The Death of the Old World (Gen 7:1-24)

Author’s Note: I am preaching through Genesis on Wednesday nights. Here I will present edited notes in blog form. You can listen to the sermon below and download it here. May God be glorified and His people edified. Comments below if you like.

After three sessions in Genesis 6, in this study we finally move on to chapter seven. God had previously decreed His Spirit would not strive with man forever, because every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually, so 120 years were given for man before he would be blotted out. During that 120 years God showed grace to Noah and told him to build the ark, because a flood that would wipe out everything was coming, but God would preserve Noah, his wife, his sons, their wives, and animals. He would save them from the judgment.

Well, tonight in Genesis 7, the judgment, the Flood comes. So read chapter seven…

Then the Lord said to Noah, “Enter the ark, you and all your household, for you alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this time. You shall take with you of every clean animal by sevens, a male and his female; and of the animals that are not clean two, a male and his female; also of the birds of the sky, by sevens, male and female, to keep offspring alive on the face of all the earth. For after seven more days, I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights; and I will blot out from the face of the land every living thing that I have made.” Noah did according to all that the Lord had commanded him.

Now Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of water came upon the earth. Then Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him entered the ark because of the water of the flood. Of clean animals and animals that are not clean and birds and everything that creeps on the ground, there went into the ark to Noah by twos, male and female, as God had commanded Noah. It came about after the seven days, that the water of the flood came upon the earth. In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened. The rain fell upon the earth for forty days and forty nights.

On the very same day Noah and Shem and Ham and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them, entered the ark, they and every beast after its kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth after its kind, and every bird after its kind, all sorts of birds. So they went into the ark to Noah, by twos of all flesh in which was the breath of life. Those that entered, male and female of all flesh, entered as God had commanded him; and the Lord closed it behind him.

Then the flood came upon the earth for forty days, and the water increased and lifted up the ark, so that it rose above the earth. The water prevailed and increased greatly upon the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. The water prevailed more and more upon the earth, so that all the high mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered. The water prevailed fifteen cubits higher, and the mountains were covered. All flesh that moved on the earth perished, birds and cattle and beasts and every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth, and all mankind; of all that was on the dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, died. Thus He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky, and they were blotted out from the earth; and only Noah was left, together with those that were with him in the ark. The water prevailed upon the earth one hundred and fifty days.

This was the death of the old world.

But first, before death came the preserving grace of God… the preserving grace of God. In contrast to the enormity of wickedness permeating the earth, in verse one the LORD, YHWH, speaks to Noah, instructing him to enter with his household into the ark, into the instrument of salvation God had provided. Why? “For you I have seen to be righteous before Me in this time.”

Noah trusted in the LORD. Remember what we’ve seen about Noah in Hebrews 11:7, “By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” Noah faith through obeying what God told him to do. His faith worked. In fact, that is emphasized in the last verse of chapter six. Like Abraham, who in Genesis 15:6 will believe God and have it credited to him as righteousness, Noah as counted as righteous by God, and so God invited him in, in fact, commanded him to go in, into the ark, to enter in, come into the ark — and be saved from the wrath the come.

To do that would be for Noah, and each of his family as well, to renounce the world they knew, renounce the way of life they knew. Things were going to change, but God had promised them in Genesis 6:18 they would be saved, and they believed God.

Now in verses 2-3 God instructs Noah to take with him every clean animal by sevens. We saw in chapter six two of each kind of animal would come to him, but here a distinction is made between clean and unclean animals, and of the clean animals it wouldn’t be two, but seven. And so the question asked is, “What were clean animals?” and “What is the purpose for more clean animals than unclean?”

Well, of course, the primary purpose of bringing all of the animals onto the ark was so they might be fruitful and multiply once they got off the ark, which is why God made a point of having male and female — “to keep offspring alive on the face of the earth,” God said.

In Genesis we are given no specific instruction on what was a clean animal and what was an unclean animal, and we have to remember we’re still 900 years from Exodus 20 and what follows with the giving of the Law to Israel. To take what God gave to Israel later and apply it to Genesis 7 would be what’s called an anachronistic fallacy, applying something to the past out of its correct historical and chronological time. This happens sometimes in Christian studies as well, but if I get into that we’ll get way off the path tonight.

As it pertains to Genesis 7, regarding the clean/unclean distinction: We know there were sacrifices before the Law was given to Israel. Abel sacrificed animals. Abraham sacrificed. We know this. The clean animals, then, were probably those suitable for those sacrifices. In fact, not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but at the end of chapter eight the first thing Noah does when he gets off the ark is build an altar to the LORD and take of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offer up burnt offerings to God. So the seven clean animals… six of them could produce offspring, but it would seem ahead of Noah entering the ark God was providing him with what he would need to worship Him when he got off the ark — those seventh animals.

Now… in verses 4-5 it is a week before the Flood. God says it’s coming in seven days. For forty days and forty nights it will rain. Every living thing God made on the land would be blotted out. And faced with this news, and these instructions, again we see in verse 5 Noah did according to all YHWH commanded him. The obedience of faith, beloved, and it’s shown in verses 6-9.

First, in verse six, we’re told Noah was 600 years old when this happened, meaning his sons were relatively young for the time, 100 years and less. But then in the next three verses we see Noah carrying out the commands God gave. They enter the ark. The animals enter the ark. Again, verse nine, as God had commanded Noah. And so we see the preserving grace of God. Noah is believing, and true faith obeys, but all of this is the grace of God. Because remember, Noah was a sinner. He was a sinner before God saved him. He was a sinner when God told him to build an ark. We’re going to see him sin after he gets off the ark. Which just reinforces that salvation isn’t of our obedience, but of the LORD, of His grace. In verse sixteen it is the LORD who closes the door behind them to secure them safely in His ark of salvation. And thus we must remember, beloved, that in our world which is also supersaturated with sin, and every one of us being a sinner, that it is only by grace any of us is saved. It is only by grace we are preserved from the judgment to come. We live only… by the preserving grace of God.

In verse 10 we begin to see, finally, the judgment of the wicked… the judgment of the wicked. Verses 10-12…

It came about after the seven days, that the water of the flood came upon the earth. In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened. The rain fell upon the earth for forty days and forty nights.

The last period of grace, that last seven days, ends. We are actually given the exact day of Noah’s life span when the Flood starts. Why that is I’m not entirely sure, except it does reinforce to us that this was a real historical event. The Flood is not described with vague, broad brushes, but we are given specific details, which are not the kind of thing you would find if this were just some sort of myth or allegory, as some make out the Flood, and really all of Genesis 1-11, to be. The Flood comes… for real. On the same day all of the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened.

Now back when we were in Genesis 1 we talked about how the world was different than what we know now. There was no rain. There was a firmament which separated the waters from the waters, the waters below the earth from the waters above the earth, the waters above constituting what amounts to a vaporous canopy which made the earth like a beautiful greenhouse, preventing cold temperatures and wind and rain storms. The waters below, the great deep, were visible to man inasmuch as they made seas and rivers, but they came from below the earth’s crust. Many of us get our water from home from wells, which go below ground. Well… pun intended, that is where this water came from. We’re first told the fountains of the great deep burst open, indicating violent explosions of water all over the earth, and then the waters above began falling and falling and falling. When the time came for God to bring death to the old world, all He had to do was bring these two bodies of water back together again.

Now in verses 13-16 we get a recapitulation of Noah and his family and all of the animals entering the ark. We’re also told there what we saw earlier, that the LORD closed the door. He was the ultimate agent of protection, salvation, here. But something else I just want to emphasize once again. Notice that phrase at the beginning of verse thirteen: “On the very same day.” On the very same day as the Flood began, that’s when they entered the ark.

This is evidence of their faith, beloved, in the absolute accuracy of God’s word. I like to be early for things, so my inclination would be on maybe day five or day six out of that seven day period to get into the ark, to make sure I was there on time. But they didn’t do that. They didn’t fearfully rush into the ark. Neither did they delay until they saw the waters come. They went in precisely when God instructed them to… by faith, the old world being, as Henry Morris writes, “forever dead to them from that moment on.” It’s really, beloved, a picture of our salvation. God shows us grace. Jesus commands us to come. We are new creations, the old things having passed away, as 2 Corinthians 5:17 puts it, all things become new.

What it must have been like on the ark actually reminds me of a movie called Contact which came out in 1997, which actually was based on a book by a devout atheist and promoter of evolution named Carl Sagan. You might remember the Cosmos miniseries from the late ‘70s. His famous line was “The cosmos is all there is and was and ever will be.”

Anyway, in the movie these scientists discover an alien communication to earth from another word, and part of the communication is how to build a space transport to get to them. And so it’s built and one of the scientists is in this thing about to take off, but before it does the machine is going through these very violent spins and stuff, causing waves and wind outside, but inside the machine everything is just as it should be. That’s how it was with the ark. Chaos, and the violence of wind and waves and destruction outside, but on the inside salvation, peace with God, the knowledge you are in His care and will continue to be in His care.

Of course, not everyone believes this about the ark. Not everyone who reads this… not even everyone who claims Christ who reads this… believes this is describing a cataclysmic, global Flood which really did wipe out the earth. Many assert it was a local flood. Others perhaps a regional flood. Some say it’s just a myth.

So that leads us to the third thing in this chapter, the reality of the judgment. The judgment of the wicked is destruction. We need to know it’s real. So it’s at this point, verses 17-24, that I just want to walk through the rest of the chapter and point to several very good reasons why this is describing a global Flood, one which covered the entirety of the earth. Not just a local flood. Not a regional Flood. Not a myth. But a real catastrophic judgment. The reality of the judgment. And these reasons are not original to me, but there’s no sense on reinventing a wheel when it works.

We haven’t gotten to chapters eight and nine yet, but if you take all of Genesis 6-9, if you just take what was written at face value — and it was probably one or more of Noah’s sons who originally recorded this information — if you just read it… it plainly reads like a global Flood. To insinuate something different is to go against the plain reading of Genesis 6-9.

I’m not going to go through and count them but there are over thirty times in Genesis 6-9 where the universality of the flood is expressed.

That this was different than anything else that ever happened is reinforced by the language used. In Hebrew it’s not just that it rained for forty days, it’s that the rain was coming for forty days and nights. A continual downpour upon the earth. And beyond that, the Hebrew word used to respond to the Noah Flood, mabbul, is not one of the ordinary Hebrew words used to describe local floods.

In verse 17 we see the ark was lifted up so that it rose above the earth. For a boat that size with that much weight to be lifted up so quickly like that betrays the notion this could have been a local or regional flood, because even when those catastrophes take place there is somewhere for the water to go. Not so here. There was so much of it this huge boat rose above the earth. In verse 18 the water prevailed and increased greatly upon the earth. In other words, the waters were overwhelmingly mighty, language that is probably too strong for a local flood. Job 12:15 actually says the waters overturned, or inundated the earth.

Consider for a moment the time and the money, the resources, which would have had to go into building this boat. It would have been a waste if the Flood were only local. It would have been much easier and economical for God to tell Noah and his family to hop on some mules and head down the road, even for a very long trip, than to build this boat. They and the animals could have migrated.

In verses 19-20. The waters prevailed more and more. All the high mountains everywhere and under the heavens were covered. The water prevailed fifteen cubits higher, over twenty feet higher than the tallest mountains, and the mountains were covered. This has every hint of an eyewitness account. All of the mountains were under water, such that the ark was floating above them all. Where the ark would eventually come to rest, in the mountains of Ararat, there are peaks today reaching 17,000 feet. Who knows how high those peaks were before the Flood? And it was higher than Ararat. Higher than all the mountains. Beloved, a Flood reaching over 17,000 feet in depth is not a local flood.

We look at verses 21-23… and “All flesh that moved on the earth perished, birds and cattle and beasts and every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth, and all mankind.” In a local flood, most of what is living can escape, especially animals and birds. But not in a global Flood. Man, too, even with something as catastrophic as Hurricane Katrina and what it did to New Orleans. There were many deaths, but there were a great many more who escaped the waters… to Houston and San Antonio and Atlanta and even Charlotte. In a local flood, most people escape. A local flood doesn’t touch all mankind. So it was a global Flood, or God is a liar.

Verse 22… “all that was on the dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, died.” Not possible with a local flood, a certainty with a global Flood.

We find out in chapter nine only Noah and those with him survived the Flood, so every man who has lived since then has descended from one of Noah’s three sons. If any man survived the Flood outside of the ark, again, God is a liar.

Finally, in verse 24, “The water prevailed upon the earth one hundred and fifty days.” This is the first time we’ve seen the word prevailed. No local flood continues to rise for 150 days. And we’ll see in chapter eight, even after the Flood waters receded and the ark grounded on the highest of the mountains of Ararat, it was another 2-1/2 months before the tops of other mountains could be seen. After four months of the waters receding, the dove Noah sent out couldn’t find a place a land. And it was over a whole year before there was enough land for Noah and his family to leave the ark.

Add to all of this that in Genesis 9 God is going to promise not to send such a Flood again. If the Flood was really local or regional then God had broken that promise many, many, many times.

Add to that it’s not just the Hebrew that uses a special word for this Flood, but the Greek in the New Testament uses a unique word, in Matthew, Luke, and 2 Peter, stressing this was a completely unique event in world history.

Add to that the new environment which came after the Flood. The Flood changed the earth forever. Now we have regular rain, and seasons, and the rainbow, and hostility between men and animals which did not exist before.

Add to that the sharp decline in life span we are going to see from the Flood to Genesis 11 and the Tower of Babel.

Add to that the testimony of other biblical authors and what they believed. Job I’ve already cited. But the Psalms, Isaiah, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, Hebrews — all accepting of a global, universal Flood.

And perhaps most importantly of all, add to that the plain fact the Lord Jesus Christ accepted the historicity and the global nature of this Flood. To quote Allen Ross, it was expedient that this generation of sinners should die so that all others might be warned of the coming wrath of God. God judged the word harshly, with deadly anger, so that future generations might look upon what happened and consider God’s gracious work of redemption in light of His angry judgment.

But Jesus… He believed, He knew, the Flood was total, global, catastrophic… to the point He makes it an end times event. He interprets the reality of the Flood judgment as an analogy with the final judgment to come, in which all of the wicked, again quoting Ross her, “all the wicked will be swept away and only the righteous will enter into the new age.” Only Noah, Mrs. Noah, and Misters and Mrs. Shem, Ham, and Japheth entered into that new age. Only those who have been shown grace by God and trusted in His Son Jesus, being counted as righteous in God’s sight, will enter into the age of glory to come.

The fact of the matter is God has brought death to that old world, but that isn’t the only world He will bring death to. Peter tells us there is coming a day when this world will be destroyed, not by Flood, but by intense heat. And after that there will be a new heaven and new earth, a new age, in which there will be no more sin, no more death, but a glorious eternity in the presence of Jesus. That will be a glorious day.

Until then, how do we proceed from here? Well, beloved, we need to understand the place the Flood has in the Bible and in history. Biblical Christianity is attacked by secularists, evolutionists, and many who profess Christ have capitulated under pressure from the world, pressure from academia, to try to find a middle way. But we don’t need a middle way between the biblical account of creation and the Flood and what the world alleges about millions and billions of years. We simply need to read and understand what God has said, and stand upon that, the authority of the Scriptures. And proclaim the gospel in the midst of it, trusting God to bring to repentance and faith those who now deny Him, according to His will.

In the next session we will look at chapter eight and the flip side. In Genesis 7 the waters prevail. In Genesis 8 the waters will subside. Until then, let’s keep on trusting in God’s word, trusting in His provision of our salvation, Jesus, and living with the obedient faith of Noah.

Father, that is our prayer… that we might walk in the righteousness, the obedient faith, which Noah exhibited. We believe in Your promise of a coming judgment for our world and we praise You for providing in Christ one and only one way of escape. We thank You for Your grace. We all deserve to be judged according to our sins. We deserve the Flood of Your holy anger to come down on us. And yet, Christ endured it on the cross in our place. For that we will forever thank You and praise You. Now, may we live lives of thanks and praise, by Your grace, according to Your good pleasure. Amen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *