We have a great privilege tonight. We are going to listen to the Lord speak to us through His Word. Open your Bible, if you will, to Genesis chapter 7. Somebody asked me – in fact, I’ve been asked a number of times, “Are you going to go through the entire book of Genesis?” I’ve even been asked, “Are you going to go through the whole Old Testament?” And I said, “I don’t think I’ll live to be 200.” We’re just going to keep going for the time being because, particularly, the opening 11 chapters are so critical for us to understand the world in which we live. As we come to Genesis chapter 7, we find ourselves in the account of the Flood. We’ve entitled this series, “Waves of Judgment,” and this is the third message on the Flood. We come to verse 17; let me read it to you.
“Then the flood came upon the earth for forty days, and the water increased and lifted up the ark, so that it rose above the earth. And the water prevailed and increased greatly upon the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. And the water prevailed more and more upon the earth, so that all the high mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered. The water prevailed fifteen cubits higher, and the mountains were covered.
“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; and all that was on the dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, died. And thus He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky, and they were blotted out from the earth; and only Noah was left, together with those that were with him in the ark. And the water prevailed upon the earth one hundred and fifty days.
“But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark; and God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water subsided. Also the fountains of the deep and the floodgates of the sky were closed, and the rain from the sky was restrained; and the water receded steadily from the earth, and at the end of one hundred and fifty days the water decreased. And in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark rested upon the mountains of Ararat. And the water decreased steadily until the tenth month; in the tenth month, and on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains became visible.”
Now, there is a very direct, straightforward and simple account of the Flood. What we’ve been saying to you as we’re going through this portion of Scripture is that this was a worldwide flood. This wasn’t a local flood in the Mesopotamian Valley in the Middle East. This was a worldwide flood. And there is a fascinating phenomenon in the world that confirms the Genesis account of a worldwide flood. And it is something you might not know or even think about. There is proof of a worldwide flood that is really widespread. There is proof all over the planet. And the proof that I’m talking about is the tradition of diverse people and diverse cultures about a flood.
In my study of religions and cultures that I first embarked upon in seminary days, I was exposed to some of the ancient flood stories that literally exist in all the populated parts of the world. There are over 270 different nations, races, and tribes that have in their tradition a flood story. A sampling: the Babylonians have such. I learned about it when I was in seminary. It was called the Gilgamesh Epic. But let me just give you a random selection of various peoples that have a flood story.
The Samo-Kubo tribe of New Guinea; the Athabaskan Indians on America’s West Coast; the Papago Indians of Arizona; the Algonquin Indians of the Northeast United States; the Brazilian tribes, a number of them; the original people of Cuba; the Mexicans; the natives of Alaska; the Hottentots; the Greenlanders; the natives of Hawaii. They have a flood story with a main character named Nu’u.
The Welsh, the Lithuanians, and flood traditions exist in the history of India and China and Egypt. That’s a sampling of 270 different people groups that have a flood story in their tradition. Obviously, these flood stories are garbled to some extent from the original biblical account because of their cultural idiosyncrasies and their false religions.
But some interesting statistics help us to look at these with a certain sense of their commonality. Eighty-eight percent of the flood narratives, of the 270 or so flood narratives, 88 percent of them say that there was, in the midst of the flood, a favored family that was spared. Seventy percent say survival was by means of a boat. Ninety-five percent say the sole cause of this great catastrophe that came on the whole world was a flood. And that is to say it was a flood and nothing else.
Sixty-six percent of these traditions say that it came because of man’s wickedness. Sixty-seven percent of these traditional flood stories say that animals also were saved. Fifty-seven percent of the stories say the survivors ended up on a mountain. Many of them use some form of Noah’s name, like the Hawaiian legend about Nu’u. Many of them speak about birds being sent out. Many of them speak about a rainbow. And many of them say that eight people were saved.
So you have, from all over the planet, very diverse accounts with common elements of truth. Shouldn’t surprise us, those of us who know and believe the Bible. Because it is clear that all of these accounts, even though they get garbled by the varying traditions, have one common source. There really was a flood. And it was a worldwide flood. And those stories come from a common source because all humanity comes from a common family, family of Noah. All the tribes of the world came out of that family, and they would then have, at their very origins, a flood story.
Hugh Miller, a careful investigator of these stories way back in the 1800s, wrote, and I quote, “The destruction of well nigh the whole human race, in an early age of the world’s history, by a great deluge, appears to have so impressed the minds of the few survivors, and seems to have been handed down to their children in consequence with such terror-struck impressiveness that their remote descendants of the present day have not even yet forgotten it. It appears in almost every mythology, and lives in the most distant countries, and among the most barbarous tribes.” End quote.
The Flood did happen, and it did create, essentially, a story that was passed down from that first family and has woven its way through all of human history. The Flood was the second massive catastrophic event in the history of the world. The first was creation in six days. That is catastrophic. The creation of the universe in six 24-hour days by God out of nothing was the first massive catastrophe. And the universe was created mature, full-grown, with no process. The second great catastrophe was the Flood.
Creation lasted six days. The Flood lasted a year and a month. Creation gave us the first earth. The Flood gave us the second earth. The earth that we know and experience. These two events explain our world, and only the Bible gives an accurate record of these two events. And who wrote that record? The Creator and the Judge. The One who created in six days and the one who drowned the world in a year and a month. He inspired these historical accounts for us. This is the Bible. This is the Word of God.
And for Christians, the starting point for understanding our world is Scripture, is it not? Accurately interpreted, the Bible is the starting point for the true understanding – listen – of every subject it addresses. I say that again. The Bible is the starting point for the true understanding of every subject it addresses and every area of truth that matters. What the Bible says in Genesis is no different than what it says in Psalms or what it says in Isaiah or what it says in Matthew or what it says in Romans or what it says in Acts or what it says in Revelation.
This is the Word of God, and this is the starting point for a true understanding of every subject the Bible addresses. The true understanding of creation is found in the opening chapters of Genesis. The true understanding of a worldwide flood is not to be found by studying the Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic. It’s not to be learned – it’s not to be gained by studying some tribal legend. The true understanding of the Flood, as well as the true understanding of creation is to be gained by understanding the Bible.
How are we to understand the Bible? There’s only one way to understand the Bible, and that is to approach it with the proper hermeneutic. Hermeneutic is simply a – a means, a science, a way to interpret it. And we use what is called the literal, historical, grammatical method of interpretation. Literal means we take the Bible at face value, as normal language. Grammatical means that we take the words in their normal grammatical usages. And historical, that we’re not talking about myth and legend and allegory and fantasy, we’re talking about history. So we take a literal meaning with literal understanding of the grammar and a real historical account. And that’s how we understand the Bible.
That’s the way we interpret Romans. That’s the way we interpret Matthew. That’s the way we interpret Isaiah, Jeremiah, the Psalms or Proverbs. But for some people it seems to be a leap to interpret Genesis that way, which is sad. So what happens is the first eleven chapters of Genesis get twisted. But you need to understand something. With a few exceptions, all New Testament books refer to Genesis 1 through 11. You find all throughout the New Testament references back to matters that are in these first eleven chapters of Scripture.
Also, every chapter of Genesis 1 to 11, all eleven chapters is referred to somewhere in the New Testament. So the New Testament writers perceived Genesis 1 to 11 as reality, as history. Furthermore, every New Testament writer refers to Genesis 1 to 11. Every New Testament writer. And the Lord Jesus Christ referred, personally, in what He said to the first seven chapters of Genesis. The sum of all of that is to say that the New Testament writers took Genesis 1 to 11 at face value. They took the Word of God seriously. They took it for what it said. And that’s the way we have to take it.
You may be excused for your ignorance of astrophysics if you’re a Christian. You may be excused for your ignorance in geology. You may be excused for your ignorance in microbiology. You may be excused for your ignorance of genetics, or any other area of science. And in a day of specialization that has gotten so very narrow, nobody knows everything even about his own field. But you will not be excused for willful ignorance of God’s Word.
And He, Jesus, answered and said, “Have you not read?” We read that this morning, didn’t we? “Have you not read?” Don’t you know what the Bible says? And He answered and said to them in Matthew 22:29, “You’re mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures or the power of God.” That’s the real problem. So when we come to Genesis, we approach Genesis the same way we would approach any part of the Bible, and we’re accountable to God to interpret it rightly. We approach Genesis 6 through 9 the same way we approach Genesis 1 through 5, as history, accurate and to be understood in the normal way you understand language and history.
And as you approach the text of Genesis 6 to 9, what you find here is simple. God sent a flood and drowned the entire world. That’s what it says. This flood was a judgment of God against the sin of man who had become so sinful that only eight people were righteous before God and were spared. The rest of the entire human race, as well as all the other animals except the fish were also destroyed. God preserved eight and an ark full of pairs who could go out and repopulate the earth in the animal kingdom. That’s what Genesis 6 to 8 says. It’s just that simple. And, yet, I’m sure it wouldn’t be helpful, but I can tell you there are many, many evangelical writers and commentators who will weary me to death with their page after page after page of trying to explain away the Flood, just as there are many who would try to explain away a six-day creation.
So what we’re looking at is Scripture. And here is the account of the second great catastrophe in the history of the planet, the Flood. Now, we’ve been learning some lessons as we look at the Flood, several essential lessons that the Flood teaches. One, that God has absolute freedom and power over His creation. He made it in six days, and He can destroy it in 40. He has absolute freedom and power over His creation. God is not impotent. God is not in the process of trying to get to be what He really wants to be. God has absolute freedom and power over His creation.
Secondly, we learned from the Flood that God hates sin. God is intolerant of it, and He judges it with a fatal anger. We also learned that God’s judgment spares no guilty soul. God literally destroyed the all – the whole of humanity with the exception of eight people. He is not sentimental about sin. We also learned, and I’ve mentioned this before, that God’s grace and salvation have profound meaning in light of God’s judgment. Because we know that God has absolute freedom and power over His creation, because we know that God hates sin and is intolerant of it and judges it with deadly anger, because we know that His judgment spares no guilty soul, then grace and the offer of salvation take on profound meaning.
And what the Flood is designed to show us is that God is serious about sin. So when you hear Him offer you grace and salvation and an escape from judgment, understand what He is offering you. There are commentators and theologians who would like us to believe that this was a little local flood. That the Mesopotamian Valley got a little bit flooded, and that was it. There are at least 30 – and maybe more – at least 30 indicators in the text of chapters 6 through 9 that indicate this flood covered the whole world. Let me give you some of them. I’m not going to give you all 30. Maybe five.
First one is the extensive language in chapters 6, 7, 8, and 9. As you read through, repeatedly, again and again and again, it says that the whole world was covered, that the mountains were covered, that all under heaven perished. The language is extensive. The language is comprehensive.
Secondly, we know this was a worldwide flood – and listen to this and think this through – because the construction and outfitting and populating of the ark was an absurdity if the Flood was local. An absolute absurdity to build a – a big box, and to spend 120 years building it as big as an ocean liner, to float all that entourage of thousands of animals around in a local flood in the Mesopotamian Valley would be idiotic. God wouldn’t have told Noah to do that. He would have told Him to get out of the Valley. He had 120 years. He could have gone anywhere he wanted in that amount of time.
And if you’re looking for a parallel for that, remember, God told Lot He was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. What did He tell him to do? Get out. And why would you go to all the trouble of collecting all the animals if the only ones that were going to drown were in the Mesopotamian Valley? Make any sense? Another reason why we know it was a worldwide flood is that, after the Flood, God promised never again to bring such drowning destruction.
Chapter 8, the end of verse 21, God says, “I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done.” Never again. From now on, “While the earth remains,” it’ll be “seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night.” In other words, it’s going to be routine. There’s not going to be any – any worldwide holocaust like this. Over in chapter 9, verse 11, “I will establish My covenant with you; all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, and never again will I do that.” Verse 15, “I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh.”
Let me tell you something. That was a local flood, then God didn’t tell him the truth. Has there ever been another local flood? Of course, there are plenty of local floods. It was a lie if the Flood was local. There have been tens of thousands of local floods. We read about them all the time. We’re going to read about some this spring, in which people will die. When God said, “I’m making a promise never, ever to destroy people again in a flood like this,” He couldn’t have been referring to a local flood. That happens all the time.
The fourth reason we know the Flood was worldwide is because Genesis traces all the people in the world back to Noah and his family. We’ll see that in chapters 9 and 10. when the Lord starts to lay out the genealogy, starting in chapter 9 verse 18, they all come out of Noah’s family.
And one other. When you look at other Biblical references to the Flood, they affirm but never deny its universality. They affirm, but never deny its universality. And you can – you can see a number of portions of Scripture that refer back to the Flood. One would be Psalm 104. Listen to verses 5 to 9. “He established the earth upon its foundations, so that it will not totter forever and ever. Thou didst cover it with the deep as with a garment; the waters were standing above the mountains. At Thy rebuke they fled, at the sound of Thy thunder they hurried away. The mountains rose; the valleys sank down to the place which Thou didst established for them. Thou didst set a boundary that they may not pass over, that they will not return to cover the earth.”
And there what you have in Psalm 104 is a description of what happened in the Flood. God covered the mountains. The mountains pushed up. The valleys pushed down. The seas were gathered into the great chasms, the great valleys, and God would never again do that to the earth.
In 2 Peter 3, a familiar passage where we’re reminded that the – Peter says the Lord will destroy the world in the future by fire. And if you don’t think He would do that, then look back at the Flood when He destroyed the world by water. And the comparison there of the destruction of the whole earth in the future with the destruction of the whole earth in the past.
Now that’s five out of maybe 30 different reasons why we have to see this as a universal flood. Now let’s look at the text. We started in verse 17, and we’ll just kinda go along a little bit here to see this narrative unfold for us. There are a number of elements that provide sort of benchmarks in the narrative, just to keep you kinda moving with me. The Flood prevailed in the opening part.
Verse 17, “The flood came upon the earth for forty days. The water increased and lifted up the ark, so that it rose above the earth. The water prevailed and increased greatly upon the earth. The ark floated on the surface of the water, and the water prevailed more and more upon the earth, so that all the high mountains everywhere were under – under the heavens were covered. The water prevailed fifteen cubits higher, and the mountains were covered.” If there was music in the background, it would just get louder and louder and louder every time the word prevailed pops up.
You have the word prevailed five times. It prevailed, and then it prevailed, and then it prevailed, and it just keeps rising. The word water is used six times. The word prevailed is used five times. The word increased is used two times. The word greatly is used three times. And you get the idea. In these 60 Hebrew words that I just read, that they’re dominated by 20 or so words that have to do with water prevailing. Also, you have eight uses of the word all or every from verse 19 to verse 23. So the Flood prevailed. This is the flow of the text.
There’s some drama in the – in the way that it repeats, but it keeps prevailing, and it keeps increasing and increasing and increasing. It – it floats the ark, and then it covers the mountains, and then it covers the mountains by fifteen cubits. Now, this is the Scriptural account. The Lord’s Word does tell us why God did this. Chapter 6, verse 5, “He saw the wickedness of man was great on the earth. Every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” And then in verse 7, He said, “I’ll blot out man, whom I’ve created from the face of the earth, man, animals, creeping things, birds of the sky. I’m sorry I made them.” The reason is sin.
So the Word focuses on the why more than the how. All we know about the how is that verse 11. “The fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened.” Water came from below, and water came from above. It’s a – it’s a curiosity, at least, and perhaps can be helpful. I engaged myself in it and decided not to bore you with it. But there are myriad books explaining how the Lord did this, supposedly. Theories of how He opened up the fountains of the deep. How He broke up the canopy of water that had encircled the earth in the prior earth situation. There are all kinds of scientific explanations.
There are books and articles and journal treatments of geophysical effects, biological effects, radiation, stratification, fossils, continents, oceans, mountains, icecaps, lakes, radiocarbon dating, which has tremendous implications because of the Flood, oceanic nitrogen. And, you know, I even read one guy who said that – that in his study of the Flood, he had gotten it down to one of the proofs of the Flood was a dung ball from a giant sloth found in strata somewhere. So I mean it – it gets pretty far out. Don’t ask me what he meant by that. I don’t really know, and I don’t care.
But the – there – there are all kinds of scientific tangents that have been generated by what the Scripture says. But the bottom line is those would be theories. Those would be theories that – that some scientists would use to explain the world the way it is today and looking at the world the way it is today, extrapolate back to what might have happened in the Flood. The Scripture doesn’t spend any time on the – on the how of the Flood. It – it is much more concerned with the why of the Flood. And rather than have you becoming very occupied in trying to figure out the geology of the Flood or the hydrology of the Flood or the geophysical effects of the Flood or the biological effects or its impact on radiation, which effects carbon 14 dating or – or oceanic nitrogen, which leads us to believe in a recent flood and a recent creation, rather than getting all wound up in that, the Lord would have you much more concerned about the impact that sin has on human life. That’s the message.
What we need to understand, the Scripture has told us. Verse 17, “Flood came for forty days.” Now that’s already been told to us back in verse 12, “It rained on the earth for forty days.” And much of this material is repeated. And I’ve told you before, it is repeated because there’s a – there’s a sense in which there’s dimensions to it. First God says it’s going to happen, and then it happens, and then He tells us what happened. So it cycles back over the same material. This also reinforces the idea this is history, not myth. It says flood came and it rained for forty days. This would not be possible with today’s hydrology. There’s not enough water above the earth to rain on the earth and cover the earth for forty days. Just not enough water.
But in the pre-Flood world, that it’s very likely that there – there was no rain. We know that from Genesis. And the earth was watered from a mist or from fountains from the – below. The earth in the center had great caverns of water which came up from the earth in springs and created rivers and watered the earth. There was no rain, says Genesis 1 and 2. There’s a lot of interesting discussion about this – this canopy.
We know that if you go out 200 miles – from 200 miles, the scientists tell us – from 200 nautical miles altitude, all the way out to about 165,000 nautical miles altitude, you could have an – you can have orbiting bodies, because the configuration of gravitational pull has neutralized itself. And we know that because we have all that junk floating around in space in orbit that we’ve put up there. And if you were to select – according to a scientist named Hazen, if you were to select a single body that would be a candidate for suspension up there, it would be a water molecule. It can exist in a vacuum, occupy its own unique space and orbit.
And, apparently, that’s what God did. He just had water molecules floating around in a canopy that protected the earth. And that is why people lived so long and animals lived so long to grow to be dinosaurs in the reptile family, and men lived 900 plus years. This canopy model seems consistent with Scripture. That there was a kind of a greenhouse effect. You had no variation in temperature. You had no poles. You had, literally, a tropical environment covering the whole earth.
And one of the great proofs of that, of course, is the massive field of mammoths that have been discovered up at the edge of the polar icecap that are basically plant-eating animals. What were they doing up there? And they have found them by the hundreds of thousands buried in the ice up there. What would they be doing living up there? As we all know very well, elephants are tropical animals. They live in Africa and they live in India. They eat plants. What are they doing up on the polar icecap? Well, they were hit by a flood, drowned, and frozen by the Ice Age that followed on the – on the polar caps when the water broke loose.
Prior to that, you had a hothouse environment for the whole earth. But then, in the Flood, first the fountains of the deep burst open. Literally, God split the earth with volcanic pressure and blew open the great chasms of water. And the water came up out of the earth and, with the volcanic power, the – the ash and the debris went into space and apparently broke up the stability of that canopy and sent that water crashing down to the earth in the massive inundation of 40 days and 40 nights of rain. Scientists have done some pretty exotic calculations and determined that the amount of water that could come down from that suspended canopy would be about 2.5 percent of the present ocean mass of water, which is in the hydrological cycle, which means that the vast part of that water must have gushed up from underneath.
But even that doesn’t explain it, because if the sky can – only holds 2 percent of the water, how could the earth possibly hold 98 percent? So even at best those are sort of wild-eyed guesses. All we know is God split open the earth and blew what amounts to volcanic eruptions all over the planet that created the mountains, created the valleys, created the ocean basins, sent the debris into space, broke up the canopy. However much water it was, and I’m sure it was more than we would ever imagine, and, essentially, with that, drowned the world. There isn’t going to be any scientific explanation of it, probably any more than there’s a scientific explanation of creation.
Before God did that, as we know, there was a gathering of Noah, his wife, their sons and daughter-in-laws, into the ark along with the animals. And once they were in, it says at the end of verse 16, “the Lord closed it behind him. And the flood came for forty days, the water increased, lifted up the ark, so that it rose above the earth.” Remember, it was designed by God to float safely in moving waters that it had to endure for over a year. It rose quickly with the earth literally being drowned beneath it.
Verse 18 says, “The water prevailed and increased greatly upon the earth. The ark floated on the surface of the water.” And you just have the sense that it’s mounting up in spite of the power and the fury of the storm, of the splitting of the earth and the volcanic eruptions, literally throwing debris into space and maybe as high as 200 nautical miles, whatever. I don’t know that – that God needed to do that, but amazing things happened. And the ark floated, protected by God, not by engineering skill and not by navigational skill, because there was no way to navigate the ark. It was just a box floating, being cared for by God.
Verse 19, when we see this see begin to escalate, “The water prevailed more and more upon the earth.” The little box is bobbing up and floating. All humanity and all of the animal world was reduced to what’s in that little box bobbing on the top of the waters. And they go higher and higher until all “the mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered.” And there’s some of that broad, encompassing language. “All the high mountains.” As we will see later, the mountains as we know them today were a product of the Flood. The mountains prior to the Flood were no doubt lower, maybe – maybe hills more than mountains. When the Lord brought the Flood, He, in the flood, raised those mountains. But at first it appears that the water covered those low mountains, which were characteristic of the tropical environment of the pre-Flood world.
Verse 20 says, “The water kept rising until it was at least fifteen cubits” – that would be at least 22 1/2 feet, higher than the tops of the highest mountains. And, of course, even today, we have mountains as high as nearly 30,000 feet. Those mountains probably were not in existence before the Flood. The Flood wouldn’t be enough water to cover those, but they rose out of the Flood as God, during that time, was reshaping the planet. The devastation of this, if you – if you want to get a little tiny glimpse of it, you can do some reading on the Mount St. Helens explosion back in 1980. The steam explosion released energy equivalent to 20 million tons of TNT when that mountain blew its lid. It toppled 150 square miles of forest in six minutes. Really, talk about reshaping the surface of the earth.
Well, just imagine that going on all over the planet. Spirit Lake nearby, north of the volcano, created an enormous wave just because of the tremendous explosion. It created what amounted to a tidal wave, and it stripped slopes of trees 850 feet above the lake’s level. The total energy output, according to what I read, was equivalent – listen to this – to 40 million tons of TNT from that one mountain or 20,000 Hiroshima A-bombs. And that’s just one volcano. And when God broke up the planet and reshaped it, it would be that multiplied almost an infinite number of times.
The face of the land was changed by steam blasts, landslides, water waves, hot pumice ash, mud flows. Six hundred feet of strata was formed in a handful of minutes. And I told you this a few weeks ago, and I’ll tell you again. Wherever you find strata, you cannot explain strata by time adds this layer, time, millions of years adds this. It doesn’t happen. Strata is a result – and there are tests after tests after tests to prove this. I waded through several journal articles so I would understand it.
Strata is created by a force moving this way, and it piles up and it piles up and it piles up and it piles up. It rolls over and rolls over and keeps piling and piling and piling, so that you may have the latest life on the – on the bottom, rather than the top. The first movement is here, and then comes the power and the power and the power, and it rolls over the edge and redeposits the latest stuff on the bottom down here, so that when you find a fossil at the bottom of a long strata, it might be the very last movement that created that, because it pushed it over the edge of that model. And there’s all kinds of tests that have been done to show this.
So there are a lot of ways to see what happened in our world in the Flood in the geological strata. That’s a study all of its own. Several times I visited Pompeii and seen the unbelievable, unbelievable devastation and destruction that was created by Mount Vesuvius, another volcano. And there are many others than you could study. Krakatau was another one that’s almost indescribable as to its power to reorient the surface of the earth.
And so verse 24 tells us this water kept rising and rising as the fountains of the deep were broken up, and as the great canopy began to deluge the earth. And as “the water prevailed upon the earth,” it did so “for one hundred and fifty days.” This is a somewhat tranquil comment. And the Bible doesn’t give us any idea of the tremendous disturbance that occurred in – in the book of Genesis. But I read you earlier in Psalms gives us a bit of a hint. Do you remember? Were you listening when I read Psalm 104?
Let me read it to you again. “He established the earth upon its foundations, so that it will not totter forever and ever.” That was the original creation. Verse 6, “Thou didst cover it with the deep as with a garment; the waters were standing above the mountains. At Thy rebuke they fled.” – that is at Thy rebuke the waters began to flee, and as the waters began to flee – “at the sound of Thy thunder they hurried away. And the mountains rose; the valleys sank down
So that’s the way that it’s described in Psalms. The Flood comes. And, as God begins to dissipate the Flood, He pushes up the mountains and drops down the great ocean basins, and the Psalm goes on to say that God filled those basins with the ocean and put a limit or a shore so that they could go no further beyond that for – shore to inundate the world. This water prevails on the earth for one hundred and fifty days. That would include the forty days and forty nights of rain. So you have five 30-day months. You have five months. The water rising, rising, rising, rising. And at a hundred and fifty days, it has reached its height. It was water and only water everywhere. Everywhere.
The earth had been returned to what was its condition. You remember in chapter 1 verse 2 of Genesis? “The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.” Before God shaped the original earth, it was a mass of water covering it. Here it is, back where it was almost, with this devastation going on underneath the surface of the water, as God reshaped it. And here there was nothing alive except some fish. Most fish were killed, but some survived.
By the way, in digging for the subway here in LA, they came across - I read this article in the LA Times – they came across a huge fossil bed of fish. It’s a perfect illustration of what the Flood did way, way down below the city. Tens of thousands of fish fossils. No doubt caught in some kind of mud slide, strata, as a result of the holocaust of the Flood.
Nothing lived on the water, covered the whole planet, one little box bobbing along. That was the future. All alone. I can’t imagine what the conversations were like among those eight people. It would be two and a half months after the hundred and fifty days before the water had receded enough to see a mountain. Before God had pushed a mountain up. It would be another four and a half months – it would be over four and a half months, I should say, before the dove could find dry land, almost eight months before they could leave the ark. And in total, a year and a month on the boat before they could step out to find out what was left of the world. And, essentially, there was nothing left of what they had known. It was a completely new world. So the first point the Flood – the Flood prevailed.
The second point, and this is – this is the point. This is what the Lord wants you to know. He’s not interested in the geology. He’s interested in the theology. Verse 21, “All flesh that moved on the earth perished, birds and cattle and beasts and every swarming thing that swarms on the earth, and” – most importantly – “all mankind.” Total destruction of all life. Death by drowning. Cattle, birds, beasts, domestic animals, wild animals, everything that swarmed, everything that flew, and, most importantly, all humanity died.
“All that was on the dry land,” – verse 22 – “in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, died.” Everything. The flora and the fauna died. Anything that needed air, anything that either needed oxygen or carbon monoxide died. Everything. Now, what is the point of all of this? The point of all of this is to teach you the future of sinners. Future of sinners is devastating. They all died. They were destroyed in a holocaust of judgment.
It interests me that there is no note of sympathy here. There is no comment on the terror of the doomed. As the waters rose – and you can imagine it began to rain. And they were saying, “What is this? We’ve never had rain before. This is kind of nice, refreshing.” And then it was up to their ankles and up to their knees and the panic sets in. There’s no description of that. And the earth is fracturing in volcanic blasts, gas and steam, exploding debris into the stratosphere. There’s no note of sympathy.
The decision is without regret on the part of God and without remedy. Sinners and their corrupted environment must be destroyed. It happened once, and it will happen again. The wicked will be destroyed by fire that will incinerate the entire universe. And that is clearly described at the end of the New Testament in 2 Peter. And verse 23 is important. This has been said before several times, but here it is again. “Thus He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things, the birds of the sky. They were blotted out from the earth; and only Noah was left, together with those who were with him in the ark.”
He, God is not at all reluctant to take the responsibility. He takes full responsibility for all the destruction. This is not a natural disaster. This is a supernatural judgment. God did this. Deuteronomy 32:39, “Now see that I, even I am He and there is no God beside Me. It is I who put to death and give life. There is no one who can deliver from My hand.” Ezekiel 33:29, “Then they will know that I am the Lord, when I make the land a desolation and a waste because of all their abominations which they have committed.” Psalm 34:16, “The face of the Lord is against evildoers to cut off the memory of them from the earth.” God is never reluctant to take full responsibility for judgment on sinners. He ascribes that judgment to Himself. I know that bothers a lot of people. It may – it may well bother us, but it is the way it is. He takes full responsibility for life and for death.
But, again, we are reminded of grace at the end of verse 23. “And only Noah was left, together with those that were with him in the ark.” Was Noah a perfect man? Was he a sinless man? Not at all. He was a believer in the true God, who had repented of his sin and sought to obey God. He was righteous according to chapter 7 verse 1. Chapter 7 verse 13 indicates that he and his family were spared, not by cleverness, but by God’s grace. Hebrews 11:7 says, “By faith, Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his house.” And by that preparation, says he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. He believed in the true God. He desired to know and to serve the true God.
And he was saved by God, like Lot in Genesis 19 was saved from the fire and the brimstone that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. The lesson here is the lesson then of judgment and grace. That lesson comes through in the wonderful opening verse of chapter 8, “But God remembered Noah.” What a great statement. That’s pivotal. “But God remembered Noah.” That’s a reiteration of what we read at the end of verse 23. Noah was left because God remembered Noah. God has perfect recall of who belongs to Him. You don’t have to be concerned that when God sends judgment, He – He might not remember that you’re supposed to be protected. He knows that. He knows that.
Zakar is the Old Testament word for remember, and it’s used with God as the subject 73 times. And I think what’s interesting about this word is that it is most often followed by the preposition “T-O.” God remembered to. That is to say it’s not some – some cognitive idea that God has. It’s something He needs to do. God remembered to do this, to do that, to say this, to say that, indicating that God’s remembering is an action taken on behalf of somebody.
God remembered Noah. That is to say, God remembered to provide a protection for Noah. God remembered him through the Flood, didn’t forget that he was bobbing like the tiniest speck on an earth covered by water. Sea was lonely. The ark was confining. They were drifting with no control, clueless as to where they were, enduring only on the promise of God. No escape possible. They could never go out for a walk. It’s a metaphoric way to say that there was no way of escape. And the longer they were there, aware of their own sinfulness, as they would be day by day, they probably were more aware of God’s amazing grace. And God did remember them. He did remember.
And He also remembered, according to verse 1, “all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark; and God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water subsided.” If man was going to live on the earth, he needed the animals because they would be at the top of the food chain, and they would provide food for man, and they would – would provide a domestic service for man. So God was very aware of the little box floating above the water. And because God remembered, God said, “That’s enough,” and God caused a wind, a ruach, a wind. Same word as the Spirit in chapter 1 verse 2. The Spirit moved over the waters. There would mean the Holy Spirit. Here, most likely meaning the wind. Literally, God sent a wind.
It’s probably true that there hadn’t been wind in the past. There was a whole different hydrology. There was a whole different earth environment. There wasn’t the kind of wind that we know today, because there wasn’t the kind of cloud movement that is necessary to life on the planet with evaporation of the water into the clouds and them moving over the land to redeposit to provide for man. And so God had to invent wind, as it were. There was maybe a gentle breeze, but God invented a real wind.
That wind would begin to move the waters, assisting and aiding in the evaporation, which could now occur more rapidly since the sun was fully exposed, the canopy being removed. And because God sent what must have been a – a hot wind to pass over the earth, it aided in the subsiding of the water. But it was still two and a half months before the tops of the mountains were visible. Still four months or four and a half months before they could find any land, and over a year before they could leave the ark.
But God remembered. That’s why He sent the wind. And not just that, verse 2, “the fountains of the deep” – which had been opened, according to chapter 7 verse 11, were now closed – “and the floodgates” – here called the – the “floodgates of the sky” – where the water had poured down – “were closed, and the rain from the sky was restrained.” God shut off the water. The subterranean caverns no longer pressurized, had collapsed and the surface elevations had changed correspondingly, and the water begin to flow down the hills and the mountains into the valleys, into rivers, and into the deep caverns that became the beds of the seas, the ocean basins.
All of this, folks, was miraculous. All of this was stupendous in power and creativity. God created mountain ranges up to 30,000 feet. He created ocean depths. There are some parts of the sea out in the Pacific that are down as low as 35,000 feet in depth. God reshaped the earth, and He restrained the water below and the water above. And verse 3 says, “The water receded steadily from the earth, and at the end of a hundred and fifty days it decreased.” That is to say it was the hundred and fifty-day point, as we’ve already heard, that the water began to decrease. Verse 4, “In the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark rested on the mountains of Ararat.”
You say, “Well, what is the seventh month?” I don’t know. Nobody knows. We don’t know what kind of calendar they had. We assume they had a – a lunar calendar, a 30-day month, and they – they counted their days that way. That’s why 150 is five 30-day months. But we don’t know what month was what. We don’t know what the seventh month was. We have no idea. You say, “Well, then, why is it here?” It’s here for the same reason all the other specifics are here. It’s here so that we know this is what? History. Precision is here to tell us this is history that really happened.
I have a little note in the MacArthur Study Bible that lists the Flood chronology. In the 600th year of Noah, second month, tenth day, he entered the ark. In the 600th year of Noah, second month, seventeenth day, the Flood began. The waters flooded the earth for 150 days. Five months of 30 days, including the 40 days and 40 nights. In the 600th year of Noah, seventh month, seventh day, the waters began to recede. And so it goes. And you have this repetition all the way down. And here we’re told in the seventh month and the seventeenth day, the water had receded to the point where the ark rested on the mountains of Ararat.
Now let me just say this briefly, because you just need to know this, not in a lot of detail. It says mountains of Ararat, not Mount Ararat. There is a Mount Ararat. It’s 17,000 feet high. But that is only one mountain in a range of mountains called the mountains of Ararat. The ancient name is Urartu in what is today Armenia, southeast Turkey, part of southern Russia, northwest Iran. It’s in all that area. Northwest Iran, southern Russia, southeast Turkey, and Armenia. That section, the mountains of Urartu. It’s a region, actually, of the Caucus Mountains in that part of the world. And the ark landed in the mountains of Ararat.
It may have landed on Mount Ararat. We don’t have any way to know that. The Bible just says the mountains of Ararat. And Mount Ararat is the tallest mountain, and since there weren’t any other peaks visible for a while, verse 5, “The waters decreased steadily until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day, the tops of the mountains became visible.” Ararat is the tallest mountain in the range of Ararat. And so it may be that they were that high that they had literally been pushed by the flow of waters up somewhere on that mountain and had to wait until the other mountains came – became visible, which indicates they would short – they were lower in elevation. We don’t know all the details of that, but that’s a possible consideration. So the Flood subsided because God had remembered Noah and his family, and God kept His promise. And here we have the lesson of God’s grace and God’s mercy and God’s remembrance.
You know, there are a lot of people who have puddled around over there trying to find the ark. Have you read any of that? Spend their whole life trying to find the ark. Is that important? No. It has absolutely no significance. I don’t need to find the ark to believe this. It’s enough that the Bible says it, right? It’s the same thing I feel about the Shroud of Turin. Who cares? Doesn’t matter. You might be able to prove it was a dead person, that it was a dead person that was crucified. But do we need that? We know Jesus died and rose again, don’t we, from Scripture. Bible is our authority, not an old piece of cloth. And not some wood found somewhere on a mountain called Ararat. It’s enough to know that the Bible says it happened.
Now we live in a new world, folks. When Noah got off the ark, he got into our world. The Grand Canyon was here. The Alps were here. Wow! The valleys and the mountains were here, and the lakes were here, and the streams were here, and – and the seeds were still here, and they began to grow again. And the animals went off, and they began to do what animals do. They make more animals. And they moved around the planet, and they spread around. And man did the same and he spread around. And this was our new world. Seventy percent of it is covered with water from the Flood. It all just went into those sea beds. Sea contains 330 million cubic miles of water. That’s a lot of water that’s left from the Flood.
This is our world that Noah entered, post-judgment. And the whole story is to warn us of what is going to come in the future. And I just need to close by reminding you of what I referred to. Second Peter 3:5, “When they maintain this,” – those who mock the judgment – “it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.” Peter says there – you don’t think God’s going to judge? You don’t think the Lord is going to come? Do you think everything’s going to continue the same way? Well, it’s not, because it hasn’t. Everything isn’t uniform from creation. There was a time when God formed the earth “out of water and by water.” That refers to the primeval earth, the pre-Flood, antediluvian earth. And then, with that water, He destroyed it, flooded it. And He then goes on to say, “The present heaven and earth are being reserved” – not for water, but – “for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” It’s coming again. It’s coming again.
You know, there’s Flood evidence all over the world. Fossil evidence in the Grand Canyon, the – the – the stratification of the earth, the geological record of the earth, the legends and the myths and all of that, those traditions that go back to the Flood from those 270 different people groups. The earth is literally replete with evidence of flood. Even the people who build the subway down in LA have evidence of a flood. And there is, most importantly, the Biblical record of that Flood, which is a warning, a standing warning to the coming of judgment by fire, by fire.
“And don’t let this escape your notice,” – Peter says – “beloved, that that – with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you,” – why do you think the Flood came 1600 years after creation, but here we are 4500 years later, and the judgment of fire hasn’t come? Because the Lord is – “patient, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come” – and it will come – “like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.” It’s going to happen.
You say, “Oh, 4,000 years have gone by, and it hasn’t happened.” Remember this: With the Lord, a thousand years is as a day. It’s going to happen. Is there any wonder that the skeptics don’t want to accept the universal Flood? It’s previews of coming attractions, isn’t it? Of course, they don’t want to accept that God destroyed the entire world because of sin. That’s exactly what He did. That is the single greatest warning God has ever given by far of what awaits this planet and its population of unbelievers.
But there is an ark of safety. Who is it? It’s Christ. For those who believe in Him, they will be taken out to escape that judgment, and God will remember them, as He remembered Noah. Many believers in God were already dead by the time the Flood came, and they were already with the Lord. Like Enoch and others, Abel, Adam, Eve, others. Many believers have died and are with the Lord now. But those believers who are alive when the judgment comes will be delivered from that judgment like Noah was because God knows who belongs to Him. What a great promise. Take judgment seriously, and you’ll take grace and salvation seriously.
Well, Lord, it’s been a wonderful day, and this incredible passage of Scripture opens our minds and understanding to history, as we would never learn it in a university or a school. This is the most important thing to know about history, that sin brings divine judgment. That’s the greatest lesson of history. Not only is there the Flood to prove it, but there are a thousand Mount Vesuvius, Mount Krakatau, Mount St. Helens’ explosions to show the tremendous power of divine judgment.
And there are floods and holocausts all the time in the history of the world to show what shall eventually fall upon all sinners, death and destruction. There’s no example as profound, as far-reaching, as the Flood, this great warning. And when we begin to see the warning and to take seriously the judgment, then we can take seriously the grace that comes to those who, in the face of judgment for sin, repent of their sin and believe in the Lord. May many come to faith in Christ who alone delivers us from the wrath to come. For His glory, we ask these things. Amen.
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