Our lesson includes a study of Genesis 5 through 9. It is the Bible account of the Flood, and the events that preceded and followed it.
Genesis 5 is one of the sad chapters of the Bible. There are many generations. Each generation was born, lived, and then died. Death is written all over the record. Exactly six times in chapter 5, we read the words, “And he died.” We read of Adam and Seth and Enos and Cainan and Mahalaleel and Jared, and then in verses 21 to 24, there is a notable exception to this record of death. Enoch (the seventh from Adam) did not die, but was translated into the presence of God without seeing death. Verse 24 says, “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.” And just as these six generations of men died, and then Enoch was translated without seeing death—just so in this present age, after many generations of death, there’s going to be a generation of believers who will not see death, but at the Second Coming of Christ will be translated into the presence of God.
The days when Enoch lived here on earth were exceedingly wicked. From Jude’s description (in verse 15), and from Genesis 4, we learn that people were not much different than they are today. There was urban life, there were tools of iron and steel, there were poetry and music, there were distortions of God’s plan for marriage, there were murder and violence. And yet in the midst of this darkness and impurity, Enoch was a man who walked with God. And notice in verse 22 that his walking with God seems to date from the birth of his first child. Enoch may have walked with God before his child was born, but it seems that God gave Enoch a great spiritual revelation (about the time of the child’s birth), and from that time forward Enoch made up his mind to keep in step with God. It was as though God said to Enoch, “The world will last as long as that little child lives, and no longer. When this child dies, I am going to deal with the world in judgment.” And so Enoch named the child “Methuselah.” The name means “When this one is gone, judgment will come.” Methuselah reached 969 years of age, and in the very year of his death, the Flood came.
Methuselah was the grandfather of Noah, and was 187 (verse 25) when his son Lamech was born. Lamech was 182 (verse 28) when his son Noah was born, and Noah was 600 (chapter 7) when the Flood came. Those three numbers (187, 182, and 600) add up to 969. The Flood came in the very year that Methuselah died, the 969th year of his life. As long as Methuselah lived, the Flood was withheld. His life was a measure of God’s patience with the people in Noah’s day. And it is a wonderful testimony to the longsuffering nature of God, to note that Methuselah lived longer than any other man in history. The child of God rejoices at Methuselah’s great age, because his span of life is a measure of the longsuffering of God.
But the judgment of the Flood finally came. God’s longsuffering and patience ran out. And the Flood waters came.
1. The Reasons for the Flood (Chapter 6)
One of the reasons why God sent a Deluge to destroy the earth in Noah’s day, was the widespread practice of intermarriage between believers and unbelievers. Two types of persons are mentioned in verses 1 and 2 of chapter 6, the “sons of God” and the “daughters of men.” These two intermarried, and this was displeasing to God. Some say that the “sons of God” were fallen angels who actually lusted after, and married the “daughters of men,” but this contradicts the plain statement that Jesus made in Matthew 22:30, when he said that angels do not marry.
These early verses of Genesis 6 speak of intermarriage between the sons of Seth and the daughters of Cain. The descendants of Cain were godless people (indulging in the flesh), described in chapter 4 (beginning at verse 16)—whereas the descendants of Seth followed more nearly in the ways of God (Genesis 4:26).
There is probably nothing in the entire Bible that Almighty God pleads against more earnestly, than the intermarriage of believers and unbelievers. Speaking to the children of Israel through Moses, God says in Deuteronomy 7, concerning marriage with the heathen, “Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following, that they may serve other gods.” Abraham made sure that his servant would seek a wife for Isaac, not from among the heathen people of the land, but that he would go back to his kindred and find a wife for his son there (Genesis 24:1-4). When Esau took a wife of the pagan Hittites, the Bible says this thing became “a grief of mind” unto his father and mother. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7 that one is free to marry, but only “in the Lord.” God gives a powerful warning against being “yoked together” with unbelievers (in 2 Corinthians 6). One reason for the Flood in Noah’s day was the intermarriage of the people of God with the people of the world.
Another reason for the Flood was the exceeding sinfulness of the times. The “giants” of verse 4, were not so much persons of enormous stature, but as the Hebrew word indicates, they were gangsters who had a reputation for violence and murder. Verses 5 and 11 (of Genesis 6) indicate that human corruption was widespread, and that wickedness deepened as the years went by. The Bible here says, “The wickedness of man was great in the earth . . . the earth also was corrupt before God.” God could no longer look down upon this earth and say, “Behold it is very good.” Instead, there was wickedness and unbelief and violence and disregard for the sacredness of marriage. Verses 6 and 7 say that God was so incensed and grieved over the conduct of the human family that He was determined to destroy man from off the earth. God said, “I am going to bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh . . . and everything that is in the earth shall die” (see verse 17).
Verses 8 and 9 of Genesis 6, however are like an oasis in the midst of a desert. The Bible says, “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” In spite of the greatness of man’s wickedness in those days before the Flood, there was one faithful heart that still beat true to God. Noah was a “just” man. He was fair in his dealings with others. He was perfect in his generations (that is, he was respected by those who lived about him). His generation saw that here was a man of God, and what’s more, his family believed in his God. When Lot warned his sons-in-law of impending judgment, he seemed to them as one that mocked. They made fun of him. But not so with Noah. His family respected him. In the midst of all the multitudes then living on the earth, Noah’s family was one family that feared the Lord, and walked by faith. That is our great need today—homes where families fear the Lord, where the Word of God is read, homes anointed with prayer, and homes where Jesus is the example for living.
The latter part of chapter 6 outlines the means whereby Noah escaped the destruction of the Flood. God instructed Noah to build a huge barge-like structure which he called “an ark.” It was to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. It had a door and a window, and it was three stories high. The Ark contained more than one and one-half million cubic feet, the size of five hundred and fifty livestock cars, such as used on American railroads today. Most animals are relatively small. There may have been about eighteen thousand species of animals to get into the Ark. If we say that the sheep represents about the average size of animal, and if we keep in mind that two hundred forty sheep can be transported on one box car, then thirty-six thousand animals would only occupy one-third of the space of the Ark. There was plenty of room for supplies of food, and for living quarters for Noah and his family.
Notice in verse 20 that God says the animals “shall come unto thee.” God somehow imparted a sense of direction to the animals, and gave them an urge to move toward the Ark. Noah did not have to go out after them. The same God who miraculously brought the animals to Adam many years before (so that he might give them names), now brought them to Noah (so that he might preserve their lives).
The time was approaching for the rains to start. Noah had prayed and preached and worked for one hundred twenty years, and his neighbors had undoubtedly gathered around, and watched and laughed. You may remember that people laughed at McCormick’s first grain reaper. They called it a cross between a chariot, a wheelbarrow, and a flying-machine. They made fun of it. We can imagine what they said of a man who built a three-story ship out on a desert, many miles from the nearest body of water. But God said, Genesis 7:4, “For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made, will I destroy from off the face of the earth.” God had said, “My Spirit shall not always strive with man,” and now the day of grace was over, and the time for judgment had come.
2. The Nature of the Flood (Chapter 7)
Verse 10 says, “And it came to pass . . . that the waters of the flood were upon the earth . . . and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.” The heavens were opened and the rains came. It rained and it rained, and it kept on raining. The Ark was carried on the rising waters. The waves lashed against its sides. On the outside, men climbed to the tops of their highest buildings; others ran for the hills. Human corpses could be seen floating in the water all around. Cries for help could be heard on every side, but finally the greedy waters climbed higher and higher, and hemmed them all in. And the last mountain was covered. And (aside from Noah’s family) every human being was swept from the face of the earth.
Noah and his family were safe inside the Ark. God had said in verse 1, “Come thou and all thy house into the ark.” The Ark was a place of safety—a refuge from divine judgment. God didn’t say “go” into the Ark; He said “come.” God was inside the Ark, and He said to Noah, “Come on in and find refuge.” The word “Come” seems to be God’s favorite word. It is found 678 times in the Bible. He says, “Come unto me all ye that labor.” The last invitation of the Bible says, “The Spirit and the Bride say come.”
We want to notice too that not only did rain come down from above, but enormous reservoirs of water were stored in the earth, and these came up from beneath. Verse 11 says that the waters of the Flood had two sources, “the fountains of the great deep,” and “the windows of heaven.” Not only did it rain for forty days (and the water pour down from heaven), but underground waters were unleashed, and giant waves of water brought indescribable destruction. Our minds can hardly imagine the fury and might of such a Flood. One geologist tells of a small flood in India a few years ago. The water had risen only thirteen feet above normal level, but the rush of the water was tremendous. Huge rocks were rolled along with an awful crashing noise. Tons of granite were moved out of place. We can hardly imagine the tremendous power of the water when it rained hard for forty days, and enormous reservoirs underground broke loose. And this Flood was not merely a local flood. This Flood covered all the earth (Genesis 7:19). If the Flood were merely local, there would have been no need for the Ark. God could have instructed Noah to move into another country where the Flood didn’t strike, like He did with Lot. God took Lot out of Sodom before the fire fell. The destruction of Sodom was local, and Lot could move out—but the Flood in Noah’s day covered the entire globe.
The Flood brought about some tremendous geological changes on the earth. Before the Flood it apparently had never rained (Genesis 2:6), and a canopy of vapor covered the earth, watered it, and kept if uniformly mild. But at the time of the Flood, the climate and the atmosphere and the surface features of the earth were changed. Genesis 6:13 makes it clear that God not only destroyed man, but He destroyed the earth itself. Genesis 9:11 says the same thing. God not only destroyed man; He destroyed the earth. The Apostle Peter says that the history of the earth can be divided into three ages: The heavens and the earth which were of old; the heavens and the earth which are now; and the new heavens and the new earth (see 2 Peter 3:5, 7, 13). God destroyed this earth in the days of the Flood, and He is going to do that same thing again, not with water, but with fire. Peter says, “The heavens being on fire, shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat.” And then Peter reminds us that since all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought we to be, in holy conversation and godliness?
3. The Aftermath of the Flood (Chapters 8, 9)
The waters of the Flood did not fully abate for one whole year. Verse 1 of chapter 8 says that God remembered Noah, and in His own good time made a wind pass over the earth, and the waters began to recede. After the waters had prevailed for one hundred fifty days, the Ark rested on Mount Ararat. And then after seventy-four more days, the tops of the other mountains could be seen (Genesis 8:5). After forty more days, Noah sent out a raven, which flew back and forth between the waters and the Ark until the earth was dried. And then (at least two hundred days after the rains had stopped), Noah sent out a dove. The first time it returned quickly (terrified because the waters had not yet subsided); the second time it returned with an olive leaf (indicating that seedlings were beginning to grow again on the mountainsides); the third time it didn’t return at all (indicating that the earth was dry). But still Noah continued to wait, and ninety-two days later, the earth was completely dry, and Noah and his family went forth out of the Ark. Noah’s first act, after leaving the Ark, and descending the mountainside, was to build an altar. He offered a sacrifice to propitiate the God whose anger had destroyed the earth.
Note in verse 22 of chapter 8, that God says the regular cycles of nature would not again be disturbed, so long as the earth remains.
And then in chapter 9, God restated the commission to be fruitful and multiply (verse 1), and He authorized the use of animals for food (verses 2, 3), and He gave man the responsibility for governing himself (verses 5, 6).
Before the Flood, there doesn’t seem to have been any form of human government. There was no punishment of evildoers. Cain and Lamech both committed murder, but neither one was ever tried before any tribunal. God says that when a human being deliberately takes the life of another, he has sacrificed his own right to live. In verse 6 He says, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed.” The Bible nowhere indicates that this law has ever been suspended.
In verses 11-13, God promised never again to destroy the earth with a Flood, and gave the sign of the rainbow. Every time we see a rainbow, we ought to think soberly about the faithfulness of God.
The last scene in which we find Noah, is a tragic one. Noah planted a vineyard, and later became drunk with the wine he produced from it. And in his drunken state he exposed his nakedness, and Ham (his son) saw him. The word “saw” is the translation of a word that means “to gaze with satisfaction.” Ham rejoiced in and made fun of his father’s sin. And because of this, Ham’s son (Cainan), who was probably the instigator of the whole thing, was cursed of God.
From this sad experience in Noah’s life, we should learn several lessons: (1) The utter depravity of human nature is seen. Noah was delivered through the Flood. God had miraculously spared his life, but he was still a sinner. (2) We see the danger of using wine, and the awful evils that follow. The use of wine is always associated with drunkenness, and shame, and corruption. (3) We notice God’s condemnation of nakedness. (4) We must learn that there is a need for constant watchfulness and care in our lives. The Christian is never immune from falling. Only a continual walking with God will enable us to withstand the evil nature within us, and the lure of an evil world about us. Noah withstood the temptation of an evil world for six hundred years, and yet now he yielded to the lusts of the flesh. Let him that thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall.
There were three groups of people in the days of the Flood. The first was Enoch, translated in the presence of God before the Flood. The second was Noah and his family, preserved safely in the Ark through the Flood. The third was the multitude, who perished in the Flood. Enoch is typical of believers who will be translated into the presence of God when Jesus comes. Noah’s family is typical of the remnant of Jews whom God will preserve safely through the Great Tribulation. The multitudes who perished in the Flood are typical of the great masses of people who reject Christ and who will be cast into Hell at the last judgment.
The question each one of us must decide, is if we are going to walk with God (like Enoch) so that when Jesus comes we will go with Him—or, whether we are going to be like the masses who perished in the Flood. Jesus used the Flood as an illustration of what it’s going to be like at the end of the age. He said that the same attitude that prevailed in Noah’s day, would characterize the time of His coming again. The people of Noah’s day were interested primarily in eating and drinking and marrying—and although Noah warned them with his preaching and boat-building for one hundred twenty years—they gave no heed. When the Flood came, it caught them unprepared. Jesus says in Matthew 24:37-42, “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore; for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.”