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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, March 14 2024

Lessons from the flood of Noah

In Matthew chapter 23, Christ warned His audience, and us, not to follow the example of the scribes and Pharisees, who were the religious leaders in Israel at that time, using the phrase “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” seven times.

The story begins in Genesis 6. God saw mankind was becoming more and more evil. Sin was dominating their whole society. They were disobeying God, having chosen the way represented by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In order to ultimately save humanity from its own misguided choices, God decided to destroy the rebellious society of that time and start again with eight people.

He instructed Noah to build an immense ark for that purpose (Genesis 6:14). It was 300 cubits long. If we accept a cubit as being about 18 inches, the ark would have been 450 feet long, much longer than a football field, and approximately 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. It was more like a barge than a boat, and because of its proportional size it would have been very stable.

In Genesis 7:2 God told Noah to take all the beasts of the field into the ark. Seven pairs of clean animals and at least one pair of unclean animals were to be taken. Some feel Genesis 7:2 is referring only to seven clean animals of each kind, not seven pairs. Either way, this passage proves the laws of clean and unclean foods were known to mankind long before Moses. (For more information on this topic see our free study guide What Does The Bible Teach About Clean And Unclean Meats?)

God then brought the Flood on the earth and the ark floated on the waters. In Genesis 7:19-21 we are told "all the high hills under the whole heaven were covered” and the waters prevailed above the highest mountains by15 cubits (about 22 feet). All mankind and animals that breathed air (excluding fish of course) died.

The ark landed on the "mountains of Ararat," with the lowest place the ark could have landed in that region being about 6,000 feet high. So,if you believe the Bible to be accurate, the water had to cover the earth by at least 6,000 feet. The Revell Bible Dictionary (article "Ararat," page 83) says: "The mountains of Ararat lie in present day Turkey. Lake Van, the center of the district, is 6,000 feet above sea level, with mountains around it towering up nearly 17,000 feet. Tradition identifies the south slope of Mount Massis (Ararat) as the landing place of the Ark… Only a cataclysm like that described in Genesis 6-9 could have lifted Noah's boat to such a height."

God then set a rainbow in the clouds to be a sign that He would never again destroy the earth by a flood (Genesis 9:12-15). If the Flood were local, then God did not fulfill His word. There have been many local floods, which have killed many people since the Genesis Flood.

If the Bible is true and all humanity comes from Noah and his family, we would expect to find stories of the Flood all over the world, and we do. There are Flood stories in most of the ancient civilizations, offering interesting confirmation the biblical Flood was a historical event. Mayans, Indians, Greeks, Chinese and many others have stories of a worldwide flood. Most of them have the common theme that God (or gods) got angry with mankind and destroyed almost everyone with a flood.

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (article "The Deluge of Noah") gives some details of the Babylonian flood story: "Xisuthrus was warned beforehand by the deity Cronos, and told to build a ship and take with him his friends and relations and all the different animals with all necessary food and trust himself fearlessly to the deep, whereupon he built 'a vessel 5 stadia (3,000 feet) long and 2 stadia (1,200 feet) broad.' After the flood subsided Xisuthrus, like Noah, sent out birds which returned to him again."

Can you imagine the ridicule Noah received when he tried to warn his fellow human beings the world was going to be destroyed by a flood? The Bible indicates Noah may have preached to mankind for as long as 120 years before the Flood (Genesis 6:3).

We are warned there would be "scoffers" in the last days of mankind who would lose sight of biblical truth, believing their own theories instead of what the Bible teaches (2 Peter 3:3-6). Christ indicated those considered wise and prudent by the world would be blinded to the knowledge of the Bible and that God would reveal the truth to babes (those willing to trust God and God's Word above all else) (Luke 10:21). In 1 Corinthians 1:20-25 Paul says the things of God are foolishness to the world, and Romans 1:20-22 states humans became so vain and trusting in their own false suppositions that they lost the truth.

The Flood is a warning to us today. In 2 Peter 3:11 the Apostle Peter states that since the earth has been destroyed by a flood and the world is again to be destroyed by fire, we should take care how we conduct ourselves. The message of repentance is one of the great lessons of the Flood. John the Baptist in the New Testament repeated the same warning (Matthew 3:7-11), and in Mark 1:15 we see the same message being taught by Jesus Christ. God is just and fair. He rewards righteousness, and the wicked will not prevail in the end.