Genesis 8
Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
In the experience of Christians the joy of first believing is often followed by a time of discouragement. Freshness of feeling seems to fade. The "law of sin" makes itself felt. Yet it is just the training by which firmer faith and fuller joy are to be reached. Deep must have been the thankfulness of those in the ark; safe in the midst of the flood. But their faith was tried. Five months, and still no abatement. Noah may well have had misgivings (cf. Matthew 11:3). But God had not forgotten him (cf. Mark 6:48; John 10:14). He remembered not Noah only, but every creature in the ark (cf. Luke 12:6). He saves to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25). The time of trial was a prelude to complete deliverance (cf. Acts 14:22).

I. THERE ARE TIMES WHEN BELIEVERS ARE TEMPTED TO FEEL FORGOTTEN. When troubles gather, and prayers seem unanswered, it is hard to keep faith firm. The warning Hebrews 12:6, 7 often needful. Christians would fain be led in smooth ways. And when their course is irksome and discouraging they sometimes see the wind boisterous, and begin to sink. Still more surely does the feeling follow sin. The disciple has forgotten to watch; has trusted to his own strength; has ventured into temptation, and fallen. Then God is felt to be afar off (cf. Exodus 33:7). And there are times of discipline, when spiritual freedom seems denied, and the soul cannot cry Abba, and prayer seems choked (cf. Isaiah 49:14). Perhaps it is to teach humility; perhaps to show some root of evil; perhaps to excite more hunger for communion with God.

II. BUT GOD DOES NOT FORGET. A creature's love may fail (Isaiah 49:15), a creature's watchfulness may faint, but not God's. He made us; can he forget our wants? His purpose is our salvation; will he neglect any step? He gave his own Son for us; is anything else too great for his goodness? Not even thy coldness and unbelief can make him cease to care.


(1) those of small account (Matthew 21:16; Mark 10:49; Luke 18:16), and

(2) the undeserving (Luke 7:39; Luke 15:10; Luke 19:7). He cares also for small matters (cf. Luke 12:28-30). What treasures of wisdom and love surround us on every side! These are not beneath his care. Will he not fulfill? (Romans 8:28).

IV. FREEDOM THROUGH THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. God's time not always what we should choose (cf. John 7:6). Noah a prisoner of hope. God showed that the hope was well founded. The agent of deliverance "a wind " - the same word, both in Hebrew and in the LXX., as is used in Genesis 1:2 for the Spirit of God. Doubtless the agent in drying up the water was a wind. But in the spiritual lesson we are reminded of the Holy Spirit. His work at first brought life on the earth; and his work prepared for repeopling it, and completed the work of Noah's deliverance. And his work gives us freedom, showing us the work of Christ, and our position as children of God. - M.

The powers of material nature are obedient servants of God, and those who are the objects of his regard, remembered by him, are safely kept in the midst of the world's changes. "All things work together for their good." There is an inner circle of special providence in which the family of God, with those whose existence is bound up in it, is under the eye of the heavenly Father, and in the hollow of his hand. "And the ark rested" (ver. 4). We speak of the cradle of the human race being set on Mount Ararat; is it not well to remember -

1. The new world came out of an ark of Divine grace. Religion is the real foundation of society.

2. The waves of the flood bore the ark to its resting-place. So the waters of affliction, though they heave our vessel and trouble our hearts with fear, carry us onward to a new and often higher standpoint of knowledge and faith.

3. While the flood bore the ark, God himself chose out the spot where it should end its awful journey. The Ararat of the new world was like the paradise of the first man - the nursery of a rising humanity; but whereas in the state of innocence it is a garden, in the case of the redeemed man it is a mountain, with its steep, rough places, its heights and depths, its trials and dangers. The humanity which started from Ararat carried with it at once the good and the evil of the old world which had passed away, and the mountain symbolized the complex treasury of possibilities, mingled with liabilities, which were laid up in the rescued race. - R.

The raven and the dove. While this passage has its natural, historical fitness, we cannot overlook its symbolical significance. It seems to set forth the two administrations of God, both of them going forth from the same center of his righteousness in which his people are kept safe. The one represented by the carrion bird, the raven, is THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUDGMENT, which goes forth to and fro until the waters are dried up from off the earth - finding a resting-place in the waters of destruction, though not a permanent rest; returning to the ark, as the beginning and the end of judgment is the righteousness of God. The dove is the emblem of DIVINE GRACE, spiritual life and peace. It cannot find rest in the waters of judgment until another seven days, another period of gracious manifestation, has prepared the world for it; then it brings with it the plucked-off olive leaf, emblem of retiring judgment and revealed mercy; and when yet another period of gracious manifestation has passed by, the dove shall return no more to the ark, for the ark itself is no more needed - the waters are abated from off the face of the earth. So we may say the raven dispensation was that which preceded Noah. Then followed the first sending forth of the dove unto the time of Moses, leading to a seven days' period of the ark life, waiting for another mission of grace. The dove brought back the olive leaf when the prophetic period of the old dispensation gave fuller promise of Divine mercy. But yet another period of seven days must transpire before the dove is sent forth and returns no more to the ark, but abides in the earth. After the two sacred intervals, the period of the law and the period of the prophets, which were both immediately connected with a special limited covenant such as is represented in the ark, there followed the world-wide mission of the Comforter. The waters were abated. The "Grace and Truth took possession of man's world, cursed by sin, redeemed by grace. - R.

Noah (Rest) comes forth from the ark in the sabbath century of his life, the six hundred and first year. He lived after the Flood 350 years, the half week of centuries; his life represented a rest, but not the rest, a half sabbath, promise of the rest which remains to the people of God.


1. Not until God spake did Noah dare to do more than lift off the covering and look.

2. At the heavenly word the family, redeemed by grace, takes possession of the redeemed habitation.

II. THE REDEEMED LIFE IN ITS NEW APPOINTMENT. GO forth of the ark into the new world. There is the keynote of the Bible. Man redeemed is man living by every word of God.

1. By Divine commandment going into the prepared refuge.

2. By Divine commandment taking down old bounds and occupying new places.

3. Going forth into a promised land rejoicing in a pledged future.

4. Carrying with him all lower creatures into a new, progressive, God-blessed inheritance. The whole creation groaning and travailing, the whole creation participating in the Divine deliverance. - R.

The sweet savor of man's burnt offerings -

(1) not the offerings of caprice, but the fulfillment of Divine commands,

(2) the reciprocation of Heaven's communications -

(3) ascends from the earth-built altar and fills the Lord with satisfaction. In return for that obedience and devotion the curse is removed, the earth is sealed with the saving strength of God in a covenant of peace.


(1) grateful acknowledgment of his mercy;

(2) humble obedience to his own revealed will;

(3) consecration of place, time, life, possessions to him.

II. UNION and COMMUNION between God and man is the foundation on which all earthly happiness and security rest.

III. The FORBEARANCE AND MERCY OF GOD in his relation to those whose hearts are yet full of evil is at once probation and grace. The ground is not cursed any more for man's sake, but, the more evidently, that which falls upon the ground may fall upon man himself. The higher revelations of God in the post-Noachic period were-certainly larger bestowments of grace, but at the same time they involved a larger responsibility. So the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews reasons as to the punishment of those who trample underfoot the covenant of the gospel. The progressive covenants which make up the history of God's grace recorded in the Scriptures are progressive separations of the evil and the good, therefore they point to that complete and final separation in which God's righteousness shall be eternally glorified. - R.

The Pulpit Commentary, Electronic Database.
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