Genesis: Noah’s Flood


Genesis 6—9


Even though the story of Noah and the flood occur early on in the book of Genesis, this event didn’t really take place until some 16 centuries after Adam and Eve.  The population of the earth must have been relatively great given the fact that during the antediluvian (pre-flood) era, man lived a long, long time.  Scholars think that the reasons for man’s longevity have to do with two things:  (1)  the full extent of sin had not yet been realized; (2)  the climate on earth before the flood may have been more healthy for man.

The Sumerian king lists indicate that early man lived an astonishing 43,000 years!  That may be an exaggeration, but Biblical and extra-Biblical sources seem to indicate that man’s lifespan was great before the Flood.

1.  Days of evil, Genesis 6

When the Lord God saw the extent of human wickedness, and that the trend and direction of men’s lives were only towards evil, he was sorry he had made them. It broke his heart.  And he said, “I will blot out from the face of the earth all mankind that I created. Yes, and the animals too, and the reptiles and the birds. For I am sorry I made them.”  (Genesis 6:5—8  TLB)

Between the Fall of man and the days of Noah, man on earth got more and more sinful.  Remember, there were no laws, no police forces, and no governments; there were no restraints placed on man.  Scholars believe the population of the earth at this time was between one and three billion people.  That’s a lot of people with no moral and ethical restraints placed on them.  No wonder God’s heart was grieved!  Jesus taught that conditions preceding His Second Coming would be almost as bad as the days of Noah.

The world will be at ease—banquets and parties and weddings—just as it was in Noah’s time before the sudden coming of the Flood; people wouldn’t believe what was going to happen until the Flood actually arrived and took them all away. So shall my coming be.  (Matthew 24:37—39  TLB)

Bible scholars further note that the “days of Noah” had these characteristics:

  • A tendency to deism;
  • An unnatural prominence of women and a total disregard of the laws of marriage;
  • Progress in building and mechanical arts;
  • A fellowship or union of believers and unbelievers;
  • A disregard for the Word of the Lord through prophets or preachers (like Noah);
  • The appearance on earth of evil, angelic beings.

How bad were conditions on the earth at this time?  Directly preceding the Flood, we read about the intermarriage of the daughters of men and the sons of God.

Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.  (Genesis 6:1, 2  NKJV)

Exactly who these two groups were is up to debate.  Some think the “daughters of men” refers to the godly descendants of Seth and the other group, the “sons of God” were demonic angels.  The Living Bible takes this position.  It may well be that these two groups simply represented believers and unbelievers.  Whoever these people were, their intermarrying greatly displeased God and seemed to have been the catalyst that pushed the Lord toward judgment.

Here, we get an insight into the grieving heart of God.

Then Jehovah said, “My Spirit must not forever be disgraced in man, wholly evil as he is. I will give him 120 years to mend his ways.”  (Genesis 6:3  TLB)

This verse gives us a clue that there may come a time when God sees man, or a man, so engulfed in his sin that the Holy Spirit will simply stop trying to deal with him.  Here, God gave the human race 120 years to repent.

…he was sorry he had made them. It broke his heart.  (Genesis 6:6  TLB)

The KJV says that the Lord “repented” that He had made man.  This in no way means that God changed His mind, but rather, it means that man had grown apart from His Creator; that their relationship had changed.  Man’s wickedness—his sliding from innocence to sinfulness—brought about a brand new kind of relationship between himself and God.  Once God sought to care for and protect man.  Now man must be punished.  No wonder God’s heart broke.

But not all men were wicked and beyond help.  Noah was a good man.

But Noah was a pleasure to the Lord. Here is the story of Noah: He was the only truly righteous man living on the earth at that time. He tried always to conduct his affairs according to God’s will. And he had three sons—Shem, Ham, and Japheth.  (Genesis 6:8—10,  TLB)

Noah, Enoch, and Abraham all had this in common:  they were friends with the Lord.  As with Abraham, being God’s friend let Noah in on God’s plans of destruction.  Abraham learned about the coming destruction of Sodom and the other wicked cities, and here Noah found out about the coming flood.

All the intermarrying resulted in a total corruption of the human race from which there could be no recovery.  Corruption, violence, and anarchy ruled the world of man.  In His grace, God moved to protect and save Noah and his family.  The ark, the method by which the Lord would save Noah and his family, is really a type of Christ; what the ark did for them, Jesus does for us.Ark of Jesus

Noah took the 120 years to build his ark, something that took considerable faith.  Think about this:

  • He built a massive boat on dry land.
  • He predicted something that had never happened before:  rain.
  • He preached 120 years and never won a single convert.

Noah was another who trusted God. When he heard God’s warning about the future, Noah believed him even though there was then no sign of a flood, and wasting no time, he built the ark and saved his family. Noah’s belief in God was in direct contrast to the sin and disbelief of the rest of the world—which refused to obey—and because of his faith he became one of those whom God has accepted.  (Hebrews 11:7  TLB)

Based on Scripture, the ark Noah built must have been mind boggling. No wonder it took over a century to do it.  The total square footage of the ark was almost 1.5 million.  Each animal had about 10 square feet of living space.  Each insect and reptile had approximately 24 square inches of floor space and about 216 square inches of floor space for each bird.  There were probably (this is an educated guess) 1,700 animal species on the ark, 100,000 species of insects, 987 species of reptiles, and some 10,000 species of birds.  The ceilings of the ark were over 14 feet high, which left plenty of room for food storage and cages for smaller animals.  Many of the animals were small, like the size of dog or a cat.  And, keep in mind, whales and large sea animals, and in fact all fish and sea creatures were not on board the ark. Considering the world-wide devastation caused by the torrential rains, the eruption of springs and geysers, and the mixing of salt and fresh water must have killed many sea creatures.  Some, obviously survived, since we have fish today.

2.  Entering the ark, Genesis 7

A week before the waters came, the animals found their way into the ark.  Finally Noah’s family entered the ark and there they waited for the rain.

One week later, when Noah was 600 years, two months, and seventeen days old, the rain came down in mighty torrents from the sky, and the subterranean waters burst forth upon the earth for forty days and nights.  (Genesis 7:10—12 TLB)

The rain came down from the sky and came up from the ground.  How horrific it must have been for those on the outside of the ark.  With that much water, there was nowhere to hide.

As the water rose higher and higher above the ground, the boat floated safely upon it; until finally the water covered all the high mountains under the whole heaven, standing twenty-two feet and more above the highest peaks.  (Genesis 7:18—20  TLB)

The water did exactly what God wanted it to do:  destroyed all life on earth.  The destruction was so complete, it is stated twice.

And all living things upon the earth perished—birds, domestic and wild animals, and reptiles and all mankind—everything that breathed and lived upon dry land.  All existence on the earth was blotted out—man and animals alike, and reptiles and birds. God destroyed them all, leaving only Noah alive, and those with him in the boat.  (Genesis 7:21—23  TLB)

3.  God remembered, Genesis 8

God didn’t forget about Noah and all the animals in the boat! He sent a wind to blow across the waters, and the floods began to disappear…  (Genesis 8:1  TLB)

It took a long time for all that water to subside.  Those in the big boat waited almost a month after land appeared just to be on the safe side.  All in all, Noah and his family were in that ark one year and ten days.  Upon disembarking, the first thing this man of God did was to build an altar and make a sacrifice to God.  Wrote Von Rad:

The first human work that the liberate earth, which is again restored to man, sees is an altar for God the Lord.

The destruction of the world by flood is not just recorded for us in the Bible.  The Sumerians (relatives of the Babylonians) have their heroic righteous man, Gilgamesh.  The Sumerian epic is, of course, very polytheistic, yet it is eerily similar to the story of Noah.

The story of Gileamesh and his flood epic

The story of Gilgamesh and his flood epic

4.  The covenant, Genesis 8:21—9:29

Our God is a covenant-making God, and the Noahic Covenant outlines the promises God made to Noah after the flood.  The provisions of this often overlooked covenant include:

  • God will maintain the regular sequence of seasons forever.
  • Man’s supremacy over animal life is stated.
  • God will allow man to eat animals as long as the blood has been drained.
  • Man’s authority over his fellow man is stated so that he might now administer judgment upon a murderer.

And so, the human race and all sentient life of on earth was given a second chance by God.  Studying Noah’s Flood is important because of the deep and profound theological overtones implicit in it.

  • All of man’s problems lay in his rebellion against God—his wicked imagination and bent toward harming himself, his fellow man, and even the world around him.
  • We learn that there is a point at which God will not tolerate man’s sinfulness.
  • God made special provision for the few who were faithful to Him.  He led them and protected them, making a way for them to escape His judgment.  This is a common theme throughout Scripture.
  • Those who suffered judgment brought it on themselves.  God gave all men a lengthy period of time to repent.
  • In the events of the Flood, we see that God is total control of OUR environment.  Man, in spite of current so-called scientific trends, does not control his environment on a world-wide basis.
  • God uses the world around us for salvation or judgment.
  • There is no mystery in serving God.  God establishes the rules by which He expects man to abide by.  The choice to live in obedience to God, as it has always been from the very beginning, is man’s to make.

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