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The Story of Noah's Flood

Richard aspires to live and love like Christ. Among his varied other writing interests, he aims to create good Christian stories.

the-story-of-noah

Noah is arguably the most widely recognised biblical character after Christ. However, very little is actually known about the man. Nothing is known of his early life, and he first appears in scripture when he is 500 years old, leaving the majority of his life concealed. Apart from his obvious connection with the Ark and the flood, the bible only offers scant other information about him.

Like many characters of the bible, Noah has his genealogy recorded. From this genealogy in Genesis chapter five, we learn he came from noteworthy lineage. To name a few:

Enoch

Noah’s great grandfather escaped death and was translated straight to heaven.

Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him. Gen 5:22-24

By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God.

— Hebrews 11:5

Methuselah

Enoch’s son, Noah’s grandfather. The longest-lived man ever recorded.

And Methuselah lived one hundred and eighty-seven years, and became the father of Lamech. Then Methuselah lived seven hundred and eighty-two years after he became the father of Lamech, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred and sixty-nine years, and he died. Gen 5:25-27

Lamech

Noah’s father. Apparently a religious man who gave his child a name that is thought to mean ‘rest’.

And Lamech lived one hundred and eighty-two years and became the father of a son. Now he called his name Noah, saying, "This one shall give us rest from our work and from the toil of our hands arising from the ground which the LORD has cursed." Then Lamech lived five hundred and ninety-five years after he became the father of Noah, and he had other sons and daughters. Gen 5:28-30

Cool Fact

The line of descent from Adam to Noah reveals that Noah’s father, Lamech, was alive when Adam, the first man, died; Lamech was 56 years old at Adams death. Noah was actually only nine generations removed from Adam.

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The Society In Which Noah Lived

Most of what we can gather from Noah’s character and life is deduced from the period and society in which he lived. The scriptures tell us that Noah's generation was desperately wicked and corrupt, mankind so universally depraved that the Lord determined to destroy the world as it was.

Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. And the LORD said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them."

— Gen 6:5-7

Noah’s Commission

In the midst of this moral darkness, Noah’s life shone like a beacon to God.

But Noah found favour in the eyes of the LORD. These are the records of the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God. Gen 6:8-9

In a world filled with unbelieving, godless and depraved people, Noah stood alone. A man who wasn’t afraid to go against the crowd. A man who stood for God in the face of a society that had turned its back on him. Because of this, God chose Noah as mankind’s only hope and gave him a divine commission.

Because the earth was filled with violence, God revealed to Noah that there was to be a great flood, which would destroy man from the face of the earth.

From a human standpoint, Noah was given a strange and seemingly impossible task: to build an immense boat for preserving the lives of his own family and certain numbers of the animal kingdom.

The greatness of the task is difficult to appreciate. Godless unbelievers who scoffed at his work surrounded Noah. He became a laughingstock. Yet he maintained his faith and toiled on year after year at a task which, to his neighbor's, would seem to indicate he had gone quite mad.

With apparent unswerving confidence in the word of God, Noah constructed an Ark. For many decades the construction continued. During this time of grace, Noah continued to preach God's judgement and mercy, warning the ungodly of their approaching doom (2 Pet. 2:5). He preached for many decades. The exact period unknown, but easily as long as most of our lifetimes. Yet without a single convert (1 Peter 3:20). People continued in their evil ways and turned deaf ears to his pleadings and warnings until the very day the Flood overtook them.

It is this demonstration of faith that we can learn the most about Noah.

[God] did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others;

— 2 Peter 2:5

...every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually..

...every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually..

Considering his surroundings, the magnitude of the work he was called to perform, and the many years spent in hard work, he stands unsurpassed, if not unequalled, among all the characters of the Bible as an example of persistent faith.

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 am about to destroy them with the earth. "Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with rooms, and shall 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, and 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. And behold, 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. But 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 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. Of the birds after their kind, and of 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. And 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." Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did. Gen 6:13-22

Because Noah believed God and obeyed Him, he is listed among the heroes of faith.

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 became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

— Hebrews 11:7

Through his example, Noah teaches us considerable lessons concerning what faith is really all about.

Points of faith

  • Faith leads us to confess that we are but pilgrims, we are but passing through this life, and to act on the meaning of that fact.
  • Faith marches forward in the face of difficulties, does what it is told and leaves the rest to God.
  • Faith realizes it is ineffectual without works, for sincere faith is a seen faith.
  • It acknowledges faiths only power is in Gods choice to ground His power in our trusting obedience.

The Ark

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The English word ‘Ark’ comes from the Hebrew word meaning ‘box’, or ‘chest’. It is used elsewhere only for the watertight basket in which the baby Moses floated on the Nile – which is an interesting parallel.

According to the Bible, Noah's Ark was a large barge constructed of wood and sealed with bitumen. The Arks dimensions were 133 x 22 x 13 meters with three interior decks. A "window" appeared to be constructed around the top (Genesis 6:14-16). Incidentally, the overall size of the Ark makes it the largest known seagoing vessel before the 20th century; its proportions amazingly similar to the large ocean liners of today.

The Bible says Noah's boat came to rest on the mountains of Ararat (Genesis 8:4). After Noah and his family left the Ark on the mountain, the boat virtually disappeared from the pages of the Bible, and later biblical writers never suggest it could still be seen.

Reports over the past century range from visits to the vessel, to recovery of wooden timber, to aerial photographs. Many believe a large part of the Ark is intact. Not on the highest peak, but somewhere above the 10,000-foot level, apparently encased in snow and ice for most of the year, and accessible only during certain warm summers. Some have even spoken of climbing onto the Arks roof, while others say they have walked inside.

In the 1980s, "ark-eology" was given an air of respectability with the active participation of former NASA astronaut James Irwin, in expeditions up the mountain. In addition, Ark investigation was also given a boost with the breakup of the former Soviet Union, because the mountain was right on the Turkey-Soviet border; expeditions up the mountain being considered a security threat by the previous soviet regime.

Unfortunately, return visits to proposed sites (sightings differ as to location) have failed to verify any of these claims, and the whereabouts of any photographic proof is presently unknown. Furthermore, Astronaut James Irwin has since died, while a purported eyewitness has recently recanted publicly, and there have been few new expeditions up the mountain in the 1990s. Further expeditions have taken place in the new millennium, but no proof of the Ark has yet been found.

How Did All The Animals Fit?

Mathematical calculations show conclusively that the size of the ark was easily sufficient to house two of all kinds of land animals with quite a bit of room left over.

Stability studies have shown that the Arks dimensions would have made it virtually impossible to capsize.

The total available floor space on the ark would have been over 100,000 square feet (30480sq/mtrs), which would be more floor space than in 20 standard-sized basketball courts. The total cubic volume would have been 1,518,000 cubic feet [462,686 cubic meters] --that would be equal to the capacity of 569 modern railroad stock cars. Now comes the question, how many land-dwelling air-breathing animals would have had to be taken aboard the ark to survive the flood? According to Ernest Mayr, America's leading taxonomist, there are over 1 million species of animals in the world.

Assuming the average animal to be about the size of a sheep and using a rail road car for comparison, we note that the average double-deck stock car can accommodate 240 sheep. Thus, three trains hauling 69 cars each would have ample space to carry the 50,000 animals, filling only 37% of the ark. This would leave an additional 361 cars or enough to make 5 trains of 72 cars each to carry all of the food and baggage plus Noah's family of eight people. The Ark had plenty of space.

The Flood

Flood traditions

One of the many pieces of evidence for the historicity of the biblical flood is the widespread incidence of flood traditions. According to the Bible, all nations are descended from the three sons of Noah and so it would be expected that, through stories passed down from generation to generation, many of them would retain references of the great flood. It is significant that such stories have been found in tribes all over the world.

Among the tribes most remote from Ararat and Babel, and therefore least likely to have obtained the flood story from some other source, are those in the interior jungles and highlands of New Guinea. Some of which have only been discovered in the latter part of the 20th century and yet many of them do have records of an ancient world-destroying flood.

Does the Bible really claim that the Flood covered the ENTIRE Earth?

Many argue that the flood was not global but only local in extent. But what does the Bible clearly say?

To those who hold to the theory of evolution (and there are many religious people within that group; theistic & progressive evolution), the global flood of Noah poses a thorny problem. If, as the bible says, the flood destroyed all air-breathing animal life except those on the ark, and this occurred anywhere between 4-10 thousand years ago, then all the alleged ‘proofs’ evolutionists rely on to substantiate the theory of evolution would become invalid.

What does the Bible say concerning the scope of the flood?

  1. All The Mountains Were Covered. The tops of all the high mountains under the entire heavens were at least 20 feet beneath the water's surface (Genesis 7:19-20). It would be absurd to think that a flood covering the highest mountains of the Middle East would not affect the rest of the world. In addition, the waters remained at this awesome, mountain-covering height for five months! (Genesis 7:18-24, 8:1-5).
  2. The Ark Was Huge. The ark was necessary to prevent the extinction of humans and animals. If the Flood were merely local, God could have sent them to a safer part of the world. God warned Noah about the Flood many decades prior to its start. Surely, Noah and his family could have travelled a great distance in that time. Also, if the Flood was local, the ark was unnecessarily large. Until the first metal ships were constructed in modern times, the ark was the largest ship ever built. It was big enough to house representative pairs of every created-kind of air-breathing, land animal on Earth.
  3. Humans Populated The Entire World. After more than 1600 years of habitation on Earth, the planet's population was surely large (millions or billions). The Bible confirms that (a) Man had multiplied upon the face of the Earth (Genesis 6:1), (b) Violence and corruption filled the Earth (Genesis 6:11-12). The Bible is clear that man could not have existed only in the Mesopotamian region, a region too small to support such a large population, especially considering the natural dispersion effect of a violent society.
  4. All Humans Were Killed. The Bible clearly teaches that all flesh died...every man (Genesis 7:21). Genesis 9:1 confirms that only Noah's family was saved and that every person living today is descended from his family.
  5. All Air-Breathing, Land Animals Killed. The world's entire population of air-breathing, land animals died, except those taken into the ark (Genesis 7:21) - "everything on Earth" (Genesis 6:17) - "all living creatures of every kind on the Earth" (Genesis 9:16). If only those animals in a specific geographic location died, it would seem unnecessary for God to protect pairs in the ark for the express purpose of preventing their extinction. Surely there would be representatives of their kinds in other areas. If, on the other hand, there were some unique kinds of animals in the local flood's path, then it would seem more logical for God to send representative pairs out of the area, rather than to the ark, as He did. The Bible is clear that all the air-breathing, land animals perished during the flood, except those preserved with Noah - from which all modern animals are descended.
  6. A "Cataclysm," Not A Mere Flood. Both Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament) use words to describe Noah's flood which are different than the ordinary words for a flood. In this way, Noah's flood was represented as a totally unique occurrence. [Hebrew / "Mabbool" - Greek / "Kataklusmos" (cataclysm)].
  7. God's Rainbow Promise. God promised never again to send a global flood (Genesis 8:21, 9:8-17). This promise is demonstrated by the symbol of the rainbow, a sign for God's promise to all the Earth. The rainbow is a sign to every living creature, mankind and animals. If this promise was not made to all creatures on Earth, then God has broken His promise. Local floods have repeatedly killed hundreds and even thousands of humans and animals since Noah's time.
  8. Why Stay In The Ark A Year?! Noah was in the ark for more than a year, not just 40 days (Genesis 8:14). 53 weeks is absurdly long to stay in the ark for a local flood since dry land would have been just over the horizon. After the floodwaters had been going down for 4 months, the dove could still find no suitable ground (Genesis 8:9). This does not seem to fit the circumstances for a local flood in which the dove could fly to dry land. However, these situations are consistent if the Flood was global.
  9. The Whole Earth Was Devastated. God said, "I am surely going to destroy both them (the people) and the Earth" (Genesis 6:13b). The global extent of the Flood is referred to more than 30 times in Genesis 6-9 alone! In Isaiah 54:9, God states, "I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the Earth." Peter delivered a clear global warning, confirming that God created the Earth, devastated it by the Flood, and will one day destroy it again by fire (2 Peter 3:5-7). Peter certainly did not mean that just a local area on Earth would be burned. Just as the Flood was global, so will be the final judgement.
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Where Did All The Water Come From, And Where Did It Go?

The "fountains of the great deep" are mentioned before the "windows of heaven," indicating either relative importance or the order of events.

What are the "fountains of the great deep?" This phrase is used only in Genesis 7:11. "Fountains of the deep" is used in Genesis 8:2, where it clearly refers to the same thing, and Proverbs 8:28, where the precise meaning is not clear. "The great deep" is used three other times: Isaiah 51:10; Amos 7:4; and Psalm 36:6.

The Hebrew word (mayan) translated "fountains" means "fountain, spring, well." So, the "fountains of the great deep" are probably oceanic or possibly subterranean sources of water. In the context of the flood account, it could mean both.

If the fountains of the great deep were the major source of the waters, then they must have been a huge source of water. Some have suggested that when God made the dry land appear from under the waters on the third day of creation, some of the water that covered the earth became trapped underneath and within the dry land.

Genesis 7:11 says that on the day the flood began, there was a "breaking up" of the fountains, which implies a release of the water, possibly through large fissures in the ground or in the seafloor. The waters that had been held back burst forth with catastrophic consequences.

There are many volcanic rocks interspersed between the fossil layers in the rock record; layers that were obviously deposited during Noah's flood. So it is quite plausible that these fountains of the great deep involved a series of volcanic eruptions with prodigious amounts of water bursting up through the ground. It is interesting that up to seventy percent or more of what comes out of volcanoes today is water, often in the form of steam.

It has been proposed that at the onset of the flood, the ocean floor rapidly lifted up to 6,500 feet (2,000 meters) due to an increase in temperature as horizontal movement of the tectonic plates accelerated. This would spill the seawater onto the land and cause massive flooding -- perhaps what is aptly described as the breaking up of the "fountains of the great deep."

However, the bottom line is that we have to take the flood on faith, not sight, as with all of God’s word. There is at present no way of knowing how God flooded the earth, but that He did is something fundamental to biblical teaching.

Noah After the flood

Noah was grateful to the Lord who had delivered him from the Flood. After the Flood, he built an altar to God (Gen. 8:20) and made a sacrifice, which was accepted graciously (Gen. 8:21).

The Lord promised Noah and his descendants that He would never destroy the world again with a flood (Gen. 9:15). The Lord made an everlasting covenant with Noah and his descendants, establishing the rainbow as the sign of His promise (Gen. 9:12-17). The Lord also blessed Noah and restored the creation command, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth" (Gen. 9:1). These were the same words He had spoken earlier to Adam (Gen. 1:28).

Noah became the first tiller of the soil and keeper of vineyards after the Flood. The Bible is silent about the rest of Noah's life after the Flood, except to say that he died at the age of 950 years (Gen. 9:28-29).

Conclusion

The flood of Noah's day was a universal judgement of sin. God destroyed the world that existed at that time because of their wickedness. When we look at nature, with its testimonies to the flood, we are viewing a reminder that God does judge sin. It is also a reminder that God will save those from judgement who have faith in Him.

God promised that He would never again destroy the world with water, but that a future judgement would take place. Jesus Christ came into the world to die for our sins and to restore man's relationship with God so that we need not fear His judgement. Noah pleaded with the people of his day to have faith in God. Those of Noah's day would not listen, and the door to the Ark was closed. Now Christ is calling unto the world to once again have faith in God. Will you answer His calling and be saved from future judgement? The decision is yours.

© 2021 Richard Parr

Comments

Mark Tulin from Ventura, California on April 09, 2021:

A lot of great biblical info. Loved it.

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