Yesterday we took a look at the quick nose dive of humanity in the pre-flood age. People lived a long time and even (did you notice this?) developed some fairly sophisticated technology (see Genesis 4:22 — bronze and iron implements). But people also became so evil that God was grieved and in His wisdom decided it was time to almost complete “erase the chalkboard” in Genesis 6. But Noah, the Scripture says, found favor in the eyes of the Lord.
This favor was expressed in what had to have been a pretty strange-sounding command, build an ark. Although Bill Cosby certainly took a few liberties with the biblical story, if you’ve ever heard his comedy routine on Noah, you’ll know that he probably captured the incredulity of poor Noah as God gave His life-saving command. No one in his generation would have understood what he was doing. Certainly, as a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5) — possibly for as long as 120 years — Noah would have been jeered and mocked (remember the age he was living in). No doubt about it, Noah had a pretty tough row to hoe.
Sometimes God gives difficult commands. And it’s not so much that they are necessarily so hard to follow, as much as they are hard to follow when everyone else, when our emotions, when our desires, and perhaps when even human reasoning itself is telling us something completely different. But following God’s will was Noah’s salvation and it will be ours, too.
“For it is written, “I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom;…but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.…But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,” 1 Corinthians 1:19-22, 24, 30, NAS95.
So Noah built the ark, he preached righteousness, and he filled the ark with the animals God brought to Him (two of each kind, except 7 of each clean animal). And God started erasing the chalkboard — He flooded the earth. Notice it was a three way flooding cataclysm (Gen. 7:11,12): the fountains of the great deep burst open, the floodgates of the sky were opened, and, for the first time anywhere, it rained. We’re familiar, of course, with rain; we can imagine what the fountains of the deep would entail; but it’s the floodgates of the sky that we might wonder about. Some have theorized that the earth may have been enveloped in a vapor cloud in the earliest years of its existence, and that a collapse of that vapor canopy might be what the “floodgates of the sky” might be. It has been further theorized that the collapse of that vapor canopy around the earth may have something to do with the sudden shortening of life-spans of man (and presumably of other animal life, too) — that the vapor canopy might have blocked some variety of radiation for pre-flood life, giving them a longer life-span, but which has since shorten ours. There are, of course, other possibilities for this fascinating turn of events — this just happens to be one that I favor.
This flood, by the way, wasn’t a widespread but only regional flood as some minimalist interpreters have insisted. When the mountains are themselves are underwater — as both Scripture and the scientific discovery of marine fossils at the tops of mountains indicate — we can be sure that the flood was really worldwide. Now, no one knows how high the mountains might have been at the time. There are some creationist scientists who have proposed that the flood also may have precipitated some enormous tectonic activity (rapid subduction) — perhaps causing the Indian subcontinent slamming into Asia to create the Himalayas, Italy slamming into Europe to create the Alps, and the Americas splitting away from Europe and Africa. But the point is that even the highest elevations of the earth at the time were under 22 feet (15 cubits, Gen. 7:20) of water without receding for about 5 months! When it did begin to recede (probably due to the tectonic activity I mentioned above, creating new, deeper ocean basins), it was still over seven months until the ark could come to rest on a high mountain (or mountain chain — Ararat is both a mountain and a chain of mountains). And it was another several months (they were in the ark a year and 10 days in total) before Noah considered it safe to come out of the ark with the animals. That’s not a local flood. The God of the universe is really quite capable of doing the unimaginable, things on a scale so big that it boggles the human mind. And we wonder about whether God can answer our prayers? Oh WE of little faith!
And by the way, in an earlier posting I mentioned that the earth’s layers and fossils have caused some to conclude that the earth is billions of years old — hey, you’d look a little older, too, if you’d been through the “Noah’s flood” wringer. Layers are typical of even local floods. Canyons can be very quickly created by even local catastrophes (e.g., Mt. St. Helen’s eruption). And interestingly enough, geological catastrophism is in the scientific ascendency (gaining much greater scientific credibility) over geologic uniformitarianism (layers of the earth build up at a steady, predictable rate).
After coming out Noah offered sacrifices to God from among the clean animals he brought on the ark. And in response the Lord made a covenant with mankind never to destroy the earth by flood again — giving us the rainbow in the sky as a perpetual reminder of His promise (Gen. 9:11-14). Rainbows are more than just pretty, more than just an interesting fracturing of light through the prism of water droplets, it is a God-promise you can see.
The Lord also, by the way, gave mankind meat to eat as a menu option at this time. If you’re vegetarian, that’s fine and dandy; but just so you know, it’s not a religious or spiritual matter. God gave His seal of approval to hamburgers and chili, when Noah and the animals came out of the ark.
Lastly for today, we can take notice of the story of Noah’s drunkenness. It may not register at first why God would include this story in the Scriptures, but I think I can hazard a couple of guesses. First, even righteous Noah could fall. In Steve Farrar’s book Finishing Strong his very excellent point is that as great as starting well might be in life, finishing strong is even greater. There’s something about the end of life that tempts even great men to fall — call it mid-life crises, call it battle weariness, call it what you will — it must be guarded against in every life, no matter how strong you think yourself to be, no matter how much good you might have accomplished for the Lord. Noah’s story is one among many cautionary tales about remaining spiritually alert to the end. But second, this story is also a means of explaining the corruption of the Canaanites. Later, Israel would be given the land of the descendants of Canaan, whose land was being taken away from them, because of their moral corruption. But the moral corruption didn’t just start a few years before Israel’s entry; it started back as far as Noah. It’s one of the generational sin warnings again — what may start as a small trickle of sin will ultimately blossom into a raging flood of corruption over time. As parents we must take our responsibility seriously, not just romantically — and as children, we must take warning and follow the Lord, even when parental examples might lead another way.
Have a great day — by following the Lord. See you tomorrow, Lord willing.