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Genesis study & commentary

genesis 8

By Doug Ford
The flood subsides

Genesis 8:1-5

The word translated to 'remember' is Zakhar.   It's not that God forgot He left Noah, his family and a boatload of animals adrift.  It is more of the sense that God 'turned His attention to them'.  With the purpose of the flood completed, the story returns to the ark and its inhabitants.  After the 150 days, God turned his attention back to Noah and the animals.  It is probably pretty safe to say that there were days when Noah wondered if God had forgotten him.  But we learned earlier that Noah was a righteous man, blameless.  Noah's righteousness was believing God and putting his trust in him.  This put him in God's care, placing him in the ark; but also for the duration of the adventure. 

 

The Hebrew word for wind used here is 'ruach'.  This word is mostly translated as 'spirit'.  If the word was to be understood as 'spirit' here, we'd see the spirit pass over the water as in Genesis 1:2 when we saw the 'ruach' of God moved upon the face of the waters. It certainly adds to the idea of a re-creation or a restart of creation.

 

Stop for a moment and picture it.  Put yourself there; nothing but water, a small ark and God's spirit moving over the face of the waters.  It is a serene thought isn't it?   We often find ourselves lost, adrift and feeling like a small boat in a big ocean.  It's times like these when we understand God's grace the best.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.  (Ephesians 2:8-9)

 

As much as God's grace was visible, so much more was His sovereignty. He is always in control.  He knew how to bring about a flood and he knew how to dry up the waters of the flood.  He begins to reverse the process.  Consider the time line:

  • On the 17th day of the 2nd month of Noah's 600th year, Noah entered the ark.
    • The springs and floodgates opened, the rains came. 
  • On the 17th day of the 7th month the ark came to rest. 
    • The springs and floodgates closed, and the rain stopped.
    • As Moses spoke this to the children of Israel, they may have thought that was an interesting detail.  Just 3 days earlier and it would have aligned with Passover.  What they did not know is that the 17th day of 7th month would one day be the day Jesus was resurrected.  Jesus modeled 'new life' when He was resurrected. 
  • Then on the 1st day of the 10th month the mountains came into view. 
  • Forty days later, about the 10th day of the 11th month he sent out the raven. 
  • Then on the 17th day of the 11th month, he sent the dove again and it came back with an olive branch. 
  • Seven days later, on the 24th of 11 month, he sent the dove again and it didn't return. 
  • Then on the 1st day of the 1st month, the ground was dry. 
  • Then on the 27th day of the 2nd month, the earth was dry. 
  • Noah ended up in the Ark for 1 year and 10 days.

 

The ark came to rest on Mt. Ararat.  Why there?  This seems like a difficult place for the animals to disperse from.  Noah and his family had to come down from the mountain.  Jon Courson notes, 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.

 

Note: The ark was reportedly located and evidence brought down from Mt. Ararat years ago.  Since then Turkey has not allowed serious search for the ark.  Locating the ark and validating the story would threaten Islamic strongholds and strengthen Christian and Jewish belief in the Torah. 

 

Genesis 8:6-

The NKJV uses a great phrase, 'So it came to pass'.  The storm, rain and flood had passed.  The wicked time Noah lived in had passed.  God's wrath & indignation had passed.  Yet, in the midst of this turmoil and upheaval, God's faithfulness and promises withstood it all.  He is unchanging and His ways will not pass away.  In speaking of a coming day, Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away."

 

Noah sent out a raven, an unclean bird.  It kept going to and fro until waters dried up.  Why a raven?  Some say it was unclean, thereby expendable.  Yet, it represented the future of the species.  unclean, yes, but God could still use the unclean for his glory and purpose.  Noah then sent out a dove – probably 7 days after the raven.  The dove was a clean animal.  Across the bible, the dove is seen as symbolic of the Holy Spirit.  The dove came back and what a neat picture it was when Noah reached out and took it.

 

The dove finally returns bearing an olive branch; seen as a symbol of peace.  It's not a stretch to see the Holy Spirit bringing peace to Noah.  The judgment was complete.  God's wrath was spent.

 

 

Genesis 8:13-14

Noah is starting the 7th century of his life.  Life will pass.  Isn't it incredible how fast life passes?  When you're young you hear people say it.  When you have young kids, people tell you they'll grow up fast.  And then before you know it, you're the one telling someone how fast it passes.  Did Noah remember his first 100 years and call them the 'good ole days'? 

For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. (James 4:14)

 

Genesis 8:15-16-22

The Lord could have dried the land in an instant, but he chose to do it with the wind over time.  Noah waited on the Lord for about 2 months.  This required a tremendous amount of patience.  Leaning on our trust in Him and waiting always requires patience.  His timing is perfect, even if we don't understand it.

 

In time God commanded Noah to 'come out of the ark'.   The world was newly cleansed, life was new.  All the creatures, all those with the breath of life, were to multiply on the earth.  This is the same command of Genesis one.  The animals all came out of the ark 'one kind after another'.  This was 'by class' or 'type'.  It was the species stepping together into a new world.  Noah entered this newly cleansed world and built an alter to the Lord.  This is the first time an altar is used in the bible.  How fitting a time and place it was to worship the Lord.  Noah worshiped God and praised him for his mercy & grace.

 

As Noah wrote this down for the children of Israel, he is speaking to them of the age old instructions of sacrifice and worship.  While they were written as the law of God in Moses day, they had been around since the beginning, instructions given by God.  Noah knew of clean and unclean animals, the building of an altar and sacrifice up on it. 

 

Among the clean, the animals used for food or sacrifice, there were only 7 of any animal.  Sacrificing even one is risky business.  A species could have become extinct pretty easily.  But Noah trusted God.   He had provided and protected them all along the way.  The fact that there were only a few of any species made Noah's sacrifice was very valuable.  It was offered in faith.  What Noah offered was already God's, he just offered it back.

 

The burnt offering was a pleasing aroma to the Lord, indicating the acceptance of the sacrifice and the Lord's pleasure in it.  'In His heart' provides a link to 6:6 when the Lord was deeply troubled in His heart.  The Lord would not bring such a judgment against the earth again even though it is clear man's ability to sin was not washed away.  The inclination to sin still existed in mankind.  The world had been cleansed; but when Noah and His family came out of the ark, sin once again existed on the earth. 

 

The curse wouldn't be brought against the earth and all of mankind, but He would come and let the curse fall on Him.

13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Gal 3:13-14)

 

God's promise to mankind was to never again destroy every living creature in this way.  His wrath would be kept in check until the earth was destroyed to create a new heave and new earth. 

10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:10-13)

 

As long as earth endures, from season to season, day to day, it will not cease until the Day of the Lord when it will all melt away in preparation for the new heaven and new earth.

 

©2019 Doug Ford