Extent and Effect of the Flood - Part 2 (series: Lessons on Genesis)
by John Lowe
Let us pause for a moment to imagine what the final hours may have been like for those shut out of the ark. They did not believe that a Flood would come, and probably when it did come they probably flattered themselves with hopes that it would abate, and never threaten their existence, but it continued to get worse. The water rose so high that the mountains were covered to a depth of fifteen cubits, or twenty-two and one-half feet.
As the water increased, the ark was lifted up to float on the surface. When all the buildings were demolished by the water or buried under it, the ark alone remained. The water that ruined everything else lifted the ark to safety. The more the water increased the higher the ark was lifted toward heaven. All the men, women, and children in the world, except the eight in the ark, died. It is easy to imagine the terror and bewilderment that seized them when they realized they were surrounded. Our Savior tells us that until the day the Flood came, they were eating and drinking (Luke 17.26, 279); they were drowned in security and sensuality until they were drowned in those waters, deaf and blind to all warnings. We may suppose that they tried all ways and means to save themselves, but it was all done in vain. We may also suppose that some of those who perished in the Flood had assisted Noah or were hired by him to help with the building of the ark, however, they were not wise enough to repent and secure themselves a place in the ark.
Now, let’s pause for a while to meditate on the terror of this destruction. It is easy to see “that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!” Who can stand before Him when He is angry? No doubt the surface of the earth, the manner of life, and the longevity of life were changed by this catastrophe. Everything on the earth, outside the ark, was destroyed. Only marine life survived. Now that the human race had been reduced to one single family, it was necessary that the number of beasts be reduced proportionally, otherwise by their numbers they would have acquired the ascendency and dominated the few who were supposed to repopulate the world. Sin had affected every aspect of life, and nothing short of a new beginning would suffice.
But how do you think Noah was affected by this catastrophe and the long period of confinement? We learn from Ezekiel 14.1410 that God said Noah was a “good” man. He was a man who lived and breathed in an atmosphere of devotion and exercised a high-toned faith in God as his refuge; he did not fear “though the waters roared and were troubled; though the mountains shook with the swelling thereof.”
1 And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights. (Ge. 7.12)
2 And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat. (Ge. 8.4)
3 And the waters returned from off the earth continually: and after the end of the hundred and fifty days, the waters were abated. (Ge. 8.3).
4 And in the second month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, was the earth dried. (Ge 8.14).
5 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. (Ge. 6.7)
6 They purposely ignore the fact that long ago God gave a command, and the heavens and earth were created. The earth was formed out of water and by water, and it was also by water, the water of the flood, that the old world was destroyed. But the heavens and the earth that now exist are being preserved by the same command of God, in order to be destroyed by fire. They are being kept for the day when godless people will be judged and destroyed.
7 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
8 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.
9 And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.
10 Even if those three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were living there, their goodness would save only their own lives." The Sovereign Lord has spoken.
i For a fair discussion of both views that leans towards the limited flood interpretation, see The Book of Genesis an Introductory Commentary, by Ronald F. Youngblood (Baker, 1991; second edition), Chapter 10.
ii While it is true that the Hebrew word for “earth” can also mean “land,” “land” doesn’t fit with the universal statements in the text, such as 6.12-13 where God promises to wipe out “all flesh,” and 7.4, “every living thing.”
iii To argue that the building of the ark was 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 (6.19, 20; 7.23). 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.
iv New Testament baptism was by immersion, picturing the believer’s identification with Christ in death, burial, and resurrection (Rom. 6).