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The last Chapter concluded with the melancholy relation of the world destroyed, and the church brought within very narrow limits. This opens with an account of the renewals of mercy, in restoring the former and enlarging the borders of the latter. The fountains of the great deep, which were broken up, are stopped; the windows of heaven, for the out-pouring of the rain, are closed; the whole earth recovers its verdure: and Noah and his family are brought forth from the ark, after inhabiting it for the space of a year and ten days. Noah erects an altar, and offers sacrifice. God accepts the oblation, and promiseth never more to drown the world, but that the seasons of the year shall have their appointed weeks, while the earth remaineth.
Genesis 8:1 And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters asswaged;
By God's remembrance, we must suppose is meant, only some fresh instance of grace. Luke 12:6 ; Isaiah 49:15-16 . Pious believers may learn from hence, that every renewed manifestation of divine love, is among the remembrances of their God.
And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month: in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, were the tops of the mountains seen.
The gradual decrease of the waters, afforded scope to the exercise of Noah's faith. And is not the same process of mercy made use of now, by way of calling forth the faith and patience of the believer? see Hebrews 10:36 .
And he sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth.
Opening the window of the ark, and sending forth the messengers of enquiry, serves to teach, no less, that while faith is in the liveliest exercise, in waiting for the fulfilment of the Divine promises, it is no impeachment of faith, but, on the contrary, the truest proof of its being genuine, that we humbly send forth the enquiries of prayer and supplication, for the time of the Lord's deliverance from trouble. Proverbs 30:4 ; Psalms 148:8 ; Psalms 135:7
But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth: then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark.
It is worthy remark, that in Psalms 116:7 , where the sacred writer saith, Return unto thy Rest, O my soul, the original is, Return unto thy Noah; evidently meaning, that Jesus is the alone Rest of a seeking soul.
And he stayed yet other seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark;
I humbly conceive that it was the Sabbath-day, at each of these distinct periods of seven days, in which Noah waited between sending forth those messengers of enquiry; and if so, what a precious thought doth it suggest, that in the ark, as on the earth, Noah religiously observed the Lord's day, as a day, particularly, to enquire of God. Psalms 5:3 .
And it came to pass in the six hundredth and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from off the earth: and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and, behold, the face of the ground was dry.
A memorable new-year's day, (as you will find by the calculation it was) and a memorable lesson it holds forth to gracious souls, who wait patiently the Lord's promises. As Noah, after a long wintry season, now again beheld the face of the earth; so exercised believers, after long waiting, again behold the face of God with joy.
Go forth of the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons' wives with thee.
Observe, Noah did not go forth, until the Lord issued the divine command; see Lamentations 3:26 .
Bring forth with thee every living thing that is with thee, of all flesh, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth; that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth.
What a sweet improvement doth this verse suggest! All that went into the ark, were preserved alive, during this eventful year. Reader! when a whole year hath run out its course in your life, and death hath made no breaches in your house, or among your relations and family; ought not the distinguishing mercy to be as remarkably distinguished in praise?
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.
Is not the Lord Jesus both our New Testament, Altar, Priest, and Sacrifice? Hebrews 13:15 .
And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground anymore for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite anymore everything living, as I have done.
As this offering was in faith, the apostle explains what the sweet smelling savour was. Ephesians 5:2 . The promise in this verse is a gracious promise, and, confirmed in Christ Jesus, is, like all others, yea and amen. 2 Peter 3:13 .
While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.
How hath time, through a period of near 4000 years, stamped the truth of this, all over the earth.
I SHALL detain the Reader but with two observations, only, on this Chapter; and if they are well founded, may a gracious God give them their due weight on the mind!
Did Noah and his family remain perfectly secure in the ark, in the time of such awful destruction of the whole world? Think, then, O my soul, what infinite and inexhaustible resources are in Christ Jesus, for all the wants of all his people. There are no straits, neither is there any narrowness, but what we ourselves make, in the everlasting covenant of grace, founded on the blood and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ; but abounding love and abounding mercy, answering to every necessity of his people. Gracious God! cause the reader and writer of this reflection to be abundantly supplied out of this fulness, and grace for grace, until the heart's experience of both, can join issue in the apostle's song, and, under the same assurance, say, as he did, For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things; to whom be glory forever. Amen.
The other observation I would beg to offer, ariseth from the different characters which the raven and the dove seem to suggest to our minds. May we not, without violence, consider the raven as an emblem of the carnal mind, which, amidst all its profession, can live upon the mere carcase without, and feels no desire to enter within the ark, for its comfort and enjoyment? and is not the dove a lovely similitude of a gracious soul, which can find no rest for the sole of its feet, until taken in and secured in Christ Jesus? Lord! grant that I may never be found among those that can rest satisfied without the ark; but, give me that dove-like simplicity, and godly sincerity, which pants to enter within. And Oh! Thou, who art the Almighty Noah of thy church and people, as without thee, Lord, I can do nothing, do thou, like him who was thy type, put forth thine hand, and take me into the ark, that I may live forever with thee, that where thou art, there I may be also.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Genesis 8". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 12 / Ordinary 17