The account of Noah and the Flood may be the best known, but it is neither the only nor the oldest such legend. Other legends can be found in the folklore of such diverse places as the Middle East, India, China, Australia, and southern Asia, the islands of the Pacific, Europe, and the Americas. All these folklore legends present the thought of a local flood in which individuals saved themselves from its effects.
THE BIBLICAL ACCOUNT
The book of Genesis gives the Biblical account of what took place, and the reason why it happened. “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.” <Gen.6:11-13 (NIV)>. The corruption and violence of mankind lead to the need for divine intervention and a way of salvation for the only righteous person, Noah and his family <Gen.6:9>.
“So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. Make a roof for it and finish the ark to within 18 inches of the top. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks.” <Gen.6:14-16 (NIV)> ; in comparison to a Football Field it was 90 ft longer and 85 ft narrower. It was covered by one roof, had three decks, one door, one window; and although the complete specifications are not given, neither are important to the written account, it was completely adequate for the purpose.
THE NATURE OF THE DESTRUCTION
The flood waters will cover the entire world, which was never seen before that time, and every living (air-breathing) thing will perish; “I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish…..Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.” And Noah did all that the LORD commanded him.” <Gen.6:17; 7:4-5 (NIV)>.
THE BEGINNING OF THE FLOOD
Noah was six hundred years old when the flood began on the earth; he and his family and one pair of all the species of animals and birds and other air-breathing creatures entered the Ark, and seven days later it began to rain; “the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened” <Gen.7:11 (NIV)>; the springs of the great deep were underground rivers and water supplies (Believer’s Bible Commentary); or “subterranean waters confined by creative power on the second day of creation” (Wycliffe Bible Commentary).
THE LENGTH OF TIME OF THE FLOOD
“For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth. The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water.” <Gen.7:17-18 (NIV)>. There was a continual downpour and outpour for 40 days [5.5 weeks] producing enough water to “bear up” the Ark, indicating a depth of at least 20 feet in the earliest stages (in reference to the displacement of the ship). “The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than twenty feet.” <Gen.7:20 (NIV)>; all the high mountains were covered to a depth of approximately 20 ft. The highest peak of the Ararat mountains is 17,000 ft; the waters prevailed 150 days [5 months 3 weeks] at which time the windows of heaven and the fountains of the deep were shut . The waters began to abate and the Ark rests upon the mountains of Ararat . Ten months later the tops of the other mountains become visible . Forty days later the Dove was let out but could not find anywhere to perch; and one year and twenty seven days passed before there was enough dry land for Noah and his family and animals to leave the Ark, [Noah’s 601 year]; “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month– on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened……The water receded steadily from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down” <Gen.7:11; 8:3 (NIV)>. This account does not indicate a local flood as some believe and teach – it was a universal destruction.
THE EFFECTS OF THE FLOOD
All flesh and every living substance was destroyed: “Every living thing that moved on the earth perished– birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; men and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds of the air were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.” <Gen.7:21-23 (NIV)>. The oceans became much more extensive, and the land areas much less extensive; much less of the resultant land area was inhabitable. The thermal vapor blanket that had covered the world was now crumbled, and strong differentials in temperature were now evident – snow and ice at the polar regions and at high elevations – further contributing to the uninhabitable conditions; winds, rains, snow, and storms were now possible making a harsh environment for man and animals. The life-span for man and animals was reduced considerably. Tremendous glaciers, rivers and lakes existed for a time and the crust of the earth developed a state of instability reflected in seismic and volcanic activity. The resulting sediments of the flood were left to be unearthed by archaeologists down through the ages – further proof that there was a worldwide catastrophe, buried fossils of animals fish and people.
THE EARTH IN ITS ORIGINAL FORM: “And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.” . “But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.” <2 Pet.3:5-6 (NIV)>.
“If the continents of the world are cut from a map, they can be made to fit together like the pieces of a jigsaw. Hence the theory that the Earth was originally one enormous continent, before it split up and the pieces drifted apart to their present positions. The theory, formulated earlier this century [20th]has recently won fresh scientific support. Magnetic measurements, showing which way rocks were facing when they were first formed, indicate that rocks all over the world were once differently orientated – in a pattern that seems to fit the theory of continental drift. Sandstones, some 200 million years old, found in Britain, suggest a Saharan climate; and the magnetic measurements indicate that Britain was where the Sahara is now.”
· Some 326 million cubic miles of water cover the planet
· Enough to submerge the land to an average depth of 8,500 feet
[The deepest part of the Pacific Ocean is measured at 10,800 m (35,640 ft]
[© The Reader’s Digest Association – from The Reader’s Digest Great World Atlas 1964]
WHAT SHOULD WE LEARN FROM THE FLOOD?
“As the days of Noah were, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” <Matt.24:37 (NIV)>. There will be the preoccupation with physical appetites <cf Lk.17:27>. There will be rapid advances in technology <cf Gen.4:22>; and disgustingly materialistic attitudes and interests <cf Lk.17:28>. There will be excessive devotion to pleasure and comfort <cf Gen.4:21>, and no concern for God in either belief or conduct <cf Isa.5:12; 2 Pet.3:3>. There will be population explosion <Gen.6:1>, widespread violence <cf Gen.6:11> and corruption throughout society <cf Gen.6:12>, prevalent words and thoughts of profanity <cf Ex.20:7, 2 Chron.32:19, 21; Jude 15>. Organized Satanic activity will be on the increase <cf Gen.6:4>, and a general acceptance of systems and movements of abnormal depravity <cf Gen.6:5; Rom.1:28-32>. All these conditions prevailed in Noah’s days and are all rapidly growing again today.
In addition to these we must understand that the fact of the flood is a pivotal issue in the conflict between Christianity and anti-Christianity, since it testifies to the awfulness of sin and the reality of divine retribution. It is God’s prerogative to intervene wherever and whenever evil becomes excessive in society. God determines the extent of such intervention. This has been God’s way throughout the history of the world [in Noah’s day; Sodom and Gomorrah; the Israelites in Egypt; the Israeli conquest of Canaan; when Israel as a nation sinned; the Assyrian & Babylonian nations]. Down through history God’s pattern of intervention has been the same since His ways are unchangeable. Evil is ever increasing in our society today and God will one day bring everything to a close; the Church will be removed; evil will become more excessive; tribulation will begin; the Lord Jesus Christ will return to judge the evil ones; Satan and all the rebellious angels will be cast into the Lake of fire with all those who serve him; the sad part is that the ungodly will continue to deny and reject the coming judgment just as they did in Noah’s day.
GOD’S JUDGMENT IS SURE
As God judged the evil people of Noah’s day, He will do the same to the evil people of this present world; first, He will remove those who have accepted His salvation in Jesus Christ. We are safe in Christ – our Ark, just as Noah and his family were safe in the Ark, then Christ will appear the second time on earth to judge the evil and ungodly ones <see Jn.14:2-3; 2 Thess.1:7-9; 2:3-12>; they will perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved, and all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. The gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ brings hope to all who fall into this category <see Joel 2:32; 1 Jn.5:11-12>. Just as Noah believed God, we are also to believe what God’s Word says.
Where do you stand? Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? Have you trusted in Him for your salvation?