In Genesis 7-9, we see the Great Flood and God’s promise to Noah sealed with a rainbow. We learn about Noah’s family and see changes in the way of the world post-flood.
Noah Found Righteous (Not Perfect)
‘Then the Lord said to Noah, “Enter the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you alone are righteous before Me in this generation. ‘ Genesis 7:1
In this verse we see two things: (1) Noah’s obedience, as he waited on God to tell him to board the ark with his family and (2) why God chose to spare Noah, due to his righteousness. As we’ll see in Chapter 9, righteousness does not mean he was perfect or free from sin.
Clean & Unclean Animals
‘You are to take with you seven pairs, a male and its female, of all the clean animals, and two of the animals that are not clean, a male and its female, and seven pairs, male and female, of the birds of the sky — in order to keep offspring alive on the face of the whole earth. ‘ Genesis 7:2-3
When God gave Noah the dimensions for the ark, He made sure it would be large enough to house all of the animals God wanted Noah to take with him on the ark. (Including dinosaurs! But that’s a different bible study.)
“Clean” animals were fit for consumption as well as sacrifice, so in this way, God provided for Noah and his family a means of food and a way to worship.
40 Days and Nights
‘Seven days from now I will make it rain on the earth 40 days and 40 nights, and I will wipe off from the face of the earth every living thing I have made.” And Noah did everything that the Lord commanded him. ‘ Genesis 7:4-5
There are several things we see in these verses:
- God gives Noah a countdown of 7 days so he can complete final preparations.
- God tells Noah how long He will make it rain and what the outcome will be.
- Noah is yet again obedient.
The number 40, just like the number 7, is significant in the bible. In later chapters in Genesis, we see that Isaac was 40 when he married Rebekah (Gen. 25:20), and Esau was 40 when he married Judith (Gen. 26:34). Moses was on Mount Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights (Exodus 24:18). In Numbers, the Lord was angry with Israel and made them wander the wilderness for 40 years.
‘In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the sources of the watery depths burst open, the floodgates of the sky were opened…Then the Lord shut him in.‘ Genesis 7:11,16
Just as God had said, the rains came. Floodgates opened in two places – the sky and the watery depths. (These watery depths bursting open could have been geysers of some kind.)
It’s also possible that until this point in time, there had been no rain on the earth. Remember in Genesis 2:6, God made water come from the ground to provide water for the earth. Here it becomes the source of the flood.
The Magnitude of the Flood
‘The flood continued for 40 days on the earth; the waters increased and lifted up the ark so that it rose above the earth. The waters surged and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. Then the waters surged even higher on the earth, and all the high mountains under the whole sky were covered. The mountains were covered as the waters surged above them more than 20 feet. ‘ Genesis 7:17-20
Imagine a snow globe. The water in a snow globe goes almost to the top, covering everything inside of it. Now imagine shaking that snow globe and seeing the chaos and turmoil of the raging waters. That’s how I imagine the earth looked during the Great Flood.
God Remembered the Righteous
‘God remembered Noah, as well as all the wildlife and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water began to subside. ‘ Genesis 8:1
“God remembered” doesn’t imply that He forgot about Noah and all the living creatures. It means more that He considered them, thought of them in a loving way. We see this in other places in the bible:
‘Then God remembered Rachel. He listened to her and opened her womb. ‘ Genesis 30:22
‘So God heard their groaning, and He remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. ‘ Exodus 2:24
Significance of the wind: Here we see God using wind to cause the waters to subside. There are two places in the bible where God uses wind:
‘Then the Lord hurled a violent wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose on the sea that the ship threatened to break apart. ‘ Jonah 1:4
Jonah tried to flee God’s presence so God used wind to cause a violent storm.
‘Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove the sea back with a powerful east wind all that night and turned the sea into dry land. So the waters were divided, ‘ Exodus 14:21
When the Israelites were fleeing the Egyptians, the Lord used wind to part the sea, trapping the Egyptians in the raging waters and killing them all so the Israelites could escape.
The Timeline of the Flood
‘The water steadily receded from the earth, and by the end of 150 days the waters had decreased significantly. The ark came to rest in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the mountains of Ararat. ‘ Genesis 8:3-4
‘The waters continued to recede until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains were visible. ‘ Genesis 8:5
‘In the six hundred and first year, in the first month, on the first day of the month, the water that had covered the earth was dried up. Then Noah removed the ark’s cover and saw that the surface of the ground was drying. By the twenty-seventh day of the second month, the earth was dry.‘ Genesis 8:13-14
- 2nd month, 17th day of Noah’s 600th year: Flood started (Gen. 7:11)
- 7th month, 17th day of Noah’s 600th year: Ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. (Gen. 8:4)
- 10th month, 1st day of Noah’s 600th year: Waters stopped surging and mountaintops were visible. (Gen. 8:5)
- 1st month, 1st day of Noah’s 601st year: water had dried up. (Gen. 8:13)
- 2nd month, 27th day of Noah’s 601st year: the earth was dry. (Gen. 8:14
For one year and ten days, Noah and his family, and all the living creatures God sent to the ark, lived on the ark. God provided for them for this time period and made sure Noah had provisions and were protected from the raging waters outside.
Mountains of Ararat
‘The ark came to rest in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the mountains of Ararat. ‘ Genesis 8:4
Mountains of Ararat sit near the Armenian border in present-day Turkey.
The Raven and Dove
‘After 40 days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made, and he sent out a raven. It went back and forth until the waters had dried up from the earth. Then he sent out a dove to see whether the water on the earth’s surface had gone down, but the dove found no resting place for her foot. She returned to him in the ark because water covered the surface of the whole earth. He reached out and brought her into the ark to himself. So Noah waited seven more days and sent out the dove from the ark again. When the dove came to him at evening, there was a plucked olive leaf in her beak. So Noah knew that the water on the earth’s surface had gone down. After he had waited another seven days, he sent out the dove, but she did not return to him again. ‘ Genesis 8:6-12
At this point in time, Noah had been on the ark for 8 months. I’m sure he and his family, as well as the animals inside, were starting to get antsy.
First he sends a raven and then a dove. The raven flew back and forth, and the dove “found no resting place for her foot” and returned to Noah in the ark.
A week passes and Noah sends the dove out again. The dove came back with a plucked olive leaf in her beak – a sign that the earth was drying up, but that there was still no dry ground on which to land.
The dove and olive branch have become a symbol of peace, a reminder that God brought peace to the earth by calming the raging seas and saving mankind through Noah and his family.
Finally, another week passes and Noah sends the dove out a third time. This time the dove does not return, telling Noah the earth is now dry.
Noah Waits on God
‘By the twenty-seventh day of the second month, the earth was dry. Then God spoke to Noah, “Come out of the ark, you, your wife, your sons, and your sons’ wives with you. Bring out all the living creatures that are with you — birds, livestock, those that crawl on the ground — and they will spread over the earth and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” ‘ Genesis 8:14-17
Noah saw that the earth was dry but did not leave the ark. Just as God told Noah when to board, He told Noah when to leave. Noah’s faith in God’s provision is evident, as is his obedience.
‘Then Noah built an altar to the Lord . He took some of every kind of clean animal and every kind of clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. When the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, He said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, even though man’s inclination is evil from his youth. And I will never again strike down every living thing as I have done.
As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest, cold and heat,
summer and winter, and day and night
will not cease.” ‘ Genesis 8:20-22
The first act of Noah after exiting the ark is to worship God by building an altar and sacrificing many clean birds and animals. We saw another burnt offering in Genesis 4, when Cain and Abel brought their offerings before the Lord.
God is pleased with this sacrifice and promises to never again curse the ground (see Gen. 3:17) despite man’s human nature of sin.
The final lines of this chapter are significant – “as long as the earth endures…”.
‘But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief; on that day the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, the elements will burn and be dissolved, and the earth and the works on it will be disclosed. ‘ 2 Peter 3:10
When prophecy is fulfilled and Jesus comes again, the earth and everything on it will be destroyed.
God’s Purpose for Man
‘God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. ‘ Genesis 9:1
We see this same command given to Adam in Gen. 1:28.
God Changes the Diet
‘The fear and terror of you will be in every living creature on the earth, every bird of the sky, every creature that crawls on the ground, and all the fish of the sea. They are placed under your authority. Every living creature will be food for you; as I gave the green plants, I have given you everything. However, you must not eat meat with its lifeblood in it. I will require the life of every animal and every man for your life and your blood. I will require the life of each man’s brother for a man’s life.
Whoever sheds man’s blood,
his blood will be shed by man,
for God made man in His image.
But you, be fruitful and multiply; spread out over the earth and multiply on it.” ‘ Genesis 9:2-7
While man still has authority over the animals, the animals will now fear mankind. Allow me to wonder for a moment: Maybe because God promised not to curse the ground anymore (8:21), he placed fear in the hearts of animals making it harder to hunt them for food.
Adam was given all the trees and fruits of the trees to use for food (Gen. 2:9), while Noah and his descendants are given everything, including animals – with one caveat. The blood of the animal must not be eaten.
God also made his stance on murder very clear. If a man is killed, either by an animal or another man, the punishment is his own blood shed by man.
‘Then God said to Noah and his sons with him, “Understand that I am confirming My covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you — birds, livestock, and all wildlife of the earth that are with you — all the animals of the earth that came out of the ark. I confirm My covenant with you that never again will every creature be wiped out by the waters of a flood; there will never again be a flood to destroy the earth.” ‘ Genesis 9:8-11
God speaks to Noah and his sons. This may be the first time God spoke to the sons of Noah, rather than just Noah himself.
God confirms his covenant, or promise, with Noah, that He will not destroy the earth and all creatures on it by flood ever again.
‘And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between Me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all future generations: I have placed My bow in the clouds, and it will be a sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. Whenever I form clouds over the earth and the bow appears in the clouds, I will remember My covenant between Me and you and all the living creatures: water will never again become a flood to destroy every creature. The bow will be in the clouds, and I will look at it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all the living creatures on earth.” God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have confirmed between Me and every creature on earth.”‘ Genesis 9:12-17
God places a rainbow in the clouds as a reminder to both mankind and God Himself of His covenant with Noah.
The Sins of Our Fathers
‘Noah, a man of the soil, was the first to plant a vineyard. He drank some of the wine, became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside. ‘ Genesis 9:20-22
We know that Noah was found righteous (Gen. 7:1) but righteous doesn’t mean he was free from sin. After settling down, Noah planted some grapes and made wine, from which he became drunk and decided to lay down naked in his tent.
As we know from Adam and Eve’s first sin, nakedness is now shameful. Ham, one of Noah’s sons, looked upon his naked father (mistake #1), didn’t try to cover him (mistake #2), then ran off to tell his brothers about what he had seen, thereby spreading Noah’s shame (mistake #3).
‘Then Shem and Japheth took a cloak and placed it over both their shoulders, and walking backward, they covered their father’s nakedness. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father naked.‘ Genesis 9:23
Shem and Japheth, Noah’s other sons, did not look at their naked father. Instead, they covered him to hide his shame.
Upon waking, Noah learned what had happened and cursed Ham’s son, Canaan:
‘When Noah awoke from his drinking and learned what his youngest son had done to him, he said:
Canaan will be cursed.
He will be the lowest of slaves to his brothers.
He also said:
Praise the Lord , the God of Shem;
Canaan will be his slave.
God will extend Japheth;
he will dwell in the tents of Shem;
Canaan will be his slave.’ Genesis 9:24-27
Noah’s curse on Canaan spreads through many generations. The Canaanites became slave labor to the Israelites (Joshua 17:13), while Shem’s lineage leads to Jesus.
‘Now Noah lived 350 years after the flood. So Noah’s life lasted 950 years; then he died.‘ Genesis 9:28-29
Noah finally died at the age of 950 years old. No one after him would live this long, as lifespans slowly became shorter. Only two men were documented to have lived longer – Methusaleh (969 years) and Jared (962 years).
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