The Lord of the Flood Part 1 (Gen. 6:9-8:19)
We are back in Genesis. This time we are in Genesis 6. Let’s remember the context again. I say this every week because I don’t want us to forget this. There is a battle between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent (Gen. 3:15). God promised that the seed of the woman will one day crush the seed of the serpent. Satan will not go down with a fight, however. Genesis 4 tells us that Satan won Cain over to his side and then used Cain to kill the other potential seed in Abel. However, God is faithful and Seth was born (Gen. 4:26). The seed of the woman lives! In Gen. 6, we saw Satan masterminding a plot to make sure the seed of the woman never arrives. Man has compromised to the point where he is open to demons. This was a perfect opportunity for Satan to work. Demon possessed men fueled by lust, married women to corrupt marriage and to prevent the seed of the woman from coming into existence.
What will God do? Last week we saw that sin must be punished. God is holy and does not wink at sin. Now we finally have made it to Noah and the Flood. In doing a google search on this story, I found a lot of pictures that show this as a cute children’s story, usually with giraffes sticking up at the top. “Uncle Noah built an ark,” I once heard the creepy children’s group the Wiggles sing. Hollywood recently made a film about Noah and the Ark and what type of movie do you think it was? It was a comedy! It was called Evan Almighty. Sometimes these things influence the way we read this story. Is this just a children’s story about a man and his zoo-boat? I think not. Is this a comedy? Quite the opposite. This story is a tragedy, though we do find God’s grace throughout it.
We will be looking at this story as a whole and hopefully unpack some lessons here for us. This is more than a children’s story since Jesus and Peter both reference this story as a sad (as opposed to comedic and cute) picture of what is going to happen before Jesus comes back. So what is this story about? Is this story about Noah? Actually not really. Noah never really talks and when he finally does in Gen. 9, you wish he hadn’t. Is this about a boat? Actually no. The word “ark” actually meant a “box.” How about animals? Nope. This story is actually about God. God speaks throughout this narrative and is the main character. The Flood is God’s idea. The way out of the flood is God’s idea. God makes the covenant with Noah (Gen. 6:18; 9:9ff). God commands Noah and his family to enter the ark (Gen. 7:1). God Himself shuts the door of the ark (Gen. 7:16). God remembers Noah (Gen. 8:1). God preserves Noah and everyone on board during the flood. God sends the wind to dry the earth (Gen. 8:1) and commands Noah to leave the ark (Gen. 8:15). It’s all about God! But what about God do we learn here? Take note:
I. God grieves over sin and judges it perfectly.
What kind of God do we find right before the Flood? Look again at Gen. 6:7. I’ll tell you what we don’t find. We don’t find a God sitting like a grandfather on a rocking chair ready to read us a cute story about a man and his boat. Neither do we have a God who is masochistic, finding some kind of sick pleasure in destroying the world. What we do find is that we have a God who weeps. Look over at Isaiah 54:6. The same Hebrew word is used there where it says, “For the Lord has called you like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit, like a wife of youth when she is cast off, says your God.”
God says He feels like a young wife who was deserted by the husband she loves. Have you ever imagined God like that? Being cast off by your spouse is one of the most traumatic, shattering, distressful, and agonizing of experiences. What does this tell us? We have a God who has decided to voluntarily bind up His heart with us. We have a God who has chosen to knit His heart with ours. If you understand that, you will realize that sin is not merely breaking God’s law, but totally breaking God’s heart. He could have just ended everything as soon as Eve believed God wasn’t good in Gen. 3. But He didn’t. All of history is drenched with the tears of God. Someone has called tears as “heart water.” Perhaps the Flood was really God crying? So really this is a story we must read with tears.
I hope your view of God grows right here. I hope there is room in your theology of a God who grieves over sin. Why does a person grieve at all? One word: love. God grieves because He loves. Paul tells us not to grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30). What kind of God must we have that, as Tim Keller says, where “His own joy is so deeply tied with us such that when he sees something going wrong with our life, He experiences the deepest and most shattering pain possible.” So maybe if you have the question of “why does God allow suffering in the world?” as one of your questions you will one day ask God, perhaps you should add this question as well: Why do you God voluntarily choose to suffer with humans in the midst of their suffering? And we know from the cross that this is true, as we said last week. So what does this mean for us?
a) God weeps over our unbelieving loved ones
I think this is encouraging to know that if you have been praying for loved ones to know Christ, we have a God who weeps over them more than we do. We have a God who has been pleading with them more than we have! Sometimes we put too much emphasis on His divine sovereignty (Why doesn’t God hear my prayers for them?) and not enough on human responsibility. Mankind does not want God, yet God grieves over them and pleads with them. He wants none to perish (2 Pet. 3:9) This is what we see in Gen. 6! And perhaps He is answering prayers in that He is extending their life day after day, giving them chances and opportunities to repent and turn to Him. He will not force His love upon anyone. The door of grace is still open and God, more than anyone else, grieves over their hard-heartedness towards God’s grace. We also see that:
b) All sin is self-destruction
Look down at Gen. 6:11-13. We see the reason for the Flood. Notice the words “corrupted.” It literally means, “destroyed.” God says, “I will destroy” in Gen. 6:13, using the same word. Commentator Derek Kidner observes, “the Hebrew for corrupt(ed) (or ‘destroyed’) also makes it plain that what God decided to ‘destroy’ (13) had been virtually self-destroyed already.” All sin is self-destruction. So what God is doing is actually destroying and putting an end to self-destruction. God is going to judge the seed of the serpent. Notice also the word “filled.” Last time it was used to talk about God’s plan for man to fill the earth with His glory (Gen. 1:28). Now mankind has filled it with violence and destruction instead. I think we have a low view of sin. Nowadays, sin is now renamed: “a struggle” or “bad habit” or “weakness” or “issue.” We even say we “fell” into sin, as though it just happened accidentally, when we know it was downright rebellion and sin against God. God calls sin here “self-destruction.”
c) There are no half-measures with sin
And God is not going to deal with sin partially, but totally. Notice the language of “every,” “all” and “everything” in Gen. 6:19-23. There are no half-measures with sin. Yet sin is not totally gone in this story, because though sinners are destroyed externally, we forget that along with the animals, sin also walked into the ark along with the eight remaining individuals. Sin is on the ark, so sin is not totally gone, but the Flood points to the day when God will destroy the presence of sin totally!
The heart of God is broken over sinners and the justice of God demands payment for sin (Rom. 6:23). We will see God judging human sin at the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11:9), Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19), when Israel will wander 40 years without entering the Promised Land (Num. 14:2-23), and when Israel and Judah go into exile. Finally, we see God’s judgment of sin at Calvary, when Jesus dies for the sin of the world (1 John 2:2). The New Testament tells us that the Flood is a picture of what is to come of a final judgment. Look at Matt. 24:37-39. Just like in Noah’s day, mankind today is godless, consumed with God’s gifts than the Giver and unprepared to meet Him. Flip over to 2 Peter 3:1-13. The Flood was a time when enough was enough and as mankind was self-destroying themselves, so God puts an end to it. One day God will completely and thoroughly deal with all of sin’s ramifications by destroying the world not with water, but with fire. The Flood reminds us that God is a just judge. And if He did it then, He can do it now. If you don’t know Christ today, turn to Him who paid for your sin, so you can stand before Him without sin, covered in His righteousness. The ark of salvation is open for you! Enter before the door closes! Secondly, we learn from this story that:
II. God saves and keeps His own faithfully.
The Flood is not simply a judgment, but it is salvation through judgment. God preserves the seed of the woman here by putting them in an ark. Then the Flood came. The same water that sunk those who did not believe lifts those who do believe. This is essentially the story of the Bible. God judges sinners, but at the same time saves sinners through judgment. The same judgment that wiped out the corrupt seed of the serpent spared the righteous seed via Noah and his family. And it is the same today. The same Jesus Christ is the substitute for believer’s sin, will be your judge. He is either your stepping stone or your stumbling block. Notice here:
a) Salvation is God’s idea, not man’s
Notice that God does not let man decide how to be saved. He is not calling Noah over and maybe Enoch, Adam and Eve and ask them, “So what do you think we should do about salvation?” As Bruce Waltke says, “[God] does not entrust the means of salvation to human imagination.” If you want to be saved, you must come to God on HIS terms, not yours. There is a reason He’s God and we’re not! Also,
b) God’s plan of salvation is foolishness to the world
And how will God save Noah? In Gen. 6:14-16, we see God tells Noah to build an ark. Literally this word means “box” or “chest.” He could have said “boat” or “ship,” but He says, “Make a box.” Pastor John Macarthur says, “A chest might be another way to view it. Not shaped like a boat; not shaped like a ship. It wasn't designed to sail and it wasn't designed to be propelled. It didn't need to have a thinned bow to cut through the water when it was being propelled by oars as they were in ancient times or propelled by the wind in the sail because it wasn't going to be propelled. It was a cruise to nowhere. There wasn't anywhere to go. It was only designed to float. There were no oars, there were no sails, there was no pilot, there was no captain, there was no steering wheel, there was rudder, there was no navigator. It was just a box.” I’m not sure if it was just a box, but regardless, this was God’s plan of salvation.
This chart may be helpful:
|Dimensions||Noah’s Ark||Contemporary Equivalent|
|Length||450 feet||1½ American football fields|
|Width||75 feet||7 parking spaces|
|Height||45 feet||3 stories|
|Cubic Feet||1.5 million||800 railroad boxcars|
Pastor Kent Hughes writes, “What a monster the ark was! As best we can tell, the ark was shaped like a shallow box topped with a roof, with an eighteen-inch space under the roof interrupted only by the roof supports, so light could get into the vessel from every side. Noah had more than enough work to keep him and his three sons occupied for a century. Remember, there were no trucks, no chain saws, and no cranes.”
I was picturing Noah building this box or ship for a potential flood in the middle of the desert. We are not sure if he got help from his boys or others and how long it took him. God did give mankind 120 years to repent (Gen. 6:3), so that should have given him enough time you think? But he must have been ridiculed. So let me get this straight Noah: You are making a box ship in the middle of a desert for an upcoming flood?
It reminded me of this verses that teach us that the message of the cross is the foolishness of the world, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God (1 Cor. 1:23-25). God’s way of salvation looks nothing like man’s way of salvation. Roy Gustafson says, ““Religion is man’s quest for God; the Gospel is the Savior God seeking lost men. Religion originates on earth; the Gospel originated in heaven. Religion is man-made; the Gospel is the gift of God. Religion is the story of what man has done in the name of God; the Gospel is the story of what a holy God has done for sinful men. Religion is good views; the Gospel is good news.” You cannot put Jesus on the same shelf as other deities. He’s not the same. He belongs on an entirely different shelf altogether!
Loved ones, God has made a way for us to be saved from God’s judgment. Jesus said, “I am THE way, THE truth and THE life. No one comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6). There is only ONE name whereby man can be saved (Acts 4:32). There were not many arks, but one ark. It was God’s way to come back to Him. But to those who enter the ark of salvation in Christ by faith, they will find that God faithfully saves and keeps those who trust in Him. Thirdly:
c) God keeps those He saves
Notice the commands here. Gen. 6:14: “Make yourself an ark.” Gen. 7:1: “Go into the ark.” Gen. 7:16: “And the LORD shut him in.” Gen. 7:15: “Go out of the ark.” God is the main actor here. He saved Noah and His family and kept Noah and his family and delivered them through. God is faithful. Look also at Gen. 6:18. This is the first time we see the word “covenant.” God will explain it later in Gen. 8 and 9, but basically a covenant is “a promise of God to people with whom he is dealing in a special way.” It is basically God saying, “I am committed to you.” Notice God is the author of the covenant. When Noah turned his life over to God, God promised to act on his behalf.
Look down at Gen. 8:1: “God remembered Noah.” This does not mean as Pastor Stephen Cole says, “…that somehow [God] got busy with other things and Noah slipped from His mind for a while. Then something reminded Him and He snapped His fingers and said, “Noah! I forgot all about him down there!” This word refers to God taking action on His promises. God keeps His promises. And when God “remembers” something, it is when He acts.
Our salvation is secure because God is doing the holding. Our salvation is not based on the fact that we accepted Christ, but that Christ accepted us. He will keep His own to the end. Nothing will separate us from His love, not even ourselves. I like what one preacher said recently, “Don't invite Jesus into your life. Your life's a wreck. Jesus invites you into his life." So the Christian life is not so much about how much I am holding on to Christ, but that He is holding on to me. It is not about how great my faith is, but how great His faithfulness is despite my little faith. It was not that Noah felt safe in the ark, but that God brought him on the ark and by faith will take him through. Notice the Lord shut them in. Noah, I’m the one securing you in my ark of salvation! One last thought for us:
III. True life is found when we trust and obey.
Though we see God’s faithfulness shine through here to those that find His favor, we also see that there was still responsibility on Noah’s part. Really the question is not about why God destroyed unbelievers and the world but why did God save Noah and his family! Was Noah more “nicer” and “moral” than everyone else and is that why God used him? Actually we will see later that Noah will get drunk and lay naked in the tent after the Flood. He’s a sinner! But look at Gen. 6:8. Noah found (not earned or achieved) grace. Salvation and grace is never achieved, but always received. You find that when you turn to the Lord from your sin, God receives you and you receive Him and His grace freely!
How do we know Noah received God’s grace? Look down at Gen. 6:9-10. Here is the evidence. Notice that it is only after Noah received God’s grace that we hear of his godly character (Gen 6:8–9).  He was “righteous” and “blameless.” This does not mean he was without sin, but that his life was centered around what God wanted and no one could say anything against his character. In the midst of all that sin, Noah found the grace of God and that transformed him. Hughes adds, “The demonized culture did not divert or pervert him, nor could it indict him. He was the one bright spot among the numberless darkened souls of the primeval world.” God is contrasting him, the seed of the woman with the seed of the serpent in Gen. 6:11-13. We find out in 2 Pet. 2:5 that he was a “herald of righteousness.” Noah’s life matched his convictions (well, until after the flood). Arthur Friedman once said, “Men of genius are admired. Men of wealth are envied. Men of power are feared. But only men of character are trusted.”
Notice Noah “walked with God.” Last time we saw Enoch walking with God (Gen. 5:22, 24) and God seems to be one who wants to walk with humans (Gen. 3:8). Interestingly, the Hebrew text lays a little bit of emphasis on the fact that it was God with whom he walked. It reads literally, “With God Noah walked.” God wants company with us. Noah cultivated a moment-by-moment walk of trusting and obeying God. And like Enoch, we see again that walking with God is how we find life and escape death, here the judgment. And what does walking with God look like according to Noah? It means to trust and obey.
Think about all the times that Noah had to trust God. Imagine again the unbelievers mocking his box making in the desert. Where’s the rudder Noah? There is no rudder. Sail? Nope. Who’s the Captain? God is. How will He do it? I don’t know. I trust Him. Where are you going? I don’t know. I trust Him and His Word. How do you know your box won’t fall apart in the middle? I don’t. I trust Him. All that Noah had was God’s Word. Even when no one got saved through him (except possibly his family), Noah persevered by faith.
Noah lived by God’s promises not His explanations. God may have given him more details, but it seems like Noah didn’t know a lot either. He had to trust. God promised. Think about the amount of time Noah spent on the ark. Take a lot at this:
How Much Time Did Noah Spend in the Ark?
•Noah went into the ark seven days before it began to rain (7:4, 10).
•It began to rain on the 17th day of the 2nd month of Noah’s 600th year (7:11). It rained for 40 days (7:12).
•The waters flooded the earth for 150 days (7:24; 8:3).
•The ark came to rest on the 17th day of the 7th month (8:4).
•Noah removed the ark’s covering on the 1st day of the 1st month of Noah’s 601st year (8:13).
•Noah and his family went out of the ark on the 27th day of the 2nd month (8:14–19).
•This means that they were in the ark for 1 year and 17 days (5 months floating, 7 months on the mountain).
Noah waited seven months on a mountain! I am not sure here, but I wonder if Noah was getting cabin fever when he started sending out birds. No command of God is given here to do this bird releasing, neither does God rebuke him for it. Perhaps Noah was curious about what is going on. God seemed to be silent. Pastor Cole says, “After a year in a crowded, dark, smelly ark, Noah must have had a bad case of cabin fever. But we find him patiently and obediently waiting for the Lord to give the word. God didn’t dry up the water instantly, but used the wind and other natural processes. It took time. That’s usually how God works.” Hughes adds, “When God remembered Noah, the earth had already been flooded for 150 days or five months. Think of it—a five-month lock-in with Mrs. Noah, his three sons and their three wives, and a complete menagerie of the world’s animals, birds, and crawlers. Five months of stable muck and bilgewater, daughters-in-laws and mother-in-law, and seasickness. There must have been times when Noah wished they would hit an iceberg!” Notice the words “he waited” (Gen. 8:10,12). He waited when God was silent. He waited even though it didn’t make sense. He had to trust God. A lot of the Christian life is about waiting. God is not interested in merely getting us to our destination, but growing us in faith during the journey. In addition, we need to stop always trying to find explanations for everything. Loved ones, do we live by God’s promises or His explanations? Do you constantly try to find out God’s blueprint for your life or are you interested in cultivating a walk with God? Is His company enough for you? Maybe you feel “shut in” in some season of life right now. God may be silent. You may trying to find out what is going on, but in the end, God says “trust me.” Did you notice that God talks a lot to Noah here? Several times we see the phrase, “God said to Noah.” This phrase occurs seven times in this narrative (Gen 6:13; 7:1; 8:15; 9:1, 8, 12, 17). God discloses Himself to those who walk with Him. If you want to hear from God, you must cultivate a walk with Him. Another repetitive phrase is this: “And Noah did all that God had commanded him.” A couple of things to notice there. Working for God flowed out of walking with Him. God simply does not walk with us to walk with us. God walks with us and uses us to work for God. Also, obedience is the mark of the one who walks with God. Can we trust and obey even though God’s timetable is not ours? Can we trust and obey when God is silent? We will stop here for now and pick it up again next time.
What is this Flood really about? Do you remember when Jonah was on the boat and there was a storm? Remember what Jonah said? The only way to save yourselves is if you drown me (Jon. 1:12). In the belly of the whale, Jonah said, “You cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me. Then I said, I am driven away from your sight” (Jon. 2:3-4). Later when Jesus arrived, He said, “A greater than Jonah is here.” What was He saying? He’s saying there is a greater storm coming. And Jesus will take it on fully. In fact, He will be crushed by it. Keller adds, “In this ultimate storm, Jesus would be hurled into the deepest depths and be completely banished from his Father's sight. When He cried out in agonizing dereliction and desperation, there was silence. It will be an ocean of wrath and justice. Everything that the human race deserves would come down upon Jesus. But Jesus' sinking into this storm will be our salvation, if we believe in him.” Jesus sunk under the waters of God’s judgment so we can rise and float above it. He went under it so we can go over it! Praise God! No condemnation today. Despite our corrupted and violent heart, today we can still walk with God. We can feel God’s heart. We know now that He is more committed to us than we are to Him. God has bound up His heart with ours. All of your pain is His. We have great potential to break His heart. Can we ask God to break our hearts with the things that break His? Do we see sin as breaking His heart? Perhaps you have not trusted Christ as the ark of your salvation. The door is open. Christ invites you in and will keep you if you turn from your sin and believe. Perhaps you feel shut in by God in this season? Prayers are not answered. It’s getting stuffy inside. God seems silent. God asks you, “Can you still obey and trust me, even then? Can you still walk with me and wait for me?” We serve a God who “sits enthroned over the flood” (Ps. 29:10).
As quoted by Benjamin Toh in “Divine Judgment,” http://westloop-church.org/messages/old-testament/15-genesis/171-divine-judgment-genesis-65-13 accessed 20 October 2011.
Kidner, D. (1967). Vol. 1: Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (94). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Waltke, B. (2001). Genesis: A Commentary (135). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Macarthur, John. “Noah’s Ark of Faith,” http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/90-257/noahs-ark-of-faith#.TqGoPZz4-Hg accessed 21 October 2011.
Krell, Keith. “It’s raining, it’s pouring and the Lord is not snoring!” http://bible.org/seriespage/it’s-raining-it’s-pouring-and-lord-not-snoring-genesis-69-822 accessed 21 October 2011.
Hughes, R. K. (2004). Genesis: Beginning and Blessing. Preaching the Word (135). Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books.
As quoted by Richard Manlove in “All of this,” http://omgtoday.wordpress.com/category/uncategorized/page/33/ accessed 21 October 2011
Boice, J. M. (1998). Genesis: An Expositional Commentary (334). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.
Cole, Stephen. “When you feel forgotten by God,” http://www.fcfonline.org/content/1/sermons/041496M.pdf accessed 21 October 2011.
Moore, Russell tweeted by Darren Patrick on October 13, 2011 http://twitter.com/#!/darrinpatrick accessed 21 October 2011.
Rooker, Mark F. “The Genesis Flood,” Vol. 5: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology Volume 5. 2001 (3) (70). Lousville, KY: Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Hughes, R. K. (134).
As quoted by Krell, Ibid.
Halley, H. H. (2000). Halley's Bible Handbook with the New International Version. (Completely rev. and expanded.) (98). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Publishing House.
Cole, Stephen. Ibid.
Hughes, R. K. (142-43).
As quoted by Benjamin Toh in “Divine Judgment,” http://westloop-church.org/messages/old-testament/15-genesis/171-divine-judgment-genesis-65-13 accessed 20 October 2011.