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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 8

The Church Pulpit CommentaryChurch Pulpit Commentary

Verse 4


‘And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.’

Genesis 8:4

The history of the Deluge is alleged in the New Testament as a type of the deep waters of sin, in which a lost world is perishing, and from which there is no escape but in that ark which God hath prepared for us. The eight souls saved from the Deluge are types of that little flock which rides safely and triumphantly, though the floods lift up their waves and the billows break over them. And their safety is assured to them, because they are in Christ.

I. At the root of all Christianity lies that deep mysterious truth, the spiritual union of the Redeemer with those whom He redeemed.—To this truth most emphatically witnesses all the New Testament teaching about the ark as a symbol and a prophecy. For ( a) the ark is a figure of Christ. The ark floated over the waste of waters as Christ dwelt and toiled and suffered in the wilderness of this world and amid the waters of affliction. ( b) The ark is a figure of the redeemed of Christ. The Church, which is Christ’s body, is also the ark of refuge from the wrath of God. This life is still to the Church a conflict, a trial, a pilgrimage, a voyage. The crown shall be at the resurrection of the just.

II. The practical thoughts to which this subject leads us differ but little from the doctrinal.—Is not the substance and the end of all—safety in Christ, rest in Christ, and at last glory in Christ? Those only who have rested in the Ark will rest upon Mount Ararat. The life of the Christian is begun on earth; it is perfected in heaven. When the voyage is over, the Saviour, who has been to us the Ark upon the waters, shall be to us, in the eternal mountains of the Lord, rest and peace and light and glory.

Bp. Harold Browne.


‘The Ark a Type of Christ. The ark was a refuge from coming doom. So Christ. It was also a Divinely appointed refuge. God was its architect, and it was built according to Divine conception. So is the plan of human redemption and salvation. The Ark was made of earthly material. It was not something sent down fully prepared from heaven, but was built from the trees of the forest. Christ was the Son of God, but He was also the Son of man. The Ark had but one door of access. Through Christ alone man finds salvation. “I am the door.” The hope of the human race floated in the Ark. Had the waters engulphed it, the race of man would have perished on the earth. So the hope of man’s eternal future is in Christ Jesus.’

Verses 20-22


‘And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar,’ etc.

Genesis 8:20-22

Noah, we are told, ‘was a just man, and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.’ Noah reverenced right and justice; he ordered his family well; he lived in the presence of an unseen Being, who is right and true, and who had appointed him to be the head of a family. By the orderliness and quietness of his life he became a witness against the turbulent, self-willed world, in the midst of which he was dwelling. But there is in him also an earnest interest in his fellow-men. He separates from them only that he may be a witness to them of the good that they are flying from, and which he claims for himself and his family because he believes that God designs it for the creatures He has formed.

I. There is an evident difference between the sacrifice of Noah and those of Cain and Abel.—Here, under God’s guidance, the mound of turf gives place to the altar which is built. An order is discovered in the dignity of the inferior creatures; the worthiest are selected for an oblation to God; the fire which consumes, the flame which ascends, are used to express the intention of him who presents the victim.

II. We must feel that there was an inward progress in the heart of the man corresponding to this progress in his method of uttering his submission and his aspirations.—Noah must have felt that he was representing all human beings; that he was not speaking what was in himself so much as offering the homage of the restored universe.

III. The foundation of sacrifice is laid in the fixed will of God; in His fixed purpose to assert righteousness; in the wisdom which adapts its means to the condition of the creature for whose sake they are used. The sacrifice assumes eternal right to be in the Ruler of the universe, all the caprice to have come from man, from his struggle to be an independent being, from his habit of distrust. When trust is restored by the discovery that God means all for his good, then he brings the sacrifice as a token of his surrender.

—Rev. F. D. Maurice.


( a) ‘Here was an act of worship. Noah’s first thoughts were of God. He did not think, as many would have done, “Now there is no one in the world beside myself and my family; everything belongs to us; we can do as we please.” He remembered God’s mercy and goodness, and so he praised Him. It is true he had built the ark, but he felt that his deliverance was altogether owing to God’s favour and God’s providence. Do we acknowledge His goodness every day?

( b) Here was an act of sacrifice. This is the first altar mentioned in history. We do not read that Adam or any of his immediate descendants built an altar on which to present their offerings. They may have have done so, but it is not related. Nor is it said that God gave Noah any instructions as to building an altar, as He had done in regard to building the ark. It was thus the free expression of his own gratitude, and therefore all the more acceptable.

( c) Note that Noah, though all other animals that he knew of were destroyed, except the few he had preserved in the ark, did not hesitate to sacrifice some of every sort of clean beasts and birds. He did not stop to ask what he should do for more. Like the man who gives up everything for conscience sake, trusting to God’s providence. Or, like the poor widow who gave “all her living.” ’

Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Genesis 8". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cpc/genesis-8.html. 1876.
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