Please read Gen 7:17– 10:32 beforehand
A. THE FLOOD ITSELF (7:17- 8:19)
- The reward of faith and obedience
Noah then was 600 years of age (7:6). Faith and obedience were 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, rejection, shame and pain of the cross, cried out “It is finished!” and surrendered His Spirit into the hands of his Father.
The waters cover the earth
Rain which had always been the instrument of God’s blessing now turned into the instrument of his judgment.
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. This continued for 40 days and 40 nights.
Initially the lower lying plains were swamped. Huge lakes resulted but gradually the level of the waters rose higher and higher so that only the highest mountain peaks were visible. In the end they too were covered. The water had risen to 15 cubits (7,5 meters) above the highest mountain peak.
The earth now looked like what it had at the time when God began His work of creation. There was one exception: on this vast expanse of waters, floated a small little ship, covered by God’s hand and filled by His people and animals.
All living creatures eventually drowned. How we pity the innocent animals that had to fall under the judgment of God and suffer death because of the sin of man.
Every human being also perished. What a terrible panic must have taken hold of all flesh. They took to the hillocks, then to the mountains but these became islands as the waters encircled and then swallowed them up.
How many prayers must have risen to heaven; how many confessions of sin; how many promises; how many desperate pleas; but heaven above was a dark ceiling of thundering clouds, crackling lightning, battering hail and pouring, pouring, pouring rain. Perhaps there were even those that were so hardened that they cursed the Almighty for their plight.
Noah and his family were mercifully spared hearing their desperate cries and seeing them sinking beneath the churning waters; the very people to whom they had preached and with whom they had pleaded.
What a massive execution, what a sorrowful event in the history of mankind and what a painful time for a loving God Who had, had such great expectations for the beings He created.
The safe hiding place
When the rain started, the ark lay safely in the cradle in which it was built. Then after some time, they felt it move, then rock gently as it was lifted by the waters.
The massive structure, designed by God and built under his supervision, floated securely on the surface of the waters and that, in the midst of the worst storm (tsunami) that ever came over the earth. 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 the awesome sight of waters all around as far as the eye could see? As the Noahs looked through a port opening, the old world, as they knew it, had completely disappeared.
The elect inherited a new earth (8:13-19)
About a year after they had entered the ark, the earth had sufficiently dried for them to leave the it. God’s newly created earth was ready to be inhabited, so, Noah, his family and the animals disembarked. This probably was, and will be, the longest uninterrupted sea journey ever undertaken.
A long time to stay in such cramped quarters! No books, no Tv. Fortunately, the three couples had no children to keep occupied and the men no mothers-in-law to keep pacified (?) Did the men do any fishing?
God then again blessed them and told them to multiply.
B. LIFE ON THE CLEANSED EARTH (Gen 8:20-10:32)
- Noah brought a sacrifice to God
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 the clean animals and birds of which there were seven per species. So it was both and offering of praise and an offering of atonement for sin.
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 is pleased
After the terrible trauma of having to execute judgment on people He loved, God was mightily pleased with this, “sweet smelling” offering brought to Him by a human being.
He also again realized how deep was man’s degradation and that He would always have to deal with him on the basis of the offering that Christ would bring and not on the basis of his own efforts to live a righteous life.
Man’s mandate over the recreated world affirmed (8:22-9:7)
God gave new laws of nature regulating the climate, lifestyle and relationships of man and beast on the earth.
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. As the ultimate good Father, He always looks for a son and daughter whom He can bless with a special blessing.
He reaffirmed 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 an act of dishonouring Him.
Man’s diet was enlarged to include the meat of animals but not their blood.
God’s covenant with mankind (8:20; 9:8-17)
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.
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. It was unconditional.
The hero of this story has feet of clay (9:20-27)
Noah made wine, became drunk and lay naked in his tent. His son Ham mocked him and brought a curse upon his son Canaan. “Oh no!”
One ray of light to soften the blow: Shem and Japheth (respectfully) covered their father’s nudity.
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 1Chron 1:8-10) he probably was the youngest.
Sin survived the flood
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 like a virus into the Ark with them and out into the new cleansed world.
Noah also did not reckon with the devil that also survived the Flood and was determined to claim God’s new earth for himself.
The purity of mankind was again soiled, and Noah’s descendants also suffered because of his sin.
A mocker in the house of God
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 gossiping of it (1 Cor 13:7). Pull a sheet over the sins of others by also mentioning 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).
Why was Canaan cursed?
But, why was Canaan cursed and not Ham who was the guilty one? After considering several possible answers we are still at a loss for a clear answer. Did Canaan perhaps join his father in dishonouring his grandfather? We can only speculate.
Here are some possible answers and considerations:
- If Ham was cursed, all four of his children would have been affected thereby, but God might have seen Ham’s bad spirit present only in his fourth child, Canaan and therefore cursed only him. These evil characteristics would be transmitted to his descendants, causing them to drift further and further away from God and experience less of His blessings. That would result in their downfall en make them servants of the nations descending from Shem and Japhet. The curse uttered by Noah was thus a prophesy of what would happen in future.
Canaan’s moral inferiority would disqualify his descendants to rule. Ham indirectly shared in this curse.
- Servanthood is not necessarily to be shunned for it can make us walk in the footsteps of Jesus Who came into this world to serve and not to be served (Matt 20:28) Servanthood is highly acclaimed in children of God.
- 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) and therefor beneficial. For instance: the curse pronounced on Adam and Eve, cause their descendants to be needful in many areas of their lives and therefor to draw near to God for assistance. 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. So this worked out in their favour.
- A curse spoken over a certain line of people need not necessarily affect everyone in that line, but only those persevering in going against God (Ex 20:5,6).
- Canaan’s descendants unfortunately did not mend their ways. They later settled in Canaan and became so wicked that God had to wipe them out and give the land to His people, Israel.
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?
C. DESCENDANTS OF NOAH, SHEM, HAM and JAPHET (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. Now let us take a look at their three sons.
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 and, as said earlier, 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.
D. ADDITIONAL INTERESTING FACTS AND SPECULATIONS
- The Ark
- Dimensions :150 m long, 25 m wide and 15 m high.
- It was presumably built over a period of 120 years.
- It had three levels.
- Attempts have been made to calculate the number of animals that could have fitted into the ark and it is said that as many as 45 000 could have been accommo-dated.
Sequence of events relating to the flood
The following dates, are linked to Noah’s lifespan and not to the Christian calendar:
|God locks the door after everyone had entered.
|The sluices of heaven and fountains open and the flood commences.
|The rain ceases (40 days and nights after it commenced).
|The ark comes to rest on the top of mount Ararat -150 days after the rain had started
|Mountain peaks became visible
|Noah sent forth a crow (40 days after the mountain tops become visible) The crow failed to return
|Noah sent out a pigeon and it returned.
|After seven days Noah sent out another pigeon and it returned with an olive twig.
|Noah opens the lid of the ark and sees that the water had largely dried away.
|Noah, his family and all the animals leave the ark.
|They had been in the ark for a period of one year and seventeen days
A universal or localized flood?
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.
- Argument in favour of a global flood.
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 wide 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.
- Arguments in favour of a localized flood.
- If specimens of all species of animals found all over the world had to enter into the ark, some 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 – but had the animals at that stage indeed already spread all over the world?
- 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 a massive flood in that area which occurred more or less at that time but, there are also signs of such a flood in various other parts of the world.
So, these and many, many more arguments brought by various respected Christian writers do not fully convince one way or the other.
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.
It is also often referred to in the New Testament: Matt 24:38; Luk 3:36 (Noah); Heb 11:7; 1 Pet 3:20).
No, 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 it in your heart, then turn to the prophesies regarding the end of this world and believe that they will just as surely come to pass; it will be destroyed by fire (2 Pet 3:12) and only those that are in Christ will be saved. Finally, do as Noah and his family did and enter into our Ark that is Christ.
The importance of the teaching which God wants to pass through to us by the account of the Flood, 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 given to us for it serves no purpose.
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