genesis 8, the beginning of hope

Genesis 8, The Beginning Of Hope

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Welcome back to our study of the book of Genesis! In our last session, we discussed the events that led up to the great flood that destroyed all life on earth except for Noah, his family, and the pairs of animals God had chosen to accompany them in the ark. Today, we’ll explore Chapter 8 – a passage that marks the start of hope.

But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded. Now the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens had been closed, and the rain had stopped falling from the sky. The water receded steadily from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down, and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. The waters continued to recede until the tenth month, and on the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains became visible.

The Waters Recede

When the scripture says that God remembered, it seems as if God was in a state of amnesia and then recovered from it and remembered that there was a man named Noah that He had an interaction with in regards to saving him from the flood. If God was to ever forget something, then HE couldn’t be God. We already mentioned this use of man’s qualifiers on God in one of our studies. God is not a man that He should forget. But why does the Bible use language like this? In this specific passage, it is meant to convey that GOD paid attention to Noah. We need to look at instances in the Scripture where a similar language is used.

So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived.
In the case of Abraham, when the word “remembered” is used, it conveys that God listened, paid attention to Abraham’s request about Lot and saved him.
Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and enabled her to conceive.
Rachel was barren and finally she was able to conceive because God paid attention, it is meant to convey the idea of being favored, noticed.
When you go into battle in your own land against an enemy who is oppressing you, sound a blast on the trumpets. Then you will be remembered by the Lord your God and rescued from your enemies.
Once again, the word remembered conveys the idea of “paying attention, showing favor, regarding with favor”.
and said, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor.
Cornelius was a gentile and for the jews, this was unbelievable that God would actually pay attention, and show favor to gentiles. But this was ushering in what had been spoken by the prophets long ago where God said after the days of Jesus, all the people of the earth, notably the gentiles would also seek to worship Him. In this case as well, the word “remembered” conveyed the thought of ” paying attention”, noticing, being shown favor.
So when the Scripture says that God remembered Noah and all the wild animals, it is meant to convey that God paid attention to them, His face was shining upon them, He showed them favor.

Is there any significance of the wind that God sends over the earth in this passage?

We learn that God is sovereign over all things, even the wind obeys Him. There is a similar instance in the book of Matthew,

27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

Matthew 8:27

Jesus revealed his deity to his disciples as He told the wind to be still and it was still. In Genesis 8:1, we clearly see that God is sovereign over all the elements. He gave the wind a command and it obeyed him and executed the purpose for which it was sent, to cause the water to recede. And let’s also remember that this isn’t the only time God is going to send the “wind” to accomplish His purpose. We read the following in Exodus 14:21-22

21 Then Moses stretched out his handover the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land.The waters were divided, 22 and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.


The Springs of the deep and the floodgates of heaven are closed

Obviously the statement above begs the question- who closed them? And the answer is also evident, God closed them, thus showing us again that HE is sovereign over all creation.

Why was it important for the writer of this passage to note that the water receded steadily from the earth?

The word “steadily” conveys the thought of something that is controlled or done in an unwavering manner. So the waters of the flood didn’t just begin to recede on their own, in a random way, they receded under control, meaning there was someone behind the receding of the water, that is GOD. The author clearly wants to convey the sovereignty of God in these verses and every penned word is purposely placed to show that God was the one behind everything that was taking place. He brought forth the flood and now was causing the waters to recede, in a controlled manner.

What is the significance of the ark coming to rest on the mountains of Ararat, specifically?

First, we need to know that the author is giving a specific location, to show the readers exactly where the event took place. This is again to convey the authenticity and veracity of this event, this is initially for record keeping, for future generations. The flood wasn’t purposeless, it was to serve as a warning for the next generation and the specific location of Ararat was given so we’ll remember that this was historical event.

Is there any significance to the word “rest” in Genesis 8:4?

I was doing some research on that and came up with the following information. The word “rest” in this verse holds great significance as it marks the end of a rough period for Noah and his family, who had been on the ark moving around for 150 days. The resting signified a sense of peace and safety after a long and difficult journey. It also represents God’s faithfulness towards Noah and his family, who were saved from destruction because of their obedience to God’s commands. Additionally, the word “rest” foreshadows the ultimate rest that believers will experience in Christ, who is our ark.

A Turning Point:The Tops Of The Mountains Become Visible

The ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat but Noah and his family and the animals were still confined to the ark. They might have been asking themselves as it is fitting to human nature whether they were ever going to leave the ark or not. Let’s recall that the waters were receding steadily, in a controlled way; it might have been hard to see the changes, especially since Noah was on the ark, but that didn’t mean that God had stopped working.

Verse 5 is significant because it marks a turning point in the account of Noah. The floodwaters had covered the earth for 150 days, and now the by product of the waters receding was now made manifest, in that the tops of the mountains were now visible. So this probably was good news to Noah as it meant that God certainly hadn’t forgotten about them.

As we reflect on this verse, we may wonder why God chose to include this detail in His Word. Perhaps it serves as a reminder that even in times of great trial and difficulty, there is always hope for restoration and renewal. Just as the floodwaters receded and new life emerged from the ark, so too can we trust that God will bring new life out of our own trials and struggles.

At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made and sent forth a raven. It went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth.Then he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground. But the dove found no place to set her foot, and she returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took her and brought her into the ark with him. 10 He waited another seven days, and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark.11 And the dove came back to him in the evening, and behold, in her mouth was a freshly plucked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth.12 Then he waited another seven days and sent forth the dove, and she did not return to him anymore.

Noah sends out a raven

Why did Noah send out a dove after the raven, and what was he hoping to learn from this second bird?

I have wrestled with this instance for more than a couple of weeks and here are my findings about what I believe Noah was planning to achieve. Now the scripture tells us that Noah sent forth a raven, it doesn’t tell us why he sent forth a raven but the next verses shed light on the mission the raven was supposed to accomplish. This isn’t the first time a raven is used in the scripture to aid humans. God commanded the ravens to feed the prophet Elijah in the book of Kings. Ravens were intelligent birds and Noah was probably seeking to gather some intelligence  with the raven; he could fly for long distances and would make for a great scout. We are also told in the Scripture that the raven kept flying back and forth until the waters were dried up. This is a key detail in understanding this passage. Basically ravens feed on carrion so it is possible that the bird became more preoccupied with eating dead bodies that probably washed ashore, hence became an unreliable source to collect data, I’m saying this because of how verse 8 reads,

Then he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground

We are told why Noah sent out the dove: to test whether the waters had subsided from the face of the ground. This tells us that the raven’s intel was not sufficient so Noah had to use another scout, this time a dove.  The raven kept going back and forth and this ” back and forth” movement became confusing as it didn’t quite help Noah in the process of determining if the waters were dried up from the surface of the earth. So he had to enlist the help of a dove to test it.  Now I found this to be very interesting, it shows us that Noah knew that the ark was only a temporary location. So he wasn’t settling for the status quo. Also we know that God had spoken to Noah on several occasions ( probably in an audible voice). Now there hadn’t been any new revelation from God ( audible voice) but did that mean that God had stopped speaking? Absolutely not, and Noah’s use of the birds shows that God was still speaking to Noah but by different means, the raven and the dove. This teaches me that I can’t put God in a box and I’ll explain. The primary way God speaks is through His written word. The Holy Spirit takes the word of God and applies to our given situation correctly. But God also speaks through our common sense, God has equipped us with mental faculties to make rational decisions and Noah exemplifies that in this passage.

What is the significance of the olive leaf that the dove brought back to Noah?

First thing we need to mention is that unlike the raven, the dove was more reliable. After its first flight, it returned to Noah because there was no dry ground for it to set its foot. After its second flight, it came back with an olive leaf,  signifying that the flood waters were receding and that life would soon return to normal. It was a sign that the surface of the ground was no longer completely covered in water and had started to dry up. More importantly, the olive leaf represented hope , a promise that God had not forgotten Noah and his family, and the animals on the ark.

Today, the olive leaf continues to be a powerful symbol of peace and hope. It reminds us that even in times of darkness and despair, God does not forget His people.

What is the significance of Noah waiting for seven days before sending out the dove again?

The first time the dove was sent out to test if the waters had dried up from the surface of the ground, it couldn’t find any dry ground to set the sole of its feet, so it returned to Noah. He waited seven days prior to sending out the dove again. We already mentioned the number 7 and  talked about its meaning in Jewish categories. It is meant to convey ” holiness” being set apart for God. In connection to this, I believe Noah realized that God wasn’t done purifying and preparing the earth yet for humans and animals life to resume. So the 7 days are meant to convey the thought of waiting got God to make the place Holy again. We need to remember in the first place why the flood was sent, to do away with the corruption on planet earth. So the waters were not totally done purifying the earth yet. Hence the 7 days were probably meant to convey a waiting on the Lord to set the place apart for new life to resume.

Even after the dove brought the olive leaf back, Noah waited another 7 days, probably for the same purpose, God was still preparing the place for life to resume. We have to remember that there were probably dead corpses all over the place and maybe from a hygiene stand point God was still making the place clean, this is pure speculation.

13 In the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried from off the earth. And Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and behold, the face of the ground was dry.14 In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth had dried out. 15 Then God said to Noah, 16 “Go out from the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. 17 Bring out with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh—birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth—that they may swarm on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” 18 So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him. 19 Every beast, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out by families from the ark.

The flood waters have receded and the earth has dried out

The significance of the dating in Genesis 8 cannot be overstated as it provides insight into the authenticity and historicity of the event. As previously mentioned in chapter 7, the flood began when Noah was 600 years old, indicating that he and his family had been on the ark for precisely one year and some time. Throughout this period, God remained faithful to Noah, his household, and all the selected animals by preserving their lives.

Verse 13 further reveals that the waters had completely receded as evidenced by the dove not returning to Noah. Initially sent out to determine whether it was safe to leave the ark, Noah now knew that it was secure to remove the covering since there were no signs of water left on earth. We are also informed that by the 27th day of the second month of Noah’s 601 year, the earth had completely dried out.

God instructs Noah to leave the ark with his family and all the animals

Even though Noah had used man’s means to test the dryness of the earth ( i.e the raven and the dove), he didn’t attempt to leave the ark until God gave him permission to do so. Remember we were told that Noah walked with God. He waited for the instruction prior to making any move. He knew the earth was dry but he wouldn’t leave until God gave the command, thus showing his reverence for God.

God also told Noah to bring every content of the ark out, his sons, their wives and all the creatures that were in there for a specific purpose- to be fruitful and multiply on the earth. Fruitfulness is synonymous with doing the will of God, a creature that bears righteous fruits is pleasing to God. This is why the mandate begins with fruitfulness and then multiplication. God is only interested in multiplying that which is fruitful. So the blessing of God rests on that which is fruitful. God isn’t  interested in humans and other creatures filling the earth by reproduction for the sake of it. It is fruitfulness that determines whether reproduction is good.

Verse 19 of Genesis 8 highlights the significance of every creature exiting the ark according to their families. This orderly procession reflects how they had entered the ark, organized by kind. There was no chaos or confusion during this process, and it was a well-coordinated exodus overseen by Noah.

God instinctively gave the creatures the order to exit by families, and Noah ensured that everything was done in an organized manner. This attention to detail emphasizes God’s desire for order and structure in all aspects of our lives.

20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse[a] the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. 22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.

Noah builds an altar and offers burnt offerings

What does the building of an altar signify?

GOD kept his promise to Noah, his family and all who were in the ark. The logical, natural response was to worship God who guarded them and preserved their lives from the flood. Anything other than this response would have been ungrateful. Worship is the by product of the heart that has comprehended the grace and love of God. God foresaw the events because HE is sovereign, this is why Noah was to keep 7 pairs of the clean animals, for sacrifice to the LORD. A burnt offering also meant that the whole animal was completely burned and consumed in the process, nothing of it was to be kept. We’ll see later in Leviticus how the burnt offering is synonymous with one completely dedicating Himself/herself to serving GOD wholeheartedly. It means in essence, all that I have and all the I am, I give to the LORD, that’s the meaning behind the burnt offering Noah presented to GOD.

How Did God respond to Noah’s burnt offering?

Here again, the Scripture uses human’s language to convey a very important truth. We’re told that God smelled the pleasing aroma of the offering. Does that mean that GOD actually smelled it literally? It means that God was satisfied with the sacrifice and accepted it, HE was pleased with Noah’s worship. The same way God looked favorably to Abel’s offering, He looked favorably to Noah’s because he offered it in faith, in keeping with the will of God. We can’t help but talk about how God was pleased with Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, the only one that could remove the guilt of the sin of the whole world and satisfy the wrath of God. The resurrection proved that God was satisfied with Jesus ‘death on the cross, in keeping with the Scriptures, see Hebrews 10:1-18,

Christ’s Sacrifice Once for All

10 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Consequently, when Christ[a] came into the world, he said,

“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
    but a body have you prepared for me;
in burnt offerings and sin offerings
    you have taken no pleasure.
Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
    as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”

When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ[b] had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,

16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them
    after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
    and write them on their minds,”

17 then he adds,

“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

God’s response – He will never curse the ground again

God promised to never again curse the ground because of man. In genesis 3, after the fall, the ground was cursed because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience. After accepting Noah’s burnt offering, God made a decision not to ever curse the ground again because of mankind. The ground was already cursed, and I don’t believe the original curse would be reversed, it won’t happen until Jesus comes back the second time and all things are renewed if we interpret the scripture correctly, see Romans 8:19-21,

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

In Genesis 8:21, God promises not to add anymore curses to the ground because of man, and HE gives the reason why- because man’s intentions from his youth are evil, in other words, we are born sinners, in original sin. We are born with the propensity to sin. And  though Noah was considered righteous among his temporaries, even starting with him wouldn’t solve the problem of sin. As good as Noah was as a human, he wasn’t perfect and consequently, populating the earth with Noah’s seed wouldn’t solve the problem of evil and sin. Eventually the God-man Jesus became the ultimate solution to the problem of evil and sin; I wrote an article that discusses it, see post below

Why The God-Man?

PS: I started for the sole purpose of exploring difficult questions about the Christian faith that most of us shy away from. All the content generated on this website is thoroughly analyzed prior to being shared. And the site is run solely by myself, your generous support is very much appreciated

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