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Genesis 8:15-9:17: God's Promise to Noah
Bible Essentials: Set 3, Lesson 7
Individuals: Take time to think back about your past week. Where have you seen God work in your life or answer prayer? Write down any prayer requests you have.
Group: Open the study by sharing life updates, reviewing highs and lows of your past week, or sharing prayer requests and praises.
Icebreaker: Have you every helped with recovery from a flood? What was your experience like? What did the land look like? What types of tasks did you need to do?
All: Begin the study with a word of prayer, asking God to open your heart for today’s study. You can also pray for any prayer requests now, or save that for the end.
Read today’s passage: Genesis 8:15-9:17.
15 Then God said to Noah, 16 “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. 17 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 on it.”
18 So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives. 19 All the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birds—everything that moves on land—came out of the ark, one kind after another.
20 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. 21 The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.
22 “As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”
9 Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. 2 The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth, and on all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; they are given into your hands. 3 Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.
4 “But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. 5 And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.
6 “Whoever sheds human blood,
by humans shall their blood be shed;
for in the image of God
has God made mankind.
7 As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.”
8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: 9 “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”
17 So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”
What is the context for this passage?
Noah and his family have been in the ark for over a year. I would imagine that they are going a little stir crazy, ready to get away from the family and animals they’ve been stuck with for that time (at least I would be!). The ark may be big for a boat, but it’s small compared to having the freedom to roam the entire earth.
They’ve endured a major tragedy. All the people they once knew, other than those on the ark, have all died. All the animals, other than the ones God brought onto the ark, have all died. All the possessions they accumulated, other than what they brought on the ark, are all destroyed. I would imagine that there would be a bit of emotional trauma that went along with that.
Now, Noah and his family are on the brink of a new life. The ground is dry, and they are ready to leave the safety of the ark. They have a whole new system of society to set up, houses to build, so many things they need to do. Let’s see what they do first.
Read the passage again.
Explore a different version if you have one available. If you are online, here is Genesis 8 in NIV through Bible Gateway. You can change the version by using the dropdown menu at the top right of the page.
Try to summarize the passage in your own words.
Answer these three questions about the passage:
1. What does the passage say about God?
God directed when Noah and his family would leave the ark. Just as God told Noah exactly when to enter the ark, God told Noah exactly when to leave the ark. God didn’t leave the decision up to Noah. I assume that was for Noah’s own safety to ensure Noah and his family would survive when they left the ark.
God is pleased when his people worship him. When Noah offered a sacrifice to God after leaving the ark, God was pleased. Throughout the Bible, we see that God is pleased when his people worship him with a right heart. We may not build altars and offer sacrifices today, but God is still pleased when we worship him.
God promised to never again destroy the earth with a flood. Although God knew that evil would once again consume the world not too long after the flood, he made a promise that no matter how bad things got, he would not destroy the earth again with a flood. Instead, God is patient with us. He is waiting for the day when he will once again make all things new.
God blesses his people. After Noah worshiped God, God blessed Noah and his sons. He gave them new food to eat by giving them permission to eat animals and other living creatures, just as he had given them the plants to eat. Along with the blessing, God gave them some new commands to follow.
God will demand an accounting for all people. God finds great value in life, especially human life. God promises to account for all human lives, especially if a human life was shed by another human or even by an animal. He will hold accountable anyone who kills a human.
God established a covenant with all life on earth. The first covenant that God established was with Noah, to save him from the flood. Now, God expands that covenant to include all living creatures. God establishes a covenant to never flood the earth again. God followed through on the first covenant (Genesis 6:18), and he has continued to follow through on the second covenant to this day.
God gave the rainbow as the sign of his covenant. God gave Noah (and us) a reminder of his covenant—the rainbow. Every time it rains, God sends a reminder that he has promised to never flood the earth again. This must have been a comfort for Noah and his family, and it is a comfort to us as well.
2. What does the passage say about people?
Once again, Noah followed God’s commands. We see repeatedly in Noah’s story that Noah followed God’s commands. This passage is no different. When God told Noah to leave the ark, Noah left the ark, along with his family and the animals.
Noah’s first response was to build an altar to the Lord. We see recorded that Noah followed God’s command to build the ark, enter the ark, and leave the ark. But there’s no record that God commanded Noah to build an altar to worship God when they left the ark. This is something that Noah did as an act of worship from his heart.
Human hearts are evil from childhood. Even though God wiped out the evil from the earth and saved only Noah and his family, God recognizes that the human heart is still evil. A flood can’t take that away. Even though Noah worshipped God, Noah and his family still had sin in their hearts. We are all born this way, and we all still need a Savior.
Humans are made in the image of God. We discussed earlier that God will demand an accounting for every human life. God feels so strongly about the sanctity of human life because humans are made in his image. We aren’t like dogs and giraffes and butterflies, created out of God’s imagination and his vast plan for ecosystems. We are created to be image bearers, and we bear the highest image—God himself.
3. What does the passage say about God’s plan?
God’s plan is that all the living creatures—humans and animals alike—would multiply on the earth. During the flood, all the humans and creatures on earth fit into one large boat. Now, they have the entire planet to roam and settle and fill. God commands both humans and animals to multiply and fill the earth. This is how life continues, generation after generation.
God’s plan is that the cycle of days and seasons would endure. God set up a system of day and night, cold and heat, summer and winter, seedtime and harvest. These cycles are necessary for human functioning and plant and animal growth and reproduction. God has promised that these cycles will endure as long as the earth remains.
God’s plan is that all the living creatures on earth would be subject to humans. In Genesis 1, God gave the command to humans to rule over all the living creatures on earth. After the flood, God takes this command one step further and indicates that all living creatures would be scared of humans and would be used primarily for the good of humans.
God’s plan is that all things will be food for humans. In this passage, it appears that before the flood, God had given humans plants to eat for food. Here, God changes that directive and now gives humans all things for food, including animals and other living creatures. God has expanded how he will provide for humankind.
God’s plan is that people should not take the life of other people. God holds dear the life of every single person he creates. His desire is that humans would not take the life of other humans. However, he’s also realistic and knows that this will happen. So he gives consequences for this most serious sin—God will demand an accounting for every human life that another human takes.
How does the passage fit into the overarching story of the Bible?
Sometimes it’s easier to understand a passage if you have a little outside knowledge from other passages in the Bible. This section will help provide that outside perspective.
In this passage, God gave Noah, his family, and all the animals a command similar to what he gave Adam and Eve—be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth. The rest of the Bible is evidence that they followed this command. We see generations of descendants and read their stories. Even today, we see this command has been followed, with a world population of over 7 billion people.
But God makes one very astute observation—every inclination of the human heart is still evil from childhood. The flood hasn’t changed this fact. The people will still need a way to atone for their sins. They will still need a Savior. The rest of the Bible tells the story of how God fulfilled his plan to bring a Savior to the world.
This passage also establishes one of the first covenants in the Bible. God makes a covenant with Noah and all living creatures that he will never again flood the earth and destroy all life. God even puts a rainbow in the sky every time it rains as a reminder of this covenant. In looking through Scripture, a rainbow isn’t just something pretty to look at. It is representative of God himself. In both Ezekiel 1 and Revelation 4, God’s radiance is described as a brilliant rainbow. So next time you see a rainbow, stand in awe that God is letting you see a glimpse of his glory.
Individual: Answer the following questions thoughtfully for yourself.
Group: Pose these questions for discussion.
All: If you are willing to share, I’d love to hear your thoughts to these questions. Feel free to use the comment section to start a discussion about this passage.
What else strikes you about this passage?
How does the passage affect how you view God? How you view yourself?
How does this passage affect how you will live your life?
For Bible Essential studies, you can use my thoughts as your devotional, or you can download and use the journaling sheet to work through the passage on your own. If desired, you can then compare your thoughts to mine. Journal sheets can be downloaded and used now or later. They can be printed and filled in by hand or saved and filled out electronically. Journal sheets are available for individual or group use.
If you plan to lead a group study, a PowerPoint presentation is also available.
You can access these resources by clicking here: Genesis 8-9 Resources
Or you can download the journal sheets here*:
*Substack doesn’t support PowerPoint file downloads yet, so if you want to access the PowerPoint file for group study, you will need to download it from the resource page linked above.