But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him on the ark, and He sent a wind over the earth and the waters receded.
The major theme of this chapter is renewal and rest after tribulation.
“The same hand that brought desolation also brought healing. As the earth was not drowned in a day, so it was not dried in a day.
God usually works deliverance for His people gradually, that the day of small beginnings may not be despised, nor the days of great things be despaired of” – Pastor Matthew Henry.
This chapter records the end of the storm and the beginning of new life and hope for God’s people and God’s creation. According to Gen7:24, the waters had prevailed upon the earth for 150 days; days long enough for the normal human reaction to be impatience, despair, and feelings of neglect, if not anger and frustration.
The Psalmist cried out numerous times “Lord, How long?” (Psalms 6:3; Psalms 13:1-2; Ps 37:17; Ps 74:10; Ps 80:4; Psalms 90:13; Psalms 94:3). The passage of time does indeed try our patience as mortal men who do not have a full insight into God’s plans and purposes for our lives.
Additionally, we are not told how Noah and his family passed those days of waiting in the Ark, but we can gain a clue from how they emerged from the ark in Genesis 9, with their worship and presentation of sacrifice, so we can summarize in this chapter 8 that:
- they trusted in the Lord with all their heart, and leaned not upon their own understanding (Proverbs 3:5);
- refusing any anxiety for that which they had no control over (Phil 4:6);
- casting all their cares upon Him who cared for them (1Peter 5:7) and going about their simple chores of care for the animals and the ark community at large, marveling and learning daily of God’s creative wonders and care, and possibly despairing for their acquaintances, neighbors and friends who must have now perished in the flood; rationalizing between God’s judgment of a sinful world and God’s covenant mercies for their family, and gaining a perspective of the high price of sin in the world.
Now regarding God remembering Noah and all the wild animals let us borrow a line or two from Warren Wiersbe the renowned Bible commentator;
The word “remember” in Gen 8:1 doesn’t mean to call something to mind that may have been forgotten. God can’t forget anything because He knows the end from the beginning.
Rather, it means “to pay attention to, to fulfill a promise and act on behalf of somebody.”
For example, God’s promise “and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more” (Heb 10:17) means that God doesn’t hold our sins against us and treat us as sinners.
Certainly God knows what we’ve done, but because of our faith in Jesus Christ, our sins are “forgotten”. God deals with us as though our sins had never been committed!
The Lord remembers them against us no more.
To remember means to act on behalf of another. God remembered Abraham and rescued Lot from destruction in Sodom (Gen 19:29). The Lord remembered both Rachel and Hannah and enabled them to conceive and bear sons (Gen 30:22; 1Sa 1:11,19).
The Lord remembered His covenant and delivered the Jews from the bondage of Egypt (Ex 2:24;6:5). “To remember” implies a previous commitment made by God and announces the fulfillment of that commitment. Noah, his family, and the animals had been together in the ark for over a year, which is a lot of “togetherness”.
Did they ever get impatient with each other or with the animals? There’s no record that God spoke to them after He had shut them into the ark, so perhaps somebody in the family experienced an occasional fleeting fear that maybe God didn’t care for them anymore.
God not only remembered Noah and his family, but He also remembered the animals that were with them in the ark.
God spared these creatures so they could live on the renewed earth and reproduce after their kind. It was His desire that His creatures enjoy the earth and contribute to the happiness of the people He had created in His own image.
The winds that God sent over the earth helped to evaporate the water and also move it to the place that God had provided. A God powerful enough to cover the earth with water is also wise enough to know how to dispose it when its work is done.
This section gives us the time sequence from the end of the torrential deluge to a dry earth, the water receded steadily from the earth. At the end of 150 days (which is 5 months) the water had gone down.
Let us remember first of all from Gen 7:11 that it was on the 600th year of Noah’s life, on the 17th day of the second month (approximately 17th of May) that the rains had started.
The floods kept coming for 40 days, and now after the rains it took 150 days (5 months ) for the waters to recede, and on the 17th day of the 7th month (approx. 17th October) the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. The waters continued to recede until the 10th month, and on the 1st day of that 10th month (which is approximately 1st January) the tops of the mountains became visible. After another 40 days (approx. 10th of February) Noah opened a window he had made in the ark and sent out a raven.
And we are told the raven kept flying back and forth until the water had dried from the earth. And we can’t help at this point to ask the question, why Noah sent out the raven in the first place, was it a human error arising from impatient miscalculation?
Clearly he was trying to obtain information about the status of the waters on the earth, but the raven being a scavenging flesh eating bird had so much to eat from the floating carcasses that it did not return to Noah.
Next Noah sent out a Dove (a week later by scholarly guess work). The Dove could not find anywhere to perch its feet, and so returned to the ark. 7 days later Noah sent out the Dove again.
This time it returned with an Olive leaf in its beak, and Noah knew the water had receded from the earth. Noah waited 7 days more and sent out the Dove again but this time it did not return to him.
And on the 1st day of the 1st month (1st of April) of the 601st year of Noah’s life the water had dried up from the earth. Noah then removed the covering (boarding) from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry. Noah, his family and the animals still remained in the ark.
Noah was not taking chances this time as he had with the raven; he wanted to be sure that whatever directive regarding coming out of the ark was purely from God, and not human eagerness, anxiety, or miscalculation. It was by divine instruction that Noah and his family entered the ark, and it had to be by divine instruction that they would come out.
Then finally after being in the ark for over 1 year, on the 27th day of the second month (May) the earth was completely dry, and God said to Noah, “come out of the ark, with your entire family and all the animals, birds and creatures so they can multiply on the earth; and be fruitful”, and they all came out after their kind.
Before being drawn by curiosity to explore the new post-flood world, or by the need to build his own house, Noah felt very strongly the need to worship and thank God for the mercy, grace, and benevolence that he and his family had enjoyed. His stock of clean animals and birds was limited, but that did not keep him from offering a generous sacrificial offering to God. Thus the renewed earth was inaugurated by worship as the first and foremost activity.
The description of God “smell [-ing] the pleasant aroma” (Gen 8:21 NIV) is a human way of stating a divine truth: God was satisfied with the sacrifice, accepted it, and was pleased with His people and their worship (Lev 1:9;3:16).
If God refused to “smell” the fragrance of the offering, it meant that He was displeased with the worshippers (Lev 26:31;Isa 1:11-15). In New Testament language, the sacrifice speaks of Jesus Christ offering Himself up for us. “And walk in love, as Christ has also loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma” (Eph 5:2 NKJV).
In and of ourselves, we can’t please God by what we are or by what we do, but by faith, we can be accepted in Jesus Christ. The Father said of Jesus, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).
Those who put their faith in Christ are “in Christ” (2Cor 5:17), and when the Father looks at them, He sees the righteousness of His Son (2Cor 5:21). Believers are “accepted in the beloved” Son who is well-pleasing to the Father (Eph 1:6).
God reaffirms the natural order (Gen 8:21-22) – From Warren Wiersbe’s Expository Commentary:
The Lord didn’t speak these words to Noah; He spoke them to Himself in His own heart. It was His gracious response to Noah’s faith, obedience, and worship. What did God promise?
The ground cursed no more (v. 21a). God had cursed the ground because of Adam’s sin (3:17) and had added a further curse because of Cain’s sins (Gen 4:11-12). God’s promise recorded here didn’t invalidate either of those curses, and they won’t be removed until Jesus returns and God’s people dwell in the Holy City (Rev 22:3). But in His grace, God decided not to add to man’s affliction.
No more universal floods (v. 21b). God also determined that there would be no future floods. God’s reason given in verse 21 has been variously explained, and your explanation depends to some degree on your translation of the text. Did God say “for the imagination of man’s heart is evil” (KJV, niv margin), or did He say “even though every inclination of his heart is evil” (NIV)?
The Lord had originally sent the flood because of the evil hearts of the people (Gen 6:5), so not to send another judgment would make it look like the flood was a mistake or a failure, or that God had given up on the human race created in His own image.
If we translate Gen 8:21 “for,” then we have God saying, “The human heart is incurably wicked. The flood wiped out the transgressors, but it couldn’t change hearts. Therefore, to have another judgment won’t solve the problem.” If we translate it “even though,” then we have God saying: “Yes, they deserve judgment because their hearts are wicked. And to persist in sin and not learn their lesson from this flood only shows how evil they are. But in grace, I will not send another flood or curse the ground.”
Perhaps both are true. The important thing is that God spoke these words in response to Noah’s sacrifice, and that the sacrifice was a picture of the sacrifice of Christ (Heb 10:1-10;Ep 5:2).
On the basis of the atonement accomplished by Jesus Christ on the cross, God could say, “A price has been paid for the sins of the world, and I can withhold judgment. Justice has been met, My law has been upheld, and I can show grace to a lost world. I will not send another flood and wipe out the human race. Instead, I will offer them My great salvation.”
This doesn’t mean that God doesn’t judge sin today or that there will be no future judgment of the world. Ro 1:18ff. makes it clear that God’s judgment is being revealed against sinners right now through the consequences of their sins. God gave them over to their own sinful bondage and gave them up to the consequences of their sins in their own bodies.
One of the greatest judgments God can send to sinners is to let them have their own way and then pay for it in their own lives. That’s the judgment the world is experiencing right now. There will be a future global judgment, but not a judgment of water; it will be a judgment of fire (2Pet 3).
No interruption of the cycle of nature (v. 22). The flood had interrupted the normal cycle of the seasons for a year, but that would never be repeated. Instead, God reaffirmed that the rhythm of days and weeks and seasons would continue as long as the earth endured. Without this guarantee, mankind could never be sure of having the necessities of life.
We know now that the steady cycle of days and nights, weeks and months, seasons and years, is maintained by the rotation of the earth on its axis and the orbit of the earth around the sun. God made it that way so that His universe would operate effectively.
Although there were myriads of galaxies to choose from, the Lord chose to pour His love and grace down upon the inhabitants of the earth. “The earth is the Lord’s” (Ps 24:1). The Lord so arranged the universe that the living things on earth might be maintained, and this includes men and women who too often forget God’s care.
The guarantee in Gen 8:22 gives us hope and courage as we face an unknown future. Each time we go to bed for the night, or turn the calendar to a new month, we should be reminded that God is concerned about planet earth and its inhabitants.
With the invention of the electric light and modern means of transportation and communication, our world has moved away from living by the cycles of nature established by God. We no longer go to bed at sundown and get up at sunrise, and if we don’t like the weather where we are, we can quickly travel to a different climate. But if God were to dim the sun, rearrange the seasons, or tilt the earth at a different angle, our lives would be in jeopardy.
God invites us to live a day at a time. Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11) and to be thankful for it. “As your days, so shall your strength be” (Duet 33:25 NKJV; see Matthew 6:25-34). When His disciples warned Jesus not to go to Bethany, He replied, “Are there not twelve hours in the day?” (Jn 11:9). He obeyed the Father’s schedule and lived a day at a time, trusting the Father to care for Him.
LIFE APPLICATIONS OF GENESIS 8
1) Many times as humans we are tempted by our present circumstances to feel that God has forgotten us. We all get impatient from lingering problems or adversities when it seems as if God has placed us on the perpetual waiting list of life.
When next we are tempted to feel frustrated, let us remember that Noah, his family, and all of the animals seemed to be on God’s waiting list too during the period of the great flood.
2) Although God is all powerful, and He brought the flood on the earth, He did not remove the flood and dry up the earth in an instant. God did not bypass or side-step the gradual drying process of the waters. We too must learn to appreciate the processes of life’s events.
We must neither be impatient with natural processes of life, nor try to short-circuit that which God has put in place most time for our safety and overall wellbeing.
3) We have a lot to learn from Noah’s wise and matured handling of their period of confinement in the ark. Noah maintained a good attitude, and provided good leadership and example to his family members.
But he did not just sit by and smile through the entire process; he was innovative, and sent out the raven, and then the dove when the raven disappointed his initial intention. All of these he did with an open mind still seeking clearer directions from God. And Noah refused to make any major decisions without having clear directions from God.
4) We must commend Noah’s family members for being patient with him and abiding by his instructions, as we can understand that after they had seen through the removed wood boarding and seen that the waters had dried from the face of the earth, it must have become more difficult sitting in the ark waiting for God’s command for them to come out of the ark.
And Noah and his family were not really just sitting around waiting. They were busy about their daily chores inside the ark. So we can learn not to just stand idly by waiting for God’s instructions to get to us. We ought to be profitably busy about our chores and lifes’ responsibilities.
5) Human sin was the original cause of the flood, and of all the deaths and disasters caused by the flood; so that we can assess how high sin really costs, and see what a long time it takes to recover from the effects of human sinful actions.
Noah’s family witnessed first hand what God’s fierce wrath does to people that rejected the call to repentance, to God’s mercy and grace.
6) We can learn from Noah the priority that worshipful and sacrificial fellowship ought to have in the world today. Noah did not begrudge to offer thanksgiving and sacrificial worship after coming out from the ark, and he won both God’s approval and acceptance, the result of which God restored the fruitful seasons of the earth.
Damage and desolation on the earth results when humans attempt to belittle and hold God in contempt. And beauty and bounty results when people venerate God and ascribe to Him due worship and reverence.
God bless you as you engage in the study of His word. Feel free to leave a comment or contribution below.