The story of the flood—like so many scenes in Genesis—establishes principles that will be reaffirmed throughout the Bible. Here three ideas stand out:
- Sin’s dominion of humanity knows no bounds. Genesis 6 records that, “man’s wickedness was widespread on the earth and that every scheme his mind thought of was nothing but evil all the time,” (v. 5). In a day when sin is overlooked as ‘weakness,’ or, ‘just being different,’ than the norms of upstanding folk, the Bible’s honesty challenges us to see things as they really are
- God is a God of destruction. In Genesis 6, God is so angered with the choices of sinful humanity that He issues an indictment of destruction upon all of mankind—for none are innocent before Him (vv. 6-7). The theme of universal guilt is likewise maligned in our day, but must be confessed if one is to enjoy salvation
- God is yet free to grant deliverance to any He chooses. Early in the pages of the Bible we are confronted with the mystery of grace and mercy: God grants what is not deserved and withholds the consequences of a just indictment. In Gen 6.8 we read that Noah was the exception of the human race: “Noah, however, found favor in the eyes of the LORD.” Noah too deserved to drown, but God is a God of destruction and deliverance. Yet the text does not portray deliverance as a passive activity; Noah toiled to build a gigantic structure precisely according to God’s instruction (6.22; cf. Psalm 1). As a result, Noah, his family, and representatives of the animal species were all spared (7.1-10).
We see in these chapters that God was true to His word: the flood waters surged over the entire earth and everything died that was not housed in the ark (7.17-23a); only Noah and those with him were delivered (7.23b). Even generations later the Psalmist reflected on the truthfulness of God’s word: “The LORD sat enthroned at the flood; the LORD sits enthroned, King forever. The LORD gives His people strength; the LORD blesses His people with peace,” (Ps 29.10-11).
While we may be familiar with even the details of the flood story, we should meditate a bit on the paradigm established in these chapters—for it is formative for the storyline of Scripture. We will see destruction and deliverance again in a few chapters as two cities are destroyed and a family is spared (cf. Genesis 19). In fact the Genesis accounts of Noah’s deliverance from the Flood, and Lot’s rescue from the flames of Sodom and Gomorrah, stimulated the apostle Peter to encourage the early church toward perseverance in pure Christian doctrine—even when faced with the threats that may come. He wrote:
“For if God didn’t spare the angels who sinned, but threw them down into Tartarus and delivered them to be kept in chains of darkness until judgment; and if He didn’t spare the ancient world, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others, when He brought a flood on the world of the ungodly; and if He reduced the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes and condemned them to ruin, making them an example to those who were going to be ungodly; and if He rescued righteous Lot, distressed by the unrestrained behavior of the immoral (for as he lived among them that righteous man tormented himself day by day with the lawless deeds he saw and heard)—then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, especially those who follow the polluting desires of the flesh and despise authority” (2 Pet 2.4-10a).
Among the lines of application that could be pursued here, let’s consider:
- God has called His people to walk differently than natural man. Because of God’s grace upon us, our paradigm of life should be toward God, not ourselves or present (and passing) pleasures that are grounded in the present world system
- We will be rejected by the world. Peter’s audience struggled because they were ostracized for their faith in Christ. In his first epistle, Peter wrote concerning them: “They are surprised that you don’t plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation—and they slander you” (1 Pet 4.4)
- God is faithful to deliver His faithful ones from the judgment He has planned for the wicked. We should thus be encouraged to live boldly, and purely, as Peter said: “Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard, so that you are not led away by the error of the immoral and fall from your own stability” (2 Pet 3.17)
*For a complete list of references, please see scripturestoryline.com