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Grown-Up Bible Stories

The Flood

Life seemed very normal in the years before the disaster. In fact, some would have suspected that conditions were close to ideal. The records that far back are a bit sketchy, but it looks as if there may have been worldwide unity. People spoke the same language. There isn’t a lot of evidence that the earth’s population had developed into multiple nations with their conflicts and wars. In fact, migration and social isolation had yet to produce what today we call races. It was an ideal world socially, or rather it had been.

According to the preacher, things were coming apart at the seams. People weren’t behaving sexually. Men were marrying at will, taking whatever wives they chose, as many as they chose. The original pattern of one man and one woman for life was now outdated. If you saw somebody you liked better, you took her. Your first wife—or for that matter your first, second and third—could spend her nights crying. She’d be in another room. It was unfair and wrong, but the men were satisfying their desires. There wasn’t much that could be done to stop them.

The preacher didn’t like the violence either. Lack of international tensions and the resulting wars didn’t take the hatred from human hearts. Increasingly, the world was characterized by injury and bloodshed. The death penalty had yet to be invented, and a murderer rather expected that anybody who gave him what he deserved should get it worse. While the theory of evolution was thousands of years in the future, mankind was practicing a form of "survival of the fittest." Or maybe we should say, survival of the most violent.

The preacher spoke out against it. But who cared about the preacher? He was, after all, a bit of a crank. He was only married to one woman. The fact that his sons restricted themselves to one wife each may have even left suspicion that he was a domineering father. Besides, he was building a boat.

Now boat building has probably been the hobby of more than one minister over the years, but this was no ordinary boat. It was a ship, or, seeing that it lacked a power source, we’d probably call it a barge. Approximately four hundred fifty feet long by seventy-five feet wide and four or five stories high, this giant wooden coffin of a vessel sat high and dry. The preacher doesn’t even seem to have lived on the coast.

But, as they all would have known, the preacher was a madman. He claimed that God was going to send a flood to destroy the entire wicked world. According to the preacher, the marital infidelity and violence had caught the attention of Heaven. We don’t have his exact words, but the idea was that they’d caught the attention of Heaven like a startled skunk catches the attention of a hiker. God thought humanity stunk and was going to wash them away. The preacher, presumably, held out the one alternative: Give up on all this sin and come get in the boat.

So things went on. The preacher kept building his boat. The people kept on partying and marrying when they were happy and fighting and killing when they weren’t. The sun kept on shining, as they knew it would. In fact, there is evidence that this most ancient world saw very little of water or violent weather. The Bible, our only written record reaching back that far, suggests that things were rather humid with dripping mists watering the soil much as rain does now. Fossil records suggest that people and animals grew to huge sizes. Again, the ancient Biblical account indicates people lived to be extremely old. More recently, scientific findings seem to show that the earth’s climate was almost totally tropical at one time. The environment was much tamer than today.

According to one theory, continental drift was still a thing of the future, and today’s coastal areas would have been well inland.1 If this were to prove true, it would mean that those living on much of the earth’s land area hadn’t seen the ocean. Some have suggested some sort of water vapor layer on the outer edges of the atmosphere that would have created a huge greenhouse effect and sheltered man and beast from ultraviolet rays. But geological speculation aside we can almost guarantee that nobody took the preacher seriously.

Assuming human nature hasn’t changed much, we shouldn’t find it difficult to understand their indifference. A typical response might well have been that he was building a life raft for an impossible disaster. There wasn’t enough water to cover the world. Rain was rare at best. God didn’t care, and Noah—that was the preacher’s name by the way—was a nut.

Time went on. Actually, many years passed. The violence and reckless romancing continued. The boat was finished and painted with an asphalt-type substance to make it watertight. Noah started loading food for his family and a whole menagerie of animals. Eventually, he would take two of every living creature into his big wooden box. As impossible as this sounds, keep in mind that a lot of animals are tiny. Sure there are some big guys, but their young are rarely full-sized at first. Even allowing that dinosaurs and people coexisted in the early days (an idea that conservative Bible scholars and some scientists believe realistic2) there was room on that barge to preserve a couple of animals of each basic kind. Anyway, Noah managed to turn his boat into a land-locked zoo. Then, he and his family went in, and the door closed.

History doesn’t tell us what people thought now that Noah and family were out of the way. It’s easy to imagine mocking and bad jokes, but we just don’t know. It was the moment of truth. Noah was either going to come out of his contraption looking like a fool when the food ran out, or there were going to be a lot of people scrambling away from flood waters who wished they’d listened.

Within a week it started to rain. A world that knew very little rain suddenly experienced a downpour. But it wasn’t all downpour. Geysers erupted from the earth’s crust adding to the tumult. Then, as the Bible describes it, the windows of Heaven were opened to spew in more water. Usually today’s minds are too busy demonstrating how by volume the earth contains enough water to cover the landmasses if things were leveled out. With a surface made of 75% water, that’s hardly a surprise, but according to the Bible, God sent water from Heaven. This supernatural supply brought the available water to an unheard of high level.

It was the storm of a lifetime. Actually, it was the storm of the world. Nobody has seen one like it since. The water rose high enough to drown children. It rose high enough to drown adults. It rose high enough to float Noah’s monstrosity. We aren’t told, but it isn’t hard to imagine people rushing for housetops, climbing trees, hills, and even mountains. Finally, the last survivor in the highest place was overwhelmed and the earth became an empty sea. The Bible indicates that the water was some twenty feet above the highest mountains.

Nor would have all that water flowed in peacefully. In addition to a statistical wipe out of humans and land-based animals, the flood was a topographical disaster. Wind and wave action would have initially hammered against every structure. Trees would have been uprooted. Hills would have eroded. The waters swirling around Noah’s vessel would have been choked with minerals, dead foliage and bloating bodies. The scene was incredible, had anyone been alive to look.

Noah left no record—at least none that we’ve recovered—of the scene, but nature still hints at the violence of God’s anger. Fossilized fish can be found heaped together in agonized positions as if suddenly buried alive. Seashells can be found in the soil in the middle of the huge American continent. Even the fossil layers suggest that the smaller animals fell first and were buried suddenly by a rush of sediment.

Human life as it had been was over.

The record states that there were forty days of rain, helped of course by geysers and the divinely supplied waters from Heaven. But it took longer than that for the whole thing to be over. The Bible says that after five months the waters had backed off, but it also makes it clear that the earth remained flooded for over a year.

The boat finally grounded on a mountaintop in what is today Turkey. The Bible describes it as the mountains of Ararat. There is some scholarly debate over which mountain is the Biblical Ararat, but most of the archeological types who go searching for remains choose a 17,000-foot peak near the border between Turkey and what used to be the Soviet Union.

There came, of course, the close of the story, in which Noah and his family stepped out into a strange new world. The Bible doesn’t tell us much about this world, only that all the air-breathing surface animals and people had died. Those members of the scientific community who take the Bible seriously tell us that things probably had changed drastically. For instance, the forces of wind and water would have radically altered the landscape. Rapid evaporation and loss of a uniformly tropical climate could have led to some of the water cooling to the freezing point and contributing to the fabled ice age. There seem to have been great environmental changes, the kind of changes that likely killed the dinosaurs and led to reduced human lifespan. It was a strange new world and a lonely new world for the eight humans who’d just experienced history’s greatest survival story.

But it wasn’t a completely lonely world. Noah, the preacher, turned his eyes toward Heaven and made contact with the living God. And, God once again was reaching out to humankind. Actually, the Bible indicates that He had a promise for the entire human and animal world. "And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh." (Genesis 9:12-15)

This great act of God’s judgment happened thousands of years ago. The flood, whether you want to believe in it or not, has had an impact that humanity has never quite gotten away from. Over the many centuries, the folk legends of tribes around the globe have carried a story of a man saving his family and the animals alive in a huge flood. The very nature of the rocks and fossil beds, when viewed without Darwin’s prejudiced lenses, suggests the great cataclysm of Scripture. Even modern scholars can’t totally escape. Archeologists look at a mud layer in one area of the Middle East and speculate about a local flood that gave rise to what they’d see as the flood story. A recent book detailed the scientific evidence of a great flood in the Balkan region of Europe and suggested that maybe a huge local flood had actually given rise to what it saw as a mythical story about a man named Noah.

And yet through it all, two things seem to hold true to this day. First, intelligent contemporary people just plain don’t want to believe in a God who takes violence and sexual impropriety seriously enough to wipe out all but eight members of the human race. We’d rather try to imagine a mere local flood. Yet something else is just as constant—even more constant. Every time there is a serious daytime storm you can go out and look for God’s rainbow in the sky and remember that He has promised mercy to a sinful world. As you remember, in your mind, place a cross against that rainbow.

Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation . . . (2 Peter 3:3-15a)

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Of Jesus Christ in Acts 4:12)

1 The scientific references in this story are based on the writings and video presentations of various sources within the creation science community. Books I’ve been familiar with over the years include The Genesis Flood by Henry Morris and John Whitcomb, Scientific Creationism edited by Henry Morris, and Noah’s Ark Fact or Fiction by Violet Cummings. I can’t remember the title, but Tim LaHaye’s book on the search for Noah’s Ark proved interesting reading back in the 1980’s. There have been others, and several videotaped creation science presentations and movies on Noah’s ark. I can’t remember the names of all of them. But these are some of the sources.

2 Whether this view is popular or not, I am among those who believe that the Biblical account of creation is literally true and compatible with science when the data are taken honestly. The contemporary creation science movement has many men with advanced degrees, and while their arguments are often ridiculed, those arguments have some elements that I suspect would prove unanswerable if the larger scientific community were completely honest about their understanding of the earth’s origins. For more information I recommend the Institute for Creation Research in Texas and Answers in Genesis at http.//www.AnswersInGenesis.org

To learn about finding God's mercy through Jesus Christ, click: How to Have a Relationship with God.

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