Author’s Note: I am preaching through Genesis on Wednesday nights. Here I will present edited notes in blog form. You can listen to the sermon below and download it here. May God be glorified and His people edified. Comments below if you like.
Let’s consider Genesis 8:1-22…
But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark; and God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water subsided.Also the fountains of the deep and the floodgates of the sky were closed, and the rain from the sky was restrained;and the water receded steadily from the earth, and at the end of one hundred and fifty days the water decreased.In the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark rested upon the mountains of Ararat.The water decreased steadily until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains became visible.
Then it came about at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made; and he sent out a raven, and it flew here and there until the water was dried up from the earth.Then he sent out a dove from him, to see if the water was abated from the face of the land;but the dove found no resting place for the sole of her foot, so she returned to him into the ark, for the water was on the surface of all the earth. Then he put out his hand and took her, and brought her into the ark to himself.So he waited yet another seven days; and again he sent out the dove from the ark.The dove came to him toward evening, and behold, in her [f]beak was a freshly picked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the water was abated from the earth.Then he waited yet another seven days, and sent out the dove; but she did not return to him again.
Now it came about in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, on the first of the month, the water was dried up from the earth. Then Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and behold, the surface of the ground was dried up.In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry.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 animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, that they may breed abundantly 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 beast, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out by their families from the ark.
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.The Lord smelled the soothing aroma; and the Lord said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for theintent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done.
“While the earth remains,Seedtime and harvest,And cold and heat,And summer and winter,And day and nightShall not cease.”
In Genesis 6 there was the buildup to the Flood. In chapter seven the Flood came, along with the resultant destruction and death, a horror story of unspeakable gravity — God’s righteous, holy anger burning against sin and sinners, all that lived on the land being blotted out, but that which was in the ark, the instrument of salvation. And perhaps since the account of the Flood and the ark point so clearly to the salvation we find only in Jesus, many have tried to forget or explain away what is so clear in Genesis 6-9. As one commentator puts it, “In our modern age of scientific skepticism, the enormity of this great event of the past has been all but forgotten. Its testimony of the awfulness of sin and the reality of divine retribution is so disturbingly unwelcome that men have tried for ages somehow to explain it away and forget it.”
That is why in the last session so much attention was given to why this is not a myth, or a local flood, or a regional flood. It was a global catastrophe destroying all the earth and what lived on it.
Where we left off, the floodgates of heaven had opened, the great deeps were bursting forth. The water was prevailing on the earth 150 days, all the while eight people and many animals floated high above the surface of the earth, God’s glory being shown in salvation from the judgment, by grace and through faith in Him. What would happen next?
Well in verse one we see: “But God remembered Noah…”
But God remembered Noah…
Appreciate those words, particularly the words But God. This is the first time in the Bible we see the phrase “But God.” It won’t be the last. Very often when we see those words together in the Scriptures something important is about to be said.
How about in Genesis 50:20 when Joseph is speaking to his brothers, after the death of their father Jacob and they are fearful he will seek revenge on them for the wrong they did him? “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” And verse 24 later on, when Joseph is about to die and they are all still in Egypt, “I am about to die, but God will surely take care of you and bring you up from this land to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob.”
How about Psalm 73:26? “My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
But undoubtedly the most famous use of “but God” comes from a passage I quote often — Ephesians 2:1-5. And that’s because there is probably no passage in the Bible which so succinctly, yet vividly describes who were are by nature, and what God has done for us in Christ. Paul is writing to believers in Ephesus when he says…
And you were dead [b]in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
But God… are words of salvation. They are words which introduce God’s grace, His faithfulness. And Noah would agree in Genesis 8:1. High above the earth, floating in a boat, saved from the waters which have prevailed for five months — “But God remembered Noah.”
The word remembered, of course, is not saying or even implying that God at any time forgot about Noah. The use of the word remembered here is a Hebrew way of saying that God began again to act of their behalf, on behalf of Noah and his family. God remembering someone (like Noah) or a group of people (like the nation of Israel) always implies His movement toward whoever He is remembering. What the use of the word does is show God’s faithfulness to someone or a group on the basis of a previous commitment He has made. In Ephesians 2 God is faithful to those whom He has set His love upon. Here in Genesis, the flood waters came and prevailed, but God had promised Noah something in Genesis 6:18: “But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall enter the ark — you and your sons and your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.”
In Genesis 8:1 God remembers the covenant He made with Noah and moves on behalf of him, to carry out the promises made to Noah. Specifically, He faithfully kept His promise to end the Flood.
We see “God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water [which was prevailing in chapter seven, here] subsided.” Now interestingly, the word translated wind here is the Hebrew word ruach, which can be translated either wind or spirit. In fact, in Genesis 1:2 when the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters, it’s the word ruach.
Now practically every major English translation has chosen to translate ruach in Genesis 8:1 as wind, but it’s at least possible the Holy Spirit is what is intended here. It is the power of the Spirit at work here either way, but it could be there is a deliberate parallel in the text here between Genesis 1:2 and Genesis 8:1. Now again, with waters covering the earth as it was in the beginning, God exerts His power, through His Spirit, to once again separate the waters from the waters, to bring forth the land.
God’s Spirit was at work however you translate that. It’s likely wind was at work however you translate that, too. The Flood changed the environment. With the vapor canopy gone now, the waters have fallen to earth, there would be a great difference in temperatures on the earth depending on where you were. The Spirit was working, the atmosphere began circulating, the wind was blowing… and the water began rushing away.
Of course, it wouldn’t have anywhere to rush away to unless there was land, so a new topography, the continental land masses, began rising from the waters. The water began to retreat to what we know as oceans and seas. Psalm 104:5-9 explains what happened…
He established the earth upon its foundations,So that it will not totter forever and ever.You covered it with the deep as with a garment;The waters were standing above the mountains.At Your rebuke they fled,At the sound of Your thunder they hurried away.The mountains rose; the valleys sank downTo the place which You established for them.You set a boundary that they may not pass over,So that they will not return to cover the earth.
At God’s rebuke the waters fled. He remembered Noah and caused the waters to subside. The fountains of the deep and the floodgates of the sky are closed in Genesis 8:2. The water recedes steadily from the earth in verse three, after the 150 days, so that finally, in verse four, on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark rested upon the mountains of Ararat — Ararat being the Hebrew form of the Greek Armenia, which is a country even today which is just to the east of Turkey.
The Ararat region, including the Mount known as Ararat, which is 17,000 feet in elevation today, lies in that part of the world where the Turkey/Armenia border is, and the whole region is abundant is what is known as pillow lava, which is a dense lava rock formed under great depths of water. This particular mountain also includes a lot of marine fossils which could only be laid out quickly, like in a massive Flood. The point being, the place where the ark eventually rested was actually formed by the Flood itself.
Also, the timing of it all… It’s said the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day, as if it was working, laboring for five months. This is the second mention of Someone or something resting in the Scriptures. The first is when God rested after His work of creation on the seventh day. The ark then rests after finishing its mission, just as later on Jesus will rest when His work of salvation is finished.
The ark rests, the waters are subsiding. Finally, in the tenth month — over two whole months from when the ark rests on Ararat — on the first day of the month the tops of the mountains become visible. That tells us something about high up the ark still was, that it took so long for other mountains to be seen. Forty days later, verse six, Noah opened the window and sent a raven out. But the raven is a scavenger bird that doesn’t mind resting on unclean surfaces. Seven days later he sent out a dove. The dove couldn’t find a place to rest and returned to the ark, Noah putting out his hand and bringing the bird back in himself.
Seven more days and the dove went out again, bringing back an olive leaf, which showed Noah that plant life was beginning to grow again, so verse 11, “Noah knew that the water was abated from the earth.” Another seven days passed and the dove went out again… and did not come back, so the land was sufficiently dry to support bird life.
Even so, 29 more days passed before Noah, on the first day of the first month of a new year, took the cover off of the ark, part of the roof probably, 314 days after the Flood began, and for the first time he got to the see the ground himself. He must have seen that the earth still wasn’t ready for them yet, though, because it was another 57 days, almost two months, 371 days after the Flood began, over a year, before he and his family would come off the ark.
Even then it’s when God tells him to. God had told Noah in Genesis 7:1, “Enter [or come into] the ark, you and all your household, for you I have seen to be righteous before Me in this time.” Now He says, “Go out of the ark,” you, your wife, your family, the animals… the animals so that they might breed abundantly on the earth and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” And that’s what he did.
And I’m guessing it was a pretty traumatic experience. We have to remember, beloved, the world was changed drastically by the Flood of judgment. Remember, the old world was dead. Second Peter 3:6: “The world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.” So Noah was stepping into, if not a new world, a very different world.
Henry Morris did great work on this, and he outlines some of the implied physical changes to the earth as a result of the Flood.
The oceans were more extensive. Why? Because they didn’t just include the waters of the great deep now. They included the waters which were once above. So, yes, the oceans were more extensive.
Which means the land was much less extensive than before the Flood, and a greater portion of it was not inhabitable because of the changes to the environment.
With the vapor canopy now gone, temperature changes began. Snow and ice built up on the poles, which is why people pretty much don’t live there.
Mountain ranges changed, many becoming unfit for people to live there.
Wind and snow and rain and storms now occurred, making the entire environment more hostile to man and animals than before.
Plus, with the vapor canopy gone, more harmful radiation from space came through, which probably played a significant role (along with other factors) in the gradual but substantial lessening of life spans over the next several hundred years.
As the world above ground changed, the waters of the great deep also would have produced changes below ground, which is why you have volcanoes today and earthquakes today.
When Noah came off the ark the land would have been pretty bare as far as vegetation goes. It would take time for plant life to really come back to even close to how it would have been before the Flood. By the way, this is one reason God is going to tell Noah in Genesis 9 that he can eat animals now.
But in the meantime, as for the animals, they came out and they could go east into Asia, west into Europe, south into Africa. Land bridges are known to have existed in the past whereby they could migrate into the Americas, or down through southeast Asia even to Australia. It’s interesting that modern computer studies show the geographic center of the earth’s land areas to be very close to Mount Ararat. I don’t believe that’s a coincidence. I believe that’s providence.
As the animals would have migrated into different places different dominant genetic traits would have manifested, so the kinds which entered the ark would gradually change into different species, such as the many different species of dogs which exist today. Kinds didn’t change into other kinds, but kinds produced species.
Because the whole world had been corrupted by sin, it would not only be more harsh toward humans, but animals as well. Many species would have found it difficult to adjust, and eventually become extinct, as we see even today with some. Many dinosaurs may have gone extinct as a result, especially if there was an ice age after the Flood, as many biblical creation scientists believe. In any event, the old world was dead and the new world had drastically changed, for every creature God had created.
Beloved, we probably can’t properly comprehend all of the ways in which the world was different after the Flood from what it was before the Flood. I’m quite sure modern science and its litany of skeptics haven’t comprehended the amount of destruction the Flood brought the world. Our planet does not testify to being here for millions and billions of years. Instead, as one commentator writes, “The record in the rocks is not a testimony to evolution, but rather to God’s sovereign power and judgment on sin.”
And it’s that testimony which provoked the first thing Noah did when he came off the ark. Look again at verses 20-22.
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. The Lord smelled the soothing aroma; and the Lord said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for theintent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done.
“While the earth remains,Seedtime and harvest,And cold and heat,And summer and winter,And day and nightShall not cease.”
First, we see Noah worshiped the LORD… Noah worshiped the LORD. He knew he was only on that ark by the grace of God. He knew it was only by the grace of God he and his wife and his sons and their wives had been saved from the Flood of His angry judgment, His judgment on sin. Noah knew he had found favor in the eyes of YHWH. So when he got off the ark the first thing he did is the first thing we should all do when we realize the grace God has shown us, the thing we ought to always do — he expressed a thankful heart by worshiping the LORD.
He worshiped the way he’d been taught to worship by those who walked with God before the Flood — animal sacrifice. Noah took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings, and the LORD smelled the soothing aroma, literally He smelled a sweet savor.
In Leviticus 1, where the burnt offering was later described as Law for God’s people, Israel, the burnt offering, I’ve read it put, “represented the worshiper’s total surrender and dedication to the Lord, and the expression of the Lord’s smelling the sweet fragrance represented God’s acceptance.” Noah saw that in addition to the judgment God had brought upon the world that he was also evidence of God’s grace, God’s redeeming, God’s restoring. So how could he not worship? His burnt offering was probably the biggest by any one individual for all time, every clean bird and every animal. But God was worthy of it for Noah. Noah found grace, he came to know grace, and he came to respond properly to the grace he had been shown.
But that we would respond rightly to the grace God has shown us.
As He did with Abel, God had regard for Noah’s offering, being offered in thankfulness and faith, and He responds by promising never again to curse the ground on the account of man. That is, He would never again destroy all life on the earth. Now the curse that was brought about through the sin of Adam, back in Genesis 3, remained, but God would never bring about a worldwide judgment like He just had.
And it’s not because of good in man. Before the ark God saw the wickedness of man was great on the earth, in Genesis 6:5, that every intent of the thought of his heart was only evil continually. Now after the Flood, in 8:21, “For the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” So man hasn’t changed, and God is acknowledging that immediately. Human, sinful nature hasn’t changed. It won’t take long in Genesis for us to see that. It would seem God would be justified for judging the earth because of man, then, instead of promising not to judge it. But then, there is no justification for God saving sinners, either, is there? Except for His love, His grace, His mercy.
“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease,” God says. Tell that to the environmental extremist, by the way, who says man is the problem with the environment. On the contrary, this chapter closes with God basically declaring He is the God of all creation and that His creation will not cease to work in precisely the way He has decreed, until He decrees this earth me no more, to eventually be replaced with a new heaven and new earth and new Jerusalem.
And so how shall we respond to this sovereign Lord, this God of grace? Like Noah, who by faith, Hebrews 11:7, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned [the unbelieving] world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith… and then worshiped God with thankfulness.
Next week we have VBS, so God willing, in two weeks we’ll see more of what God said to Noah, and how the world changed for him and all men who came after him. Until then, though, may we be as Noah, beloved — believing His word, with thankful hearts, worshiping Him, giving Him the glory.
Father, in the account of Noah and the ark and the flood we see so many things which reveal Your character — Your holiness, Your righteousness, Your justice, Your sovereignty, Your anger… and Your grace, Your love, Your mercy, Your salvation. We also see all of these things fully and most perfectly displayed at the cross, where Jesus endured the flood of Your judgment against all sin, for all time, for all who will ever believe. He died, and yet, He lives. We see again in this section of Genesis bad news supplanted by the good news of hope, hope realized for us in Your Son. So by Your grace, help us to trust in Him, trust in You. Help us to recognize Your holiness, righteousness, justice, sovereignty anger, grace, love, mercy, and all that You are. Help us to recognize You, see You, and live for You. We ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.