Monday, December 7, 2015

Genesis 7:17-24 - The Universal Flood, Fact or Fiction ?

God   shut Noah and his family into the ark   (Gen. 7:16) so that they were saved. All this, we saw,  prefigures the work of Jesus. Our Lord Jesus is the ultimate  ark. The righteous man  runs into Him and  he is  safe  (Prov.  18:10). When we  enter into Christ  we escape the wrath of God.

The Genesis  flood  is  not  primarily  a meteorological or  a seismological  event  or whatever other  scientific  description you may choose.  The flood is primarily    a theological event, and  the  weather  and the geology  are  God’s  tools  in that process!  
As Christians  we actually consider  the whole of life  as theological.   As Christians  we should not  think that theology   and  science are in conflict. Theology and true science are in fact  great allies. But  who would be the senior partner?  
In Europe during the High Middle ages, schools of higher learning called  theology the  “queen of the sciences.”  They  understood that the various branches of learning required an overarching standard. That standard  to them was the Bible, because  the Bible is  the source of all truth  and therefore the starting point  for learning. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov. 1:7).

In our day  the  theory of evolution and its associated  agendas  have  managed to move  theology  to the lunatic  fringe, but for any serious  and thinking Christian  this   constitutes a  serious  attack on the authority of  our  Bible and therefore  an attack on faith.

The Bible makes after all  important  claims  with respect to the  origin and the  creation of the world and the universe. The Bible makes  important  claims about  man  who is said to be  made in the image of God. The Bible also asserts  that  all the animals, birds and insects  were each  made according to their own  kind  and  not by  a process of evolution. The Bible speaks   of sin  and judgement in response to man’s rebellion against God, and the Bible claims  that a  universal flood  was the  first great  indication concerning  God’s  universal wrath on  man’s sinfulness. This is clearly seen  in the pronunciation made in  Gen. 6:5-7.  

Now clearly  the claims of evolutionary teaching   do not agree at all with the Scripture, and so we have to make up our mind  in this regard.  Do we take the claims  of Scripture  seriously or not?  If the Bible  is simply  fiction, then  the next question would be, “but can we trust fiction?”, and  “ if Genesis  isn’t strictly speaking true, then  what else may we discard in the Bible“? John McArthur has correctly pointed out   that,  “ Scripture, not science, is the ultimate test of all truth. And the further evangelicalism gets from that conviction, the less evangelical and more humanistic it becomes.”[1]

So, as we get back to our text, at  this point in  the history of  Genesis, we have seen  that God’s  patience with  mankind  has come to an end.  God is determined to make an end of all mankind  by means  of a  universal flood :  Gen. 7:17,18  The flood  continued 40 days  on the earth. The waters increased and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. The waters  prevailed and increased greatly  on the earth and the ark  floated on the face of the waters.”

Many think  that  the flood mentioned here was  perhaps simply  a severe local flood in the Mesopotamian valley.  But  this is not what the  Bible indicates. If it was simply a local flood, Noah   could have simply  escaped  to another part of the world  to escape from this  flood . Instead, he is commanded to build an Ark of gigantic proportions!
According to Gen. 6:15 the Ark  was 140 meters long, 23 metres wide and 14 metres high - longer than a  soccer field  and higher than a 4 storey building.  It had three decks, and a capacity of approximately   15000 tonnes. In modern terms  it would be  have held over 500  standard  shipping containers. It is a huge vessel by modern standards. We ask, how is this possible?  We forget that  engineering techniques, tools and machines of  ancient man were   far more advanced than we  are ready  to believe. Not long after the flood, the Egyptians  were able to cut huge granite blocks and transport  and construct  massive, precision built pyramids.  In  the 3rd Century B.C. the Egyptian pharaoh Ptolemy IV Philopator  had  a huge wooden boat built. It was 130 meters long, powered  by three banks of oarsmen, being able to carry 4000 soldiers. [2]   The ark was a much simpler construction. It was built to float !

The Bible indicates that there was a universal flood. There are about thirty expressions in  Genesis chapters 6-9,  which indicate that the Flood was universal. This   flood   was associated with  significant seismological activity  which  caused the  fountains of the great deep burst forth and in conjunction  with torrential rains.  Remember that this was God’s doing! This catastrophic event  was so severe  that one  would not recognise the  earth today  from the earth as it was then!  Some creation  scientists  believe that  a  single continent  was  broken up  as the result of this   flood.  They maintain  that the  post flood  earth  developed an  entirely   new  geology, with  huge sediment deposits  that included  billions of  fossils,  plants , animals , insects   that were  trapped  in  torrential  mud  which quickly formed  into sedimentary rock. Approximately 75% of the continental surface  is sedimentary rock[3], which indicates that  there  was  huge movement  of   gravel , sand and silt  - all the  result of these huge masses of water  moving over the face of the earth.
I have found it astounding to learn  that even the  sedimentary  layers that form the uppermost parts of  Mt.  Everest  are composed of fossil bearing, water-deposited sediment.[4] Incidentally, the Indian  tectonic plate   is pushing up the  Eurasian plate  and  enormous  tectonic  movement  has not only  produced the  highest mountain in the world  , but it  is  also  true to say that  Mt. Everest is growing.   The fact that fossils are found near the top of Mt Everest is  significant, for it indicates that  this must have been submerged  and flooded at some time in  history.  The Geology  of the world is  always changing. 

One of the most fascinating insights into  recent  thinking  about geological processes   has been  provided by  Mt. St. Helens (USA),  which erupted  in  June 1980. It  has been  awesome  to see how quickly those sediment strata formed.  Three separate eruptions produced  sedimentary-type layers hundreds of feet thick.  One of these was a hurricane velocity deposit that produced thousands of thin  laminations up to 25 feet thick.  The third eruption was a lava flow,  which turned into a hot mud-flow as it  crossed the Toutle River.  This hot mud flow not only diverted  the  river, but carved a 17 mile long  series of canyons (up to 140 feet deep) in a matter of hours.  They call it the Little Grand Canyon of the Toutle River."….  so , canyons  don’t need  millions of years to form.

Having said  all this  I  must humbly confess, that I (and all of us)   do not know how God  exactly  brought the flood about, and  what exactly  happened as a result. We just weren’t there. Nobody except Noah and his family were there, and all our  efforts to understand or explain  what  God did then  will not change the fact  that  the Bible says that there has been a  universal flood , and that it primarily happened in response to  man’s evil and corrupt nature.   God did it, and He did it in the same way in which He always works – by His supernatural power, ordering  and commanding  nature to obey His  awesome commands.  Who will not fear God as you hear this?

The Flood lasted  for forty days, and we are told that at the end of this time the mountains of the earth were covered to a depth of more than 6 meters (Gen. 7:19). It was 150 days after the rain had begun, and 110 days after the  rain and springs had ceased to  pour out water  that the Ark was  able to touch land on the mountains of Ararat (Gen. 8:4). From there another  10  weeks again passed before the mountain tops became visible, and then another  21 weeks  passed before Noah and the family and the animals  could leave the  ark. Noah was  almost on the ark for a year! And so God accomplished what He set out to do . He  has once judged the earth  with a terrible  judgement. 

We have every reason  to believe that there was such  a universal flood. Significantly  and finally we observe that Jesus  believed the flood to be an historical and therefore accurate account , for He did not contradict it when He affirmed   in Matthew 24:38-44:            
[38] For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, [39] and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. [40] Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. [41] Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. [42] Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. [43] But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. [44] Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
Significantly  the Lord Jesus  connects the universal flood with the universal judgement  at the end of all days when He shall come again.  Why should we believe in the Genesis account as accurate and historical ? Because  Jesus understood  the OT as history.  Jesus  also regarded  Adam, Eve and Noah  as historical people.
So did the apostle Peter, who  spoke of the Flood,  and  we note that he  too assumed it to be  a worldwide flood,  because he said,  
By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed” (2 Pet. 3:6). 
He then  also compares it to the present heavens and earth, which are reserved for fire. He is not saying that only one localized area would be burned by fire  in the final judgment . . . he implied that just as the Flood was global, so the final judgment of the earth  by fire will be global. If only part of the human race were destroyed by the Flood, the major point made in Scripture of all humanity being corrupt, violent, and having hearts inclined toward evil would be lost.

One can understand why atheistic  evolutionists  would want to  re- interpret  the  history of the earth in terms of great ages and evolution, rather than  trusting in the biblical account of Creation and the Flood.  According to their belief system they  must get rid of God, and Satan has  provided  a very effective tool   to  persuade  biblical illiteralists. It has in fact become a new faith system, and  it must be said  that  biology and much of what is called science today  goes far beyond what we would call ‘scientific’. Much of it is in fact  speculation and speculation  is  the atheist version of  faith. We need to ask  an important question :  "Who among finite men  has the authority to say  that the  earth is  4.5 billion years old? [5] 
Well  might  the words of Job 38:4 be repeated: “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me  if you have understanding.” 
The  Flood reminds us  that  God has judged the earth once. And we  have seen that Jesus uses the flood account as a reminder  to us  that  there will be  a second destruction of the earth, not by water, but by fire.
So,  here are  some important questions to answer: 
  • What is your faith position?   
  • How  will you escape from the coming wrath ?

Again, we can say that God is so good. He has provided an ark for us ;  this time  not a ship, but a person. His own Son. The righteous run into the Name of Jesus and they are saved.

[1] Quoted in : 15 Reasons to  take Genesis as History :  Creation  Ministries International ,p.25
[2] Tas Walker (PhD in Mechanical Engineering  ; BSc in Earth Science) : The Genesis flood  (2006) Creation Ministries ; The  Genesis Flood : Fact or Fiction , p.6
[3]  : Sedimentary rocks are types of rock that are formed by the deposition of material at the Earth's surface and within bodies of water. Sedimentary rocks cover the majority of the Earth's rocky surface.
[4] Tas Walker  : The Genesis Flood, p.28  ( References and notes)
[5] Prior to the 1700s, few believed in an old earth. The approximate 6,000-year age for the earth was challenged only rather recently, beginning in the late 18th century. These opponents of the biblical chronology essentially left God out of the picture. Three of the old-earth advocates included Comte de Buffon, who thought the earth was at least 75,000 years old. Pièrre LaPlace imagined an indefinite but very long history. And Jean Lamarck also proposed long ages.However, the idea of millions of years really took hold in geology when men like Abraham Werner, James Hutton, William Smith, Georges Cuvier, and Charles Lyell used their interpretations of geology as the standard, rather than the Bible. Werner estimated the age of the earth at about one million years. After Lyell, in 1899, Lord Kelvin (William Thomson) calculated the age of the earth, based on the cooling rate of a molten sphere, at a maximum of about 20–40 million years (this was revised from his earlier calculation of 100 million years in 1862).13 With the development of radiometric dating in the early 20th century, the age of the earth expanded radically. In 1913, Arthur Holmes’s book, The Age of the Earth, gave an age of 1.6 billion years.14 Since then, the supposed age of the earth has expanded to its present estimate of about 4.5 billion years (and about 14 billion years for the universe).

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