Episode 19 – Ch 7:1-24
Thank you for once again joining me as we continue in our study through the book of Genesis. I am your host, Randy Duncan, and in this episode, we are beginning Chapter 7, which will see Noah and his family board the ark.
But before we get into that, as a reminder, in the last episode, we had a discussion regarding the ark itself, what it was constructed of, it’s size, etc. We also discussed how many people still have a child-like understanding of the ark, and that there is a need to move beyond that babyish understanding to one that is more realistic and scriptural.
Which brings us now to chapter 7. One note before we get started with this discussion. This is an episode where you need to keep your preconceived notions in check, and let’s see what the text actually says, particularly as it relates to the extent of the flood. Remember, one of the barriers to truth is the presumption that you already have it. And with that, we begin chapter 7.
V1-” Then the Lord said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation.
We discussed in an earlier episode the fact that God viewed Noah as righteous. Now some people try and interpret this verse as saying that Noah was “perfect in his generations”, and what they are getting at is the thought that Noah’s line, his family, was perfect in a gene pool sense, meaning that they were not infected with the gene pool problem associated with the Nephilim. The folks that espouse this theory put forth the theory that one of the reasons, if not the main reason, for the flood, was to wipe out humanity because they had been infected with the fallen angels, and the Nephilim, and so the flood was the remedy for this infected gene pool. And Noah’s family was the only one not infected. This is definitely a very minority position, and I mention it only so you are aware that the thought is out there.
So how many of each animal did Noah take into the ark? Two you say? Well, listen to what the text actually says here in V2-3
2 Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and his mate, and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and his mate, 3 and seven pairs of the birds of the heavens also, male and female, to keep their offspring alive on the face of all the earth.
So, how many of each animal did Noah take on the ark? What we see here is that although the initial instructions are for two of each animal to be taken onboard the ark, when more specific instructions are given, we see that one pair of the unclean animals is to be taken, while seven pairs of clean animals are to be taken. One of the reasons is that the extra of the clean animals would have allowed extra for sacrifices once they disembarked
4 For in seven days I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground.” 5 And Noah did all that the Lord had commanded him.
Couple of things to mention here. God seems to be giving Noah 7 days to get the animals onboard the ark, although Noah and his family will not board until the rain begins.
We also see here mention once again the 40 days and 40 nights. Everyone who is familiar with the story of Noah’s ark and the flood knows it rained for 40 days and 40 nights. However, as I mentioned in an earlier episode, the number 40 is used many times in scripture, and is a conventional number used to describe a time of testing, or the introduction of a new age so to speak. In some cases, the number 40 may actually have been 40 days. However, we need to be aware that scripture consistently uses 40 as a time of testing, whatever the actual number of days
A few examples are, Moses is on Mount Sinai for 40 days, Israel’s spies are in the wilderness for 40 days, God sentences Israel to 40 years in the wilderness, Jesus was tempted and fasted in the wilderness for 40 days, Christ appeared to his disciples for 40 days before his ascension. And here, we see that it rains for 40 days and 40 nights. Again, 40 may be the actual number, but it appears that the number 40 is symbolic for a time of testing and preparation that God has ordained.
6 Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters came upon the earth. 7 And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him went into the ark to escape the waters of the flood. 8 Of clean animals, and of animals that are not clean, and of birds, and of everything that creeps on the ground, 9 two and two, male and female, went into the ark with Noah, as God had commanded Noah. 10 And after seven days the waters of the flood came upon the earth.
So here is just a recap of what we have discussed to this point. With the added information that the flood came when Noah was 600 years old. If you remember, we also discussed in a previous episode the long lifespans recorded in Chapter 5, but after the flood, we see the lifespans drop dramatically, and bottom out to what we would consider normal even for modern times. Remember also, God had already declared that humans would not live more than about 120 years from then on, and that is exactly what we see recorded.
So I am going to simply read verses 11-16, which again, is sort of rehashing the information we have already been given
11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. 12 And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights. 13 On the very same day Noah and his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them entered the ark, 14 they and every beast, according to its kind, and all the livestock according to their kinds, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, according to its kind, and every bird, according to its kind, every winged creature. 15 They went into the ark with Noah, two and two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life. 16 And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him. And the Lord shut him in.
We have already discussed most of the information given in those verses except for a couple noteworthy items.
First, notice that the exact date is given when the flood began…the 600th year of Noah, the second month, the 17th day of the month. This provides historic credibility and invests in and marks the story with unique importance
Second thing to point out here is that it wasn’t just rain that provided the floodwaters. It says that the fountains of the deep burst forth, along with the rain.
The last portion of verse 16, where it says “And the Lord shut him in”.
Who closed the door of the ark? God did. It is sort of an act that speaks of divine protection. Remember also from lalst episode, Jesus said in John 10:9, “I am the door, if anyone enters by me, he will be saved…”. Jesus siad he was the only way to be saved. Likewise, there was only one door to the ark, one way to enter the ark, one way to be saved. The only means of salvation was on this one ark, through this one door.
But I want to move into a discussion concerning the extent of the flood, so I think what I will do is go ahead and finish reading verses 17-24, and then go back and weave these verses into the conversation regarding the flood itself.
17 The flood continued forty days on the earth. The waters increased and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. 18 The waters prevailed and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the face of the waters. 19 And the waters prevailed so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered. 20 The waters prevailed above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep. 21 And all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, livestock, beasts, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and all mankind. 22 Everything on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died. 23 He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens. They were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark. 24 And the waters prevailed on the earth 150 days.
So with that, I want to move into a discussion about the extent of the flood. IOW, was it a global flood that covered the entire planet, or was it something else. Most people assume that the only two options are the flood was either local, or global. But that would be a false dichotomy. That is not the only two choices we have. The flood could also have been regional, or it could have been universal, relative to the known world at that time.
Global – this is the most extreme position. People who believe in a global flood believe that water covered the entire planet to a height that was 22 feet higher than the highest mountain
The known World- the flood was universal relative to the known world of the people of the OT at the time. IOW, this was a massive flood, but did not include other continents or areas of the world, like China
Regional – extensive regional flood, but contained to an area around the Meditteranean Basin, Black Sea, and Tigris-Euphrates Valley
Local – flood wiped out several towns along the river
Let me first go ahead and dismiss the idea that this was a local flood. There are many reasons for doing so that I don’t have time to go into here, but also, I simply don’t know of many people who actually believe that.
I think maybe the best way to approach this discussion is to take a look at it from two different perspectives. I think we can look at it from a biblical perspective, as well as a scientific perspective.
Remember, God is the author of both scripture and nature. He is not the author of confusion. So anytime our interpretation does not align with either scripture or nature, our interpretation of either one or both of them is incorrect.
So let’s begin with a look from scripture. And in doing so, we need to see what the language of the text demands. And I think with this particular issue, there are a few primary textual issues that we need to investigate.
The first one is what is referred to as ‘universal language”. It may sound strange to say, but the word “all” is not always absolute in biblical usage. I touched on some examples of this in the last episode. For example, Gen 41:57, remember, Joseph opens up the storehouses in Egypt, and “all the countries came to Egypt to buy grain from Jospeph, because the famine was severe in all the world”. I don’t know of anyone who tries to argue that people came from Australia or N. America.
Another example is found in 1 Kings 4:34, where it says that “Men of all nations came to listen to Solomon’s wisdom”, and 1 Kings 10:24 adds that “The whole earth sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God put in his heart”. But in two other places we read that people came from as far away as Sheba and Arabia. Now this would extend out about 1300 miles from Jerusalem, but far short of the entire world
Again, these are only two examples, but there are others. The point is that when we read phrases such as “the entire heavens” “the face of the earth”, “the whole earth”, etc., we need to read them from the perspective of ancient people as they would have understood them to mean, and from their frame of reference, not necessarily ours. And the reality is that these phrases do not always refer to the entire planet.
In fact, the Hebrew word for earth, ‘eres, is the 4th most frequently used noun in the OT, behind “YHWH”, and “elohim”, and “son”. And although it can mean the entire earth, it most often refers to a specific territory or land area. And so we see that, just as in these other examples, we are not required by the biblical text to impose an interpretation that the flood waters covered the entire planet
It is easy for people today to think in global terms, but that wasn’t necessarily the case for ancient peoples. To them, the world often meant the people, the land meant the ground under their feet stretching from horizon to horizon. The highest mountains would have been those within sight or within walking distance
If you think about it too, in order to wipe out humanity, God wouldn’t have needed to cover the entire earth with water because people had not yet spread out from one another. In fact, it is not until chapter 11 that God steps in at the Tower of Babel and forces people to spread out over the entire earth. Up until then, they had continued to ignore God’s command to multiply and fill the earth, and they had remained in the same geographic area
The next textual issue concerns the water “covering the mountains”. Specifically, I want to point out the word for “covered”. The Hebrew verb form used here can be used for a wide variety and possibilities of coverings. There are about 15 or so examples of this verb being used to describe something being covered in water, but three of them describe something other than being completely submerged in water. For example, Malachi 2:13 says “You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand.” This doesn’t mean that the altar is completely submerged in tears, and yet it is the same Hebrew word we find used for the mountains being covered.
Even today, in our modern English, we often say that someone is drenched or covered with water, but we don’t mean they are completely submerged underwater. And so again, the text allows for an interpretation that does not demand the mountains be submerged under water, but just that they were drenched.
The next textual issue to discuss is the “fifteen cubits above”. Remember, V20 said that the waters covered the mountains by 15 cubits, which would be about 22 feet. So what can we make of that? Well, the Hebrew actually says that “Fifteen cubits from above rose the waters, and the mountains were covered.” Well, we already discussed the covered part. Regarding the Hebrew word under consideration here, I will spare you the grammar lesson, but a better translation is that the water rose up, or spread upward, 22 feet from the plain, covering, or drenching, at least part of the mountains.
So just looking at the biblical text, without considering any scientific data, a compelling case can be made that scripture makes the case for a worldwide event as far as humanity goes, but less than global with respect to the geography.IOW, worldwide so as to wipe out all of humanity where they lived, but not having to cover the entire planet since humans had not yet spread out over all the earth
So let’s shift gears for a minute and look at the possibility of a global flood from a scientific standpoint.
Let me first start by addressing one of the most obvious challenges for this model, which is the amount of water required. Again, a global flood model as it is mostly defined, argues that water covered the entire planet, as well as covered the highest mountains by 22 feet. Some people interpret Noah’s ark as coming to rest on the very top of Mt Ararat, which is right at 17,000 feet tall. We will actually discuss this in the next episode. But this would mean that the water would have had to have risen to 17,000 feet high over all the earth. The amount of water this would have required is difficult to comprehend. This would have required over 630 cubic miles of additional water!, weighing over 3 quintillion tons! That’s a 3 with 18 zeros after it BTW!
The oceans would have had to triple in volume in only 150 days, and then quickly shrink back to normal size during the second 150 days. We know that rain clouds could not even hold 1/10th of 1 percent of that much water. Even if it could hold that much water, it would result in our atmospheric being 840 times what it currently is, making life as we know it impossible
The bottom line is that to completely cover earth’s surface would require an amount of water that is more than 4 times the sum of all the water currently present in all of our oceans, lakes, atmosphere, and within Earth’s crust.
One of the ways global flood advocates try and argue around this is to claim that before the flood, mountains were no more than a few hundred feet above sea level. Scientifically, that is a very easy argument to debunk. But even if that were the case, the amount of all the water on earth is still not enough to cover everything
So for many advocates of the global flood model, this shortage of water problem is one of the reasons that led to the Canopy Theory, which is the hypothesis that a thick canopy of water once surrounded the earth and collapsed at the time of the flood, and that was a major source of the flood waters. I addressed this back in an episode during creation week, and discussed why this was scientifically debunked by the laws of physics and has since fallen out of favor.
Also, if one is going to argue that the mountains were only a few hundred feet tall back before the flood, and the flood was the cause of massive vertical uplift that raised the mountains to the heights they are now, one has to essentially abandon all known geology and plate tectonics. You have to posit such aggressive plate tectonic activity that it would have made surviving the flood impossible. The reason is due to the fact that the energy required to make these radical alterations in Earth’s geography in such a brief time, exceeds by several orders of magnitude what the laws of physics permit
The primary difference between the global flood models and current mainstream geophysical models is that global flood scenarios squeeze several billion years’ worth of tectonic activity into a period of time less than one year. IOW, they have only one year available to account for all of earth’s tectonic arrangement, the build-up of mountains, and the separation of the continents, some as much as 5000 – 8000 miles of movement.
I don’t have time to do a complete deep-dive into this issue, but let me just mention that these are not the only issues that a global flood model must address. There are challenges other than just the water shortage problem and implausible plate tectonic. Some of the other challenges are issues such as the amount of biodeposits in the earth, radioactive decay rates up to 1 billion times faster than what we now observe, the survivability of the aftermath of the flood, and the required rapid rate of animal evolution that not even atheistic evolutionary biologists accept or believe in.
So what are we to make of this discussion? Why go through this exercise in the first place? I think it is important because at the end of the day, we need to be able to offer a theologically sound, biblically consistent, and scientifically plausible interpretation of the flood account. And although God is certainly capable of doing anything, I think the question we need to ask is not what could God have done, but what did he do?” Certainly God has performed many miracles that override the laws of physics. The resurrection of Jesus overrides the laws of physics. However, He never removes the evidence for doing so. And there is just no evidence that this is how God did it. God’s revelation through the record in nature is trustworthy, not deceptive.
By any account, whether this was a regional flood or global, it was a massive event such as the world has not seen since. However, I think the most consistent interpretation is that the flood extended only as far as necessary to impact the entire world as defined by its human population at the time.
But as we wrap up this episode, please keep in mind, your salvation doesn’t depend on whether you believe the flood was global or regional. In fact, it has nothing to do with your position in Christ. I know plenty of wonderful Christians who hold completely different views concerning the flood. Having a correct flood interpretation does not get you into Heaven. Having the correct relationship with, and placing your trust and faith in Jesus Christ gets you into Heaven. I mean, it’s not like when you die, God has two boxes to check off, one that you accepted the provision He made for you through the sacrifice of Jesus, and then another that shows you had a correct flood interpretation! No, in Christ alone, through faith alone, are we saved.
John 3:16, does not say “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him (and has a correct flood interpretation) should not perish but have eternal life.
No! Believe in Christ, place your trust in Christ, accept his sacrifice to cover your sins, and you will be saved!
Thank you so much for joining me for this episode, and I hope you will listen in next week as we begin to take a look at life after the flood. Until then, I will leave you once again with the words of Jesus, in Matt 24:37-39 – “37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”