Elon, North Carolina
We have been studying the topic of the Flood. It is the third topic in Genesis. Genesis has three whole chapters devoted to this topic. There are only two chapters devoted to Creation (Genesis 1-2) and only one chapter devoted to the Fall (Genesis 3) but three are devoted to the Flood (Genesis 6-8). We will be looking at Genesis 8 today. I want to begin with some apologetics.
Challenges to the Biblical Flood Today
The Flood was the greatest catastrophe in the history of the planet. The entire planet was covered in water. Everything under the heavens died by drowning. God wiped everyone out because the sin on earth was so bad. There are several challenges to the Flood story today. The first challenge is unbelief.
Unbelief is found both in the world and in the church. Many hate this story. Many in the modern world do not like the story of the Flood. It is unpopular in the world. They mock the story of the flood and anyone who believes in it. Liberal scholars say that the whole thing is impossible. There are many objections skeptics raise about the ark.
I am not going to deal with them all. I am not a scientist but there are books you can read written by scientists that deal with many of these objections. I will just mention a few objections that have been raised. Many say that it is impossible to build a boat bigger than a football field and three stories high that big five thousand years ago.
Bill Nye the Science Guy raised this objection in his recent debate with Ken Ham. He said that modern man built a big wooden ship called the Wyoming (about three hundred feet long) and it leaked. How could Noah build a similar ship five thousand years ago that did not leak? How would you answer that objection? It is very easy to answer.
The Wyoming did not leak for fourteen years. Noah’s ark only had to float for five months before it landed. God was the engineer. He gave Noah the design for the ark. Second, modern man was not primitive. Pyramids were not built by modern man. Take, for example, the Great Pyramid of Giza.
It is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (2500 BC). It contains a pyramid that is 756 feet long made up of over two million blocks of stone, each weighing about two tons. In the 15th century, there was a famous Chinese explorer who built a wooden ship about four hundred feet long. His name was Zing He (1371-1435).
He died about fifteen years before Christopher Columbus was born. There are many other ancient ships there were also large, like the Greek ship the Thalamegos, which was 377 feet long and two-stories high (200 B.C.) or the Tessarakonteres, which was 420 feet long and was also built in the Hellenistic Period (3rd century B.C.).
The best answer to this problem is that Noah’s ark has been found by an international team of archaeologists. Ariel photography discovered a mysterious object in Turkey that is man-made structure. It happens to be the remains of an ancient boat. The boat just happens to be the same general dimensions of Noah’s ark in the Book of Genesis. In fact, it is a little larger than 450 feet long. It is 515 feet long.
Apparently, the cubits mentioned in Genesis 6 were Egyptian cubits which were 20 inches long, instead of 18. It just so happens to be in the same area that Genesis 8:4 said that it would be, namely, in the mountains of Ararat (not on Mount Ararat, which is volcanic, but fifteen miles to the West on Doomsday Mountain). It also just so happens that this boat is 4800 years old based on Carbon 14 testing.
They say that it is impossible to get enough water from rain to flood the whole earth in forty days. That is six weeks. If it rained for forty days and forty nights today, it would only result in a flood two inches high everywhere. There is not enough water in the atmosphere. Where did all of the water come from? A worldwide flood would require eight times more water than the earth now possesses. How would you answer that objection?
This was not an ordinary flood. It was not a natural rainstorm. Genesis 7:11-12 says, “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights” (NIV).
Water from the Flood came from came from two sources: below the earth and above the earth. Apparently, there was water in the crust of the earth at one time and at the time of the Flood there were geological changes in the crust of the earth (volcano, earthquake). A lower ocean went up and an upper ocean went down. The same God who created the world is capable of destroying it. This is no problem at all.
Many say that the Genesis Flood is a myth? How would you answer them? It is not written as myth but as history. Jesus accepted it as history. The interesting thing is that engineers have studied the dimensions of the ark (450 feet long to 75 feet wide). It is built on a six to one ratio, the same ratio you find in modern cargo and battleships.
The ark was a gigantic wooden box. It was not designed to go anywhere, just float. It had no steering wheel and no brakes. It was designed for optimum stability. It was built to be stable. It is the perfect ratio for boat stability. None one knew this until the 15th century The Babylonians had a flood story, similar to the one in Genesis. It is called the Epic of Gilgamesh. A man in that story builds a boat that is a cube (is two hundred by two hundred by two hundred). It would easily roll over in the water. It would not be very sturdy at all.
The biblical story of the Flood is also unpopular in some circles of the church. Many in the church believe that the Flood did not cover the whole earth. It was a local Flood in the Mesopotamian region. That is what Hugh Ross believes. That makes complete nonsense of Genesis. If that is the case, why did Noah have to build an ark in the first place?
It makes total nonsense for Noah to spend a hundred years building a boat that is bigger than a football field simply to survive a local flood of water. He could have just moved to a different area if God was going to kill everyone in that one region. He could have taken Noah away, just as He did to Lot later in Genesis.
Why did he have to bring two of every animal into the ark to save them? The animals also could have simply moved to another area to survive the Flood. Why did they have to stay in the ark for seven months after it landed on the mountains of Ararat? God said that he would never again do this. If it is a local Flood, every time it rains and floods, God has broken his promise that he made. None of the details in the text seem to fit a local flood concept.
The second big problem for the Flood story is misinformation. There are many false ideas about Noah. We saw some of that last week. The problem is that people do not get their information about Noah and the ark from the Bible. They get it from Hollywood and Hollywood completely distorts the story. It is one thing to use a little artistic liberty on minor things but the modern movie makes major changes to the whole story. The biblical Noah does not look like the Noah of Hollywood. They did not even try to make him look like the biblical Noah.
According to Genesis, God sent the Flood as judgment on sin. The world was so corrupt that the only solution was annihilation but God does not annihilate everyone on the planet but even God did not do it immediately. He gave mankind over a hundred years to repent before the Flood came. God does not just destroy man. He does something else. He reaches out to one man who was righteous and saves him and his family. In the Book of Genesis, we see God creates man, destroys man and saves man.
God Spoke to Noah
Noah was one of two people in the Bible who walked with God. He was close to God. He talked to God and God talked to him. God does not do anything in the Noah movie. He does not appear in the movie. God never speaks to Noah in the movie. In the Bible, God speaks to Noah four times in Genesis (6:13-14; 7:1; 8:15-17; 9:1-17). How did God speak to Noah? The Bible does not say but we can assume that this was an audible voice. How do we know?
Up to this point in Genesis, God spoke directly to Adam and Eve. He walked in the garden with them. He spoke to Cain and now he speaks to Noah. All of the other times up to this point in Genesis God spoke directly to people. There is nothing in the text about Noah having a vision or dream. God gave Noah very specific directions and details on how to build the ark.
God told Noah to put a roof on the ark and to build one door on the side of the ark (6:16). He told Noah to give it one window (8:6) and a covering (8:13). He told Noah how many floors it should have – three (6:16). He told him what materials to use to make the ark – gopher wood, pitch (6:14). He told Noah how long the ark should be, how tall it should be and how wide it should be (6:15). He told him to build rooms in it (6:14). He told Noah what who the occupants of the boat should be. He gave Noah a passenger list.
The first time God speaks to Noah is in Genesis 6. He tells Noah to build the ark. Building the ark was not Noah’s idea. It was God’s idea. God didn’t build the ark for Noah. He told Noah to do it. It shows human responsibility. Noah was told to build the ark, stock it with food and put all of the animals in it.
Noah did not have to struggle to figure out God’s will. He did not have to guess and think to himself: What does God want me to do with my life? God spoke directly to Noah. He gave him very clear and detailed instructions. Noah understood exactly what God was telling him to do.
Noah got busy. He had a big job. Many of us start things but don’t finish them, especially if we have ADD. We do not finish what we start. We get distracted and just start something else. Noah stuck with this one for a long time. He stuck with it over a hundred years and God promised to protect them from the Flood and preserve their life.
The second time God speaks to Noah is in Genesis 7. That is a hundred and twenty-years later. There is a gap of 120 years between Genesis 6 and Genesis 7. There was 120 years of silence. The second time God speaks to Noah is after the ark is built. God tells Noah to get on it with his family and all of the animals. Noah was on the ark for over a year. We are not told that God spoke to Noah while he was on the ark until the Flood was over and the earth had dried up.
Then God spoke to Noah for a third time and told them to get off the ark. If you work out the chronology, Noah had been on the ark with his family and all of the animals for 371 days. It rained for forty days and forty nights. Many think that they were on the ark for forty days and forty nights. They were actually on the ark for over a year.
Noah did not get on the ark until God told him to. He waited over a year on the ark. It must have been hard night after night, month after month. The ark was noisy. It was crowded. It was cramped. It had to smell bad. There was not a lot of light. They may have gotten sea sick. I am sure they got depressed being on the ark for a whole year but He did not leave the ark until God told him that it was safe to get off the ark.
Noah sent out two birds (a raven once and a dove twice). These birds were very different. One was a white bird and one was a black bird. One was a clean animal and one was unclean. One came back and one didn’t. The raven did not come back because ravens are carnivorous. There were probably plenty of dead bodies for it to feed on. Some birds will eat anything. Doves are clean white birds that only land on clean, dry objects.
Why did Noah send out these birds? Apparently, there were some things that God told Noah and there were some things that He did not tell Noah. God had told him when the flood would start but not when it would end. God never told him how long the flood would last because he did not need to know. There were some things that God told Noah. Other things he figured out on his own.
There is a great lesson for us on waiting for God from the life of Noah. Noah didn’t get on the ark until God told him to get on and he did not step one foot out of the ark until God told them to. Even when Noah did his bird-watching and sent out a few birds out he did not do this. Even after sending out the birds, Noah stayed in the ark until God told him to leave.
Psalm 27:13-14 says, “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord” (ESV). Isaiah 40:31 says, “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (ESV)
Lamentations 3:25 says, The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.” God makes us wait for things. Moses had to wait forty years in the desert before God used him to lead the Jew out of Egypt. Many of us do not wait for God. We run ahead. We do not like to wait for anything. We are impatient. We do not like to wait in traffic or wait in lines at the grocery store. What does it mean to wait for God? It means to wait for God to do something.
1) It can mean waiting for God to answer your prayers (Psalm 5:3).
2) It can mean waiting for God to fulfill his promises (Habakkuk 2:2-3; Mark 15:43; I Thessalonians 1:9-10; Titus 2:12-13; Hebrews 9:28).
3) It can mean waiting for God to vindicate you after injustice occurs (Proverbs 20:22; Isaiah 30:18). When bad things happen to you, you need to wait on God (Psalm 27:2, 3, 5, 19, 12, 14; 33:18-21; 37:7)
4) It can also mean waiting for God to reveal His will for your life. Do I get married? Who do I marry? What should I do for a living? That is what Noah was waiting for. He was waiting for God to give him the green light to leave the ark.
In Genesis 8, we see two things: God remembers Noah (8:1) and Noah remembers God (8:20). The first thing we see is that God remembers Noah. Genesis 8:1 says, “But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded” (NIV). What is the lesson there? God keeps his promises. He made a covenant with Noah before the Flood (6:18). We will learn more about this covenant in Genesis 9.
God is keeping His promise. Why did God lead the Jews out of Egypt? He kept His promise. Exodus 2:23-25 says, “During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob” (NIV).
“God remembered Noah” shows that God keeps His promises. It also shows that He watches over His people. This is a figure of speech. It doesn’t mean that God forgot about Noah and then remembered him. God is omniscient. He knows all things. Noah was in that boat a long time.
He probably thought that God forgot about him but He didn’t. Noah could not live forever on the ark. His food supply was limited. God remembered him. He pays special attention to His people. They never leave his sight. One of our greatest feats is that one day we will be forgotten. We will be buried and completely forgotten but God remembers His people.
This is a phrase we see many times in Scripture. The Bible says that God remembered Abraham (Genesis 19:29). God saved Lot when he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of Abraham’s prayer. He remembered Abraham. He remembered Rachel and gave her a child (30:22). He remembered Hannah and gave her a child as well (I Samuel 1:19). What did God do to show that He remembered Noah? He sent a wind to help dry the earth. He exercised control over the forces of nature.
The second thing we see in this chapter is that Noah remembers God (8:20). The first thing that he does when he gets off of the ark is to worship God. The first thing that he does is to build God an altar and to sacrifice an animal. The entire animal is offered to God on the altar. He does not build himself a house first. He builds an altar for God. He doesn’t have to do it. He is not commanded to do it. He does it because he wants to do it. It is voluntary.
Noah did not come out of the ark mad at God. He was grateful to be alive and back on dry ground. He worships the God who preserved him from destruction. Genesis 8:21 said, “The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.”
Is this is proof that God likes barbecue? Does He like the smell of roasted meat? No. This is a way of saying that God saw Noah’s heart and accepted Noah’s sacrifice, just as he accepted Abel’s sacrifice. God does not just punish the wicked. He delights in the sacrifices and worship of His people. The fourth time God spoke to Noah was after he got off of the ark. We will look at what God told Noah next week.