Genesis 8



The Flood Recedes (8:1–22)

1–14 For 150 days the flood water completely covered the earth; but near the end of that time God remembered Noah (verse 1). God had not forgotten about Noah and the ark; to say that God “remembers” someone means that God cares for and is concerned for that person and has decided to act on his or her behalf. So God sent a wind35 over the earth, and the waters receded. The ark settled on the mountains of Ararat in present-day Turkey, one of the highest elevations in the Middle East.

To find out if the water had receded from the lower elevations, Noah sent out a dove; but finding no vegetation (Ararat is snow covered), the dove returned to the ark. The second time, the dove returned with an olive leaf (verse 11), which proved that the water had receded.36

15–20 Noah, his family, and all the living creatures had been in the ark for over a year when God finally commanded Noah to come out (verses 13–14). The first thing Noah did was to build an altar to the LORD and sacrifice burnt offerings on it37 (verse 20).

21–22 The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma.38 Because the Lord is a personal God—a heavenly Father—He is pleased when His children offer to Him their thanks.

God, like a father, responds to our acts of worship and obedience. Because Noah’s first act after leaving the ark was to worship God, God looked down on Noah with favor and promised never again to curse the ground (Genesis 3:17) or to destroy all living creatures—as long as the earth endures39 (verse 22).

God’s promise not to curse the ground was given even though man’s heart continued to be evil from childhood (verse 21). Man’s sinful nature, which had passed from Adam to Noah, would continue to be passed on to Noah’s descendants after the Flood. Notice that the human heart is evil “from childhood.” We often suppose that small children are innocent and sinless, but it is not so. We are born—indeed conceived—with a sinful nature (Psalms 51:5; 58:3). No external terror or judgment (such as a flood) can cleanse the human heart. Our hearts can be cleansed and renewed only by the Holy Spirit working within us. And the gift of the Holy Spirit is available to us by the grace of our loving heavenly Father and through our faith in His Son, Jesus Christ (Luke 11:13; Ephesians 2:8).