Let’s read Genesis 8:20-21, “Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the LORD smelled a soothing aroma. Then the LORD said in His heart, ‘I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done” (NKJV). In order to understand this passage we need to remember what had transpired prior to this. In a word, God had judged the earth with a universal flood and had destroyed every living thing except for Noah and his family and the creatures that they had brought into the Ark that Noah had built. (Please read Genesis chapters 6 & 7). Why did God do this? We have the answer in Genesis 6:5-7, 12-13: “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that EVERY INTENT OF THE THOUGHTS OF HIS HEART WAS ONLY EVIL CONTINUALLY. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the LORD said, ‘I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air’….So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. And God said to Noah, ‘The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I WILL DESTROY THEM WITH THE EARTH.” What a solemn and humbling passage this is, for it reveals the utter depravity of mankind (“his heart was only evil continually”) which filled the earth with corruption and violence, causing God, in His holiness, to destroy every living thing “with the earth”; that is, with WATER (see Genesis 7:4-7, 11-12 with 2nd Peter 3:3-6).

In the portion we are considering the flood waters have abated and Noah, who had “found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8), steps out of the Ark and immediately offers sacrifices to the Lord for His mercy to him and his family. The offerings are not only accepted by the Lord, but He gives Noah a promise that He would “never again curse the ground for man’s sake…nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.” God then adds to His promise by saying, ‘While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night SHALL NOT CEASE’ (verse 22).  The “continuing seasons” and each “day and night” would be a constant reminder to mankind of God’s promise. Another evidence of this promise is stated in the next chapter: “Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying: ‘And as for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you and with your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you…Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth….This is the sign of the covenant….I will set MY RAINBOW IN THE CLOUD, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth” (9:8-13). Every time a rainbow appeared in the clouds after a rainfall, Noah would be reminded of the promise AND God Himself would remember the promise! “It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I WILL REMEMBER MY COVENANT WHICH IS BETWEEN ME AND YOU AND EVERY LIVING CREATURE OF ALL FLESH; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh” (verses 14-15).

What is really striking about this PROMISE and COVENANT is that “man’s sinful state did not change one iota.” We saw in our verse, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, ALTHOUGH THE IMAGINATION OF MAN’S HEART IS EVIL FROM HIS YOUTH.” This begs the question, “If it was man’s sin that caused God to judge the earth with a flood, why does God promise NOT to judge the earth again with a flood when ‘man’s heart is evil from his youth?’” Ah, dear friend, the answer is God’s MERCY! His judgment revealed His holiness and righteousness; His promise not to judge reveals His mercy. But what was it that caused God to show mercy to mankind? We saw that Noah became a worshipper by offering sacrifices to the Lord. Those sacrifices were pleasing to God and rose to heaven as a “sweet smelling aroma” because every sacrifice he offered pictured the supreme sacrifice that would be made by God’s Son, who would “put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (see John 1:28 with Hebrews 9:24-26). It is because of God’s righteous judgment of sin on the cross that He can show mercy to man. The ultimate expression of God’s mercy isn’t seen in Him withholding a universal flood from mankind, but in God delivering man from eternal judgment in hell (see John 3:16; Ephesians 2:1-6; and Titus 2:4-5).  (387.1)  (DO)