Tonight we come back to the sixth chapter of Genesis. I’m having such a wonderful time, finding myself spending extended times of study, longer times of study than I might normally spend because I get so wrapped up in what I’m learning in the book of Genesis and trying to condense it all down and get a message to you that conveys something of the greatness of this book. We come to the sixth chapter and verse 13, and this section runs all the way down to verse 22. I’ve titled it “The Life that Escapes Divine Judgment.”
We already know from the first twelve verses of Genesis 6 that God is going to destroy the world. That is what the text says. That message hasn’t really been given yet to anybody in that world before the flood, it is simply the first twelve verses written by the writer of Genesis, telling us that the judgment is coming. Nothing in the first twelve verses tells us how the judgment is going to come or if, in fact, anyone is going to escape it.
But we find in verses 13 to 22 that the judgment indeed will come, it will come through the means of water, a flood, and there will be eight souls who will escape. And as verses 13 to 22 unfold for us, this escape from divine judgment, we learn some very, very profound and important and confirming lessons. Repeatedly, the Bible says that God, the eternal and holy Creator and sustainer of the universe, acts in history in two ways: One, He judge’s sinners; two, He rescues sinners from judgment. Essentially, that’s the story of Scripture - that’s the story of redemption.
And that is the story of history. Sinners are either judged or they are delivered from judgment, and that is the dual theme of the Bible, of biblical history, from the creation of man in Genesis to the destruction of man in Revelation. There are just two kinds of people in the world: There are those who will be judged by God and there are those who will be rescued from judgment by God. The New Testament is filled with promises and warnings and so is the Old Testament.
Both the Old Testament and the New Testament tell about final judgment, the final judgment of God on the world, and both the Old and the New Testament also tell about the fact that God will rescue souls from judgment. So, simply stated, the history of man is inexorably moving toward final judgment. And along the way, sinners (by God’s grace and purpose) are being rescued from that judgment.
Now, to understand what final judgment will be like, we come to this amazing judgment in Genesis 6 through 9, which is the section that describes the flood, because here you have a worldwide cataclysmic judgment that wipes out all of humanity, and that is essentially a preview of the final judgment of history. In fact, in the New Testament, in the words of Jesus recorded in Matthew 24:37 to 39, recorded again in Luke 17, verses 26 to 30, the Lord Himself with His own mouth describes the future judgment of the coming of the Son of man as being like the judgment in the days of Noah.
And the apostle Peter, you will remember, writing in 2 Peter chapter 2 and chapter 3, also describes the future judgment (the holocaust of the uncreation or the destruction of the universe) as being like the judgment of God in the days of Noah. So the Lord and the apostles, in the writing of the New Testament, made sure that we made the connection. If you want to understand what the final holocaust of judgment is going to be like, the best view is given to you in Genesis 6 to 9.
As we’ve been learning, about sixteen hundred and fifty years into human history, the flood came. Just a millennium and a half or a little more, and God destroyed the entire human race, drowning them all, and that was the model for what He will do in the end - not by water but by fire. We are now forty-five hundred years plus past the flood and that judgment has not yet come, but it will.
Now, we’ve been learning as we study the book of Genesis that even professed Christians have rejected the clear teaching of Genesis. We know that there are many who call themselves Christians, who profess Christ, and many who actually are Christians, who reject the Genesis account of six-day creation. In its place, they put some kind of evolutionary scheme. And there are also many who call themselves Christians (and some who are) who reject the biblical record of a worldwide flood.
I’m not going to drag you through all of the comments of these people, but there are many Bible teachers and theologians who reject the idea that God drowned the whole world, and they want to make the flood a somewhat local flood, less devastating than Scripture indicates.
It is a sad thing that professing Christians can’t accept the Word of God at face value, but they can’t. However, the more you study the book of Genesis, the more clear it is how wrong they are. And to understand this judgment as a global judgment, all you need to do is hear the words of Jesus who describes the judgment at His return as “like the flood.” Or the words of the inspired writer, Peter, who describes the coming of the Son of man and that great judgment in which the universe dissolves as being previewed in the “judgment of the flood.”
Not only is Genesis clear, but references back to the flood account in Genesis are equally clear as to the extent of this flood being a worldwide flood that becomes the single greatest illustration of the coming judgment of God in the end, which will in fact destroy the whole world. The lesson of the flood, then, is that God will destroy all who rebel against Him, even if it means the whole human race. But in that destruction, He will save those who trust him - even they are only eight.
A couple of weeks ago, I gave you a two-part series on Sunday mornings about “Are the heathen really lost?” We talked about the new wave of theology that basically says that people all over the world who never hear the Bible, read the Bible, or hear the gospel, know the gospel, or believe the gospel are going to be saved because God is just too kind, He’s just too merciful, He’s “too nice” to destroy all these people. Well, if you think that’s true, then you have a very difficult time explaining how God drowned the entire world in the time of Noah and saved only eight.
But it is true that in judgment, God always distinguishes between the wicked and the righteous. He did so in Egypt. He gave instruction about putting blood from the Passover lamb on the doorposts - the side pieces and the crosspiece - and if they put the blood there that the angel of death would pass by, and those people would who are obedient, demonstrating their righteousness, were passed by and not slaughtered when the firstborn in each house was killed.
And God many times distinguished in the life of Israel between the righteous and the wicked, bringing death on the people but never completely destroying them. And there are comments to that effect in Jeremiah chapter 5, Amos chapter 9, where God says, “I have destroyed you but not all of you.”
And there is that that wonderful promise at the end of the Old Testament, in the book of Malachi, starting in chapter 3, verse 16, where you have the discussion about judgment and then you come into chapter 4, and the righteous are saying, “What about us?” “What about us?” - and the Lord reminds them through the prophet that God will remember them, that God knows who they are, and that God has a book in which their names are written and He will not forget them.
Even our Lord Jesus spoke of this distinguishing in judgment. He said that the Father had committed all judgment to Him in John chapter 5, and he said there’s going to come a great judgment and there will be, after that judgment, a resurrection, and it will be a resurrection of the just and the unjust - a resurrection unto life and a resurrection unto damnation. God always distinguishes. That’s very important because that’s comfort for those of us who belong to Him.
Paul wrote about the same thing in Romans chapter 2. He said in the end, God is going to look at a life and He’s going to look at the work in that life, the behavior of that life, and on the basis of what He sees, He will be able to determine whether or not that person has been regenerated. And those people who have manifested the patterns and the works of regeneration will receive honor and those who have not will receive condemnation.
You have the same distinction being made in 2 Thessalonians where the promise is that God will come in the form of the sun, enflaming fire, wreaking retribution on all who know not God and obey not the gospel, but it will happen in the day when the Lord preserves His own.
So this is the pattern, and this is the pattern all through Scripture. God judges the ungodly, but in the midst of judgment always discerns, distinguishes, and rescues His own. The story of the Bible and the story of redemption and, therefore, the story of human history is the story of judgment and mercy. It’s the story of wrath and grace. It’s the story of destruction and preservation. This is human history - this is biblical history. For the one who believes in God, you can make a claim on the great promise of Psalm 91, verse 7, which says, “A thousand may fall at your side and ten thousand may fall at your right hand but it will not come near you.”
Those of you who belong to the Lord, everybody around you may be dropping under the fury of God’s wrath but not you. Those who are the Lord’s are like those Jews, twelve thousand from every tribe, described in the book of Revelation chapter 7, verse 3, as being sealed. The Lord knows who are His. Jesus said in John 10, “I know my sheep, my sheep know me.”
By the time you come to the life of Noah, humanity was consummately and constantly wicked. So wicked, down to the very intents of the heart, that God decided to destroy all humanity - but not without distinction. He had a perfect knowledge of who was to be protected in that judgment. So, having determined that He would destroy, He informed Noah of the fact that He was going to destroy the entire world but spare Noah, his wife, his three sons, and their wives. And through them, through that preservation, preserved the human race and, therefore, preserved His original promise to Adam to fill the earth and to enjoy all that God had created.
Now, how is God going to protect Noah and his family in this holocaust? The answer to that is the subject of the text before us. And what you have here is a real, historical account but you also have a wonderful picture of how God rescues His own in the midst of judgment. Nowhere, by the way, in this account does Noah ever say anything. He doesn’t speak in chapter 6, he doesn’t speak in chapter 7, he doesn’t speak in chapter 8, he doesn’t speak in chapter 9 until the flood has come and gone. And when he does finally speak, the first words that are recorded to come out of his mouth are a curse on his grandson, Cainan.
And what we learn from the fact that you go through these chapters and he never says anything is that this is all about God, not about Noah. This is all about sovereign purpose. This is all about the Almighty, Holy God acting, judging, saving. Noah never says anything, but he is a player and an actor in this story. Although he doesn’t say anything, he does everything God commands him to do and therein gives evidence of that righteousness, which had been granted by God to him and that transformation of his heart that made him and obedient lover of God.
Now let’s look at the text, and first of all we’re going to be reminded of the reason for judgment - the reason for judgment. All of this has already been recorded by the writer, Moses, in the first twelve verses inspired by God to write down the fact that the sin was everywhere, God saw the sin, and God was going to judge. But now for the first time, God speaks about it, and He speaks to Noah. “Then God said to Noah, ‘The end of all flesh has come before me, for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I’m about to destroy them with the earth.’”
Now, as I said it’s already been stated in verses 1 to 12 by the writer, but here God speaks for the first time personally to Noah. And in this section, chapters 6, 7, 8, and 9, God gives four speeches. This is the first one, the next one comes in chapter 7, verse 1, “Then the Lord said to Noah,” you can see it there. The next one comes in chapter 8, verse 15, “Then God spoke to Noah, saying.” And then verse 1 of chapter 9, “God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them.” So God does all the talking. God does all the acting. This is all about God, all about sovereignty, all about the divine, carrying out His great purpose.
But God takes Noah into His confidence, personally telling Noah of the coming of divine judgment. He tells Noah in verse 13 about His holy outrage, essentially, over mankind’s wickedness and rebellion and violence. And he prepares Noah with that statement to understand why the judgment will come. Having heard this from God, Noah doesn’t have to ask. God says, “The end of all flesh has come before me because the earth is filled with violence because of them.” It’s a violent world, it’s a world that God has determined to destroy, and the only response that Noah has through the whole account is to do exactly what God tells him to do.
The extent of the judgment is universal against those who would say it was a localized flood very clearly. “The end of all flesh has come before me,” that’s the end of humanity. All flesh. That little phrase “has come before me” is sort of a Hebraic way of saying something is determined. It’s an idiom. I have determined, I have made the decision, I have decided, I have set - I have fixed this purpose to execute the death penalty on the world.
And as I told you, sixteen hundred and fifty years into human history, there would have been - could have been upwards of seven billion people on the earth. Now remember, people lived to be nine hundred plus years of age - Methuselah, nine hundred and sixty-nine years. Population growth was exponential. I don’t have to do exponential mathematics to tell you how fast that could multiply. Just to give you a simple illustration, in 1850 in the United States, we had a billion people. By 1930, we had two billion people. By 1950, we had three billion people.
And today - in the world, I’m saying, not in the United States. In the world, in 1850, we had one billion; 1930, two billion; 1950, three billion; today, six billion. So in a hundred and fifty years, you go from one billion to six billion. That’s exponential, and people are not living nine hundred years. The numbers multiply, and you can only imagine that at a time before there were birth control devices, population was explosive and the destruction, therefore, was massive - massive.
No more option. God has made His determination. The language is similar to that of Amos 8:2, where we read, “The end has come for my people Israel. I will spare them no longer.” That’s it. It is fixed. It is set. And the reason? The earth is filled with violence. That’s defined for us in the first four verses. People were communing with demons, demon-possessed men cohabitating with women who were open to demons under the illusion that somehow they could produce a super race that would be a Godlike and escape the low levels of human existence and even escape the judgment of God and perhaps death. That was the lie the demons were probably telling them.
On top of that, verse 5, you have the wickedness of man great on the earth. Every intent or imagination of the thoughts of his heart only evil continually.” Verse 11, “The earth corrupt in the sight of God, filled with violence.” Again, verse 12, “Corrupt in all flesh, corrupted their way on the earth.” And so the retribution is just, that’s the end. “I am about to destroy them together with the earth,” He says.
Together with the earth, and you’ll learn as we go through the flood account not only were people drowned but the entire structure of the earth was dramatically altered. To give you a little hint of what’s coming, the continents as we know them now weren’t the way they are prior to the flood. You can only imagine what happened in India, a 7.9 earthquake. Well, that would be a small bump, a small speed bump compared to the reshaping of the face of the planet and the destruction of the entire human race. So that is what is coming, that is the retribution of God, and the reason for it is because of man’s sin.
From the reason, we go to the rescue, and this is what we look at in verses 14 to 16. Now, I’m going to get you a little bit into details here because I have a purpose in mind and that is to strengthen your confidence in the Scripture, and you’ll see that as we go. God knows the heart of Noah. He knows that Noah and his family are righteous. He knows His own purpose for them, and so He tells Noah to do something. It’s quite remarkable.
Now remember, He hasn’t said anything about a flood yet, He hasn’t said anything about water. And Noah built a boat a boat in the middle of the land, out where there wasn’t a sea. And he didn’t know when God told him to build a boat about a flood. Notice how the Lord began with him, “Make for yourself and ark of gopher wood,” it isn’t even a boat. He doesn’t use the term for boat or ship. He says, “Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. You shall make the ark with rooms” or compartments “and cover it inside and out with pitch.
“And this is how you shall make it, the length of the ark, three hundred cubits; its breadth, fifty cubits; its height, thirty cubits. You shall make a window for the ark and finish it to a cubit from the top and set the door of the ark in the side of it. You shall make it with lower, second, and third decks.”
Now, He starts by telling him to make an ark. Now you need to understand the word “ark.” It’s the word tebah in Hebrew. It means a box. Make a big box. Noah knew what a boat was and a boat - boats have always been built similarly. They have sloped sides and a curved bottom. That’s not what God told him to build. He said build a box. Build a box. Just a big, rectangular, wooden box. A chest might be another way to view it. Not shaped like a boat, not shaped like a ship, wasn’t designed to sail and it wasn’t designed to be propelled.
It didn’t need to have a thin bow to cut through the water when it was being propelled by oars, as they were in ancient times, or propelled by the wind in the sail because it wasn’t going to be propelled. It was a cruise to nowhere. There wasn’t anywhere to go. It was only designed to float. There were no oars, there were no sails, there was no pilot, there was no captain, there was no steering wheel, there was rudder, there was no navigator. It was just a box.
Now, this word “ark” is rarely used in the Old Testament. Only one other time - one other time. And the other time it was used is in the second chapter of Exodus. Now, what we have here is the story of Moses - Moses. In order to protect Moses from being killed by the Egyptians, his mother had hidden him for a long time but couldn’t do it any longer, verse 3 says, so she got him a wicker ark, same word. A little box made out of reeds and covered it over with tar and pitch. She put the child into it and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile.
It’s the same thing, it’s a little chest. And his sister stood at a distance to find out what would happen to him. They didn’t know, there wasn’t any guidance system on it, it wasn’t a remote-control box, it was just there in the river. And you remember the story. The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the Nile with her maidens walking alongside. She saw the ark - same word, only other use in the Old Testament - among the reeds, sent her maid and brought it to her, and you know the story from there. The little reed basket that floated Moses above the water.
In both cases, the arks were a refuge from death by drowning provided to two pretty outstanding men. Noah, who was to be a father of a new humanity, and Moses, who was to be a father of a new nation, as it were. Noah, who was to lead his people into a new world, and Moses, who was to lead his people into a new world. Two believers, two preachers, two leaders of a new people. Each of them preserved above the waters of drowning by an ark. Noah was God’s instrument to save humanity, and Moses was God’s instrument to save Israel.
You’re probably thinking, “What about the ark of the covenant?” Different word is used. A different word. The word is aron, not tebah.
So this word “ark” is reserved for two remarkable water preservations of two very remarkable men who were delivered from drowning by God’s gracious provision to introduce a new day in a new world and sustain the life of God’s people. The material, by the way, back to Genesis chapter 6, was gopher wood. We have no idea what that is. Some people think it was some kind of cypress tree, some people think it was some kind of cedar pine. We don’t know what it was.
Now, building a box is one thing; building a ship is another. You couldn’t build a ship unless you were a ship builder. The curves and the angles are extremely complex, to build a ship. And by the way, to build a ship this size had never been done. Nobody had built a ship that big. This is massive. And Noah was not a ship builder. But this wasn’t a ship. I mean the plan was pretty simple, make it three hundred cubits long, make it fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high, and that’s it. There’s no angles, no curves, just a box.
But what is remarkable about this is a couple of things. One, this was an immense task. That is a huge rectangle made out of wood. Now, we don’t have any idea whether Noah was a carpenter or whether his sons might have been carpenters who could cut the boards and lay them together in tongue-and-groove fashion and put wooden pegs in and seal it all. It’s unlikely that the family itself could build anything that huge, so he probably employed a group of people who were skilled in that craft.
And then the Lord said it gets a little more complicated when you go inside because I want you to make rooms in there (or compartments or apartments), thousands of them. And I want you to put those rooms on a series of decks indicated, there in verse 16 as the lower deck, the second deck, and the third deck. And then I want you to caulk it with pitch. I don’t know what the substance was. “Pitch” is a word in Hebrew related to the verb “smear.” So whatever you smear on there to caulk it up, that’s what you use.
Now let’s look a little more closely at this in verse 15. It has to be three hundred cubits by fifty cubits by thirty cubits. A cubit is about eighteen inches. So this is four hundred and fifty feet long, seventy-five feet wide, and forty-five feet high. It’s a rectangle with a flat bottom, flat sides, and flat ends. Not for movement, not for speed. I want you to understand that’s maybe not large by our standards of huge, massive, oceangoing ships today, but let me put it in perspective for you.
The ark is the largest floating vessel ever built until the nineteenth century. They couldn’t even build boats that big, never did until steel and iron became the material for building ships and that happened in the nineteenth century. In 1858 there was a massive ship by those standards at the time built called the Great Eastern, six hundred and ninety-two feet long, more than double the longest ship that had ever been built, apart from the ark. Six hundred and ninety-two feet long, eighty-three feet wide, and thirty feet high. It was nineteen thousand tons. That was five times the tonnage of any ship ever built.
So they didn’t build ships as big as the ark until the nineteenth century. You say, “Well, what’s the importance of that?” Well, the importance of that is that nobody would just decide to build something that big. It was unheard of. No one would ever imagine or expect something so huge. They were building little wooden boats, little wooden ships for the oceans of that time. In 1844, the man who had built the Great Eastern, a man by the name of Brunel, built the Great Britain and it was 322 feet by 51 feet by 32 feet. Now, the reason I’m giving you some of those is you start to see a pattern here. And what they learned by the time they built ship after ship after ship through human history is that it’s critical, if a ship is to be stable in the water, that it has a certain ratio, and it’s still the standard for large ships. And the ratios are from six-to-one to eight-to-one; that is, six-to-one or eight-to-one in length to width. That provides the best stability, and even to this very day the six-to-one to eight-to-one ratio is standard for building a ship. Well, it’s interesting that the ark was six-to-one. Noah, not being a ship builder, and nobody ever having seen anything that big float could have imagined that was maximum, optimum stability.
Henry Morris, who is an engineer and a scientist, concluded that the ark would have had to have been turned completely vertical before it could be tipped over, it was so stable. It’s relative length, six times greater than its width, would tend to keep it from being subjected to wave forces because wave forces aren’t that long. And even if it got sideways, there was no single wave force that would hit the total ship. Furthermore, it would tend, rather than going through the waves, to ride with the waves and because of the sheer weight of it, with all of its occupants, it would be virtually impossible to turn it over.
As a rectangle, it had more stability than any other form of construction. A ship has a rounded bottom to move through the water, but that makes it vulnerable. A square bottom sunk down is almost impossible to overturn, no matter how great the waves. Also, it gives it a third more cargo capacity than a similar ship with a sloping hull. And the gross tonnage of the ark can be calculated, it would be 14,000 tons. Its internal space, a hundred thousand square feet, and its total volume, 1.5 million cubic feet.
Now let me just give you a comparison. It has been calculated that the capacity of the ark is equivalent to 522 boxcars. You watch the boxcars go by on the train tracks? Five hundred and twenty-two boxcars. Somebody figured out years ago that you could get 240 sheep in a boxcar. So if you had 522 boxcars with 240 sheep, you’d have a total of 125,000 animals. Sheep are probably larger than the average animal on the ark, and they probably didn’t take two full-grown giraffes, if you were wondering, or full-grown hippos and elephants.
But sheep are probably larger than the average animal would be, so you had at least the room for 125,000 different animals. Gives you some idea of the immense capacity of the ship. And then the building of thousands of compartments provided little places for all of the animals to stay. The ark was sufficiently, according to calculations, large enough to carry two of every species of air-breathing animal in the world. I’m talking about in the world today. And you could do it on half the deck space. And the rest was for Noah and his family and five additional pairs of animals, we’ll find out later, who were designed for sacrifice.
Now, only supernatural revelation would know how many animals there were, how much capacity was needed, and what the best structure was for a floating box. Only God would have the concept of building something so massive to float. It was a hundred and twenty years before the flood came. We don’t know exactly at what speed they worked in building the boat or how long it took, but it was a hundred and twenty years before the flood came.
This, to me, is wonderful evidence, confidence-building of the integrity of the inspired character of Scripture. If Moses had invented the flood story, if somebody else had invented the flood story, they never would have imagined or designed a ship that never could have been conceived by anybody in the ancient world. There’s a Babylonian flood story, and the ship in their flood legend is a little square, a cube. Well, a cube would be a disaster in any kind of rough water.
They could never have designed this from any experience they had. But God told Noah to build a barge, essentially, a flat-bottom barge with no rudder. The Lord would be the rudder. And everybody in the family was going on a cruise. A cruise with no ports. And the cruise was going to last 371 days. Now, some of you would like to go on a cruise for 371 days but not in a barn. And there’s some relief - and this is good to know - verse 16, “You should make a window.” I hope so. Ventilation would become critical - critical.
What are we talking about here? You say you have this whole ark, what was this, a little window up there? Well, the word sohar is used here and it’s used over in chapter 8, verse 6. At the end of the forty days, the window of the ark was opened. Remember, the rain came down, came down, came down for forty days and then the rain stopped. By that time, the earth was so flooded that they were there for a year before the flood completely subsided. We don’t know the origin of the word. It seems to connect with some ancient sources meaning light.
Some have tried to translate that what he is saying here is, “You should make a covering.” Well, that’s obvious. I mean the Lord wouldn’t tell him make a box and then tell him it’s going to pour rain and there’s going to be a flood and not tell him to make a roof. That’s obvious, so that’s probably not a good option. That would be very apparent. It’s better to see it as the way it’s translated, and that’s why they’ve chosen to translate it this way, as window - or better, an opening. Really not a window that we think of, with glass, but a skylight.
And if you go a little further down, you begin to see the purpose of it. Verse 16, “You finish it to a cubit from the top.” So you’ve got the roof on the top, probably at some kind of pitch so that the water goes rolling off, and where the roof comes out and extends past the sides of the ark, there is an opening, 18 inches. Literally, ventilation all the way around the ark is probably the best way to understand it. It was under the overhang and could be covered with some material during the rain, and that material then could be rolled up or removed when the rain had stopped.
So there would literally be an 18-inch, a foot-and-a-half opening all the way around, ventilating that entire ark, interrupted only by the posts that were holding up the roof. Providing light, providing ventilation.
And then they are told also, Noah is told that he has the responsibility to make a door. The middle of verse 16, “Set the door of the ark” - just one door - “in the side of it.” Many people have seen this as analogous to the Lord Jesus Christ who is the door. But the real analogy is not with the door, the analogy that is made in the New Testament epistles, in Peter’s epistles, is that Christ is the ark. It’s true He’s the only door but He is the ark of safety and judgment.
But anyway, one door, easily closed and secured. You know, there are reasons for that. You want to minimize any possible leakage, any possible disaster, and with one door constantly watched and monitored and appropriately secured, you have a simpler security situation. And they only needed one door, and once they shut it, they shut it because nobody was going to get off the ship, they never pulled into port. Then He tells them also in verse 16 to make three decks, the lower deck already there, then the second and the third decks. This provides sufficient space, sufficient compartments for all the animals.
So Noah is getting this instruction about bringing - he doesn’t know about animals yet (he hasn’t heard that) but we do. He just is told to build this big box. And the Lord then tells him why. He’s given him the reason for judgment, He’s provided him the rescue from judgment, and now He tells him of the means of judgment, verse 17. Here’s why. “Behold, I, even I” - again, God is acting here, God is speaking, God is judging, this is all about God. “I, even I, am bringing the flood of water upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life from under heaven, everything that is on the earth shall perish.”
And here it becomes clear to Noah why he’s building this monstrous rectangle in a sealess land. “And behold I, even I am bringing the flood of water upon the earth.” Here is the introduction of the word flood. Flood, mabbul. It is a technical term used only in Genesis 6 to 9 to describe this massive, worldwide deluge. It refers exclusively to the Genesis flood. It only is used one other time in all the Old Testament, just one other time. God reserved this word, and the one other time that it’s used is in Psalm 29:10, “The Lord sat as King at the flood” in a reference back to this event. So this is a unique word, an isolated word, used only for this flood.
This is the flood of all floods, such a flood that the word cannot even be applied to any other kind of water disaster. This flood, the Lord says, He’s bringing on the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life. Did you understand that there are some animals that don’t breathe air? Where are they? In the water. And again, the Scripture is very specific. The Lord is going to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life.
Chapter 7, verse 21, “And all flesh that moved on the earth perished. Birds and cattle and beasts and every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth and all mankind of all that was on the dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life died.” So this is limited to those breathing animals, all air-breathing creatures, further specified as being under heaven. Under heaven, excluding those that are under the water. All those that are under the heaven above, the air, and who breath that air are going to be destroyed.
And He says it again, the end of verse 17, “Everything that is on the earth shall perish.” Now, how can you read something like that and conclude there is going to be a local flood? Another clear indication that this is not a local flood.
I was looking at a paper that said “proof of the universal flood.” It was two sides of an eight-and-a-half-by-eleven, and there were about seventy-five references in these four chapters that make it impossible to conclude anything other than that this was global. It refers - I’ll sum them up, I won’t give you all of them. It speaks of the death of humanity. I just read you from chapter 7, verse 22, “All that was on dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life died.”
Verse 23, “Thus he blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land” or “the face of the earth.” And it was worldwide. It refers to the same thing again in other verses throughout this chapter. Verse 24, “The water prevailed upon the earth.” The death of humanity.
Another reason we believe it’s a worldwide flood is because of the depth of the flood. The flood was at least above Mount Ararat. It covered all the mountains and Mount Ararat is 17,000 feet high. You can’t have a local flood 17,000 feet high. The calculations are going to spread that water over the whole earth. The duration of the flood. It lasted a total of 371 days. The geology of the flood. Study geology all of over the globe and you find evidences of the flood. The theology of the flood. First Peter 3:20, “God drowned the whole world and saved eight souls,” Peter said. Peter calls the earth “the world that perished.”
Furthermore, the eschatology of the flood. Jesus said when the Son of man comes, it’s going to be like it was when the flood came. When the Son of man comes, He will destroy the whole word of the ungodly, and that’s exactly what happened in the flood. So whether you’re looking at the death of humanity in a worldwide scale, whether you’re looking at the depth of the flood, the duration of the flood, the geology of the flood, the theology of the flood, the eschatology of the flood, it is a worldwide flood.
So you have the reason, the deliverance, the means - fourthly, the promise - and this is the good news in the flood. The Lord says, in verses 18 to 21, “I will establish my covenant with you and you shall enter the ark, you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you.” And they have already been identified for us back in verse 10, three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth and their wives. “You’re going to enter into this ark.” Again, as I said at the start, judgment is not indiscriminate, it is discriminating. God knows exactly who is to be judged and who is not.
We already (going back to verse 8) know that Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. In verse 9, he was a righteous man and blameless in his time. We know from chapter 7, verse 1, that God said, “For you alone I have seen to be righteous before me in this time.” And here, God says in verse 18, “I’m going to establish my covenant with you. You’re the only man, the only family on earth that I can establish my covenant with.” And here is the model person who escapes judgment.
And what are the marks of this man? Can I just give them to you very simply? He was chosen by grace. Back in verse 8, “Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” The Lord looked over the earth and determined to be gracious to Noah. He was chosen by God. He was justified because it says in verse 9, “He was righteous.” No man has righteousness of his own. He was granted righteousness by faith. He was sanctified, he was a man who was blameless in his time. By regeneration, he lived a blameless life, and he walked with God.
You have here election, you have here justification, you have here sanctification, and you also have preservation for the future - sort of a picture of glorification here in verse 18 when God says, “I’m going to establish my covenant with you, and while I destroy the whole world, I will give you a future.” God says, “I am going to make a promise through you.” That’s what a covenant is, berith. First time it’s used, by the way, first use of the word “covenant” in the Bible. Twenty-seven times the word “covenant” appears in Genesis 8 around the flood and 16 in the Abraham narratives.
God is making promises, and here is a wonderful promise that, God says, “I’m going to make with Noah.” That covenant is described in the ninth chapter. We’ll wait to get there to see what all that covenant is about. But it’s the first covenant officially given in the Bible, and it is a covenant (as you know) never to destroy the world again by water. And we’ll look at that when we get to the ninth chapter.
But what God is saying to him is “I’m going to give you a future. I’m going to give you a promise, and through you, that promise can be carried to generations to come. Through you, I’m going to fulfill my original pledge, my original plan” - when God blessed Adam and Eve and said, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, subdue it, and rule” - “I’m going to fulfill that promise to Adam through you.”
Now, I want you to know something about this covenant. It is not bilateral. Noah never says a word. Noah never does anything. He doesn’t sign anything. He doesn’t pledge anything. He doesn’t promise anything. This is a unilateral promise that God makes. That’s why it is God saying, “I will establish my covenant with you,” my berith, my promise, “and the promise is of a future and a hope through you.” Some call a covenant a royal grant in which God binds Himself by promise, not by mutual agreement.
My covenant. God sovereignly, independently, unilaterally obligates Himself to save the family of Noah and to pledge to never drown the world again. That’s His promise. Makes no demands on Noah to do anything to validate or void that promise. Here is the kind of man that God makes promises to, here is a chosen man, here is a justified man, here is a sanctified man, and here is a man given the promise of a future.
That’s the kind of person still God will spare from judgment. Those upon whom He looks with grace and favor. Those to whom He grants righteousness. Those who are sanctified and those who are living in the hope of a glorious future. In other words, believers, such as Noah.
Then in verse 19, “And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every kind into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female.” Every living thing of all flesh. The language here sounds a lot like the creation language of Genesis 1. Now remember, the animals - you know, today we think of animals, and you say, “Wait a minute. How’d the kangaroos get there? How did they get across the ocean?” This is the Mesopotamian area. “What’s the deal here?”
Well, first of all, the continents before the flood were not like the continents today. The bigger question might be: After the flood and the earth was changed and the continents were formed, how did the kangaroos get to Australia? And we’ll talk about that. There were land bridges, but I’ll get into that later. But the kangaroos didn’t have to swim to the Middle East, as an illustration.
All the animals were created originally where? Where were they? In Eden. We know they were all there because Adam did what? He named them all. God gathered them all to be named, and the earth had a moderate climate that was essentially the same before the flood all over the earth, so animals weren’t sorted out in terms of varying climates. They were all in that same area. They no doubt had spread around the earth, but there were plenty of them there that could represent all of the species. And so they lived in enough proximity to be available.
Today we know that there are these great land bridges. The nearest one to us is the one across the Bering Sea that one time were not under the ocean, and no doubt even our ancestors may have come across to populate the North American continent. There are explanations like that that are quite fascinating. But He says, “You shall bring two of every kind into the ark to keep them alive, and they have to be male and female” (obviously, so they can reproduce).
Now you say this is a major trapping expedition. No. No, when it says, “You shall bring them,” it only means you shall bring into the ark, bring them into the ark. You don’t have to go find them because the Lord is going to collect them for you. It says in verse 20 of the birds, after their kind, the animals, after their kind, of every creeping thing of the ground, after its kind, two of every kind shall come to you to keep them alive. Just as God brought the animals to Adam to be named, He brought all the pairs to Noah, and all He tells him is let them in the ark. He’s got to know what to do with them. Put them in the ark.
And the idea is we want them in the ark to keep them alive with you. Just know that I’ll bring them. Your job is to keep the door open and take them in. This is to restock the earth. All of earth’s future hope huddled under a single roof in that box. The point is to keep them all alive.
And down in chapter 7, verse 2 and 3, “You shall take with you of every clean animal by sevens, a male and his female; of the animals that are not clean, two, a male and his female” and so forth. It goes on to talk about hat. The clean animals probably refers to those that were used for sacrifice, and so He says take an extra measure of those, five extra pairs, because they’re going to be dying when they’re offered as sacrifices. Fill up the ark with all of these animals. The clean and the unclean were all created by God, as Psalm 104:24 says.
Now, there’s no aquarium in the ark. The fish don’t need to be in the ark, they’re doing fine. These are the land creatures, verse 20, birds, animals, crawly creepy, everything that’s on the ground, including insects and whatever else. And this is a necessary instruction, and then in verse 21, “As for you, take for yourself some of all food which is edible and gather it to yourself, and it shall be for food for you and for them.”
And by the way, that was all vegetarian. The whole world, by God’s design, was to be vegetarian. The killing of animals doesn’t come until after the flood, chapter 9, verse 3, by divine order, and we’ll see more about that when we get there.
So the reason for the flood is given to Noah: Because of sin. The deliverance is provided for him in a rescue ship. The means of judgment, a flood. The promise in the judgment, that I’m going to make a covenant with you, a promise with you, you’re going to have a future. When God says I’m going to make a promise with you, Noah knew he had a future. And not only did he have a future by himself and his family, but he had a future in a wonderful world that was rich with creation. This was the man, Noah, chosen by God, justified by God, sanctified by God, in covenant relationship to God, given a promise for the future - picture of the man who escapes judgment.
And verse 22 closes out this section, “Thus Noah did according to all God had commanded him, so he did.” He opened the door, let all the animals in when they showed up, he collected all food which is edible, a wide range of food for all the animals as well as his family and gather it to yourself, it shall be food for you and for them. And he did everything God told him. And that is the way he continues to react. We come down into verse 5 of chapter 7, “Noah did according to all that the Lord commanded him.” Come down to verse 9, “There went into the ark to Noah by twos, male and female, as God had commanded Noah.”
Come down to verse 16, “And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, entered as God had commanded him and the Lord closed it behind him.” He just does what God tells him to do. That’s his response to everything. And that’s a wonderful confirmation of a true believer. A true believer is marked by a life of obedience, right? Hebrews 11:7 says about Noah, “By faith, Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household by which he condemned the world and become an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.”
Whatever God told him to do, he did it. He believed God. And God spoke to Noah in this section seven times. And he always does exactly what God tells him to do. Obedience is the mark of the true man of God. How many times has God commanded in the Scriptures and His people not do what He commanded them to do? But those who really belong to Him are marked out by obedience.
So who is the one saved from judgment? It is the one like Noah. Chapter 7, verse 1, “The Lord said to Noah, ‘Enter the ark, you and all your household; for you alone I have seen to be righteous before me in this time.’” One graced by God’s favor, unearned. One who believes God’s Word and he’s regenerated as well as declared righteous, justified, covered with righteousness, regenerated to walk with God in obedience. One who has secured a future promise and living in a present pattern of obedience.
And you know, it’s no different for us. That’s the kind of person you must be to escape the judgment. We don’t need to get into a big box - the ark for us is whom? Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is our ark of safety. He is the one that rescues us.
Peter writes (1 Peter 3) about the days of Noah during the construction of the ark, and he says, “Baptism now” - that is, immersion into Christ - “saves you. Not the removal of dirt from the flesh, not water, but an appeal to God for a good conscience through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Noah got into a boat. We get into Christ, and we rise above the judgment. Jesus alone can lift His people above the waters of destruction and bring them safely to His eternal kingdom. Let’s pray together.
Father, we thank you again for this great passage and for all that it conveys to us of the gospel and our glorious hope. We thank you that by your grace and justification and sanctification, we have become the people of promise, the people with a hope. We have a future. When the judgment is over, we will enter into the glory of a new world because you made a covenant with us by your grace. Because you have placed us in Jesus Christ, our ark of safety. Thank you for that. We bless your name. Amen.
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