November 19, 2013

Commentary on the Book of Genesis

By: Tom Lowe

           


Lesson I.D.8: The Departure from the Ark. Gen. 8:15-22.


Genesis 8.15-22

 

15 And God spake unto Noah, saying,

16 Go forth of the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons' wives with thee.

17 Bring forth with thee every living thing that is with thee, of all flesh, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth; that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth.

18 And Noah went forth, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him:

19 Every beast, every creeping thing, and every fowl, and whatsoever creepeth upon the earth, after their kinds, went forth out of the ark.

20 And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.

21 And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.

22 While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

 

 

Commentary

 

15 And God spake unto Noah, saying,

16 Go forth of the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons' wives with thee.

17 Bring forth with thee every living thing that is with thee, of all flesh, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth; that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth.

18 And Noah went forth, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him:

19 Every beast, every creeping thing, and every fowl, and whatsoever creepeth upon the earth, after their kinds, went forth out of the ark.

 

Noah was a man of faith whose name is recorded in Hebrews 11 with those other heroes of faith. He had the faith to walk with God when the people of the world were ignoring and disobeying God. He had the faith to work for God and to witness for God when opposition to truth was the popular thing. When the Flood was over He exercised faith to wait on God before leaving the ark.

 

After being confined to the ark for over a year (378 days), he and his family must have yearned to get back on dry land, but they waited for God’s directions. The ground was dry, so the world was fit for habitation. Circumstances on earth looked suitable for disembarking, but that was no guarantee that God wanted them to exit immediately and begin their new life. Obedient faith is our response to God’s Word, because “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10.17).  Note, though Noah had discovered that the ground was dry on the first day of the first month, God would not allow him to go out of the ark until the twenty-seventh day of the second month. Do you know why? God is more concerned about our benefits than He is about our desires. He knows what is good for us, better than we do.

 

God rewarded Noah’s faith, and the faith of his family, by caring for them while they were in the ark (for over a year) and then preparing the earth for then so they could leave the ark. Noah was like a “second Adam” as he made this new beginning for the human race. God had brought the earth out of the waters during creation week, preparing it for Adam and Eve; and now he had brought the earth through the Flood and made it ready for Noah and his family. The Lord even gave Noah and his family the same mandate that he had given at the beginning: “Be fruitful and multiply” (Ge. 8.17; 1.22, 28).

 

Noah prepared the ark “for the saving of his household” (Heb. 11.4), and God was faithful to save his household. There is no indication in Scripture that Noah in his witnessing invited others to join him and his family in the ark, but he certainly must have encouraged them to trust God and prepare their own ark. Of course, no one took his message seriously; and the world of that day perished (2 Pe. 3.6[1]).

 

God is going to make a covenant with Noah. We will see this new beginning as we get into the next chapter. This covenant is a very important one. When God made it with Noah, He also made it with the human family that is on the earth today.

 

20 And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.

 

Now do you see why Noah took seven of the clean animals and only two on the unclean? Here he is offering the clean beasts as sacrifices.

 

The first thing Noah did when he came out of the ark was to build an alter to the Lord and offer a sacrifice, a burnt offering, to Him. That burnt offering speaks of the person of Jesus Christ. It was offered on the basis if acceptance before God and praise for God in recognition of Him. Without doubt, this was one of the things that caused God to be pleased with Noah at that time.

 

Noah was a balanced believer. He walked with the Lord in loving communication, and enjoyed His presence. He worked for the Lord in building the ark, and he witnessed for the Lord as “a preacher of righteousness” (2 Pe. 2.5). While in the ark he waited on the Lord for instructions concerning his leaving, and once he was standing on the earth, he worshipped the Lord. Like Abel, he brought God his very best (Ge. 4.4[2]). The true worship of the Lord had been restored on earth.

 

In Old Testament days, when you sacrificed a burnt offering, you gave the entire animal or bird to the Lord with nothing kept back (Lev. 1). “All on the alter” (Lev.1.9) was the biblical law because the sacrifice symbolized total dedication to the Lord[i]. In a new step of commitment, Noah gave himself and his family completely to the Lord. God had graciously protected them and brought them through the storm, so it was only fitting that they make themselves available to the Lord to do His will.

 

The burning flesh could no more please God, than the blood of bulls and goats except as being representative of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and expressing Noah’s humble faith and devotedness to God. The description of God “smell [ing] the pleasant aroma (Ge. 8.21) is a human way of stating a divine truth; God was satisfied with the sacrifice, accepted it, and was pleased with his people and their worship (Lev. 1.9; 3.16). If God refused to “smell” the fragrance of the offering, it meant that He was displeased with the worshippers (Lev. 26.31; Isa. 1.11-15).9 In New Testament language the sacrifice speaks of Jesus Christ offering Himself up for us. “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour” (Eph. 5.2).

 

21 And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.

 

The Lord didn’t speak these words to Noah; He spoke them to Himself in his own heart. It was His gracious response to Noah’s faith, obedience, and worship. What did God promise? Three things in verses 21 and 22:

1.    The ground cursed no more (v. 21a).

2.    No more universal floods (v. 21b).

3.    No interruption of the cycle of nature. (v. 22).

 

“I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake.” God had cursed the ground because of Adam’s sin (Ge. 3.17[3]) and had added a further curse because of Cain’s sin (Ge. 4.11, 12[4]). God’s promise recorded here didn’t invalidate either of those curses, and they won’t be removed until Jesus returns and God’s people dwell in the holy city (Rev. 22.3[5]). But in His grace, God decided not to add to man’s affliction.

 

You can just write it down, because it is true, “the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth.” How about you? Did you have an evil imagination or not? I must confide in you that I was my mother’s “little angel.” In our contemporary society we can see the rebellion of our youth, and isn’t it interesting to note the direction they have gone? They have gone in the same direction. Every imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth—and it does not improve.

 

“Neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.” God graciously resolved to never again drown the world. The Flood washed away that generation of wicked men, but He did not remove depravity from man’s nature, who, being conceived and born in sin, thinks, devises, and loves wickedness, even from his youth, and this was just as true after the Flood as it was before. Man’s nature was as sinful after the deluge as it was before. But on the basis of the atonement accomplished by Jesus Christ on the cross, God could say, “A price has been paid for the sins of the world, and I can withhold judgment. Justice has been met, My Law has been upheld, and I can show grace to a lost world. I will not send another flood and wipe out the human race. Instead, I will offer them My great salvation.”

 

This doesn’t mean that God doesn’t Judge sin today or that there will be no future judgment of the world. Romans 1.18[6] makes it clear that God’s judgment is being revealed against sinners right now through the consequences of their sins. God gave them over to their own sinful bondage and gave them up to the consequences of their sins in their own bodies. One of the greatest judgments God could send to sinners is to let them have their own way and then let them pay for it in their own lives. That’s the judgment the world is experiencing right now. There will be a future global judgment, but not a judgment of water, it will be a judgment of fire (2 Pe. 3).

 

22 While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

 

Prior to the Flood, man learned the three R’s:

1.    Rebellion against God was realized—it came right out in the open.

2.    Revelation from God was rejected by man. Noah’s witness did not reach them.

3.    Repentance was absolutely repudiated; there was no return to God at all. Man refused the refuge that God provided, and for 120 years Noah had no converts.

There are the three R’s. Men were in rebellion, they rejected the revelation, and there was no repentance on their part.

 

The Flood had interrupted the normal cycle of the seasons for a year, but in this verse God declares that the course of nature would never again be interrupted. While the earth remained, and man lived upon it, there shall be summer and winter. “While the earth remaineth” strongly suggests that the earth will not always exist. But as long as it does remain, God’s providence will carefully preserve the regular succession of times and seasons.

 

The guarantee we are given in this verse gives us hope and courage as we face an unknown future. Each time we go to bed for the night, or turn the calendar to a new month, we should be reminded that God is concerned about our Planet Earth and its inhabitants.

 

We’re prone to take for granted sunrise and sunset, the changing face of the moon and the changing seasons, but all of these functions are evidences that God is on the throne and keeping His promises. All creation preaches a constant sermon, day after day, season after season that assures us of God’s loving care. We can trust His Word, because “there has not failed one word of all his good promise” (1 Ki. 8.56).

 

Now as this man Noah comes out of the ark he stands in a very unique position. He stands in the position of being the head of the human race again—the same position Adam had. It is said that we are all related to Adam, but we have closer kin than that—we are all related in that we can trace our linage back to Noah; we are all related to Noah. In one sense, Noah is the father of all of us.

 

Noah faced a new world where longevity of life began to decline immediately; the earth was subject to storms and severe weather, blazing heat, freezing cold, seismic action, and natural disasters.



[1] Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished

[2] And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:

[3] And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;

[4] And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand; When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.

[5] And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:

[6] For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;



[i] It was God who provided the sacrifices because He commanded Noah to take the clean animals with him on the ark (Ge. 7.2, 3). What we have given to God, He has first given to us (1 Chron. 29.14), and we don’t give to God because He lacks anything (Ps. 50.7-15) or needs anything (Acts 17. 24, 25). Our giving brings delight to God, but it doesn’t enrich God personally. Rather giving enriches the worshipper (Phil. 4.18).

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