Giver of New Beginnings. You are only one verse into Genesis chapter nine and you hear language that is very reminiscent of Genesis chapter 1: “God blessed Noah and his sons” (9:1a; cf. 1:28a) and “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (9:1b; 1:28b). And so as to bracket the opening section of this chapter, and just in case we missed it, a similar benediction is pronounced six verses later (9:7). While God did not take another lump of clay from the ground and breathe into it the breath of life, this was nonetheless a new beginning via a re-commissioning. Just as the entirety of humanity could trace its beginning to Adam, so, too, can all humanity trace its origin back to Noah and his sons (cf. 9:19). Incredible. And it all began with a post-judgment benediction of blessing that was reminiscent of a new beginning. And New Testament Christians surely know something about new beginnings – “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). Such a one has entered into a New Covenant (Mt. 26:28), received new birth from above (Jn. 3:3-8), walks in newness of life (Rom. 6:4), will receive a new name (Rev. 2:17), and spend forever with the God who makes all things new (Rev. 21:5).
Unforgetting. You might typically think of such an attribute as a negative one. The kind associated with someone who, say, forgives but refuses to forget. But the un-forgetting we see in the opening verse of chapter eight is a good kind. It’s the kind that remembers mercy, and communicates it to the objects of mercy in the midst of judgment. The flood came and the waters prevailed for one hundred and fifty days (Gen. 7:24). The judgment that God had promised had come, was complete, and in the opening verse of chapter eight we read the anthropomorphic expression: “Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters subsided” (8:1). God never forgot Noah; rather, the expression “Then God remembered…” is way of saying, ‘After a period of time where God might have appeared, say, silent or distant, He undertook once again to do something on behalf of the objects of His mercy.’ For example: God remembered Abraham and delivered Lot from destruction (Gen 19:29); God remembered Rachel and opened her womb (Gen 30:22); and here God remembered Noah and all who were with him on the ark and He brought forth a wind, likely for the purpose of beginning to evaporate the waters (Gen 8:1). Even though for a time it might have seemed like Noah was forgotten in the ark as the waters prevailed on the earth, remember – he and his family were in the ark for one hundred fifty days leading up to Genesis 8:1 (not to mention the days that followed as the waters began to recede), and that might have been longer than Noah had anticipated, but through it all he and those with him were not forgotten. God remembered them and demonstrated afresh His kindness towards them by causing the waters to begin to recede. The words God spoke to Zion through the prophet Isaiah are a good reminder for all God’s people that the God who keeps His people not only does not slumber or sleep, neither does He forget. “Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you” (Isa. 49:15).
From an outside perspective it might have seemed as though Satan was going to be successful in his attempt to frustrate God’s plan to have the seed of the woman crush his seed (Gen. 3:15). However one splices the relationship between the “sons of God” and the “daughters of men” of Genesis 6:2, it clearly was not a good thing and it did not produce worshippers (see also 2 Pet. 2:4-5; Jd. 6). Brutal men (i.e. the nephilim) had become the “men of renown” (cf. vs.4); every thought of men’s hearts were continually wicked (vs.5); and so, not surprisingly, the earth was corrupt and filled with violence (vs.11). It was indeed a world made well-rotten by sin and Satan.