1st October 2006
Strange stories part4
Did God really flood the earth?
The fact that the flood took place is taken for granted by Moses (the writer of Genesis). Isaiah also speaks of it in chapter 54:9, as does the New Testament. See Hebrews 11:7; 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5 & 3:6. Jesus’ words are also recorded in Matthew’s gospel 24:37-39 & Luke 17:26-29. As far as scripture is concerned the flood happened without a doubt. But we live in the 21st century where we are encouraged to question everything. The bible is not beyond our scrutiny and many have chosen to believe that it is merely a book of myths and ideals. We have great science and scientists who readily speak contrary to the bible. So can we believe that God really flooded the whole earth?
We also have historical and other accounts handed down over the generations, many of which speak of a time of catastrophic flooding upon the land. We need to remember that the time we are looking at is very early in the history of mankind. If we count back to Adam we are in the region of 1650 years from creation. Therefore when God’s word speaks of the wickedness of man on the earth; had mankind spread from Eden across the whole globe or was he still in a more confined area of the planet. This being the case the question might be; does the record mean that the whole globe or just the part that was occupied by human life was flooded? This argument has been raging now for decades and I believe is somewhat of a red herring that fuels the fire of the sceptics! We can say that there is much traditional and archaeological evidence that points to the flood being widespread but there is a more important point to make than to prove the extent of the flood. It is clear from scripture that the flood involved all of humanity, with only 8 people being saved from its devastating effect.
This causes man to ask the question; “how can a God of love allow such a thing to happen?” The flood of Noah’s day will help us to understand why it happened and why God acted in such a way. We will also discover if God will do such a thing again. Another question that is often asked is “where is God in all of this?” The answer to that question is plain to see; He is in the very midst of it all. What we can observe from this account is something of how God feels when such an act of His judgement is taking place.
To help us learn from this event we will look at:
1. The state of mankind.
2. The heart of Noah.
3. The justice of God.
4. The salvation of God.
The state of mankind:
Genesis 6:1-6 tells us some things that are difficult to understand. It speaks of the sons of God marrying the daughters of men. There have been many varying suggestions as to what this might mean. Many are fanciful (you can read of them in some of the commentaries) but I suppose that the interpretation that I am most comfortable with is: the sons of men being those of professing faith over previous generations inter-marrying with those who are anti-faith producing a confused and perverse people such as described in our reading, these in turn were considered to be the heroes of their day. These things are recorded not for us to worry about as much as to inform us that something was desperately wrong with mankind by the time that Noah lived. It is this that God saw and would do something about.
God sees everything; there is nothing that escapes His gaze! The people were desperately wicked, so much so that verse 12 suggests to us that the whole of creation was corrupted by the wickedness of man.
We observed last we week in the account of Cain killing Abel how quickly that man had become “totally depraved” in just one generation! We are reminded again; God has revealed that man is sinful to the core. We think that the world is a bad place to be at times but it is no worse than in those early days. A question that we might have is “can it be as bad today?” Jesus tells us in Matthew 24 that in the last days before His return it will be just as it was in the days of Noah so I guess that the days before the flood were days just like we live in today. People are just as ungodly and are doing the same things but God has promised not to act as He did then. He will never flood the earth again! He has another plan of which we will learn of as we consider the rest of the account.
The heart of Noah:
All was not lost we know that Noah was a good man; Moses tells us that he was righteous. For those who concern themselves with numbers; Methuselah probably died the year of the flood. So there were those who; against all of the odds remained faithful, but they were in the minority! They stood for truth against the tide of public opinion.
It is the heart of Noah that is important; he was righteous and so was worthy of God’s salvation. I am glad that God is omniscient (He is all-knowing) and omnipresent (everywhere & seeing everything). He does not make rash judgements based on partial facts but upon the reality of the situation. He judged Noah to be righteous and so therefore saved him from the judgement to come. There is more recorded in the New Testament regarding Noah. Peter tells us that he was a preacher of righteousness (2Peter 2:5) and Hebrews 11:5 tells us that Noah was a man of faith who condemned the world through the building of the ark.
Noah clearly had a heart for God therefore he was treated differently at the time of judgement. We learn a vital principle here; God does not treat those who love Him in the same way as He does those who disregard Him because He is also omnipotent (all-powerful) which means He is powerful to judge rightly. He is all-powerful to save the righteous and equally all-powerful to condemn the wicked!
The justice of God:
Genesis 6:5 & 13
Because God is omniscient He not only sees and discerns the good heart of Noah but He is also concerned about the hearts of all people. He therefore observes and monitors the lives of everybody. He sees it exactly as it is and so because He is fully good He makes an assessment and judgement upon all of mankind just as each individual deserves. What God saw at that time had a profound affect upon Him. The above verses tell us that His heart was grieved and full of pain. For those who criticize God and His judgements they need to read such a passage that reveals not what man thinks what God is like but displays the pain and sorrow of the Divine Heart of God. Because God is good in every way He judges the situation rightly. One of the greatest criticisms in modern Britain is that there is poor justice in our law courts. The penalty in many peoples thinking does not fit the crime. Most believe that for some crimes judgement is too harsh and for others far too lenient. It is difficult for man to make a right judgement. But for God there is only one judgement: Salvation for the righteous & punishment for the wicked! The extent of punishment for the wicked is always up to the judge. God being the Righteous Judge makes His judgement not only fair but it is always right and just!
Just as Noah had a choice to live righteously so did the whole of the population but they chose an ungodly life and they paid God’s penalty. It is exactly the same for us today. The choice is ours, “as for me I will serve the Lord,” what will you do?
The salvation of God:
Sometimes God’s plans are a mystery to us. They might even seem somewhat bizarre or even irrelevant at the time. I am sure that Noah would have wondered what was in God’s mind as he was told to make a massive boat. It was going to rain; some experts tell us that rain and flood was not known before. I am not sure about that but Noah made the ark because he trusted completely in God’s word. For the many years that it took (because he did it alone) to make the ark Noah was doing two other things.
Firstly he was preaching righteousness as Peter tells us in the New Testament. We can imagine the passion that he would plead with the people. They were in a precarious situation, Noah knew of God’s plan which meant certain death for all outside of the ark. Noah’s extended family, his friends and his neighbours were all under judgement and all they could do was to mock “funny old Noah” and his ridiculous boat!
Secondly Noah was displaying God’s judgement by the building of the ark. There was ultimately only safety available for those on the inside. It would be no good to those who would appreciate the craftsmanship of the ark or its design. They had to enter into the ark in order to be saved from God’s final judgement.
But the people rejected God’s offer of salvation through Noah’s preaching and witness of obedience. We can imagine the kinds of comments; “we would rather take our chances with our friends than associate with Noah and his God.” The people were living life to the full just as they wanted. Jesus tells us in Luke 17:26-27 that they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. In other words they were blindly getting on with life in the face of God’s judgement upon them and they did not care. UNTIL the flood came and then Noah and his family had to hear their cries for help and rescue but they were in the floodwaters and lost forever.
Man has never changed; he is still the same today. He is under the judging eye of God who again has supplied an Ark of Salvation. This Ark to them is equally unbelievable and even funny in their estimation because it is the cross of Jesus. All who will believe in Him will be saved but all outside of faith will perish! As in the days of Noah people are blindly getting on with life ignoring such a great salvation and walking into God’s judgement because they do not care for His gracious offer of escape!
As we have learned from this passage God is grieved by man’s sinfulness, He is not quick to judge but He offers a way of escape but ultimately there will be a judgement made. He will save those who trust in Him and will punish everybody else. (Noah took that seriously and preached righteousness and pleaded with the people. Christians are we doing as Noah did????) The bible tells us that “precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” He is pleased in the death of His people because at last they are with Him eternally. The opposite is not true of God that He is pleased with the death of the wicked! We learn from this passage that the heart of God grieves and is in pain over the rejection of the wicked. The New Testament tells us that he does not desire that any should perish but that they should be saved. This is why He is patient and will not judge the world with a flood as before. Ultimately He will judge all of mankind not with a happy face but with a broken heart. Every person who dies with their sins unforgiven breaks the heart of God. Will He be pleased with you or broken hearted at having to reject you from His presence?