Rebellion against God was such a consistent and widespread characteristic of early human history that God announced he would destroy the rebels through a great flood (Gen 6:5-7,17). He would, however, preserve the godly man Noah and his family, and through them build a new people. God’s means of preserving Noah’s family, along with enough animals to repopulate the animal world, was through an ark that God told Noah to build (Gen 6:8-22; see Heb 11:7; 1 Peter 3:20; see ARK; NOAH). The natural causes God used to bring about the flood were twofold – forty days heavy rain combined with what seems to have been earthquake activity that sent the waters of the sea pouring into the Mesopotamian valley (Gen 7:11-12).

Even after the rain stopped and the earth settled, the flood waters took a long time to go down. Almost four months after the rain stopped, the ark came to rest in the Ararat range (Gen 8:3-4). Seven months later, grass and plants had grown sufficiently to allow Noah, his family and the animals to leave the ark and begin life afresh on the earth (Gen 8:14-19). It appears that the area affected by the flood was the region of the Bible’s story in the previous chapters. The information that Noah was able to obtain confirmed to him that the flood covered it all. (Expressions of universality such as ‘all the earth’, ‘everywhere’, ‘all people’, ‘everyone’, etc. are often used in the Bible with a purely local meaning, as they are today; cf. Gen 41:57; Deut 2:25; 1 Kings 4:34; 18:10; Dan 4:22; 5:19; John 1:4-5; Acts 2:5; 11:28; Col 1:23.) The important point of the flood story is that the flood was a total judgment on that ungodly world (except for Noah and his family), as God had warned (Gen 6:17). It is a reminder that, at the return of Jesus Christ, sudden judgment will again fall on an ungodly world, though again God will preserve the righteous (Matt 24:36-39; 2 Peter 2:5,9; cf. Gen 9:13-15; 2 Peter 3:5-7).

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