing, advancing, improving; but we cannot discover it. The same sin, the same filthiness, the same universally abounding unbelief, that our fathers complained of, we are obliged to complain of still; and we are weary with the world, weary with the nineteenth century, and all its boasted civilization. There is nothing upon which the sole of our foot can rest.”
e. The dove came to him… a freshly plucked olive leaf was in her mouth: The raven never returned, but the dove came back with evidence that the terrible season of judgment through the flood was over and God had begun to renew plant life on the earth. Since this, a dove with an olive leaf has been a symbol of peace and goodness.
i. “Perhaps you have seen a picture of the dove carrying an olive branch in its mouth, which, in the first place, a dove could not pluck out of the tree, and in the second place, a dove could not carry an olive branch even if she could pluck it off. It was an olive leaf, that is all. Why cannot people keep to the words of Scripture? If the Bible mentions a leaf, they make it a bough; and if the Bible says it is a bough, they make it a leaf.” (Spurgeon)
f. The dove, which did not return again to him anymore: The departure of the dove proved that the earth was habitable again.
4. (13-19) Noah, his family, and all the animals leave the ark.
And it came to pass in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, that the waters were dried up from the earth; and Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and indeed the surface of the ground was dry. And in the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dried. Then God spoke to Noah, saying, “Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you: birds and cattle and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, so that they may abound on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him. Every animal, every creeping thing, every bird, and whatever creeps on the earth, according to their families, went out of the ark.
a. In the six hundred and first year: Genesis 7:11-13 says that Noah entered the ark on the seventeenth day of the second month of the six hundredth year of his life. This is almost a full year later, and in the second month of his six hundred and first year Noah left the ark. It seems he was in the ark a full calendar year.
b. Bring out with you every living thing: Just as the ark was loaded with animals before the flood, it was then unloaded. We don’t read of any animals that died in the year on the ark.
c. That they may abound on the earth and be fruitful and multiply: Living things from the ark would once again repopulate the earth.
i. “Noah came out of the ark — no longer cooped up and penned within its narrow limits, he walked abroad, and the whole world was before him where to choose. Was not that a picture of the freedom of the believer who has been ‘buried with Christ,’ and enjoys the possession of God’s free Spirit?” (Spurgeon)
B. God’s covenant with Noah.
1. (20) Noah builds an altar and offers a sacrifice.
Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
a. Then Noah built an altar: Noah’s first act after leaving the ark was to worship God through sacrifice. His gratitude and admiration of God’s greatness led him to worship God.
b. Took of every clean animal and every clean bird: As is the nature of true sacrifice, this was a costly offering unto God. With only seven of each animal on the ark, Noah risked extinction by sacrificing some of these animals. But costly sacrifice is pleasing to God.
i. “Common sense would have said, ‘Spare them, for you will want every one of them.’ But grace said, ‘Slay them, for they belong to God. Give Jehovah his due.’” (Spurgeon)
ii. The sacrifices we are called to offer to God should also cost us something. We should present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1), the giving of our resources is a sacrifice (Philippians 4:18), and we should give the sacrifice of praise to God (Hebrews 13:15).
iii. Costly sacrifice pleases God, not because God is greedy and wants to get as much from us as He can but because God Himself sacrificed at great cost (Ephesians 5:2 and Hebrews 9:26, 10:12). God wants costly sacrifice from us because it shows we are being conformed into the image of Jesus, who was the greatest display of costly sacrifice. As Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:2, we should be like Jesus in this regard: And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
iv. May we think like David, who said he would never offer to God that which costs me nothing (2 Samuel 24:24).
2. (21-22) God’s promise to Noah and to all mankind.
And the LORD smelled a soothing aroma. Then the LORD said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.
“While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,
Cold and heat,
Winter and summer,
And day and night
Shall not cease.”
a. The LORD smelled a soothing aroma: Noah’s costly sacrifice pleased God. It was as if God smelled the great aroma of the roasting meat (indicating that God loves the smell of grilling or burning meat), and He then made this wonderful promise to Noah and to man.
i. Of course, the Bible speaks anthropomorphically here – using a human analogy of a divine action or attribute. More pleasing to God than the smell of the sacrifice was the heart of Noah in his sacrifice.
b. I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake: God promised to never again visit the earth with judgment by a flood on this scale, to destroy every living thing. God did this understanding that the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth. This was a promise full of mercy.
i. We may observe a strange combination of truths; first, that the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth and second, God’s promise to never again curse the ground for man’s sake. It would seem that man’s evil would invite God’s curse, not put it away. The strange combination is accounted for by Noah’s altar and sacrifice, and God’s pleasure in the sacrifice (the LORD smelled a soothing aroma).
ii. “The sacrifice is the turning-point. Without a sacrifice sin clamours for vengeance, and God sends a destroying flood; but the sacrifice presented by Noah was typical of the coming sacrifice of God’s only begotten Son, and of the effectual atonement therein provided for human sin.” (Spurgeon)
iii. We can say that after the flood, Noah’s story illustrated many things relevant to the life of the believer.
· Noah showed the believer’s freedom.
· Noah showed the believer’s faith (in sacrifice).
· Noah showed the believer’s heart (by sacrifice).
· Noah showed the believer’s covenant of mercy (in light of sacrifice).
c. Cold and heat, winter and summer: God promised that after the flood, the earth would have established seasons. This speaks of the profound climatic and ecological changes in the earth since the covering of water vapors covering the earth was emptied. Now, there would be seasonal and temperature variations.
i. “As there should be no more a general deluge, so should there be no more a serious disarrangement of the course of the seasons and the temperature appropriate thereto. Seed-time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night, are to succeed each other in their perpetually unchanging change, so long as the present reign of forbearance shall last.” (Spurgeon)
ii. The result of this change is found in the rapidly decreasing lifespans. There will never be 900-year-old men after the flood. The mass extinction of animals revealed in the fossil record (such as dinosaurs and other such creatures) probably took place shortly after the flood, when the earth was changed so dramatically and plunged into an ice age.
iii. “How faithfully God fulfils his covenant with the earth! How truly will he keep his covenant with every believing sinner! Oh, trust ye in him, for his promise will stand fast for ever!” (Spurgeon)
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission