Then God Remembered

8:1 – 9:29

 

 

In Genesis 6 we saw the depth to which human depravity and sin could go. Humanity got to a point where only Noah and his family were righteous before God. In Genesis 7 we saw God’s faithfulness to deliver judgment as He said He would by way of a universal Flood. In chapters eight and nine in Genesis we see the aftermath and a fresh start for humanity through Noah and his family who God preserved through the Flood.

 

Then God Remembered

Genesis 8:1a - Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark.

When it states, “Then God remembered,” it does not imply God had in some way forgotten Noah and every living thing. This is what is called an anthropomorphism or a non-literal picture of God in human terms we can understand. God is infinite and we are finite and so there are bound to be limitations on how we understand God to be. The phrase, “Then God remembered,” is simply a way of expressing God’s next step but in an endearing way. The word “remembered” comes from the Hebrew term ZAKAR (Strong’s # 2142 - זָכַר zâkar, zaw-kar’) which means to have a burning earnest thought about something. This word is found elsewhere in scripture as when Samson pleaded with the Lord to remember him in his last fight against the Philistines (Judges 16:28). It also occurs when Hannah prayed for the Lord to remember her and her barrenness (1 Samuel 1:11). God “remembered” Abraham and Abraham’s close relationship with Him which turned out to benefit Lot (Genesis 19:29). And God “remembered” His people and their cries when they were being oppressed by the Egyptians (Exodus 2:24). In all of these instances the context involves strong emotions. God had just brought a Flood on sinful humankind and destroyed them all except for Noah and his family. It grieved God to have had to do that (Genesis 6:6) and now He turned to Noah to institute a new beginning. The Pulpit commentary states:

 

From a root signifying to prick, pierce, or print, e. g., upon the memory; hence to remember. “Not that there is oblivion or forgetfulness with God, but then God is said to remember when he showeth by the effects that he hath taken care of man” (Willet). He remembers man’s sins when he punishes them (Ps. 25:7; cf. 1 Kings 17:20), and his people’s needs when he supplies them (cf. Nehemiah 5:19). The expression is an anthropopathism designed to indicate the Divine compassion as well as grace. [1]

 

God knows all things (Job 31:4; 34:21; Psalm 33:13; 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:28-30) and is by no means absent minded. He remembers us in the sense that He is pricked in His heart with a pain at how we so often sin against Him. And to this He responds with grace when He sees someone like Noah.

 

The Flood Waters Subside

Genesis 8:1b-5 And God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters subsided. 2 The fountains of the deep and the windows of heaven were also stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained. 3 And the waters receded continually from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters decreased. 4 Then the ark rested in the seventh month, the seventeenth day of the month, on the mountains of Ararat. 5 And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month. In the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains were seen.

The rains and flooding stopped. How long were Noah and the rest in the ark? The following chart from the Bible Knowledge Commentary is helpful in determining how long Noah and everyone else were in the ark:

 

 

 

 

God then caused a wind to gradually evaporate the waters and cause them to subside (8:1b-3). God brought the Flood and He cleaned up afterwards. God’s work is always complete.

 

Warren Wiersbe makes the following calculations:

 

If we count the year of Adam’s creation as 1, then Noah was born in the year 1056. Genesis 6:3 indicates that God gave Noah 120 years to build the ark and preach (1 Peter 3:20), which means he was 480 years old when he started (7:11). This would be the year 1536. The flood came in Noah’s 600th year, which would be 1656, and in the year 1657, his 601st year, Noah and his family were back on dry ground (8:13ff). The events on the ark began on the tenth day of the second month (2/10) of 1656, when Noah and His family entered the ark (7:1–9). The floods came on 2/17 (7:10–11); the rains stopped on 3/26 (7:12); and the ark rested on Mt. Ararat on 7/17 (8:1–4). On 10/1 the family could see the tops of the mountains (8:5). On 11/11, Noah sent out the raven (8:6–9). On 11/18, he sent the dove, which brought back the olive branch (8:10–11). A week later on 8/25, Noah again sent out the dove and it did not return (8:12). On the first day of the first month of the next year (1657), Noah removed the covering of the ark and surveyed the earth (8:13). On 2/27, they all left the ark (8:1).[2]

 

The ark came to rest on “the mountains of Ararat” (8:4).  The plural “Mountains,” seems to indicate a range of mountains rather than a single mountain. The reference to “the seventh month, the seventeenth day of the month,” is from the beginning of the year, not from the beginning of the Flood (8:4). “Today, Ararat rises about 17,000 feet above sea level. The ark rested on land 74 days after the end of the 150 days while the water abated (cf. 7:11).” [3] It is not absolutely certain where “the mountains of Ararat” are. It is believed that they are located on the border between modern day Turkey and Armenia, but some archeologists claim another location for the ark may be in Iran.[4] On the first day of the tenth month the first mountain tops were seen (8:5).

 

Rest from the Flood - Noah Tests for Dry Land

Genesis 8:6-12 - 6 So it came to pass, at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made. 7 Then he sent out a raven, which kept going to and fro until the waters had dried up from the earth. 8 He also sent out from himself a dove, to see if the waters had receded from the face of the ground. 9 But the dove found no resting place for the sole of her foot, and she returned into the ark to him, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took her, and drew her into the ark to himself. 10 And he waited yet another seven days, and again he sent the dove out from the ark. 11 Then the dove came to him in the evening, and behold, a freshly plucked olive leaf was in her mouth; and Noah knew that the waters had receded from the earth. 12 So he waited yet another seven days and sent out the dove, which did not return again to him anymore.

There is a theme of “rest” found in this part of the account of the Flood (8:4, 9). After the judgment of the Flood, the inhabitants of the ark are seeking out rest. When the ark came to rest on the high grounds of the mountains of Ararat it was a settling down and start of something new.

 

Exiting the Ark

Genesis 8:13-19 - 13 And it came to pass in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, that the waters were dried up from the earth; and Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and indeed the surface of the ground was dry. 14 And in the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dried. 15 Then God spoke to Noah, saying, 16 “Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. 17 Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you: birds and cattle and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, so that they may abound 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 animal, every creeping thing, every bird, and whatever creeps on the earth, according to their families, went out of the ark.

God directs Noah to exit the ark with his family and all the animals. God had instructed Noah to enter the ark and now He instructed him to leave the ark. God is involved in the beginning and end and in between in His plans.

 

An Alter to God – A Promise from God

Genesis 8:20-22 - 20 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. 21 And the Lord smelled a soothing aroma. Then the Lord said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done. 22 “While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, Cold and heat, Winter and summer, And day and night Shall not cease.”

This is the first mention of “altar” in the Bible. There is no account of God instructing Noah on building an altar but evidently God had put this in Noah’s heart. The first thing Noah did once he exited the ark was to worship the LORD who had persevered him and his family and the animals through the Flood. Those who are delivered by the Lord should offer Him praise (Hebrews 13:15) and their best (Proverbs 3:9).

 

And what Noah offered the Lord was costly to him. Noah took from the precious few animals he had to repopulate the earth and “took of every clean animal and every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.” Here we see Noah following in the footsteps of Abel, who gave God his best. What we give to God should be our best and be costly to us (e.g. Leviticus 22:20-23; 1 Chronicles 21:24).

 

This costly sacrifice from Noah was a soothing aroma to the Lord. Apparently God likes barbeque (only kidding). But what Noah offered and the way in which he offered it to God, was pleasing to God and moved God to make a promise never to destroy the earth again by way of Flood. But a day is coming when the earth will be destroyed, by fire (Romans 8:21; 2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 21:1-5; 22:3).

 

Now a question arises as to how can we know what “the Lord said in His heart”? (8:21) The only way we can know what God said in His heart is because He has revealed it to us. The only way we can know anything about God is because He reveals it to us (Deuteronomy 29:29; 1 Corinthians 2:9-14; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). The account of the Flood is not a mere human recounting, but it is God’s revelation to us. And God has revealed to us what happened during the Flood and what He was thinking in His heart so that we can be warned and not make the same mistakes made by people in the past (Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:6; Matthew 24:37-39; Luke 17:26; 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 3; Jude 14-15). God’s revelation is an expression of His love and grace toward humanity.

 

God’s Covenant with Noah

Genesis 9:1-17 -  So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. 2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. 3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs. 4 But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. 5 Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man.6   “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed;  For in the image of God  He made man.7  And as for you, be fruitful and multiply; Bring forth abundantly in the earth And multiply in it.”8 Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying: 9 “And as for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you and with your descendants after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you: the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you, of all that go out of the ark, every beast of the earth. 11 Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”12 And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: 13 I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. 14 It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; 15 and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

The first seventeen verses of Genesis 9 give us the Noahic Covenant. This is the covenant of God with humanity after the Flood. This covenant begins by God restating His command to “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (9:1; cf. 1:28). God is steadfast in His love for humanity and is offering a second chance to them, a new beginning. Therefore He returns to His initial command and restates it from this second start.

The word “covenant” occurs for the first time in scripture in this passage (9:8-9). The word “covenant” is translated from the Hebrew term BERITH (Strong’s #1285 - בְּרִית bƒrı̂yth, ber-eeth’) which literally means, “a cutting; a compact; a covenant.[5] The word refers to a cutting up of sacrificial animals and separating the halves of the animals and then the two parties making the covenant would walk between the cut sacrificial animals as a way of saying they were staking their lives on upholding the agreed covenant (e.g. Genesis 15:7-17). Notice that this covenant was initiated by God (9:8; see Romans 5:8); it was unconditional  (9:11), it was dependent upon God’s mercy not human obedience (Psalm 25:6; 86:5; Titus 3:5-7; 1 John 1:9); it was an everlasting covenant (9:9-11) because God is faithful to His word (Joshua 23:14; Psalm 33:4; 36:5; 117:2; 1 Corinthians 10:13);  and God gave a reminder of this covenant’s steadfastness (9:12-16), the rainbow (9:17). God uses the rainbow as a symbol of His glory (Ezekiel 1:28); a symbol of His authority (Revelation 10:1); and God’s throne has a rainbow around it (Revelation 4:3).

Prior to the Flood people were to eat a vegetarian diet (1:29-31) and humans and animals were on friendly terms (2:19-20). After the Flood an instinctive fear of man was put into animals (9:2) and this may have been due in part because of animals now becoming a source of food for humanity (9:3). God stipulated that while humanity could now eat meat, they could not eat the blood of the animal (9:4). That was because the life was in the blood (cf. Leviticus 17:10-14). Life belongs to God and humanity should not over step this boundary.

God’s image is stamped on every man and so those who disregard and desecrate this image of God in humanity by shedding the blood of a human, that person or animal must pay with its life (9:5-6). The term “require” is a judicial term and is in essence a command by God to establish a system of government to carry out capitol punishment (9:5). God is sovereign and has the right to make this stipulation. God’s image is a stamp of ownership. Only God can give life and stipulate to take life. Sometimes God carries out this capitol punishment (Leviticus 10:2; Numbers 16; Acts 5:1, 5). God’s angels can be used by Him to carry out and enforce such a stipulation (Isaiah 37:36; Acts 12:20-24). In the Old Testament the congregation carried out the sentence of capitol punishment (Numbers 15:32-36; Joshua 7; 2 Chronicles 23:1-15). And in the New Testament the government is given this authority (Romans 13:1-7).

The Sin and Flesh Remain

Genesis 9:18-29 – Now the sons of Noah who went out of the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. And Ham was the father of Canaan. 19 These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the whole earth was populated.20 And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. 21 Then he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. 23 But Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness.24 So Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done to him. 25 Then he said: “Cursed be Canaan; A servant of servants  He shall be to his brethren.”26 And he said:  “Blessed be the Lord,  The God of Shem,  And may Canaan be his servant.27  May God enlarge Japheth,  And may he dwell in the tents of Shem;  And may Canaan be his servant.”28 And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years. 29 So all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years; and he died.

The entire earth was repopulated beginning with Noah’s three sons (9:18-19). It’s interesting that the first time “wine” is mentioned in scripture, it is associated with drunkenness. It’s possible that in the Flood the atmosphere was so affected that its ability to filter out the rays of the sun was minimized. This could have resulted in the speeding up of the fermentation process. Noah may have drunk the wine not knowing it would cause drunkenness (9:20-21).

Ham’s sin was disrespecting his father Noah. Instead of covering his father’s nakedness, he took advantage of his father’s vulnerability and “told” his brothers (9:22). The word “told” means literally, “told with delight” (Strong’s # 5046 - נָגַד nâgad, naw-gad’). Ham was gleeful over his father’s condition when he should have been looking to protect his father’s reputation. He cared more about exposing his father for his own benefit than covering his father’s condition (compare 1 Peter 4:8). Ham’s two brothers did what should have done, they covered up their father’s nakedness in a respectful way (9:23).

The consequence of Ham’s sinful disrespect was that his descendants would be affected. This was expressed by Noah in a prophetic word. Noah prophecies about the descendants would continue the pattern of Ham and as a result would be cursed with slavery. The Bible Knowledge Commentary explains the far reaching significance of this event:

Noah’s oracle predicted that the Canaanites would be in servitude to the Shemites and Japhethites (vv. 26-27). But this was because the Canaanites lived degrading lives like Ham, not because of what Ham did. The point is that nationally, at least, drunken debauchery enslaves a people. This is why, in God’s program to bless Israel, the Canaanites were condemned. They were to be judged by God through the Conquest because their activities were in the same pattern and mold as their ancestor Ham.

The enslavement of Canaanites is seen in many situations in the history of the Old Testament. Such a case turned up fairly soon; the Canaanites were defeated and enslaved by eastern kings (chap. 14). Another example was the Gibeonites who later under Joshua became wood choppers and water carriers for Israel’s tabernacle (Josh. 9:27). If the subjugation of Canaan to Japheth’s line is to be carried to the extreme, as ‘eḇeḏ (slave, Gen. 9:26-27) sometimes implies, then it would go no further than the Battle of Carthage (146 b.c.) where the Phoenicians (who were Canaanites) were finally defeated. But Noah’s words seem to be more of a general than a specific prophecy, that the line of Shem will be blessed and the line of Ham in Canaan will be cursed.

This blessing-cursing motif is crucial in Genesis. The Canaanites would have to be dispossessed from their place by Israel under Joshua in order for blessing to come on Shem (v. 26) and for the Japhethites to dwell in the tents of Shem (v. 27). This meant that the Japhethites would live with the Shemites on friendly terms, not that the Japhethites would dispossess the Shemites. So verses 24-29 actually set the foundation for Israel’s foreign policy in the land (Deut. 20:16-18). [6]

The bottom line here is that Ham acted in accord with his sinful nature. He did not respect his father nor did he care enough for him to protect him from an embarrassing situation. That is sin and for that there was a consequence.

 

What Do We Learn from Noah’s Ark and the Flood?

 

An unknown author put together the following partly tongue in cheek assessment of what we can learn from Noah’s ark:

 

ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED FROM

NOAH'S ARK

 

 

1.           Plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the ark.

 

2.           Stay fit. When you're 600 years old, someone might ask you to do something REALLY big.

 

3.           Don't listen to critics -- do what has to be done.

 

4.           Build on high ground.

 

5.           For safety's sake, travel in pairs

 

6.           Two heads are better than one.

 

7.           Speed isn't always an advantage. The cheetahs were on board, but so were the snails.

 

8.           If you can't fight or flee -- float!

 

9.   Don't forget that we're all in the same boat.

 

10. Remember that the ark was built by amateurs and the Titanic was built by professionals.

 

11. Remember that the woodpeckers INSIDE are often a bigger threat than the storm outside.

 

12. Don't miss the boat.

 

13. No matter how bleak it looks, if God is with you, there's always a rainbow on the other side.

 

On a more serious note, when we look at Noah and the Flood we can summarize what we learn by stating the following:

 

  1. God is grieved by and condemns compromise and rebellion – Genesis 6:1-7.
  2. God punishes sin and the wages of sin is death – Genesis 7:23; Romans 6:23.
  3. While God is patient and does mercifully warn sinners, a time comes when His patience runs out and judgment comes – Genesis 10-24; Galatians 6:7-9.
  4. God’s salvation is always a matter of His grace -Genesis 6:8; Romans 5; Ephesians 2:8-9.
  5. God’s salvation always involves faith - Hebrews 11:7.
  6. Genuine faith is verified by obedience - Genesis 6:22; 7:5; James 2.
  7. The truly godly like Noah and his family, keep themselves from indulging in the sins of the world around them - Genesis 6:9; 7:1; Hebrews 11:7.
  8. God delivers the separated saint – Genesis 7:1ff.
  9. God is grieved by having to judge sinful humanity – Genesis 6:6; 8:1; Ezekiel 18:32; 33:11; Lamentations 3:33; 2 Peter 3:9.
  10. God gives fresh starts – Genesis 8:20-22; 9; Lamentations 3:22-26; 2 Corinthians 5:17.

 

The account of the depth of sin in pre-Flood humanity, the subsequent Flood, Noah and his family and God’s covenant ways should all be a lesson for us. These events represent God’s pattern of grace: His pointing out sin; preaching against it through prophets; patiently warning and final judgment leading to a new beginning. This sequence will be repeated in the later days. But will we respond to it like Noah did? Will we take it to heart? Every day we face decisions as to whether or not we will choose God, or turn to sin. God is patient and He is faithful to warn us, but a time will come when there will be no more warnings and judgment will fall (Acts 17:30-31). Are we, are you listening?

 

There is similar true weather related story from the 1960s that serves as a life illustration of how we respond to the message of the Flood. I’ll share it with you in closing this section:

In 1969, in Pass Christian, Mississippi, a group of people were preparing to have a "hurricane party" in the face of a storm named Camille. Were they ignorant of the dangers? Could they have been overconfident? Did they let their egos and pride influence their decision? We will never know.

What we do know is that the wind was howling outside the posh Richelieu Apartments when Police Chief Jerry Peralta pulled up sometime after dark. Facing the Beach less than 250 feet from the surf, the apartments were directly in the line of danger. A man with a drink in his hand came out to the second-floor balcony and waved. Peralta yelled up, "You all need to clear out of here as quickly as you can. The storm's getting worse." But as other joined the man on the balcony, they just laughed at Peralta's order to leave. "This is my land," one of them yelled back. "If you want me off, you'll have to arrest me."

Peralta didn't arrest anyone, but he wasn't able to persuade them to leave either. He wrote down the names of the next of kin of the twenty or so people who gathered there to party through the storm. They laughed as he took their names. They had been warned, but they had no intention of leaving.

It was 10:15 p.m. when the front wall of the storm came ashore. Scientists clocked Camille's wind speed at more than 205 miles-per-hour, the strongest on record. Raindrops hit with the force of bullets, and waves off the Gulf Coast crested between twenty-two and twenty-eight feet high.

News reports later showed that the worst damage came at the little settlement of motels, go-go bars, and gambling houses known as Pass Christian, Mississippi, where some twenty people were killed at a hurricane party in the Richelieu Apartments. Nothing was left of that three-story structure but the foundation; the only survivor was a five-year-old boy found clinging to a mattress the following day.[7]

 

What’s the point? Well, maybe you’ve read or heard about the account of the Flood numerous times before. Maybe you don’t even believe it was an actual event. But whether or not you believe it does not change anything. A time is coming when the warnings of God’s revelation will end and His judgment will fall. For some the judgment comes sooner than expected (Hebrews 9:27). Don’t dismiss God’s warnings and be washed away. Heed them and find protection in His presence (e.g. Revelation 3:20).

 



[1]The Pulpit Commentary: Genesis. 2004 (H. D. M. Spence-Jones, Ed.) (Page 124). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[2]Wiersbe, W. W. (1993). Wiersbe's expository outlines on the Old Testament (Ge 5:1). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[3]King James Version study Bible. 1997, c1988 (electronic ed.) (Ge 8:1). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] See Bob Carnuke’s study at Biblical Archeology Search and Exploration  website at http://www.baseinstitute.org/bob.html 

[5]Strong, J. (1997, c1996). The new Strong's dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words (electronic ed.) (H1285). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[6]Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-c1985). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[7] Christian Values Qs Quarterly, Spring/Summer 1994, Page 10.