Noah and the Flood
GOD WANTS TO WIPE OUT MANKIND WITH A FLOOD
Genesis 6:5-8 (NET) – “But the Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind had become great on the earth. Every inclination of the thoughts of their minds was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made humankind on the earth, and he was highly offended. So the Lord said, “I will wipe humankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—everything from humankind to animals, including creatures that move on the ground and birds of the air, for I regret that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the sight of the Lord.”
We get to some pretty strong language in this passage. We hear about wickedness becoming great and evil all the time. Noah comes on the scene about 1,000 years after Adam. And, the flood is said to have happened when Noah was 600 years old. So, after less than 2,000 years on earth, man has gone from being a good creation to wicked and evil. Wickedness is less intense and immoral than evil. We know from previous lessons that Cain’s family chose to go the ungodly route, but Seth’s family was supposed to be the ones following God. How did we come to a point where only Noah and his family are found righteous?
From previous blogs, we may have some insight into what was happening that would fall into the wicked and evil categories. One thought is that violence had grown in immense proportions. We found this initiated in the murder of Abel, and then again with Lamech murdering someone. Another possibility is surrounding the sons of God we studied in last week’s blog.
Those who believe the sons of God were humans venture to wonder if they began to assume positions of gods amongst the people. Similarly, those who believe the sons of God were fallen angels believe the offspring continued the corruption on the earth. Since God mentions the desire to wipe out humankind, I’d have a hard time accepting the idea that the wickedness and evil were coming from half-human, half-angel offspring. If you recall, the first theory about the sons of God being humans involved Seth’s descendants marrying the daughters of Cain’s descendants. This seems to make more sense about both sides of Adam and Eve’s lineage contributing to the wickedness factor.
The next part of the passage describes people whose minds are focused on evil all the time. In an experiment in the 1980s, it was found that most people have about 500 scattered or unwanted thoughts throughout the day. Out of those thoughts, 18% would fall in the mean or bad category and 13% could fall into the realm we are calling wicked or evil. However, just because we have bad or wicked thoughts doesn’t mean we follow through on those thoughts. If that were the case, 84-91% of the population would be committing horrible crimes such as murder.
For most people, these thoughts are fleeting, lasting no more than 14 seconds on average. For those we might be inclined to label as wicked or evil, these thoughts might consume about one hour of the day. In more recent studies done on violent children, they found most violence stems from physical problems, such as seizures, neurological abnormalities, or psychiatric complications. It is a physical problem more than a mental choice or decision.
Our son has seizures. Although he is laid back, easy-going, and serene, we have met other patients who suffer from seizure disorders who are aggressive, violent, and hard to control. At no time have I ever had the inclination to wipe out all humankind who suffer from these maladies. Instead, I have compassion, understanding, and love for them. If I had the capacity to find a cure, I would use every resource available to do so.
We now live in a time period far more removed from the time of the flood than was before the time of the flood. Do you view the wickedness and evil on the earth to be worthy of complete destruction?
God’s regret for making mankind is so great that he also determines to kill all of the animals and creatures on earth. He hand-selects the members of Noah’s family, and a couple of each kind of animal to begin life on earth all over again. Noah’s sons, who are rescued on the ark, turn out to be just about as bad, wicked, or evil as anyone else may have been at the time. We’ll get to that at another time.
There are five periods of mass extinction of animals that have happened on our planet. The worst extinction of animal and plant life happened about 252 million years ago. 95% of marine life and 70% of land animals died when temperatures drastically increased during the time the Pangaea (supercontinent) began to break apart. Other causes of the mass extinctions have been volcanic eruptions, a decrease in oxygen, and a large meteor hitting the planet. The closest event we come to a flood causing the massive extinction of animals is flood basalts which are volcanoes, not massive amounts of water covering the earth.
WHO’S TO BLAME FOR THE FLOOD?
Genesis 6:9-13 (NIV) – “This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.”
Our account starts with the statement that Noah was righteous and blameless. He walked faithfully with God. A simple definition of righteous is that a person has a right relationship with God. What does the Bible itself have to say about people being righteous?
II Corinthians 5:21 – we are righteous because of Jesus
Psalm 53:1-3 – there is no one who does good
Romans 3:10 – there is no righteous person, not even one
A legal definition of being blameless is when a person’s intentions, nearness to the harm done, and lack of foreseeing the end result of actions is not in line with the damage done. In other words, they had not planned the harm, witnessed the harm, or anticipated the end result of the harm being done.
If the world was filled with wickedness at this time, it’s hard to believe Noah had not been witnessing these events or done anything to stop them from happening. There are many estimates as to the number of people who may have been on Earth at the time of the flood, ranging from 100,000 to 10 trillion. When we contemplate those numbers, and the proximity to the time when God seemed to make a lot more appearances, how likely is it that only Noah and his family were faithful to God?
Today, the country with a population closest to 100,000 is Seychelles. The amount of people who claim to follow Christianity in that country is 89.2% of the population. The current country with the lowest population of Christians is Afghanistan, with .02% of the population claiming that status. That number would be a minimum of 6,250 people.
The next topic in this story is that it doesn’t mention Noah having any daughters. Noah is claimed to be 600 years old at the time of the flood. By looking at the information provided in the book of Genesis, it would seem Japheth was born when Noah was 500 years old, Shem was born when he was 503 years old, and Ham was the final son born with no specific time frame mentioned. Most people list their children in birth order, but you’ll notice that’s not the case here.
We discussed in last week’s blog that all of this violence and wickedness may have been because of the half-human, half-angel offspring. This passage only refers to the people on earth as humans, this would lend itself more to the idea of Seth’s sons marrying Cain’s daughter’s theory. It further states the earth was filled with violence and corruption.
Overall, we are good people according to studies done. According to one study, 83% of us believe people are fundamentally good. Another study of Americans revealed that only 19% believe people tend to be bad.
Let’s get back to the idea that the people at this particular time in history weren’t nearly as good of people as we seem to be today. God is fed up with them. He desires to wipe them off the face of the earth. How does this coincide with the character of God we tend to want to believe?
How does the Bible tell us to treat the unrighteous?
Ephesians 4:32 – be kind, compassionate, and forgiving
Luke 6:31 – treat them the same way you want them to treat you
I Corinthians 12:23 – bestow honor on the less honorable
Luke 18:9-12 – don’t look down on them, as if you are better
The final phrase says that God intended to destroy the earth as well. Some of the things that happened during the flood changed the earth by destroying many animals and creatures, reshaping and dividing the continents, and shifting the sedimentary rock layers. It is also believed that a canopy used to be over the earth which protected it from the great heat from the sun. That barrier has been removed which results in the gradual heating of our planet.
IS THERE EVIDENCE OF A FLOOD?
Genesis 6:14-17 (The Message) – “Build yourself a ship from teakwood. Make rooms in it. Coat it with pitch inside and out. Make it 450 feet long, seventy-five feet wide, and forty-five feet high. Build a roof for it and put in a window eighteen inches from the top; put in a door on the side of the ship; and make three decks, lower, middle, and upper. “I’m going to bring a flood on the Earth that will destroy everything alive under Heaven. Total destruction.”
In this passage, we find very detailed instructions on the creation of the ark. You can now visit a full-size reproduction of what the ark may have looked like at the Ark Encounter in Kentucky. The first thing we are told is that it is made from teakwood, or gopher wood in some versions. Teakwood is known for its durability and water resistance. It is used frequently in boat building because it is resistant to termites and other insects.
The ark was a massive structure. This brings up the question of whether or not this size of a boat could float. The reproduction in Kentucky has not been adequately made to withstand water. However, a group of students set out to determine by using math and science if this size boat could float when carrying the amount of cargo mentioned in the flood story. They calculated the size of the boat and the density of the wood to determine how much weight the boat could hold without sinking. They decided to use a sheep as the median weight of animals that may have been onboard. According to their calculations, about 2.15 million sheep could have fit onboard. Since two of each kind of animal, plus a few animals had more for sacrifices to be made, that number would need to be divided in half. That would make room for about 1 million species. The students believe the study proved that the ark would have floated with all the animals on board.
However, besides the animals, food supplies for all the animals and Noah’s family would take up quite a bit of weight as well. The estimate for how many species of animals exist is also problematic. Estimates range from 1.7 million to 8.7 million. We had this discussion back in week one about the number of species existing in that part of the world at the time. So, if only 17,500 species needed to board the boat, then there would be plenty of room for supplies, according to some.
Now we come to the challenge of a worldwide flood. At the time the book of Genesis was written, their view of the world was much smaller than what we now know it to be. If these words were actually spoken by God, he would have known the world was much bigger. When studying the soil and rock beds across the world, there is no evidence to support the idea that the entire world has ever flooded at the exact same time. Many cultures and regions have flood stories to tell, but they have not happened at the same time in history. Thousands of people have died as a result of catastrophic flooding in areas. However, all floods have been limited to regional areas. One has never occurred on a massive worldwide scale.
Although we’re not quite to the verses about this yet, the Bible later claims that God promises never to flood the earth in the same way ever again. However, there is no evidence to show this promise was fulfilled. When studying the effects of floods on various regions of the world, there is no particular flood that is vastly worse than others. Severe floods have continued to strike the earth in varying regions for thousands of years.
The final part of the passage today states that everything was destroyed, except those who had taken refuge in the boat. There are a couple of dates that have been estimated as to when this particular flood happened. The first possible date is 2348 BC. However, in the 24th Century BC, we find archaeological evidence of many civilizations thriving and surviving during that time period. For instance, there are wars taking place in Mesopotamia, jars being painted in the Indus River Valley Civilization, volcanoes erupting, the first Korean kingdom being established, beekeeping happening in Egypt, and evidence of the first written Akkadian language documents.
Another date that has been suggested for the flood is 2900 BC. We find many historical events happening throughout the world at this point in time as well. Some of the first pyramids were being built in Egypt, a highly urbanized area was being developed in the Indus Valley region, the first Minoans were settling in Crete, and the first civilization in China was taking root.
COULD ALL THAT STUFF FIT IN THE ARK?
Genesis 6:18-22 (NIV) – “But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.” Noah did everything just as God commanded him.”
In the passage, God makes a covenant with Noah. We’ll get to God’s side of the covenant in a later blog, but today we learn what Noah is asked to do to fulfill his side of the covenant. Noah is required to enter the ark with his family, animals, and food for the time they will be in the ark. We also learn that Noah does everything exactly as God told him to do.
Based on all the dimensions and materials the ark was constructed with, it is estimated it would be able to hold 111,421,627 pounds. The first thing to be mentioned that would be on the boat is Noah and his family. It would be eight people, all adults. The average weight of a person in Asia and Africa is 130 pounds. So, eight people would weigh 1,040 lbs.
The next thing we are told is that two of all living creatures would be brought onto the ark. Depending on who you ask, there are estimates as low as 2,000 animal species and upwards to 50,000 species that could have been on the boat. When calculating the weight of the animals, an average weight of 51.74 pounds was used.
Calculate the weight of the animals that could have been onboard:
4,000 animals (2 of each species) x 51.74 pounds = 206,960 lbs
100,000 animals (2 of each species) x 5174 pounds = 5,174,000 lbs
Finally, we are told that they were asked to bring every kind of food that would need to be eaten by the humans and animals. They were going to be on the ark for just over a year, but I’m not sure they knew that. The Cincinnati Zoo has 500 species of animals. Feeding those animals each year requires 250,000 lbs of fruits and vegetables, 110,000 lbs of meat, 300,000 lbs of grains, and 6- 8,000 bales of hay. Are you ready to do some more math? Keep in mind, we are not going to double this amount for having two of each species.
If a bale of hay weighs about 50 lbs, how much would it weigh using the smallest estimated amount used?
6,000 x 50 = 300,000
What is the grand total food needed for 500 species of animals?
Fruits and vegetables = 250,000
Meat = 110,000
Grains = 300,000
Hay = 300,000
Total = 960,000
However, that amount is for 500 species, so now we need to determine how much would be needed for 2,000 species to 50,000 species.
Total weight of food for 500 species/year = 960,000
Times the amount needed for 2,000 species X 4
Total weight for 2,000 species =3,840,000 lbs
Total weight for food for 500 species/year = 960,000
Times the amount needed for 50,000 species X 100
Total weight for 50,000 species = 96,000,000 lbs
Now, let’s calculate the weight that would have been on the ark, and let’s use the highest possible amounts for each calculation:
Total weight of humans = 1,040
Total weight of animals = 5,174,000
Total weight of food for animals = 96,000,000
Total weight of food for humans = 9,000 (1,500 lbs/person/year)
Total weight of all cargo = 101,184,040
HOW MANY PEOPLE DIED IN THE FLOOD?
Genesis 7:1-12 (ESV) – “Then the Lord said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation. Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and his mate, and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and his mate, and seven pairs of the birds of the heavens also, male and female, to keep their offspring alive on the face of all the earth. For in seven days I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground.” And Noah did all that the Lord had commanded him. Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters came upon the earth. And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him went into the ark to escape the waters of the flood. Of clean animals, and of animals that are not clean, and of birds, and of everything that creeps on the ground, two and two, male and female, went into the ark with Noah, as God had commanded Noah. And after seven days the waters 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 that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights.”
Much of this passage has been covered in previous lessons, but simply repeated along with new information. The new information is that more than two of some animals were brought onto the ark.
We’re going to take a look at the amount of rain that fell, and the impact it would have on the region. It tells us that it rained for forty days and forty nights. My first question was what evidence do we have for it raining for that length of time on earth? I was shocked to learn that the longest recorded consecutive days of rain was 331 days. However, there’s much to discuss before getting into that.
Rainfall is measured in a couple of different ways. There can be trace amounts of rain during a day that consist of only a few drops of rain. Some regions of tropical rainforest have had some trace, or measurable, amounts of rain for nearly three straight years. A record 881 days straight was recorded in Oahu. Measurable amounts of rain must have .01 inches or more during the day. The record for measurable amounts every day was in Maui with 331 consecutive days.
However, with the flood, we’re talking about extensive amounts of rain falling for more than a month. To get the amount of water volume, we would need to look at records from hurricanes and the rain that comes along with them. The worst recorded was Hurricane Harvey in 2017 which lasted seven days. It doused between 25-60 inches of rain over an area of 14,000 sq. mi. This storm killed 89 people.
Scientists believe the amount of devastating hurricanes, along with torrential rain, is increasing due to global warming. Almost yearly we are hearing about another catastrophic hurricane hitting another part of the world.
If Noah and his family were the only ones to survive this great flood, how many people may have been on the earth to be killed by the rising flood waters? Some estimate there may have been as many as four billion people worldwide. If those many people were washed away by flood waters, we should find evidence of human fossils amongst layers of flood deposits, but we don’t.
Although we haven’t yet come to the verses that talk about the recession of the flood waters, we’re going to dig into that today as well. One of the worst floods in the US happened when the banks of the Mississippi River overflowed in 1927. It was one of the worst disasters in US history when 23,000 sq. mi. of land were submerged in water. It took about two months for the flood waters to subside and 250 people lost their lives. More than 750,000 people were left without food, water, clothing, shelter, or work.
Various months and days of different events surrounding the flood:
Genesis 7:11: Noah is 600 yrs old, flood starts in the 2nd month, 17th day
Genesis 8:4: The ark came to rest in the 7th month, 17th day
Genesis 8:5: The mountains became visible in the 10th month, 1st day
Genesis 8:13: The water is dried up – Noah is 601 yrs old in the 1st month, 1st day
Genesis 8:14: The earth is dried up in the 2nd month, 27th day
Approximately how long did it take for the flood waters to recede?