We’ve been having a glorious time in the study of the book of Genesis in our ongoing look at origins. And tonight, we find ourselves in chapter 8. If you would like, you can open your Bible to the eighth chapter of Genesis. I want to begin tonight, before we look at the text of Scripture, with an article that was in the Los Angeles Times on Friday, February 23rd of this year, just a couple of months ago. I’m going to read you some extended sections out of that article, because I think it sets up for us this particular passage of Scripture. This is what the LA Times article said.
The headline was Earth’s greatest mass extinction. “An Armageddon that wiped out nearly all life on the planet 250 million years ago may have been triggered by a massive meteor collision like the one that millions of years later helped end the reign of dinosaurs. A team of scientists reported Friday.” Now, let me just remind you what I read. The title was Earth’s greatest mass extinction. And scientists say, and the evidence indicates, that at some time in the past, there was some kind of holocaust that wiped out nearly all life on the planet. They put it at 250 million years ago, as the first great mass extinction. And a later one that wiped out the dinosaurs, scientists affirm occurred about 65 million years ago.
The article goes on, quoting, “The attention-grabbing findings are reviving a longstanding debate over whether single dramatic events like a – an asteroid impact is largely at fault for the series of catastrophic die-offs that have plagued the planet or whether slower processes, such as volcanoes run amuck, climate changes, toxic shifts in seawater chemistry should shoulder the blame.” The article goes on, “The extinction is called the “Great Dying.” And that’s in quotes. “The “Great Dying.” Scientists say this was the mother of all extinctions. Virtually all marine life and land life forms were eliminated in a very short period of time.”
If I can interject at this point, they – they conclude that because of the massive evidence of death in the fossil records. The article goes on, “The dinosaur extinction occurred 65 million years ago. It is better known to the public than the 250 million year ago Great Dying. And they believe it is closely linked to a meteor. But” – this was interesting – “no telltale traces of a meteor have ever been found for the extinction event. And the team, the science team that produced the paper has no direct evidence of an impact.”
It’s interesting, isn’t it? To conclude that it happened because of a mediator with no evidence, either of a mediator or an impact. The article goes on, “A large number of scientists agree with a theory put forth by Dewey M. McLean, a professor emeritus of geology at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, that massive volcanic activity caused the demise of species. It did so by spewing floods of lava, darkening the sky with ash and severely altering the climate, the most massive volcanic event ever. One estimate suggests that the entire extinction occurred in less than 8,000 years. Most believe in less than 500,000 years.”
That’s the end of the article. Scientists know there was a massive extinction event. The fossil record makes it abundantly clear. Evolutionary theory, however, forces them to believe that it happened at two points in time, 250 million years ago and 65 million years ago. So you have two of these cataclysmic events that may have lasted as long as from 8,000 years to half a million years.
The theory of evolution kind of puts the time table like this: from 540 to 500 million years ago, the trilobites existed. From 500 million to 438 million years ago, the plants existed. From 438 to 408 million years ago, the plants with water conductive tissue came into existence and dominated life. From 408 to 360 million years ago, fish came into existence and dominated life. From 360 million to 280 million, winged insects evolved. From 280 million to 248 million years ago, amphibians evolved.
From 248 to 208 million years ago, dinosaurs and mammals evolved. From 208 to 146 million years ago, birds and flowers jumped in there somehow in the evolutionary process. From 146 to 65 million years ago was the dominion of dinosaurs. And then, all of a sudden, the dinosaurs disappear from the face of the earth, and they can’t explain why. And from 65 million years ago to 1.8 million, you have mammals. And from 1.8 million years to today, you have the domination of man.
But scientists say there was a massive extinction of marine life, almost all of marine life and land life 250 million years ago, and there was an - a massive extinction of dinosaurs 65 million years ago. And this is on the evolutionary model. If you’re going to hold onto evolution, then you have to believe that everything happened in a slow process of uniform change and mutation without cataclysmic divine intervention.
But evolution, as we have learned, is ridiculous. A new book has been written by a friend of mine who preached here a number of years ago, John Blanchard, an English preacher. And John wrote a book called Does God Believe in Atheists? And it’s a – it’s a very interesting book. It’s a big, thick book, fascinating. And John, in this book, notes that Roger Penrose, who helped to develop black-hole theories, estimated as 1 in 100 billion to the 123rd power the odds of a big bang producing by accident an orderly universe. It’s just absurd. One chance in 100 billion to the 123rd power that it could happen by a big bang accident.
“Big bang theorists argue,” says Blanchard, “that the universe one second after its purported start had to expand at a rate rapid enough to keep in check the gravitational attraction of galaxies.” Stephen Hawking, the famous mathematician, has noted “that if the rate of expansion had been smaller by an infinitesimal amount, the universe would have collapsed on itself.”
And Blanchard has some interesting analogies about the likelihood of this happening. He said “the likelihood of the universe banging itself into existence in the order that it is currently in would be the odds of hitting a target an inch wide on the other side of the observable universe or expecting a pole vaulter’s pole to remain standing, poised on its tip for centuries following the vault. Earth’s size, earth’s distance from the sun and rotational speed had to be just right. We need the air above, not only for breathing, but to protect us from causing – cosmic rays and meteorites. We need light, but not too much ultraviolet. Heat, but not too much. And so on. And all of these are in perfect balance.”
And Blanchard goes on to ask the question, “What about the origin of life?” A chance of one out of” – whatever one comma, fifteen zeroes is. “Anything that is one comma, fifteen zeroes is considered by scientists a virtual impossibility. Fifteen zeroes makes it a virtual impossibility. DNA code discoverer, Francis Crick, calculated the possibility of a simple protein sequence of 200 amino acids, much simpler than a DNA molecule, originating spontaneously, his figure was ten commas, 260 zeroes. Not going to happen.
Fred Hoyle had a view of the odds against evolved life. He said this, quote, “Anyone with even a nodding acquaintance with a Rubik Cube will concede that the near impossibility of a solution being obtained by a blind person moving the cube faces at random.” Now imagine ten to the 50th blind persons standing shoulder to shoulder. By the way, ten to the 50th person, blind persons would fill, more than fill our entire planetary system. “Imagine them” he wrote “all arm in arm, all blind, all scrambling a Rubik Cube, simultaneously arriving at a solved form. Absolutely idiotic.” And, of course, the famous Fred Hoyle analogy, Tornado in a junkyard, in which he says the universe had as much chance to evolve as a tornado in a junkyard has of producing a Boeing 747 in full working order.
Three decades ago, Frank Salisbury of Utah State University described the odds this way. Imagine 100 million trillion planets, each with an ocean, with lots of DNA fragments that reproduce one million times per second with a mutation occurring each time. In four billion years, it would still take trillions of universes to produce a single gene if they got lucky. I mean it’s just staggering impossibilities. So we have concluded that evolution belongs to idiots who have no reason and obstinate God rejecters who have no morality, haven’t we?
The truth about creation is in Genesis 1 and 2. And the truth about the Great Dying in Genesis 6 to 9. The truth about creation is that God created the universe. And the truth about the Great Dying is that God drowned His world. It isn’t a collision with a meteor, although there might be some indication that there were some tremendous explosions on the face of the earth because we know that that is what happened when the Lord broke the face of the earth up and shot forth the explosive gas along with the water in the caverns of the deep. And they flew into space and broke up the canopy and caused it to rain for 40 days and 40 nights.
But the only true explanation of creation is in Genesis 1 and 2. The only crew - true explanation of the Great Dying is in Genesis 6 to 9. So we can shorten the 540 million years of evolution to six days. And we can shorten the mass extinction from 250 million years ago or 65 million years ago to about 6,000 years ago. And the time was not between 8,000 and half a million years. The time was one year and less than one month. And that is the record of Scripture. And that is the record of the historian who knows, who is God. The Great Dying did occur. The scientists are right, the Great Dying did occur. They have observed it. The fossil record shows it.
The surface of the earth shows evidence of massive volcanic explosion, massive breakage in the earth’s crust. They know there have been explosive climate changes, shortened life, extinction of dinosaurs instantly, extinction of mammoths instantly. They’re looking for an evolutionary explanation, but the only explanation is the Bible. The Genesis record indicates that the global Flood had two specific sources, back in chapter 7 and 8. We’ve looked at this. The fountains of the deep, that is, God had water contained inside the earth in great caverns. The surface of the earth was different than it is now. There weren’t the deep ocean basins. There weren’t the high mountains. It was a much more level surface of the earth.
Water didn’t come down from heaven. There was a canopy that filtered out the ultraviolet of the sun. That’s why people lived to be 900 years. That’s why animals lived, and reptiles are the only animals that grow their whole life, and that’s why you had dinosaurs. They’re just big lizards who just kept growing for centuries. We don’t have them anymore. They were all wiped out. They know that because they find them in the fossil records, and they don’t develop anymore, because they can’t live long enough in this altered climate post-Flood.
But God literally broke the surface of the earth. Gas blew out, blew ash and chemist - chemicals into the sky, broke up the water molecule canopy that was around the earth, suspended there in perfect equilibrium because of the opposing gravitational pulls. God broke that up, and the floodgates of the sky, as they’re called in chapter 7 and chapter 8, rained for 40 days and 40 nights – 40 nights, as well as the water gushing up from under the earth. This was a massive eruption of the earth’s crust that changed the shape of the planet. It created the continents, and it really made the earth primarily sea, reduced the land to the smaller portion of the two.
This is what occurred in the Flood. We - we know from reading Psalm 104 that at the latter part of the Flood when the water was on the earth and still subsiding, the mountains began to push up, and the ocean basins began to go down. Psalm 104 simply says that during time of the great Flood, God pushed up the mountains and pushed down the ocean basins. And that’s how the Flood ran down. As the mountains pushed up and the ocean basins went down, the water began to move by virtue of gravity into those ocean basins to fill up the oceans as we know them today. The holocaust of the Flood answers the fossil record. It explains the stratification, the extinction of all air-breathing life. It also explains the massive destruction of marine life.
Because of the tremendous movement of the crust of the earth that was under water, and because of the tremendous cataclysms that were going on, explosions and separation, the continents, as we know them today, were formed at that time. There was massive mud moving and stratification which, of course, buried marine life as well as life on land. And so we have evidence of that massive, massive death and trapping of marine life, as well as land animals.
Now we’ve gone through this Flood in our study of Genesis 6, 7, and 8. We come tonight to chapter 8 verse 6. And this is the aftermath of the Flood. And I want to just kind of take you through and teach you the things that this portion of Scripture instructs us in, because it’s really very interesting. Verse 6, “It came about at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made; and he sent out a raven, and it flew here and there until the water was dried up from the earth.
“Then he sent out a dove from him, to see if the water was abated from the face of the land; but the dove found no resting place for the sole of her foot, so she returned to him into the ark, for the water was on the surface of all the earth. Then he put out his hand and took her, and brought her into the ark to himself. So he waited another seven days; and again he sent out the dove from the ark. The dove came to him toward evening, and behold, in her beak was a freshly picked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the water was abated from the earth. Then he waited yet another seven days, sent out the dove; but she did not return to him again.”
Now we’ll stop at that point and just kind of look at what that’s saying. The whole planet was under water, as we’ve been showing you all along. This is a universal Flood. This is a global flood. It covers the entire earth. We learn from the first five verses of the eighth chapter that when it was time for the Flood to be over, God began to remove the water. And He did it, first of all, verse 1, by a great wind. “And He caused a wind to pass over the earth,” and this wind began to blow the water away. Certainly, the breakup of the canopy exposed the sun and its full, blazing brightness to the planet earth. And there, of course, was an evaporation going on, as well. And so you have that.
You also have the fact that there was gravity going on. As the water in verse 5 steadily is decreasing, the water is decreasing. At the same time, the mountains are pushing up. And, of course, we see the water decreasing also in verse 3. The water starts to decrease. The wind blows it. The sun evaporates it and the great sea basins are created. The mountains are pushed up, and they force the water by gravity down into these great basins. And that’s exactly how it works now. The rain falls on the top of the mountain. It runs down. It forms snow, and then it runs down in little rivulets and finally becomes rivers, and the rivers run into the sea. And that’s the hydrological cycle. The water in the sea evaporates into the clouds. The cloud goes over the mountain, drops the rain, drops the snow again, and the cycle goes on all the time.
The earth that appeared after the Flood was very different. It had these massive high mountains, as we well know. And it had these deep, deep ocean basins. Mountains that go as high as 30,000 feet and oceans that go as deep as 35,000 feet. Extreme from the comparison to the earth before the Flood. The statement regarding the raising of mountains is supported, by the way – the statement - that’s in Psalm 104 verses 6 to 8. We’ve looked at it a couple of times.
But the statement regarding the raising of mountains during the time of the Flood is supported by the observation of scientists. Scientists will tell you – if you even go over to Vasquez Rocks out on the 14 Highway going to Lancaster, they will tell you that this is - this is mountainous rock raised up. It’s lifted up. And that is the scenario essentially for all the mountains and the mountain ranges of the world. And most of these mountain ranges are made up of igneous rock. Igneous rock, because there was this explosive kind of volcanic movement on the crust of the earth.
But also, what is very interesting, and science will affirm this – some of you who have studied geology will remember this – this base of igneous rock is typically in mountain ranges of the world covered with sedimentary rock. It’s covered with stratified rock. If you go down deep into the mountain, you find this igneous, this almost volcanic kind of rock. Whereas, on the surface, you see layers of sedimentary kind of rock. And there is an explanation for that that’s very simple to understand.
The great Flood comes. The mountains haven’t been raised up. The sea beds haven’t come down. That’s not until the latter part of the Flood time. The Flood comes, and water literally drowns the whole earth. The mountains aren’t that high, and the basins of the ocean, the valleys aren’t that deep at that time. And so the earth is completely submerged in water.
This causes massive mudslides and movements of sediment, which I told you, sedimentary rock is not formed by one generation of rock and another and another and another over millions of years. It’s formed in a holocaust by a tremendous force of water moving in this direction and pushing layers on top of layers on top of layers on top of layers. This is just plain geological science. And so what happened in the great Flood was the great Flood transported and deposited material in massive layers all over the world, all over the world. That happened in the first part of the Flood.
The earth was opening up. Massive amounts of water were coming out of the bowels of the earth. Rain was pouring down from the sky. These massive mudslides were forming, and sedimentary rock was literally being pushed and accumulated all over the face of the earth. So you basically have in the first part of the Flood, sedimentary rock on the surface of the earth at many, many points.
Then, in the latter half of the Flood, God begins to push the mountains up with volcanic movement. And, as the mountains push up, they push up the sedimentary rock so that what you find on the top of the mountain is the sedimentary rock. Understand that? That is why in almost every mountain range on the face of the earth, you find marine fossils at the top of the mountain. Because that’s where the sedimentary rock was that once was at the bottom of the Flood. And it was in those great mudslides and great stratification that burial of life took place.
In the Himalayas, for example, they find fossilized sea animals above 18,000 feet. You might say, “Well, does that mean the Flood was at least 18,000 feet?” No, it doesn’t mean that at all. It means that when God reshaped the face of the earth and pushed the mountains up, He pushed up the sedimentary rock, which was on the surface of the earth, so that it becomes the top of the mountain.
The highest parts of the mountain ranges are often limestone. You know what limestone is? Limestone is rocked – rock formed by the gradual deposit on the seabed of shells, shells. When you find limestone at the top of a mountain, it was once at the bottom of the sea. That’s another one of the indications that the whole shape of the earth, the face of the earth was changed dramatically in the Flood. There can really be only one explanation for how you get seashells at 18,000 feet, how you get marine fossils at 18,000 feet. And that is that the sedimentary rock that captured those and buried them instantaneously was pushed up by the igneous rock when God began to thrust up the mountains.
You say, “Where did you get that information? Out of a – the Christian Creation Research Institute?” No. That came from Time Life Books, a book called The Himalayas by Nigel Nicolson. That’s – that’s a secular explanation. It’s accurate. Nearly all the mountain ranges, the great mountain ranges of the world have fossils near the summit showing that they originally were raised out of a flood condition. Why do these scientists come along and say then the meteor did it? Because if there’s one thing they will not say, they will not say something that might make you think the Bible is true.
Also, there are volcanic mountains on the floor of the ocean, many of them litter the ocean floor of the Pacific, which are sort of residual volcanoes. At this point, the inactive volcanoes that once exploded at that point and, in some ways, exploded even inwardly, collapsing into the great ocean basins. So when the Flood began to subside, God began to fracture more the surface of the earth and push up the mountains. And then the water began to disappear as it began to roll down the sides of the hill and collect in the rivers and down the rivers to collect into the ocean basins, which are at the low point. And gravity sends the water to the low point.
So when Noah and Mrs. Noah and the three boys stepped out of that ark with their wives, they saw a very different world, a very different world. There were massive mountains where there had not been mountains. There were great valleys where there had not been valleys. And there was death everywhere, death everywhere. Remember, I told you that people asked, “Well, why aren’t there lots of fossils of – of men?”
And the answer to that is that when the Flood comes, men build boats and they keep floating as long as they can float, and they go to the high places, and the high places, and the high places, and – and, typically, they were doing every think – thing they could to escape it. And, therefore, they weren’t necessarily buried. Obviously, some of them have been discovered buried in – in stratification and fossils. But for the most part, they were moving to higher and higher ground trying to escape all of that. And, eventually, what happened was they got as high as they could, and they drowned at that point.
Their carcasses then would have been exposed to the sun and the water, disintegrated; their bones would have still laid on the surface. And I think when Noah and his group came off the ark, they probably saw the bones of dead people all over the place. Dead animals, as well, that had dried, floated, bloated, decayed, and settled back to the ground. And there they were, lying on the ground decomposing in the sun. Many other bones, of course, were deposited and buried in the sediment.
So when they stepped off that – that ark that day, when they walked into a post-Flood world, the first thing they were extremely aware of was divine judgment. And they – they would have literally gasped at what they saw. For the most part, plants had been destroyed. Fossils, you know, include plants. Leaves, all kinds of fossils are fossils of plants. It is also true that coal, coal beds in the belly of the earth is fossilized plant material. And so the – is the forests of the world.
And remember now, the world had a moderate climate all the way around. There wasn’t a north pole and a south pole. There was the same moderate climate all around. That’s why you have leaf-eating mammoths instantly destroyed on the edge of the arctic circle, which we think of as a place where a leaf-eating creature couldn’t live. But in those days, it wasn’t the arctic circle in the sense that we think of as snow and ice and cold. It was the same tropical environment as the whole earth under this protected canopy and without the air movement, the wind movement that we experience post-Flood.
So they would have stepped out into a world that had been stripped of its vegetation for the most part. It was – there was some still – some vegetation, some seeds starting to give life, and some trees that no doubt survived. There are those trees whose roots can survive in water and not a lot of ground. But they would have seen a devastated earth. Different, high mountains, low valleys, ocean basins, stripped, death everywhere and nobody there but them. No one alive, no one, no neighbors. And the Flood would be stark, indescribable evidence of the judgment of God.
Now, let’s pick up the story where we started reading, and let’s see how they got off the ark. At the end of forty days – that’s forty days after verse 5, forty days after the water decreased steadily and the tops of the mountains became visible. The water’s going down, the mountains are pushing up. Forty days later, it says that, “Noah opened the window of the ark.” This would be in the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, eleventh month, tenth day. He waited until the water, which had subsided to reveal the tops of the mountains, had – he waited for some more subsiding of the water. He waited a full forty days. Very patient man, by the way. You would think he would really want to get off that thing as fast as possible. But he had learned to be patient and obedient to the Lord.
The day of vengeance was over. All the killing was done, and the mark that the rain of death was over was the opening of the window. Now Noah doesn’t move very far. It doesn’t say he kicked open the door and they all ran out. It – it just says he opened the window. He didn’t go very far without hearing from God. He didn’t know anything about the new world. He didn’t know what was out there, what to expect. He had developed a pattern of obeying the Lord for 121 years, and he wasn’t about to change it. He’d been on that boat for a – a year, and he wasn’t about to...to run off in an act of impatience. He was put through an experience that is unimaginable. I – I would like to sit down when I get to heaven and say, “You know, what was it like hanging around in that box for a year not knowing what was outside?” So he was very patient.
But he opened the window, and he wanted to find out what was going on out there. So he sent out a raven. Now, why would he send a raven? Well, he would send a raven, because a raven was a scavenger bird, a scavenger bird. It would eat just about anything. It would be like the crow chewing on road kill. The – the raven was a scavenger bird. And if there was any dead flesh bloating and floating on the water or lying around anywhere, the raven would sniff it out. They were able to eat anything. And Noah would be able to tell, at least in part, if the raven didn’t come back that the raven had found some flesh floating in the water.
He wanted to know if that’s what had happened. He wanted to get a little bit of preview of what he was going to see when he got off. And, apparently, the raven did find some flesh, because “It flew here and there until the water was dried up from the earth.” It – it – it stayed out there. It just flew here and flew there until the water was completely dried up. That was several weeks later. Now, it may – when it says – it – it says, “It flew here and there until the water was dried up from the earth.”
Some commentators think that when the water was dried up from the earth, that means that the raven came back. Other commentators say, “No, it never came back.” I don’t know. I don’t know whether it actually came back, but it was at least a period of – well, a period of two months flying around. My assumption is it found food. Whether it came back or not isn’t important. But this is a scavenger bird. In fact, later on in the Mosaic Law, the raven was considered unclean. It was unfit for food, they were not to eat it. And it was unfit for sacrifice, they were not to use it as a sacrifice. Leviticus 11:15, Deuteronomy 14:14.
So what Noah learned from the raven not coming back was that there was flesh out there, there was dead carcass out there. Similar in size to the raven, but very opposite in color. Raven was black. Of course the dove – dove was white. Now what – what Noah needed to know was not only that there was death out there, but what he needed to know was that there was life out there. Right? Because they were going to have to find some life in order to what? To eat. And while a raven was a scavenger bird that ate flesh, a dove was a very docile bird, easily tamed, that ate vegetation.
And a raven didn’t care where it was. It could just land on a corpse and pick away and fly and hit another corpse and pick away and fly and hit another corpse and pick away. It didn’t have to land anywhere. But that wasn’t true of a dove. Doves were birds of the valley, according to the old rabbis, and they needed to find a settled place in a valley or a place on a low cliff, just above the ground. And they would make their little nest in a low cliff. They would make their little roost there, so they could fly out of that low cliff down and get the vegetation that was in the valley. So this was a good choice. The dove was white – it’s the – the raven was black. The dove was able to be tamed. The raven was wild. The dove was a clean bird – according to the same passages, Leviticus 11:15, Deuteronomy 14:14 – and the raven was unclean.
Now that doesn’t mean that God didn’t like ravens and did like doves. He made them both, and He cared for them both, and He took them both on the ark to preserve them so they could propagate themselves. And if there were only two ravens on the boat, then we can assume that the raven did come back. Because Mrs. Raven, waiting back in the boat, wouldn’t be able to produce the ravens we have today if Mr. Raven didn’t come back. So that’s one argument that maybe he did come back. Another argument is maybe there was more than one pair. So whatever.
But he sent out the dove. The dove was the symbol of gentleness. Of course, later on in the Old Testament, symbol of beauty. Used also for sacrifice, because it was clean and also could be eaten. It was also viewed as a – a pet and a symbol of peace and – and joy. Verse 8, “He sent out the dove then to see if the water was abated from the face of the land.” The raven wouldn’t tell him whether the water was gone. The raven would only tell him there was death out there. But the dove would tell him there was life out there because the dove would have to find a plant to eat.
And all these animals on this ark were going to have to have some plants to eat. Remember now, nothing at this point was carnivorous. Nothing was meat-eating. And so they all needed to come off the ark and be able to eat. Now, I don’t know how much food they took on the ark when they went, but I mean, after a year, they don’t have much, if any, left. They needed to know if there’s plants out there. So these little birds of the valley – they’re so designated in Ezekiel 7:16 – the little birds of the valley needed to find a low place on a rock cliff. Song of Solomon 2:4 indicates that – 2:14 indicates that, by the way. They needed to find dry ground. So the little dove flies out. And Noah knew that the dove would let him know whether or not the water was removed from the face of the land.
Verse 9, “The dove found no resting place for the sole of her foot, so she returned to him into the ark.” The dove was a nester, the dove needed to roost and went back to its roost. And the dove couldn’t find any food, flying around a little while and becoming a little exhausted flew right back into the ark, because, verse 9 says, “Water was on the surface of all the earth.” The little dove couldn’t find anything to eat. And when the dove came back – this is an interesting note, the end of verse 9 – “He put out his hand and took her, and brought her into the ark to himself.” This was the difference between a flesh-eating scavenger bird and a roosting bird that could be tamed, the gentle dove.
Noah had waited seven days to send that dove out. Now he waits another seven days in verse ten. Says, “He waited another seven days, and again he sent out the dove from the ark.” Same purpose, to see if the water had subsided so that plants begin to surface. And, by the way, one little interesting thing that I – I found out in studying is that one of the trees in the world that can survive under water for a long time is an olive tree. In fact, olive trees are hardy trees. When – when I have visited the Garden of Gethsemane on a number of occasions, the guides there have told me that they believe that some of the olive trees there now were saplings in the day of Jesus.
That’s an old tree. That’s a 2,000-year-old tree. They’re very, very hearty trees. Very hardy. In fact, they have so much oil in them, olive oil, so much oil in them that when you cut a branch and you want to carve it, you have to let it sit for a long, long, long time, or it remains green and very difficult to carve. And even after you’ve carved it, it’s liable to split and not give the effect that the carver wants. So it takes a long time to dry out, even a cut branch. They’re very, very hardy trees. And so that fits into the account very well.
This little dove, according to verse 7, went out from the ark and came back toward evening. “And behold, in her beak – very importantly worded – was a freshly picked olive leaf.” This was not an olive leaf floating on the water. This was one that was freshly what? Picked or plucked. Hebrew, literally, freshly plucked. The raven showed Noah there was death. The dove showed Noah there was life. There was life. A freshly picked or plucked olive leaf. That meant the little hills were exposed. That meant the land was being dried. That meant the valleys were becoming clear. So Noah, at the end of verse 11, knew the water was abated from the earth.
I like to think of the dove as an evangelist. What does an evangelist bring? Good what? News. Good news about life, right? This is a little evangelist bringing the good news that God had preserved the trees and the olive tree especially. The earth was blooming again. There was death. Oh, there was death everywhere. But there was life, best news yet. Verse 12. “Then he waited yet another seven days and sent out the dove.” Guess what? The dove never came back again. When the rest of the doves left a little while later, they must have found that one dove. And doves may well have been sacrificial birds so that there were seven pairs of them on the ark. And so there were enough to start producing birds in all their variations, as well as many other birds.
And, by the way, have you ever studied seed dispersal? It’s fascinating. Seed dispersal occurs two ways. You cover the earth with vegetation two ways. Wind and birds. Birds eat here, fly over here and deposit seeds. Seeds. That’s right. Just goes through their system and it’s eliminated in a new place and it grows. Not only do they deposit the seed, they deposit the fertilizer. And that’s how – that’s how seed dispersal takes place along with the wind.
And I love what it says in verse 13. “Now it came about in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, on the first of the month” – and – and I remind you again. Why are all these dates always here? Why are all these indications always here about what year, what month, what day? Why? To remind us that this is what? History. This is history. This is not fantasy. This is not myth. This is not legend. This is not allegory. This is history.
I know, in the MacArthur Study Bible, I think maybe on this spread of pages, I have a column there, a listing of the sequence of all the dates that are indicated in the Flood. And there’s a whole long list of them as God continually repeats the historicity of this account. So six hundred and first year – you remember it was in the six hundredth year that the little group got in the – in the ark, and the Flood began. So now it’s the “six hundred and first year, the first month, the first of the month, and the water is dried up from the earth.”
Well, at this point, “Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked.” Now, he – there was some kind of a covering that was on the top of the ark for obvious reasons. If it’s going to rain for forty days and forty nights, you better keep the umbrella up. You better keep the covering on, whatever that covering was. And he removes that covering where – which had given them limited vision. There wasn’t actually anything to see anyway. But they had limited vision. But all of a sudden, they take the covering off, and all the landscape becomes visible. The covering had protected them from the rain, but it had also obstructed them, obscured their view. And now, he takes the covering off, and he looks. “And behold, the surface of the ground was dried up.” It was dried up.
Now, remember, the boat isn’t moving at this time. Where is it? It’s resting where? On the mountains of Ararat, as verse 4 indicates, where they’ve been since the seventeenth day of the seventh month, been there a while. But now he can see. “And in the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry.” All the water had found its place into the ocean basins, into the streams, into the pools and the lakes and the ponds. And it was now time to leave.
But he didn’t take a step until God spoke, verse 15. “Then God spoke to Noah, saying, ‘Go out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you, birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, that they may breed abundantly on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.’” Some believe that this period of time, which just from the sequence of numbers here looks to be one year and ten or eleven days, was actually, by solar measurements, one solar year, so that the sun was exactly where it was when he went in. And he came out, and the sun was in the same place, but it was a totally different world.
He came out, because God told him to come out. He was an obedient, obedient man. He didn’t do anything until the Lord had spoken to him, and it had been a long time. The last time he heard the Lord speak was when the Lord said, “Get in.” He doesn’t hear anything for a year and nearly a month or a year and a portion of a month, and then God says, “Go out.” No explanation in between. He steps out then, at the command of God. And his job is to repopulate the earth, along with the animals. Look over at chapter 9 verse 19. “These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the whole earth was” – what? – “populated.”
So it’s almost like a – it’s almost like Adam and Eve again, isn’t it? It’s kind of like a – it’s kind of like a new Adam and Eve, which – God has destroyed the original creation. Now comes Noah and his wife and their sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth and their wives. “Go out, be fruitful, multiply, you and all the creatures, and populate the earth,” and that’s exactly what – what they did so that we are all descendants of those people. We are all descendants of Noah and his sons and his wife and their wives. The mix of those families has come down to all of humanity on the planet.
So it’s like a new creation. It sounds very much like Genesis 1:20 where God creates living creatures and birds and sea monsters and all the things that move and every winged thing after its kind. And verse 22 says, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” That’s essentially what He says right here in chapter 8 of Genesis in verse 17. He tells the animals, essentially, exactly what He said back in Genesis 1. “Let’s start this deal all over again. And, Noah, you and your family, you go out and repopulate the world.”
So to put it in the words of Peter, in 2 Peter 3:6, “The world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.” And so, when they came off the – the ark, they came into a completely different world which 2 Peter 3:7 calls the heavens and the earth which now are. That was a different planet than what we now experience. The land that had once teamed with animals and people and vegetation have been replaced by an incredibly desolate wilderness.
The air, which formerly was warm and gentle, now moved in stiff and sometimes violent winds. And there was a chill on the mountain slopes of Ararat where the ark was resting, and dark clouds rolling across the sky, which had once been perpetually and pleasantly bright, seemed to threaten more rain and recurrence of flood conditions. The earth had surely been purged of the wicked humanity that had made its physical beauty only a mockery, and – and that was good. But what was left was bleak and barren and foreboding.
Dr. Henry Morris says that there were, no doubt, physical changes along the lines of these. “The oceans were much more extensive, since they are now contained – they now contain all the waters, which once were above the firmament in – in the subterranean reservoirs of the deep. The land areas were much less extensive than before the Flood, with a much greater portion of the surface of the earth uninhabitable for this reason. The thermal vapor blanket was dissipated, so that strong temperature differentials were inaugurated, leading to a gradual buildup of snow and ice on the polar latitudes, rendering much of the extreme northern and southern land surfaces also essentially uninhabitable.
“Mountain ranges uplifted after the flood emphasized the more rugged topography of the postdiluvian continents, with many of these regions also becoming unfit for human habitation. Winds, storms, rains, snow were possible now, thus rendering the total environment less congenial to man and animals than it had been before. The environment was also more hostile because of harmful radiation from space; no longer filtered out by the vapor canopy, a gradual reduction in human longevity after the flood.
Tremendous glaciers, rivers, and lakes existed for a time, with the world only gradually approaching it present state of semi-aridity. And that is what is known as the Ice Age. The Ice Age occurring after the flood.” He says, also, “The crust of the earth was in a state of general instability reflected in recurrent volcanic and seismic activity all over the world” – which we know very well in southern California – “and continuing,” as he says, “to some degrees even to the present, obviously so.”
So they step out into a totally different world in a totally different environment. Life, instead of living for 900 years, begins to be shortened and shortened and shortened and shortened. And Noah, at the time he steps off the ark, is 601 years old, and life from then begins to shorten and shorten and shorten and shorten till you come to the time of Jesus Christ, even and long before that. And people are dying in their 20s and 30s and 40s.” Medicine has extended a little bit of that today. The Bible says that a man’s life may generally be three score and ten, 70 years. Very different from the pre-Flood world.
So as the menagerie walked off the ark, two by two – that’s what they did. Verse 18, “Noah went out, his wife, his sons, son’s wives with him. Every beast, every creeping thing, every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out by their families from the ark.” Now that may indicate to us that they multiplied while they were there. It would be hard to imagine that they didn’t, right? I mean why not? Why not? I mean what else are they going to do? They’re animals. But God didn’t give any children to the people. But they may well have – they went in in pairs, and they came out in families. It must have been a tremendously exhilarating moment, and yet mixed for the people that stepped off onto the ground after a year and ten or eleven days.
What was their first response? This is really where you come to the culmination of this passage. The first thing Noah did in verse 20 was build what? “He built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.” Now, I just need to say, there’s so many commentators that I have read on this who just don’t seem to understand it. They have this kind of flowery picture in their mind that Noah stepped off the boat – and you’ve seen it in the children’s books – and, oh, it was a sunshine and a big rainbow, and the animals are all smiling. And there’s trees and there’s rivers and there’s green grass everywhere.
That wasn’t what they saw. They came off that ark, and there was death everywhere and desolation. There was plant life, but it wasn’t profuse. It had literally been suffocated out of existence for the most part. And it had to develop and grow and – and repopulate the earth in the same way the animals and man did. And we don’t know how much of that vegetation God preserved, but it wasn’t any Eden. It would have been the opposite of that. It was a destroyed planet. And when they walked off, the first thing that they saw was massive death and judgment.
“And he built an altar to the Lord and – and he took of every clean animal and every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.” And some commentators say this was an act of thanksgiving. Well, as I read the Old Testament, I don’t normally find burnt offerings associated with thanksgiving. There’s an element of thanksgiving with a burnt offering. But a burnt offering is primarily a recognition of total devotion to the Lord. If you study the burnt offerings later on in the Levitical law, you – you’ll find that a burnt offering was an offering that was completely burned on the altar.
There were some offerings where you put some on the altar and burned some and you ate some. And there were some that some was burned, and the priest ate some, and the offerer ate some. But a burnt offering was totally consumed, and it was symbolic of total devotion, total dedication to the Lord. You gave everything to the Lord. You didn’t keep anything back for yourself. You didn’t give anything to the priest. You just gave everything to the Lord. The offering was consummate. It was complete. It was total. It was everything. That is further indicated here by the fact that, when he – when he gave this offering, he took of every clean animal and of every clean bird. This is very generous. Very, very generous.
He didn’t just say “Look, we don’t have a lot of – of animals here to populate the whole world, so I want to...I want to hold some back. I don’t – I – I may have to offer some more. He didn’t do that. He took from every clean animal and every clean bird he had and burnt them all totally on the altar. From all of the available animals for that purpose, he gave sacrifice to God. This was a lavish act of generous worship. And when a burnt offering was put on the altar, as I said, it was totally consumed. And so it symbolized total dedication. The complete giving of your life. But it also symbolized something else. It symbolized a recognition of repentance. A recognition of one’s sinfulness.
By the way, this is the first mention in the Bible of an altar. Cain and Abel gave a sacrifice, but there’s no indication about an altar. This is the first mention of an altar used for the purpose of sacrifice. I think there’s gratitude in the sacrifice. But more than that, there is total dedication, total dedication. You can – you’ll find out more about that if you go to Genesis chapter 22 and Abraham’s offering of Isaac. This is the way it was in Moses’ day. The morning sacrifice and the evening sacrifice were burnt offerings. They were offered every morning and every evening according to Exodus 29, Leviticus 6, Numbers 28. And there was a total offering.
So here is Noah on his sons’ behalf and their wives’ behalf saying, “We give You everything. We totally, completely, comprehensively dedicate ourselves to You.” But there’s more than that. This is a sin offering also. Because when they come to face to face with the devastation of judgment, they are struck, surely, by the fact that that is essentially what they deserve and they know it. They – Noah knows he’s not a perfect man. He knows he’s not married to a perfect woman and doesn’t have three perfect sons and perfect daughters-in-law. He knows they are sinners.
There’s no chronicle about the sins that were part of their life the year they were in the ark, but they were there. And we’re going to soon find out how sinful and wretched a man Noah is by his terrible, sinful indiscretion soon to come. He knew his own sin. He knew what he deserved. And this is the – this is an act of penitence, saying, “God, this is what we deserve, and we know it. But we need a substitute. We offer You a sacrifice of atonement, a sacrifice of propitiation.” For a whole year, can you imagine what the conversations were like? For a whole year, they’re floating above the judgment. They’re floating above the drowning of the whole human race. And they know they’re sinful. They know they’re not perfect.
You say, “Well, why did God spare them?” Genesis 6:8, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” Noah saw the staggering judgment of God. He saw the extreme anger of God against sinners. And he offered to God a sacrifice of total dedication that, at the same time, acknowledged that himself and his family were sinful, and their sin was worthy of death. And, of course, this picture of a sacrifice on behalf of sinners becomes the key to understanding the death of Christ, doesn’t it?
So Noah is a priest for the new humanity. There are only eight people in the human race, and he’s their priest. And he offers blood sacrifices as a recognition of the need for atonement, the need for propitiation. And I think it was because of his penitence, because of his recognition that the only reason they all weren’t drowned was grace, that they were sinners. They needed atonement. They needed a sacrifice to pay for their sins. I think it was that integrity in his worship, that honesty, that expression of true repentance that brought about the response of God.
Verse 21, “And the Lord smelled the soothing aroma; and the Lord said to Himself, ‘I will never again curse the ground on account of man,’” – as he had back in Genesis 3, and as He had done in the case of Noah. I won’t do it again – “‘for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth. I will never again destroy every living – living thing, as I have done.” I – I won’t put a curse on man and make his life worse like I did back in Genesis 3, and I will not “destroy every living thing as I have done again.” It’s almost as if – it’s almost as if Noah is the intercessor here. He is the priest for humanity, and he has a sort of a day of atonement in which he offers the sacrifice of penitence, and it comes to God.
It says in verse 21, “And God smelled the soothing aroma.” Now God doesn’t have a nose and He doesn’t smell. That’s metaphoric. That’s metaphoric. It’s an anthropomorphic way of saying God was pleased with the heart of the worshiper. The sacrifice pleased God. And, by the way, as you go through Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, you will find that imagery, the Lord smelling the sacrifice, smelling the soothing aroma. It’s like a good barbecue smells to you. And it – it expresses divine favor. And sometimes, Leviticus 26:31, Amos chapter 5, God refuses to smell the sacrifice. And that means divine disapproval and rejection.
So this is an anthropomorphic way. When the sacrifice rises, if God is pleased with the smell, that means He’s pleased with the heart of the worshiper. If it displeases Him, then He’s not pleased with the heart of the worshiper. So here you have God being pleased with the heart of the worshiper. And in response to that act, God says, “I’m not going to do this again.” Now remember what I’ve been saying as we’ve studying Genesis? That isn’t it strange to you that for 1656 years, God tolerates sin, and then comes the Flood? Sixteen hundred and fifty-six years after creation, God destroys all of humanity. And here we are 4500 years later, why have we survived?
I’ve posed that question several times. Why have we lasted when God destroyed them at 1656? And, certainly, we’re – we were as bad 1500 years later. We were as bad as 500 years later. Why have we survived till now? Answer; because God, in response to the penitence and the sacrifice of Noah said, “I won’t ever do this again.” This – this is what we call grace, isn’t it? This is exactly what I was preaching last Sunday when I said – I took you to Acts 17. And it says there, “The times of this ignorance, God overlooked.”
And God has let all these centuries go by, and – and – and Christians, perhaps, have said, and godly people have said, “Well, how – why don’t You do something? Why don’t You do something? Why don’t You do something?” And God says I said I wouldn’t do something. I said I wouldn’t do that again. I said I wouldn’t curse man again like I cursed him in Eden, and I wouldn’t “destroy every living thing as I have done.”
And would you please notice that it says there, “The Lord said it to Himself.” This isn’t a covenant or a pact that He made with Noah. This is one that He made with Himself. He determined to overlook the coming times of ignorance, in the words of Paul on Mars Hill, Acts 17:30. He determined to withhold future destruction. This is an amazing commitment. “I will never again curse the ground on account of man. I will never again destroy every living thing as I have done.” I won’t do that again. I will be patient. I will withhold universal destruction.
Now, let me tell you something. The Flood did not remove fallenness from the world, because Noah and his whole family were fallen, sinful creatures, and they reproduced sinners. Nor is God saying here – He’s not saying, “I’m removing fallenness.” He’s not saying, “I’m removing sin.” He’s not saying, “I’m removing wrath.” He’s not saying, “I’m removing judgment.” He’s not saying, “I’m removing abandonment, cataclysm, cause and effect. I am not beginning an age of tolerance. There will still be sin. There will still be judgment. There will still be death, and there will still be hell. What there won’t be is the destruction of the whole human race at once.”
Sinners deserve immediate destruction. God would have every reason to destroy the planet today, right now. But He says, “I’m not going to do that.” And this, instead, is the age of grace. This is where the age of grace began, I believe. As God, with common grace and kindness, makes the sun to rise and fall and set on the just and the unjust. Makes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust. God is patient. And isn’t it interesting. Sinners today have to be as bad or worse than the sinners were in the day of the Flood, right?
You say, “Are you sure they’re as bad?” Yes. Middle of verse 21, God says, “I’m not going to curse the ground, and I’m not going to destroy every living thing.” And in the middle of the verse, He says, “But the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” That hasn’t changed. I know that. This is total depravity. It’s the same thing exactly as back in chapter 6 verse 5. “God saw the wickedness of man was great on the earth. Every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” God repeats the same thing, says man is still depraved. This hasn’t changed, his depravity. But in spite of that, I’m not going to do this kind of judgment again.
And God pledges to be gracious, and He pledges to be patient. And Romans 2:4 says, “The patience and forbearance of God is meant to lead people to” – what? – repentance. And God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” And here we are living in the day of grace, living in the day of God’s patience. God would have every reason to have drowned us long ago, but He says, “I’m not going to do it.” And He hasn’t done it. Isn’t that something? Oh, there are still floods and there are still volcanoes, and there are still natural disasters.
And there is still death and divine judgment and hell but the planet just keeps going along, as God is gracious and patient with sinners. How long is this going to last? Hmmm, verse 22, “While the earth remains.” Oh, hmmm, He’s not going to judge the entire planet as long as the earth remains. That’s the key, folks. The next judgment will be the destruction of the planet. Right? The next judgment will be the destruction of the planet. Until then – until then, “Seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night shall not cease.”
Why is life the way it is today? Why is it so consistent? God promised it would be. As long as this earth remains and until it goes out of existence, there will be seedtime, harvest, cold, heat, summer, winter, day, night, predictable, regular cycles. There will be a consistent pattern of the motion of heavenly bodies, consistent gravity, consistent rotation of the earth, consistent solar orbit, consistent annual cycles.
The earth will not be blasted into smithereens by a meteor. It will not fly out of orbit. We will not all die from global warming. It’ll always be regular routine. It’ll be cold in the winter, warm in the summer, and there will be summer, and there will be winter, and there will be seedtime and harvest. That’s spring and fall. And there will be day, and there will be night, and they’re never going to change, as long as the planet is here. So the catastrophe of creation, the catastrophe of the Flood, what the evolutionists think took 500 billion years has really taken 6,000 years and a six-day creation and a one-year Flood. The catastrophes occurred, and now we’re in a period of uniformity where everything continues the same, until the earth goes out of existence.
That’ll happen, folks. That is described in 2 Peter 3. We have considered 2 Peter 3 a couple of times in this account of the Flood. It’s – it’s worth just rereading. Second Peter 3:3, listen to this. “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mockings, following after their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.’” People look at things and say, “Everything’s going along the same. Just goes the same, the same. You keep saying Jesus is coming, Jesus is coming, but, ah, it’s all just the same, just the same, just the same.”
And they see the patience of God. They see the consistency of God in the world. And, instead of honoring God, they abuse this period of kindness, engage in sin and mock the idea that Jesus is going to come back. But they forget, verse 5 says, “that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But the present heavens and earth, by His word, are being reserved for” – not water, but – “fire, kept for the day of judgment.”
And that day has now been set. Acts 17, “God now requires all men everywhere to repent because He has fixed the day.” Remember that from last week? “He has fixed the day in which He will judge the world by that Man whom He has ordained, having raised Him from the dead, which is Christ.” And when that comes, the earth will go out of existence. Verse 10 says, “The day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.”
That’s the uncreation, when the earth, literally, in an atomic holocaust, goes out of existence. That’s the next holocaust. That happens when the Lord Jesus returns. Until then, this is the age of grace. Seedtime and harvest, cold, heat, summer, winter, day, and night. And what are you doing in this opportunity of grace? The Flood came. Nobody believed it and they drowned. And so the fire will come. Jesus is our ark, isn’t He? He is our ark. Because of Him, Paul says, “We escape the wrath to come.”
Father, we thank You again for the way in which this judgment of the past brings, powerfully, to bear force upon our own lives who look ahead to the judgment in the future. I pray, oh, God, that You would grant the grace of salvation, the grace of faith and repentance to all souls, that they may escape the judgment in the ark Who is Christ. To someday, riding across the storms of that judgment, riding across the fiery destruction of the earth, to awaken in the new heaven and the new earth where there will be no marks of desolation, no evidence of judgment as there was in Noah’s new world.
Father, I trust that You, by Your grace, would turn many sinners to faith in Christ, who alone can save us from the wrath to come. We thank You for Your patience, and may we turn in it to repentance. We ask these things for the sake of Christ, who deserves all the glory. Amen.
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