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Genesis 8:14 - Homiletics

The returning of the waters, or the recall of Divine judgments.


1. Separation— the elimination of the righteous from the wicked. Under the present condition of the world there is a strange intermingling of the good and the evil. The tares and the wheat, the draw-net with good and bad fish ( Matthew 13:1-58 .) are suggestive emblems of this mixed state of society. The grand object contemplated by Christianity is the elimination of the saintly element from that which is corrupt. For this end it lays a special injunction on the former to withdraw themselves from the company and contagion of the latter ( 2 Corinthians 6:17 ; 2 Thessalonians 3:6 ; 1 Timothy 6:5 ). Only it forbids men, under cover of real or pretended zeal for righteousness, to attempt any forcible separation of the commingled elements ( Matthew 13:30 ). Yet what the hand of man cannot do the hand of God can—winnow the chaff from the wheat. He did so by the Flood. He did so by the incarnation ( Matthew 3:12 ). He will do so at the second advent ( Matthew 13:30 ; Matthew 25:32 ).

2. Condemnation—the infliction of retribution on the finally impenitent. Undisguised was this the design of the full catastrophe which overtook "the world of the ungodly" in the time of Noah. It was sent for the specific purpose of punishing their evil deeds. And so have all Divine judgments of a like kind, what we misname accidents,—catastrophes, floods, famines, pestilences, &c.;,—a terrible on look of wrath and judicial retribution to them who forget to humble themselves -beneath the mighty hand of God. So certainly will the last great judgment, of which Noah's flood was a prophetic symbol and warning, have as its specific purpose the complete destruction of the finally impenitent ( Genesis 2:5 ; 2 Thessalonians 1:7 ; Hebrews 10:27 ; 2 Peter 3:7 ).

3. Preservation—the salvation of the faithful. This may be said to be the aim of all those minor troubles and afflictions that befall God's people on the earth ( Romans 8:28 ; 2 Corinthians 4:17 ). It is specially so when on a larger scale he interposes to inflict his judgments on the world ( Isaiah 26:9 ). When he overthrows the wicked (whether nation or individual) suddenly as in a moment, it is with an eye to the deliverance of his people. Examples—Pharaoh, Goliath, Haman, Herod, Belshazzar. It was so with Noah. The destruction of the antediluvian sinners was necessary, if the remnant of the primitive Church was to be saved. So may it be said that the future overthrow of the wicked is indispensable, if the eternal happiness of the redeemed is to be secured.


1. Their times of coming . The hour of the commencement of the Flood was both fixed and announced 120 years before the event. Though not revealed, as in the can of the Noachic Deluge, the date of every event is as truly predetermined (cf. Genesis 18:14 ; Exodus 9:5 ; Job 7:1 ; Ecclesiastes 3:1 ; Jeremiah 8:7 ; Acts 17:26 ). And God's judgments always keep their set times of coming, as the Flood came in the predicted hour for its arrival.

2. Their times of continuance . The flood of waters lingered on the earth for a season, but not forever. From the moment when the first raindrop fell from the leaden sky, after the Lord had shut the patriarch with his family and living creatures into the ark, till it could be said the earth was dry, one year and ten days passed away. So have all God's judgments, at least here, their limits. Upon sinful men his wrath is not poured out without measure.

3. Their times of recall . In the future world we do not read that there will be any recall of the Divine judgments; everlasting punishment ( Matthew 25:46 ), fire that never shall be quenched ( Mark 9:43 ), everlasting destruction ( 2 Thessalonians 1:9 ) are some of the expressions employed to depict the fire-deluge of eternity. But here on earth God's judgments, being only for a set time, are subject to recall; and as they cannot anticipate the hour appointed for their coming, so neither can they linger beyond the moment assigned for their departure. Their recall too is, as in the case of Noah's flood—


1. Signs of their approach, which are commonly—

2. Signs of their departure, which are usually—

IV. GOD 'S JUDGMENTS HAVE THEIR INTERESTED OBSERVERS . Possibly the wicked are indifferent to the Divine judgments when they happen to be abroad upon the earth; but not so the righteous, to whom everything connected with them is of the utmost importance. Observers of God's judgments should be like Noah—

1. Hopeful— expecting them to pass. Had Noah not anticipated the complete removal of the waters, he had not made a single experiment to discover how that removal was progressing. Let the saints learn from Noah to cherish hope in God.

2. Prayerful . There is good reason for believing that Noah sent forth the raven and the dove on the day of weekly rest, and after solemn religious exercises ( vide Expos.). The saint's inquiries into God's judgments should always be conducted in a spirit of devotion.

3. Intelligent—i.e. capable of reading the signs of the times. When the dove came home to Noah with the fresh-gathered olive leaf, "he knew that the waters were abated from off the earth" ( Genesis 8:11 ). So God ever vouchsafes to devout souls, who seek them by faith, appropriate and adequate signs of his movements, which it becomes them to study and interpret.

4. Patient —seeking neither to outrun God's leading nor to anticipate God's directing, but, like Noah, calmly waiting the Divine order to advance to the new sphere and the new duty which the passing of his judgments may reveal. Noah waited fifty-seven days after the drying up of the waters before he left the ark, and then he only did so at God's command; wherefore, "be ye not unwise" by being over-hasty, "but understanding what the will of the Lord is" ( Ephesians 5:17 ).

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