Scripture Text – Genesis 6:9 – 7:24
Methuselah was Noah’s grandfather, and Noah knew that when his grandfather died, nothing stood in the way of God’s judgment falling on a wicked world. For over a century, Noah had been warning people about the coming judgment, but only his own family had believed him and trusted the Lord.
Then Methuselah died and things began to happen. One day, Noah and his family entered their “boat” and the rains came. (“It can’t go on forever,” people said. “It’ll stop one of these days.”) But it rained for forty days and forty nights, and subterranean explosions discharged more water on the earth. Even after the rain stopped, the water continued to rise; and within five months, the whole earth was under water and everything that breathed was dead. Everything, that is, except Noah and his family, the eight people everybody laughed at.
A Secure Man Who Waited On God
Please read Genesis 7:1-24 to get the background for this section.
A week of waiting (Genesis 7:1-10). Since the rains started on the seventeenth day of the second month, it was on the tenth day of the second month that Noah and his family moved into the ark at God’s instruction. During that final week before the Flood, they finished gathering the animals and putting in their supplies. They followed the Lord’s instructions, trusted His covenant promise, and knew that there was nothing to fear.
David watched a thunderstorm one day and from that experience wrote a hymn (Psalm 29) telling how he had seen and heard God in that storm. As he pondered what happened, David thought about history’s most famous storm in the time of Noah, and he wrote, “The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king forever.” – Psalm 29:10. The sweeping rain, the echoing thunder, and the flashing lightning reminded David of the sovereignty of God. No matter how great the storms of life may be, God is still on the throne causing everything to work together for good. That’s why David ended his hymn with, “May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!” – Psalm 29:11.
At the end of that final week of preparation, Noah and his family obeyed God’s command and entered the ark, and God shut the door and made it safe (Genesis 7:16). They didn’t know how long they would live in the ark, but the Lord knew, and that’s really all that mattered. “My times are in your hand.” – Psalm 31:15. One year and ten days later, the same God opened the door and invited them to come out to live on His freshly cleansed earth (Genesis 8:16).
The day of reckoning (Genesis 7:11-24). The Flood was God’s judgment upon a wicked world. God opened the floodgates of heaven so that torrential rains came down, and “all the springs of the great deep burst forth.” – Genesis 7:11 (NIV). With water coming not just from the skies, but from deep within the earth, even the highest mountains became more than covered by water. God had waited for over a century for sinners to repent, and now it was too late. “Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near.” – Isaiah 55:6.
The rain stopped after 40 days, which would be on the twenty-seventh day of the third month. However, the water continued to rise for another 110 days and reached its peak after 150 days. At that time, the ark rested on a mountain peak of Ararat (Genesis 8:4). It would take 150 days for the water to recede (Genesis 8:3), which takes us to the twelfth month, the seventeenth day. Two months and ten days later, Noah and his family left the ark and set the animals free (Genesis 8:14). From the day that God shut them in, they had been in the ark a year and ten days.
A universal judgment. In recent years, people who want to accommodate Scripture to the views of modern science have opted for a flood that was “limited” and not universal. They suggest that the writer of Genesis used “the language of appearance” and described only what he could see.
There are problems with both views, but the “limited” interpretation seems to be the weaker of the two. The clear language of the text seems to state that God was bringing a universal judgment. God said He would destroy humans and beasts “from the face of the earth,” and that “every living thing” would be destroyed (Genesis 7:4, 21–23; 8:21). If the mountains were covered to such a height that the ark could float over the Ararat range and eventually settle down on a peak, then the entire planet must have been completely immersed. A person reading Genesis 6–9 for the first time would conclude that the Flood was universal.
But if the Flood was not universal, why did God give the rainbow as a universal sign of His covenant? (Genesis 9:11–15) Why would people in a local area need such a sign? Furthermore, if the Flood was a local event, why did God tell Noah to build such a big vessel for saving his family and the animals? Noah certainly had enough time to gather together his family and the animals in that area and lead them to a place where the Flood wouldn’t reach them.
To argue that the building of the ark was only a “witness to the people” is to ignore what God had to say about the ark, that its purpose was to keep humans and animals alive during the Flood. Although the building of the ark surely attracted attention, there’s no mention in the text of the ark serving as a witness to the lost. The word clearly states the ark was salvation to the righteous family and rescue from the judgment imposed upon the rest of the world.
To Be Continued