In our study of Genesis chapter eight, we will look at the end of the flood and the significance of the birds as well as the promise of God. We will see that this promise applies to our lives today just as much as it did to Noah.
But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded. Now the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens had been closed, and the rain had stopped falling from the sky.
As we saw in chapter 7, the flood waters covered the earth for one hundred fifty days. After forty days, God shut off the water but it took quite a bit of time for the waters to go down. If it had not been for God's love, He could have simply let the waters continue to cover the earth but He remembered Noah and the animals that He had created. It is this love that brought an end to the judgment that was upon the earth and it is this same love that brings our salvation.
The water receded steadily from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down, and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.
At the end of this period, the ark came to rest in the mountains of Ararat which are located in the modern country of Turkey. In recent years, remains of the ark have been found in eastern Turkey.
The waters continued to recede until the tenth month, and on the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains became visible.
Even after the bottom of the ark touched the mountain top, it took almost another three months for the waters to go down enough for Noah to see mountaintops. This is a reminder to us that, even while we may not see a huge amount of progress, God is still at work and, in His time, we will see what He has been doing.
After forty days Noah opened the window he had made in the ark and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth.
Another forty days after the ark came to rest and then Noah sent out a raven to check out the land. A raven was an unclean bird because it ate dead flesh and so it kept flying back and forth in search of food. It would do this until it could find dead animals to feed on and, when it did, it did not come back to the ark. This is also a picture of those who "come to Jesus" without really coming to Jesus. There are those who have heard a watered down gospel and do not truly accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. These people are like the unclean raven who have simply come to God to get what they want or need. When they can get what they need to satisfy their physical body elsewhere, they fly away from the Lord.
Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. But the dove could find no place to set its feet because there was water over all the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark.
The second bird that Noah sent out was a dove and it kept returning to the ark because it did not eat dead flesh. This is a picture of our walk as Christians. We may make mistakes but, when we do, Jesus is waiting there to welcome us back into God's will for our lives.
He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth.
We are reminded that throughout the Bible, the number seven is associated with completeness. Therefore, Noah waited seven days to send the dove back out to see if the water had gone down. This time it returned with an olive leaf and so Noah knew that the water had went down.
He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him.
After seven more days, the dove was sent out but this time it found a place to land and food.
By the first day of the first month of Noah's six hundred and first year, the water had dried up from the earth. Noah then removed the covering from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry. By the twenty-seventh day of the second month the earth was completely dry.
This passage shows us just how long (over a month) it took for the water to recede. During that time, all that Noah and his family could do was to pray and wait on the Lord. It is much the same in our christian walk as we often have to wait on the Lord's timing. It is not easy but it is necessary.
Then God said to Noah, 'Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you - the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground - so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number upon it.' So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons' wives. All the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birds - everything that moves on the earth - came out of the ark, one kind after another.
Finally, God called them out of the ark and told them to multiply. We are all familiar with getting a fresh start in life and here we see the greatest fresh start the world has ever seen.
Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it.
Burnt offerings were where the animals except their hides were burned up with the smoke rising to heaven. It was an effort to renew the relationship between a holy God and sinful man. This is a reminder to us that any fresh start must begin with God. There are all sorts of programs designed to help people start over from addictions, jail, etc. but most do not start with a renewed relationship with God and so the success rate is very low.
The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: 'Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.'
God's promise is that this judgment is never to be repeated. You have probably heard the saying "he has a good heart" in reference to a person but, as we see here, we all have a heart of sin. Even so, God said that He would not judge the earth again in this manner.
'As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.'
There will be no more judgments until the final day which is known as the Day of the Lord.