A Verse by Verse Study of Genesis 8:1-22
Genesis 8:1 opens with, “And God remembered Noah”. Noah, his family, and all the animals had been shut in the ark for months, and then the passage says, “God remembered Noah”. Had God forgotten Noah? What does it mean when God remembers you?
God Remembered Noah
What does the Bible mean when it says, “And God Remembered Noah?”. The Hebrew word used here is zakar. While this word can literally mean to “remember, recall, or call to mind,” it is also used to mean “to be remembered, to keep in remembrance, or to make a memorial.”
If you are an heir of an inheritance and you are remembered in someone’s will, you were not previously forgotten and now recalled, but rather what was promised to you is now fulfilled.
In this passage, God has not forgotten Noah, but rather he is fulfilling his commitment to Noah. He is keeping a promise.
God is always faithful to keep his promises to us. It may require waiting on God’s timing, but when he remembers us, he is fulfilling his commitment to us.
Are you interested in finding out what God has promised us? Check out this post called Promises of God Bible Verses List.
When Does God Remember You?
God has made many promises to us, his people, but a promise of God is never a one-way commitment. God’s promises are covenants, agreements between us and God, and God will fulfill his end of the agreement if we fulfill ours.
But God’s end of the agreement is so much bigger than ours. All God requires from us to receive his promises is faith and obedience.
When God shut Noah and his family inside the ark in Genesis 7:16, he didn’t tell them how long they would remain there. But Noah trusted that God would fulfill his promise to them, and in Genesis 8:1 God began fulfilling that promise. At the moment of remembering Noah, he caused a great wind to begin drying up the floodwater and the waters began to recede.
God could have just said the word, and the waters would have completely disappeared. But instead, God’s promise was fulfilled in his timing.
Why does God want us to wait on his timing? What is the purpose of his timing?
The Bible tells us that we can’t understand God’s thoughts and his ways (Isaiah 55:8), so understanding God’s reason for his timing is not within our reach, but when I think of the purpose of God’s timing I consider this example:
When a child receives gifts for their birthday – often from several people (friends and family) the parent wants the child to open them one at a time, taking time to thank the gift giver and appreciate the gift. We wouldn’t just hand a pile of unwrapped toys and gifts to a child and say, “Happy Birthday!”
I believe that part of the purpose of God’s timing is to lead to us to appreciate and rely on him more and more.
God’s Timing in the Flood
Genesis 8:2-12 describe how God caused the flood waters to recede using his designs in nature. We take things like wind and rain for granted, as if they always were. But these are part of God design and creation and in Genesis 1, God looked at his creation and he saw that it was good – he appreciated his handy-work.
- A great wind began to dry up the earth (Genesis 8:1)
- The underground waters and torrential rain stopped (Genesis 8:2)
- The floodwaters began to naturally recede (Genesis 8:3)
We can’t always understand God’s timing, but we can look around and see him at work, even when immediate results aren’t always apparent. And waiting on God’s timing helps us to grow in our faith and reliance on him. Noah fully trusted that God was in control and would bring an end to a world-wide judgment.
Noah’s Commitment to God
While God was unfolding his commitment and promise to Noah, Noah demonstrated his continued commitment to God – his commitment of faith and obedience.
God provided for Noah and his family on the ark, yet God was not there with them. He was not directly communicating his plans to Noah. Noah was “in the dark” so to speak and he was relying on God in faith, believing that God would save them as he promised.
So, in Genesis 8:3-6, as the waters continued to recede and the ark came to rest on top of Mount Ararat, Noah demonstrated his faith in the Lord when he opened the window of the ark.
A Demonstration of Faith
Why was this a demonstration of faith? We sometimes picture Noah waking up one morning, maybe a cup of coffee in hand, and opening the shutters of a tiny window in the top deck of the ark. Easy.
But many Old Testament scholars believe that, rather than one tiny window, an opening of 18 inches (one cubit) from the top of the ark ran the ark’s entire circumference. Its purpose would have been for proper lighting and ventilation for all who were brought into the ark.
This great window would have had a covering over it, and it was closed until the time of Noah opening it.
Not only did removing this layer of protection and safety demonstrate Noah’s faith but looking to the window – looking to God and his promises – showed that Noah kept his eyes on God.
God Remembers You When You’re Actively Participating in His Work
Sometimes we think we should be waiting patiently, yet inactively, on God to fulfill his promises.
But God wants us to be actively participate in his mission and plan. We aren’t meant to be standing on the sidelines watching and waiting, we are called to be actively in “the mix” doing God’s work.
In Genesis 8:7-10, Noah was actively seeking God’s calling and direction. He didn’t simply sit around the ark, waiting for the voice of God to tell him he that he was free to go.
- In verse 7, Noah sent out a raven as a scout looking for dry land. The raven however, never returned to the ark but instead flew back and forth until the floodwaters dried up. This was because a raven is scavenging bird and could have rested and fed upon the dead, not needing dry ground.
- In verses 8-9, Noah sent out a dove, which is not a scavenging bird, and when it did not find dry ground, it returned to the ark.
- And finally in verses 10-11, Noah waited one week and sent the dove out again, this time returning with an olive leaf.
Participating With God Requires Perseverance
You might say that sending out the raven was a failure. But Noah did not give up. He continued trying by sending out a dove. The dove was also unsuccessful on its first mission, but Noah simply gave it some time and tried again.
How many times have you tried to serve God in some way, maybe by sharing your faith, and you felt like a failure? Did you feel discouraged and want to give up trying? Have you witnessed to someone who was just not interested, and you decided to move on to new prospects, or give up sharing your testimony all together?
God wants us to persevere. Whether things go as we hope or not, God wants us to continue with him on his mission. Even when there are no apparent results. When we join God in his work, not only do we gain the benefit of unity and like-mindedness with God, but our own faith grows in leaps and bounds.
God Remembers You When You Are Patient
While God wants us to be actively participating in his work, he also wants to wait patiently on his timing, will, and guidance. We aren’t meant to storm down the doors and rush into the unknown without patience and wisdom to act within God’s will.
Imagine how excited Noah and his family were to see an olive leaf in the beak of the dove. Some of us would have wanted to break down the doors, anxious to set our feet on dry ground after nearly a year inside the ark. In the excitement we might forget to continue to seek God’s guidance and wisdom. To wait for the right moment patiently.
Genesis 8: 12-14, Noah waited another week before sending out another dove. This time the dove did not return. He didn’t charge out of the boat, but instead he wisely opened the covering over the boat to have a better look. He saw that the ground was drying, but not quite there yet.
Then Noah, his family, and all the animals patiently waited two more months until the earth was completely dry!
When God Fulfills His Promises, It is Unmistakable
Have you ever wondered if you have heard from God? Maybe you have been praying for something, and as you wait for God’s response, you wonder if you will hear from him, and if you do, how will you know for sure?
Well, if the Bible is any indication of how God works, God is always clear. 1 Corinthians 14:33 says, “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.” (ESV)
In Genesis 8:15-17, one year after God had last spoken to Noah, God commanded Noah and his family to leave the boat and release all the animals.
What an amazing sight Genesis 8:18-19 must have been. This passage says that the Noah and his family left the boat, followed by all the animals exiting pair by pair.
The First and Greatest Commandment
What is the first thing you would have wanted to do after being cooped up with your family and every kind of animals on a boat for one year?
In Genesis 8:20, Noah’s first act after leaving the ark was to worship God. He offered God an animal sacrifice to show God his gratitude and admiration of his greatness. God’s greatness led Noah to worship him. They had been promised salvation, and God fulfilled that promise in a spectacular way.
Those of us who have accepted God’s gift of salvation through faith, have also escaped judgement. But sometimes the horror of what our fate could have been can begin to fade and we forget God’s greatness, mercy, and grace.
In Matthew 22:37, Jesus said that the first and greatest commandment is to love God “with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind” (NLT). When we love God more than anything else, we don’t take God’s greatness for granted, and our first thought is to worship him.
God Shows Us His Heart in the Flood Story
Throughout this story, we are pointed to God’s heart: a heart that grieved (Genesis 6:6), a heart that showed mercy (Genesis 6:18), and a heart that was moved to compassion (Genesis 8:21).
Noah’s sacrifice pleased God, and several Bible translations use the phrase “the Lord said in his heart”. God’s heart was moved by compassion because of Noah’s gift of worship.
And because of God’s compassion, he made another promise in Genesis 8:21-22, “I will never again curse the ground because of the human race” (NLT). Even though God knew that mankind would continue down the path of sin and rebellion, God promised to never destroy every living thing again.
This promise continues into Genesis 9, which we will study in the next post, but in this passage, God reveals to us his heart. God is not a God of vengeance and judgment. He is a God of love, mercy, patience, and forgiveness.
God’s Promises Every Day: 365-Day Devotional by Jack Countryman. This devotional quickly guides you to helpful verses for your everyday needs. No matter what season of life we are in, we all need reassurances of God’s promises to us.
Noah’s Ark: A Feasibility Study by John Woodmorappe. This is a one-of-a-kind compendium of information about everything related to the ark and discusses in great detail how the ark cared for by 8 people was possible.