Noah, and His Family, Enter the Ark, and The Flood Begins
A Secure Man Who Waited On God
“Do not be like the horse or like the mule,” God counsels in Psalm 32:9, and Noah obeyed that counsel. The horse sometimes wants to rush ahead impetuously, and the mule wants to drag its feet and stubbornly stay back; but Noah walked with God and worked for God and let God arrange the schedule.
When everything was ready, the Lord said to Noah, “Go into the boat with all your family, for among all the people of the earth, I can see that you alone are righteous.
Genesis 7:1 (NLT)
The call to Noah is very kind, like that of a tender father to his children to come in-doors when he sees night or a storm coming. Noah did not go into the ark till God bade him, though he knew it was to be his place of refuge. It is very comfortable to see God going before us in every step we take. Noah had taken a great deal of pains to build the ark, and now he was himself kept alive in it. What we do in obedience to the command of God, and in faith, we ourselves shall certainly have the comfort of, first or last. This call to Noah reminds us of the call the gospel gives to poor sinners. Christ is an ark, in whom alone we can be safe, when death and judgment approach. The word says, “Come;” ministers say, “Come;” the Spirit says, “Come, come into the Ark.”
Noah was accounted righteous, not for his own righteousness, but as an heir of the righteousness which is by faith, Heb 11:7. He believed the revelation of a savior, and sought and expected salvation through Him alone.
A Week Of Waiting
After the hundred and twenty years, God granted seven days’ longer space for repentance. But these seven days were trifled away, like all the rest. It shall be but seven days. They had only one week more, one Sabbath more to improve, and to consider the things that belonged to their peace.
Since the rains started on the seventeenth day of the second month, it was on the tenth day of the second month that Noah and his family moved into the ark at God’s instruction. During that final week before the Flood, they finished gathering the animals and putting in their supplies. They followed the Lord’s instructions, trusted His covenant promise, and knew that there was nothing to fear.
David watched a thunderstorm one day and from that experience wrote a hymn (Ps. 29) telling how he had seen and heard God in that storm. As he pondered what happened, David thought about history’s most famous storm in the time of Noah, and he wrote, “Above the floodwaters is God’s throne from which his power flows, from which he rules the world.” (Psalm 29:10). The sweeping rain, the echoing thunder, and the flashing lightning reminded David of the sovereignty of God. No matter how great the storms of life may be, God is still on the throne causing everything to work together for good. That’s why David ended his hymn with, “The Lord will give strength to His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace” (Psalm 29:11).
Take with you seven pairs—male and female—of each animal I have approved for eating and for sacrifice, and take one pair of each of the others. Also take seven pairs of every kind of bird. There must be a male and a female in each pair to ensure that all life will survive on the earth after the flood. Seven days from now I will make the rains pour down on the earth. And it will rain for forty days and forty nights, until I have wiped from the earth all the living things I have created.”
So Noah did everything as the Lord commanded him.
Noah was 600 years old when the flood covered the earth. He went on board the boat to escape the flood—he and his wife and his sons and their wives. With them were all the various kinds of animals—those approved for eating and for sacrifice and those that were not—along with all the birds and the small animals that scurry along the ground. They entered the boat in pairs, male and female, just as God had commanded Noah. After seven days, the waters of the flood came and covered the earth.
Genesis 7:2-10 (NLT)
At the end of that final week of preparation, Noah and his family obeyed God’s command and entered the ark, and God shut the door and made it safe. They didn’t know how long they would live in the ark, but the Lord knew, and that’s really all that mattered. “My times are in Your hands” (Ps. 31:15).
The Day Of Reckoning
When Noah was 600 years old, on the seventeenth day of the second month, all the underground waters erupted from the earth, and the rain fell in mighty torrents from the sky. The rain continued to fall for forty days and forty nights.
Genesis 7:11-12 (NLT)
The Flood was God’s judgment of a wicked world. God opened the floodgates of heaven so that torrential rains came down, and “all the underground waters erupted from the earth”, so that even the highest mountains were covered by water. God had waited for over a century for sinners to repent, and now it was too late. “Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near” (Isa. 55:6).
The rain stopped after 40 days, which would be on the twenty-seventh day of the third month. However, the water continued to rise for another 110 days and reached its peak after 150 days. At that time, the ark rested on a mountain peak of Ararat.
That very day Noah had gone into the boat with his wife and his sons—Shem, Ham, and Japheth—and their wives. With them in the boat were pairs of every kind of animal—domestic and wild, large and small—along with birds of every kind. Two by two they came into the boat, representing every living thing that breathes. A male and female of each kind entered, just as God had commanded Noah. Then the Lord closed the door behind them.
Genesis 7:13-16 (NLT)
Noah Shut in the Ark
God continued his care of Noah. God shut the door, to secure him and keep him safe in the ark; also to keep all others forever out. In what manner this was done, God has not been pleased to make known. He shut it seven days before the first raindrop fell. While the sun was yet shining and the sky was blue, while the people around were still convinced that nothing was going to happen, God shut Noah in so that he could not get out. You can see how this pictures so beautifully what Paul calls, “the sealing of the Spirit,” in the Epistle to the Ephesians (Ephesians 1:13, 4:30). Those who enter our ark, the Lord Jesus Christ, are sealed by God, kept by the power of God, safe in Christ.
A Universal Judgment
For forty days the floodwaters grew deeper, covering the ground and lifting the boat high above the earth. As the waters rose higher and higher above the ground, the boat floated safely on the surface. Finally, the water covered even the highest mountains on the earth, rising more than twenty-two feet above the highest peaks. All the living things on earth died—birds, domestic animals, wild animals, small animals that scurry along the ground, and all the people. Everything that breathed and lived on dry land died. God wiped out every living thing on the earth—people, livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and the birds of the sky. All were destroyed. The only people who survived were Noah and those with him in the boat.
Genesis 7:17-23 (NLT)
In recent years, people who want to accommodate Scripture to the views of modern science have opted for a flood that was “limited” and not universal. They suggest that the writer of Genesis used “the language of appearance” and described only what he could see.
There are problems with both views, but the “limited” interpretation seems to be the weaker of the two. The clear language of the text seems to state that God was bringing a universal judgment. God said He would destroy humans and beasts “from the face of the earth”, and that “every living thing” would be destroyed. If the mountains were covered to such a height that the ark could float over the Ararat range and eventually settle down on a peak, then the entire planet must have been completely immersed. A person reading Genesis 6-9 for the first time would conclude that the Flood was universal.
But if the Flood was not universal, why did God give the rainbow as a universal sign of His covenant?
Why would people in a local area need such a sign?
Furthermore, if the Flood was a local event, why did God tell Noah to build such a big vessel for saving his family and the animals?
Noah certainly had enough time to gather together his family and the animals in that area and lead them to a place where the Flood wouldn’t reach them.
God promised that He would never send another flood like the one He sent in Noah’s day. But if the Flood was only a local event, God didn’t keep His promise! Over the centuries, there have been numerous local floods, some of which brought death and devastation to localities. In 1996 alone, massive flooding in Afghanistan in April left 3,000 people homeless; and in July, flooding in Northern Bangladesh destroyed the homes of over 2 million people. In July and August, the Yellow, Yangtze, and Hai rivers flooded nine provinces in China and left 2,000 people dead. If Noah’s flood was a local event like these floods, then God’s promise and the covenant sign of the rainbow mean nothing.
The plain reading of the text convinces us that the Flood was a universal judgment because “all flesh had corrupted his [God’s] way upon the earth”. We don’t know how far civilization had spread over the planet, but wherever humans went, there was sin that had to be judged. The Flood bears witness to universal sin and universal judgment.
Both Jesus and Peter used the Flood to illustrate future events that will involve the whole world: the return of Christ (Matt. 24:37-39; Luke 17:26-27) and the worldwide judgment of fire (2 Peter 3:3-7). If the Flood was only local, these analogies are false and misleading. Peter also wrote that God did not spare “the ancient world” when He sent the Flood, which implies much more territory than a limited area.
A Patient Family
And the floodwaters covered the earth for 150 days.
Genesis 7:24 (NLT)
In spite of the devastation on the outside, Noah and his family and the animals were secure inside the ark. No matter how they felt, or how much the ark was tossed on the waters, they were safe in God’s will. Patiently they waited for God to complete His work and put them back on the earth. Noah and his family spent one year and seventeen days in the ark, and even though they had daily chores to do, that’s a long time to be in one place. But it is “through faith and patience” that we inherit God’s promised blessings (Heb. 6:12; 10:36), and Noah was willing to wait on the Lord.
Peter saw in Noah’s experience a picture of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ (1 Peter 3:18-22). The earth in Noah’s day was immersed in water, but the ark floated above the water and brought Noah and his family to the place of safety. This was, to Peter, a picture of baptism: death, burial, and resurrection. The earth was “dead” and “buried” because of the water, but the ark rose up (“resurrection”) to bring the family through safely. Jesus died, was buried, and arose again; and through His finished work, we have salvation from sin. Peter makes it clear that the water of baptism doesn’t wash away sin. It’s our obedience to the Lord’s command to be baptized (Matt. 28:19-20) that cleanses the conscience so that we are right before God.
The British expositor Alexander Maclaren said:
For a hundred and twenty years the wits laughed, and the “common-sense” people wondered, and the patient saint went on hammering and pitching at his ark. But one morning it began to rain; and by degrees, somehow, Noah did not seem quite such a fool. The jests would look rather different when the water was up to the knees of the jesters; and their sarcasms would stick in their throats as they drowned.
So is it always. So it will be at the last great day. The men who lived for the future, by faith in Christ, will be found out to have been the wise men when the future has become the present, and the present has become the past, and is gone for ever; while they who had no aims beyond the things of time, which are now sunk beneath the dreary horizon, will awake too late to the conviction that they are outside the ark of safety, and that their truest epitaph is, “Thou fool.”