THE WORLD OF NOAH’S DAY, THE ARK, AND THE FLOOD
The message of Genesis 6-8 is a fascinating one. Here is a brief synopsis of this notable section:
Chapter 6 – Sin calls for destruction and an ark;
Chapter 7 – Noah enters the ark and the flood begins;
Chapter 8 – The flood ends and Noah exits the ark.
It has thrilled small children to hear this message told in a Bible class or perhaps from their parents or grandparents. These three chapters record real, historical events. Mature people, and not just kids, can learn a bunch from what transpired in those days.
First, consider the world of Noah’s day. What was the pre-flood world like? In many respects, the people of Noah’s time did what people of all generations have done: “They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage . . .” (Luke 17:27). In one sense, though, the people of that time made a name for themselves, but not in a good way. The Bible says of them, “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). Constant evil thoughts led to evil conduct, conduct that the Lord counted as “corrupt.” “So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth” (Genesis 6:12). Note that they were not born corrupt, nor did the Lord corrupt them. They corrupted themselves. No finger pointing at Adam or God could hide the reality that they were corrupt because they chose to be.
The fact that the people of the pre-flood word are described in the Bible as “wicked,” “evil,” and “corrupt” points to an inevitable conclusion: though there was no written message from God at that time, there was a law of God to which all people were held accountable. Where there is no law, there is no transgression or sin (Romans 4:15). One cannot break or violate a law that does not exist. Thus, the fact that there was sin in Noah’s generation clearly shows that God had a law that was in effect at that time. In fact, there has never, I repeat, never, been a time in mankind’s history when men did not have a law from God to which they were amenable. The world in which Noah lived was doomed to destruction because of disobedience to God.
Despite the fact that wicked behavior dominated the scene, the pre-flood world had access to the grace of God. It is sometimes said that in the Old Testament era there was no grace available. Read your Bible, my friend. The Bible says that “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (Genesis 6:8). God’s prophet Jonah later proclaimed that God is “gracious” (Jonah 4:2). Because Jehovah’s nature does not change (Malachi 3:6), He was gracious in Noah’s day, too. Others had access to His grace just like Noah did, but they chose to live in rebellion to the Gracious One.
Yes, the world was cursed in the days before the flood came to destroy it. But, on the other hand, that ancient world was also greatly blessed. How is that? First of all, it was blessed to have the example of Noah. What people of any time period would not be benefitted to have in their midst such a person as Noah?! In contrast to the darkness that prevailed, Noah was “a just man” that “walked with God,” doing “according to all that God commanded him” (Genesis 6:8,9,22). In addition, Noah’s generation was blessed to have him serve as “a preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5). There is always a great need for God’s people to live and teach His truth!
So, Noah was surrounded by wickedness, yet in such a perverse society he walked with his Creator. No doubt, it was a challenging environment in which to try and serve the Lord faithfully, but that is exactly what Noah did. His example serves as a reminder to all of us that, though the whole world is filled with wickedness (1 John 5:19), we can, yes, we can serve God faithfully. Let us not cry that the corruption around us makes it impossible. Let us not whine that it is too tough. Let us refrain from making excuses for our failures by claiming that we are the victims of an awful environment. Noah faced the task of living in an environment that was wicked to the nth degree. Yet, what do we see in his life? He walked with God. Why? Because he chose to do so. God calls for you and me to be separated from the world, too.
What about the world of Noah’s day after the flood? It was a world with a greatly reduced population. Eight people; that is right, only eight people survived the flood (1 Peter 3:20). It was also a world with divine guidance. After the flood ended, God gave instructions to Noah and his family about a number of activities (Genesis 9:1-7). Those were instructions for all people everywhere that Noah’s family would be responsible for (1) keeping and (2) communicating to future generations.
The post-flood world was also a world with promise. God’s plain pledge was, “. . . never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth” (Genesis 9:11). God’s promise was not that there would never be any more floods. Rather, He said that there would not come a flood of that magnitude – one that would destroy the whole world. A rainbow’s magnificence far exceeds the beauty that we see in it with our physical eyes. It is a sign, a reminder from the Almighty that no more world-destroying floods will ever take place (Genesis 9:13-17). God, Who is faithful, will keep that promise until the world ends.
There is another fact about the post-flood world that we must not miss. It was still a world in which people had to deal with sin. Noah, who had been so diligent and faithful, sinned by getting drunk (Genesis 9:20,21). The flood came to cleanse the world of evildoers, but after the flood ended, sin continued in the lives of our ancestors. Such serves as a solemn reminder to all of us that we need to be on guard lest we stumble and fall (1 Corinthians 10:12).
— Roger D. Campbell
TRUTH is published monthly by the Klang church of Christ in order to help educate, edify, encourage, and equip the saints of God.