Recall a time when you went on a long journey and spent hours cramped in a car or train or any confined space. How did you feel when you finally arrived?
8 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. 2 Now the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens had been closed, and the rain had stopped falling from the sky. 3 The water receded steadily from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down, 4 and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. 5 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.
6 After forty days Noah opened a window he had made in the ark 7 and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth. 8 Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. 9 But the dove could find nowhere to perch because there was water over all the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark. 10 He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. 11 When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth. 12 He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him.
13 By the first day of the first month of Noah’s six hundred and first year, the water had dried up from the earth. Noah then removed the covering from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry. 14 By the twenty-seventh day of the second month the earth was completely dry.
15 Then God said to Noah, 16 ‘Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. 17 Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you – the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground – so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number on it.’
18 So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives. 19 All the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birds – everything that moves on land – came out of the ark, one kind after another.
20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. 21 The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: ‘Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.
22 ‘As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.’
The chapter starts with the key words: ‘But God remembered Noah…’. The turning point, as always, is God reaching out to humankind (and, in fact, all the animals too). So the ‘floodgates’ get closed up again, and the water returns to where it came from (vs 2,3).
Let’s recap Genesis 1: separation of waters, creation. Genesis 7: re-emerging of the same waters, de-creation. Genesis 8: separation out again. What shall we call it? How about ‘New Creation’? This prologue to Holy Scripture packs in ideas and themes that get taken up later. Readers of the New Testament will eventually arrive at the idea of God making everything new in the New Creation (eg 2 Corinthians 5:17). They heard it here in Genesis 1–11 first.
The other remarkable feature here is in verse 21, which you should compare with Genesis 6:5. Notice anything? The same reason is now given for God not to send a flood. We might think God would respond to human evil by causing disaster to come, but we see here that disaster does not wipe out human evil. Instead, it will be God’s love – his ‘remembering’ – that makes all the difference.
You too are remembered by God, whatever your situation. Close your eyes and sit quietly in God’s presence. Then hold out your hands and imagine giving to God anything that is weighing you down.
Deeper Bible study
‘Since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude … offer to God … with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.’1
If Genesis 7 was a rewind, then Genesis 8 is a reboot. Creation, to some extent, is undone as the flood waters destroy life. Then it is restarted, as it were. In Genesis 1:2 the spirit of God hovered over the waters at the start of creation and in verse 1 of this chapter, God causes a wind (the same word as ‘spirit’ in Hebrew) to pass over the earth so that the waters can subside and creation begin to peep out over the waters again. Then God tells Noah to bring out the animals that they may be fruitful and multiply (v 17), echoing his words of 1:22.
The reboot initially looks promising enough, for Noah immediately sacrifices to the Lord (v 20). The soothing aroma pleases the Lord, who swears to himself that he will never again curse the ground or destroy life because of humans (v 21). He voices to himself the covenant he promised Noah in Genesis 6 and which he will give him in Genesis 9. Note that his decision is not because everything will be OK after the restart, but (the implication seems to be) because human hearts are so intrinsically evil that he would always be destroying the world.
One might wonder if God did not know how things would turn out when he created the world, or why he would create the world if he did. Or why he would destroy the world when he knew things would go wrong afterwards, even before they had. God’s purposes may be mysteries, but it is clear that humans were and are important to him. These pages of Scripture demonstrate both that the Adam and Eve story wasn’t a one-off mistake and that human sin cannot be dealt with by restarting. We need Christ.
Are you keeping your New Year’s resolutions? If you have set good targets (eg to get enough sleep) then pray that God will help you to be disciplined.
1Heb 12:28,29, NASB
Bible in a year
Read the Bible in a year: Genesis 30,31; Acts 11
Pray for Scripture Union
As a new year starts, please pray for the new and ongoing opportunities that local mission partner Brentwood Schools Christian Worker Trust has to support the schools, staff and young people in the schools of Brentwood, Essex and the surrounding area.