The Flood; Gen 6 – 10

Print pagePDF pageEmail page

noag-se-ark

A. INCREASING CORRUPTION ON EARTH (Please read Gen 6:1-12).

Earth’s population greatly multiplied (6:1).

Adam and Eve had intercourse and initially had three children namely Cain, Abel and Seth, but Seth was born when Adam was only 130 years old and since he lived for a further 800 years, he and Eve must have had many more children since God had blessed them to be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth (1:28). Their offspring too, intermarried and had children so that, during the ensuing hundreds of years, a multitude of people must have been born on earth.

The sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful and took took them as wives (6:2). Through this intercourse, giants were born, remarkable and mighty men (6.4).

Some theologians are of the opinion that these sons of God were fallen angels. Let us explore this possibility. Angels are genderless (asexual) and can therefore not have sexual intercourse in their normal state. However, instances are recorded in the Word where angels appeared on earth in human form and ate food with the people to whom they appeared (Gen 19:3). If then, they were capable of act as human beings in this respect, why not also on the sexual level?

In the book of Jude, verses 6 and 7, for instance, the writer speaks of two groups of God’s created beings that had deviated from their God given principle (way of living).  The residents of Sodom and Gomorrah gave themselves to fornication and went after “strange flesh” in that men had intercourse with men (Gen 19:5) and unwittingly even tried to involve angels in their lust. This deviation is compared with that of angels that had not kept to the principle of no sexual intercourse which God had ordained for them. It would therefor not be far-fetched to tie it up with “the sons of God” that married the daughters of men. The fact that giants (Nephilim), men of renown, were born from these unions, reinforces this possibility. Again we see beings that wanted to be independent, doing what pleased them and moving out of God’s will.

Others are of the opinion that these, “sons of God” were the offspring of Cain who were exceptionally tall, strong, good looking and all round gifted in the flesh, but spiritually totally corrupt and that their intermingling  with Seth’s offspring, led to the corruption of all of mankind.

Whatever the case may be, the fact that this intermarriage is mentioned at this point, indicates that it contributed to mankind’s spiritual decline.

(In Num 13:33 we also read of such giants from which Goliath stemmed; impressive in the flesh but spiritually dead and in a state of decay. God is not impressed by outward appearances but observes the heart and determines man’s worth by the purity of his heart (1 Sam 16:7).

Children of God must never marry non –believers or become close friends with them.)

God then limited man’s lifespan to 120 years (6:3).

This could firstly refer to the human race’s lifespan over centuries; if so it was intended to occur gradually as indeed it did happen for the descendants of Shem still reached the age of 200 to more than 400 years (Gen 11:10 and further).

It might however rather refer to the lifespan of the generation then living that would perish in the flood. During the 120 years, approximately, that the Ark was being built, the Spirit of God was, by the preaching of Noah, pleading with mankind to repent (1 Pet 3:20; 2 Pet 2:5).

God’s evaluation of the situation and his decision as to how to resolve it.

  1. God then saw that the imagination of man’s thoughts and his life were thoroughly evil (6:5,12). 
  2. Their lifestyle was particularly characterized by violence (6:11).
  3. The Lord was sorry that He had made them and it grieved Him. 
  4. He then resolved to destroy both man and beast off the earth (6:7,13).

As we saw in the life of Cain, every person is born with a tendency to be disobedient to God; to sin. The result was that humans went from bad to worse until they were thoroughly rotten with sin.

As in the life of Cain that murdered his brother, violence played a major role in this society. (What is important for us to note in this regard, is that the Lord Jesus had prophesied that the moral condition of mankind during the last days of the earth, will be similar to what it was in the days of Noah (Matt 24:37, 38) and in our days, violence has reached critical levels in some countries.)

God who is omniscient (all knowing) realized that there was no hope for man to improve. They were like a bag of potatoes; one potato rots and transfers the rot to the rest and more and more rot until the owner is compelled  to discard the entire bag in the dustbin. For 120 years, Noah had been preaching, pleading for them to repent, but to no avail.

God now had to make a decision and found no other way but to destroy all of mankind (except for eight). As a righteous judge, He had no option but to destroy the wicked ones, but as a righteous, loving and wise God, He spared the righteous ones to build a new generation.

The fact that He was sorry that He had created man, does not mean that He felt that He had made a mistake by creating them, for He never is at fault and when He had looked at his handiwork during creation, He had repeatedly commented that it was good. His grief rather was for what man had done to himself.

The situation was desperate but not out of God’s control and He himself decided on how He would handle it, saving some creatures, just as He himself also decided to send his Son into this world as Redeemer. From this small group of humans and animals, God would repopulate the earth.

B. GOD INSTRUCTS NOAH TO BUILD AN ARK (Please read Gen 6:8-22).

Noah and his family (6:8-10).

  1. Noah, who lived in the midst of all this corruption, found grace in the eyes of God (6:8).
  2. He was a just man who walked with God (6:9; 7:1). 
  3. He had three sons; Shem, Ham and Japheth (6:10).

If Noah, in the midst of a society that had morally completely collapsed, could, not only survive, but walk with God in holiness, each one of us can do likewise (7:1). There is this saying that, “In the blackest of mud, grows the whitest lily.”

God then told Noah of his decision to destroy the whole world by a flood (6:3,17).

God discloses to mankind, and especially to those that are His, well ahead of time what He is intending to do. He informed his twelve disciples of his coming arrest, trial, crucifixion and resurrection well ahead of time so that, when it would happen, they would be well prepared and that their faith in Him would be strengthened. For us too, God drew the curtain hiding the future so that we may know what to expect. Several Old Testament books contain prophecies regarding the end-times, the Lord Jesus himself prophesied in that regard and the Epistles and the book of Revelation contain a considerable amount of information on this topic. We need to study these so that we may be able to discern the times and be prepared.

Furthermore God instructed him to build an ark (a big ship) using timber and He also gave the specifications which were: length 300 cubits, width 50 cubits and height 30 cubits (150 m x 25 m x 15 m). Gopher wood was to be used and to be sealed both on the inside and on the outside with pitch (6:14-16). ( A cubit is about 46 cm.)

God also explained to Noah how he and his family and a variety of animals and birds were to board the ark in order to be saved (6:18-20). He also had to stock the ark with sufficient food (6:21). He did exactly as God instructed him (6:22).

One wonders, if the engineers of our day, with all their knowledge, were instructed to design and build a structure (a ship or whatever) that would be able to survive a catastrophe like the Flood, keeping eight human beings and thousands of animals safe, fed and healthy for  a year, what it would look like, what it would cost, how much and what kind of material would be used and how many workers would be employed?

Noah must have had many questions such as where he would get all the trees and how he would cut them up into planks; how was he going to join them together to withstand such a violent storm; how to build scaffolding equivalent to that required for a five story building; where would he get the funds to hire craftsmen or would he and his three sons be able to handle the job on their own and were they qualified to design and build a ship of that size? (They must have been a very intelligent and innovative family.)

Then there were all the questions surrounding the animals and their food; such as how they would be able to trap all the many different animals, crate them and transport them to the ship. What kind of food and how much would each pair or group require and how would the food be moved around in the ark once they were boxed in.

We nowadays draw up detailed project plans, using sophisticated computers and software, but Noah had to depend on God to provide all the answers as he went along, so he had to keep in close contact with Him all the time. What a faith he had! In Heb 11:7 it is said that he moved with godly fear. He did not know all the answers but he knew and had a reverence for his Commander and that carried him through for 120 years, until all was completed and all his answers up to that point had been answered. Modern man is exceptionally adamant to plan ahead and have the answers before he sets his hand to anything. Perhaps that is why we find it so difficult to walk by faith, seeing and hearing the unseen God by our spirits.

Noah’s job was more of a calling than an occupation and among all the hustle and bustle, he set aside time to minister to the people around him. He would not have their blood on his hands once he and his family were safely within the ark and his neighbours were screaming outside, pleading for the door to be opened just once more for them to be admitted. How do we apply our time? We should always keep in mind that the world and its pleasures pass away; they are so temporal (1 Joh 2:15 – 17).

A person who believed Noah’s warning as to the coming flood but tried to build himself a raft to escape the judgement of God, would have been foolish for as we will see, the waters would cover all the earth for one year. Likewise people of our day depend on their own resources and endeavours to provide for their salvation. Millions of people are floating around without direction on the rafts of certificates for church membership but are too proud or self assured to enter into the Ark that God provided, Who is his Son Jesus Christ.

Noah did exactly as he was told. Obedience to God is a sign of humility.

C.  THE RUN-UP TO THE DELUGE (FLOOD) (Please read Gen 7:1-24).

Noah had faith and completed the task God had assigned to him.

  1. He possibly worked for 120 years to build the ark (6.3).
  2. As soon as it was completed, God instructed him and his family to embark (to enter in) (7:1).
  3. God reaffirmed that he found him (Noah) to be righteous.

As mentioned earlier, Noah was a preacher of righteousness, so while he was building the ark, he also preached and warned the people against their ungodly, sinful lifestyle. One can just imagine how much scorn he had to endure, more so as he kept himself occupied for about 120 years, building a huge ship on dry land. He however persevered to believe God and thus saved himself and his dear ones as well as the entire creation from elimination. True faith can persevere because it rests on revelation, received from God, and is kept alive by God.

God once more confirmed to him that He considered him to be a righteous man; so does the Holy Spirit towards every born-again child of God (Rom 8:16).

Of the unclean animals, at God’s command, he took one pair each into the ark and of the clean animals, 7 pairs each (7:8, 9). Then he and his family also entered (7:7).

It is interesting to note that, at this early stage of the existence of the world, God already made a distinction between clean and unclean animals and apparently it was common knowledge also to Noah, so God could tell him to take one pair of the unclean and 7 pairs of the clean animals. This distinction was later incorporated in the Law which God gave to Moses (Lev 11:47).

Noah’s God-fearing  lifestyle afforded his family the privilege to be saved (to enter into the ark), nevertheless, each one still had to choose whether to enter, or not. Having God-fearing parents certainly is a great privilege for by their example, teaching and prayers, you are continually positioned right at the Entrance to the ark, Jesus Christ, but the Lord will not permit your father, mother, brother or sister to pick you up and carry you in, kicking and screaming to let go so you can return to your friends (colleagues) or to your beloved possessions. No, you need to take a good look at the ark (the cross of Christ) decide, “This is for real,” close your ears to the mocking of the multitudes of people and enter in before the door closes. “For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his life? Or what will a man give in exchange for his life?” (Matt 16:26,WEB).

After everyone entered, God locked the door behind them. (7:16)

God does not act impulsively nor does He miscalculate like we often do or overlook certain facts that should have been taken into consideration. His decision to judge mankind was well-planned, well-thought-through in every minute detail. He had stretched the period of grace to the limit, but then the cutoff point was reached; the last animal had scurried into the ark (the tortoise or the chameleon?), the door swung closed and He himself turned the key in the lock.

The unbelieving masses of people were locked out. They must have been amazed to see the thousands of animals streaming into the ark as if driven by an unseen Hand. The entrance to the ark remained open for a period of 7 days, which number is the number of completeness/fullness, but still they did not repent. God did not stand at the door and did not turn away any one that wished to enter. He did not step in the way of anyone, saying, “Sorry, you are not elected.” There was no angel with a flaming sword to keep anyone out like at the entrance to Eden after Adam and Eve had been expelled. Each one chose not to enter. Though they saw the astounding miracle and had heard Noah’s warning that God was going to destroy the world because of their sin, not a single one was willing to face the fact that he too, was at fault and condemned to die. Their hearts had been hardened over a long period and had become like rocks. Repentance is a work of grace worked by the Holy Spirit and when He is continually resisted and He turns away, man will have no further desire nor hope to be saved (Prov 1:20-33; Eph 4:30).

Then the first raindrops fell …

D. A SUMMARY OF WHAT HAPPENED DURING THE FLOOD (Please read Gen 7:5-24).

Noah then was 600 years of age (7:6).

Faith and obedience was now rewarded. After 120 years of trusting and hard work, he and his family could take a well-deserved rest. When we please God, it happens that at the right time, He relieves us from our difficult circumstances and presents us with something new and enjoyable. Can we imagine the peace that flooded Noah’s soul as he flopped down in his cabin and dropped off to sleep, knowing that his job had been completed and that God would take over from that point. The Lord Jesus, too, once He had endured all the fear, forsakenness, shame and pain of the cross, cried out “It is finished!” and surrendered His Spirit into the hands of his Father.

The waters covered the earth.

  1. Once the door of the ark was locked, the rain poured down from above and from below the crust of the earth, fountains burst forth (7:10, 11).
  2. The flooding lasted for 40 days and 40 nights (7:12).
  3. The water rose to 15 cubits (7 1/2 meters) above the highest mountain peak (7:20).
  4. All living creatures outside the ark drowned (7:21-23).
  5. The ark, designed by God and built under his supervision, floated securely on the waters (7:18).

As regards the controversy as to whether the flood was universal, covering all the earth, or local, covering just the human inhabited area, please see the second last paragraph of this study guide.

All living creatures eventually drowned, including every human being. What a massive execution, what a sorrowful happening in the history of mankind and what a painful time for a loving God Who had such great expectations for the beings He created.

The Ark however, though it had no motor or steering mechanism to keep its bow facing into the fierce winds and waves so that it would not turn broadside and overturn, was kept steady by the hand of God and lifted higher and higher until it was floating safely above the highest mountain peaks. Can one imagine what it looked like from the Ark with water all around as far as the eye could see.

About a year after Noah and the others had embarked, the earth had sufficiently dried out for them to leave the ark (8:15-17). God again blessed them and told them to multiply.

A long time to stay in such cramped quarters! Fortunately the three couples had no children to keep occupied and the men no mothers-in-law to keep pacified (?).

E.  LIFE ON THE CLEANSED EARTH (Please read Gen 8:20-10:32)

Noah brought a sacrifice to God (8:20, 21).

Living through the Flood which probably was accompanied by tremendous claps of thunder, howling winds and monstrous waves, must have been an extremely traumatic experience. Also, after 12 months of seclusion, to have walked into a beautiful “new” world, would have been an exhilarating experience. No wonder that Noah’s first desire and action was to bring a sacrifice of thanksgiving to God as Moses did when delivered from Egypt. In so doing, He shed the blood of some of all of the clean animals and clean birds of which there were seven per group.

This also is how a person feels whose sins have been forgiven, has passed through the bath of the new birth and the renewal by the Holy Spirit and now experiences the new life in Christ; there is such an overflowing sense of gratitude in your heart that you cannot stop bringing a continual sacrifice of praise in song and by way of testimony.

God was mightily pleased with this, “sweet smelling” offering which was not only an offering of praise and thanksgiving, but also of atonement for sin, cleansing the new earth in preparation for a new beginning.

God gave new laws of nature regulating the climate, lifestyle and relationships of man and beast on the earth (8:22 – 9:4). He also entered into a covenant (an everlasting pledge) with man to never again destroy the world by water (9:8-17) and gave the rainbow as a sign of this covenant (9:13, 17).

With sin now having been taken care of, God could again freely bless his eight remaining people to be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth (9:1). As the ultimate good Father, He always looks for a son and daughter whom He can bless with a special blessing.

He then affirmed man’s dominion over the earth and especially over the animal kingdom and that he was allowed to shed their blood. Man’s blood however was not be shed for he was created in the image of God; therefor the shedding of his blood was in a sense as if it was aimed at God himself; it was a act of dishonouring Him.

Man’s diet was now enlarged to include the meat of animals but not their blood.

Since the Flood had, for at least a year, overturned the normal and regular cycles in the earth’s climate, man would always be uncertain if this would not unexpectedly happen again, therefor the Lord gave a special promise to reassure him that from then on there would be a regular flow of seasons; this would enable man to plan his agricultural year (8:22).

Lastly, the Lord gave his solemn word that there would never again be a flood that would destroy the earth and to this effect He gave the rainbow as his signature up high in the sky. This pledge is called a covenant.

Noah made wine, became drunk and lay naked in his tent (9:21). His son Ham mocked him (9:22). Shem and Japheth (respectfully) covered their father’s nudity (9:23). Because Ham mocked Noah, he placed a curse on his son Canaan (9:25).

This incident probably occurred a considerable time after the flood, because Canaan had already been born for Ham and since he is listed last of Ham’s four children in the genealogies (Gen 10:6 and Chron 1:8-10) he probably was the youngest.

The idyllic story of God’s new earth was unfortunately scarred by the shameful act of Noah, the man of God. All the waters of the Flood could not wash the sinful desires from the heart of man ; they carried it into the Ark with them and out into the new cleansed world. The purity of mankind was again soiled and Noah’s descendants also suffered because of his sin.

One misstep led to another and Ham disgraced his father by telling his brothers what he had seen, probably making fun of him, and in so doing, disgraced the whole family. He owed his own life to his father, who, because his righteousness, caused his family to be saved from the flood, yet Ham now mocked him. One should not scorn or look down on someone who has fallen prey to sin; God disapproves of this. Love requires that we cover other people’s sin rather than emphasizing it (1 Cor 13:7). This we can do by speaking well of their good characteristics and accomplishments.

Apart from dishonouring his father, Ham showed an objectionable or reprehensible attitude towards sin. God’s people should never speak lightly, laugh at, or make fun of sin; they should either reprove it, or cover it, for sin is an abominable thing in the eyes of God (Ps 41:1).

But, why was Canaan cursed and not Ham who was the guilty one? After considering several possible answers we are still in the dark. Did Canaan perhaps join his father in dishonouring his grandfather? We can only speculate.

A curse, if spoken by God, was often not just punitive (a punishment for sin) but also corrective (intended to reform the sinner or his descendants). By appointing Canaan’s descendants to be servants, they were humbled to counter their disrespectful attitude which caused them to look down upon their ancestor, Noah. A curse spoken over a certain line of people need also not necessarily affect everyone in that line, but only those persevering in going against God (Ex 20:5,6). Servant-hood can make us walk in the footsteps of Jesus for he came into this world to serve and not to be served (Matt 10:28).

If an outstanding righteous man like Noah could so easily fall prey to alcohol and be humiliated, how much more prone are we? Should we not rather stay well away from alcohol even if it is just wine?

F. DESCENDANTS OF NOAH, SHEM, HAM and JAPHET (Please read Gen 10:1-32).

Noah, the new father of the human race.

It is good to know that all the peoples of the earth, we included, descend from the God-fearing Mr. and Mrs. Noah. They had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japhet.

The descendants of Shem, Ham and Japheth (Some information uncertain).

Shem’s four sons were the ancestors of the Semitic lineage with the Hebrews, Persians, Assyrians, Chaldeans and Armenians (Syrians) as descendants. His offspring were known as Semites and godly people like Abraham, David and Jesus himself descended from him.

Ham’s cursed son Canaan, became the forefather of the Canaanites that turned so evil that God commanded Israel to exterminate them and take their land. Those remaining in the land were subjected to be slaves.

Ham’s other three sons were not cursed and they became the ancestors of the African nations such as the Egyptians, Philistines, Ethiopians (Cushites), Libyans and Arabic nations. Nimrod, a renowned hunter was born of Ham’s son Cush. He is thought by some to have been the founder of the godless Babylonian empire.

Japheth’s seven sons probably had the following descendants: the peoples of Asia-minor and Europe, the Gallics (French), British, Greek, Russians, Romans, Medians, Iberians and Thracians.

G. ADDITIONAL INTERESTING FACTS AND SPECULATIONS.

The Ark

  1. Dimensions :150 m long, 25 m wide and 15 m high.
  2. It was presumably built over a period of 120 years.
  3. It is calculated that the ark could accommodate approximately 45 000 animals.

Sequence of events relating to the flood

The following dates, are linked to Noah’s lifespan and not to the Christian calendar:

  1. 600-02-10          God locks the door after everyone has entered.
  2. 600-02-17           The sluices of heaven and fountains open and the flood commences.
  3. 600-03-29 (+-)  The rain ceases (40 days and nights after it commenced).
  4. 600-07-17           The ark comes to rest on the top of mount Ararat -150 days after the rain started.
  5. 600-11-10 (+-)   Forty days after mountain peaks became visible, Noah sent forth a crow that failed to return.
  6. 601-01-01           The water had largely dried up.
  7. 601-??-??            Noah sent out a pigeon and it returned.
  8. 601-??-07           After seven days Noah sent out another pigeon and it returned with an Olive twig.
  9. 601-02-27          Noah, his family and all the animals leave the ark. (They were in the ark for a period of one                                       year and seventeen days).

A universal or localized flood or just an allegory?

A question that is asked again and again, is whether the Flood covered all the earth with water up to a height of 15 cubits (7 ½ meters) above the highest mountain tops or whether it was only a localized flood.

1. In favour of a global flood.

If the water had covered the globe to such a height, it would basically have been a reversal to what conditions on the earth had been when God first began with creation and all the earth was covered with water (Gen.1:2).  The crust of the earth would have had to sink below the surface of the waters – a total world wide catastrophe.    If specimens of all species of animals had to enter into the ark, some, that were not found in that area, would have had to migrate from distant parts of the continent or even from other continents and, after the flood, they would once more have had to disperse over all the earth.

However, the fact that the Lord gave a rainbow  in the sky after the Flood (9:13) which previously had not been there, and that the seasons and even man’s food  were redefined (8:22-9:4), indicates that the flood had caused tremendous changes in climate.  So, possibly there had in fact been a world catastrophe.  The Lord, the Almighty, would of course have been well able to do that, because with Him all things are possible.  Nowadays, a small shifting of the crust of the earth can cause a flood wave (tsunami) to run meters deep over the coastal regions. It should therefor be possible for a major disruption of the crust of the earth to cause sea water to rush over vast portions of continents and even cause subterranean waters to break uncontrollably through the surface. Scientist may foresee many other possibilities.

2. In favour of a localized flood.

All of mankind was at that time gathered into the land of Mesopotamia; they had not spread any further over the earth and since God only needed to wipe out sinful mankind, there was no need for a global flood.  It would also have made the number of animals that had to be preserved in the ark, much smaller. There are signs of such a flood in that area which occurred more or less at that time. There are therefore also good arguments for a localized flood.

Real or just an allegory?

Is the account of the flood just an allegory to convey the concept of salvation? To see this account as only symbolical, as some do, is to disregard the accepted rules of interpretation of Scripture. There is nothing in this account to indicate that it is to be understood different from the preceding account of creation, of the account of Cain and Abel, of the genealogies and from the account of the Tower of Babel following after it.  There was a real ark, into which real animals and people entered to be preserved.  God did indeed close and lock the door behind them after which everything was wiped out by a real flood.  See this happening in your imagination, believe in your heart that the present world will just as certainly, as prophesied by God be destroyed by fire and that only those that are in Christ will be saved. Then do as Noah and his family did and enter into the Ark that is Christ.

The importance of the teaching which God wants to pass through to us by this account, is that sin leads to judgement which we can only escape by following God’s plan of salvation.  For that reason all the technical detail, just as with the account of creation, is not furnished.