By Derek Westmoreland
Senior Pastor, Hopewell Baptist Church, Savannah
I. God directed. The flood waters had receded but Noah had not yet received permission to disembark the ark. Noah did not know what to do next and then in Genesis 8:15-19 the Lord provided permission to exit and provided instruction for Noah. The Lord commanded him first to leave the ark with his wife, his sons and their wives, and all the animals that were on the ark. Secondly the Lord commanded them to populate the earth.
II. Noah worshiped. Verse 20 reveals that Noah worshiped the Lord God. Noah did this of his own initiative. Noah worshiped because it was the proper response to what the Lord had done for him. Involved in worship was the sacrifice of animals. This reveals that Noah understood why he was to take seven of all the clean animals on the ark. Noah understood that some were to be offered as acts of worship once the flood had concluded. Noah was faithful to worship the Lord.
III. God promised. (1) Verse 21 reveals that God was pleased with Noah’s worship for the sacrifice was a soothing aroma. The Lord followed the flood and Noah’s worship with two promises. The first promise being (v. 21), “I will never again curse the ground on account of man.” The ground, in one sense had been cursed since the fall of man (3:17). The curse that God promises to never bring again is, to flood the earth and destroy its produce due to the sins of humankind. The ground would still produce thorns and thistles from the original curse as we see today. The second promise is verse 21. There are two interpretations to verse 21. Is God teaching that He will never again destroy all breathing creatures because man’s heart is evil? Remember Genesis 6:5 says, “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” If God promises to never destroy living creatures again because of the wickedness of their hearts then is God not saying that the first flood was a mistake? Remember, He judged humankind with the first flood due to the wickedness of their hearts. I struggle to agree with this first interpretation but instead prefer the second interpretation. God is saying He will not destroy all living creatures again for man’s heart is naturally wicked. In other words, God is saying, I removed sinners but the flood didn’t change the heart; therefore to send another global flood will not solve the problem (Jeremiah 17:9, Mark 7:14-23).
To this day, God has kept His word for He has not destroyed every living creature again nor has He sent a global flood. Included in what the Lord will not do, is what the Lord will do to sustain His creation. Verse 22 says, “While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, And cold and heat, And summer and winter, And day and night Shall not cease.” Instead of destruction, the Lord will provide regular and consistent climate patterns for the earth. The very truth that the earth continues to exist, that we have the seasonal changes, that we have day and night is due to the goodness and faithfulness of God. God is keeping His word. He is sustaining His creation.
IV. God blessed. In Genesis 9:1 the Lord blessed Noah and gave him the same command to multiply just as He previously gave to Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:28). However there is a difference. In Genesis 1:28 the command includes subduing the earth and ruling over all other creatures. This is not mentioned in the command to Noah. Why not? We can only speculate but it seems that the relationship between humankind and animals changed after the flood for God commanded Noah to begin to eat meat (Genesis 9:3).
In Genesis 9:11 the Lord repeats His promise (8:21) in order to establish His covenant. In the covenant, God promises not to send another flood like it which confirms the magnitude of the flood. It was not local; but global. In verses 12-17 we are told that this covenant is between the Lord and every living creature; all people and animals. A covenant is an agreement and every covenant is to be signed. Typically it is signed by two people but this covenant is one-sided in that we have nothing on our end to fulfill. It is completely dependent upon God and therefore He is the only one that needs to sign the covenant. The text reveals that His signature is the rainbow!
The rainbow is a reminder of God’s judgment against sin, God’s power over His creation, and God’s grace to not bring the same judgment again.
— Westmoreland is senior pastor of Hopewell Baptist Church, Savannah.