We have been studying the passages dealing with the great flood, the ark and Noah. We have commented on the great similarity that this event has with the end of the world and the church.
- The ark is like the church in many ways.
- The flood is like the final judgment.
Of course there are some differences.
- They did not enter the ark before the final day before the flood; we are free to enter the church at any time.
- The flood destroyed the world and a few were saved to begin again in this world; intense heat will destroy the world and all of creation and we will not re-inhabit it but a new heaven and earth suitable for spiritual bodies will be provided.
In our last lesson we reviewed the flood itself:
- The water for it came from the disruption of underground rivers and the envelope of water vapor that surrounded the earth.
- The destruction was worldwide and total, and explains much of the environmental phenomena we experience today.
Now we will look at the results of the flood as the waters receded and the people on the ark began to realize the effects of the flood on the earth.
Results of the Flood – 8:1-14
1But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark; and God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water subsided. 2Also the fountains of the deep and the floodgates of the sky were closed, and the rain from the sky was restrained;
It is not that God had forgotten them but that He was about to act on their behalf once again. God stopped the flood by doing three things:
- Caused a great wind to provide evaporation and drying.
- Stopped the fountains from gushing forth.
- Closed the windows of heaven.
3and the water receded steadily from the earth, and at the end of one hundred and fifty days the water decreased.
The waters receded in such a way that new land formations were created. Some speculate:
- The underground caverns produced by the release of water pressure created new basins for lakes, rivers and seas.
- The lessening of water pressure from below and increased weight from above caused land shifting and new land formations (mountains, continents).
4In the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark rested upon the mountains of Ararat.
The ark, having no rudder, came to rest in a specific area in the mountains of Ararat, probably the highest point, and again the specific date is given.
5The water decreased steadily until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains became visible.
6Then it came about at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made; 7and he sent out a raven, and it flew here and there until the water was dried up from the earth. 8Then he sent out a dove from him, to see if the water was abated from the face of the land; 9but the dove found no resting place for the sole of her foot, so she returned to him into the ark, for the water was on the surface of all the earth. Then he put out his hand and took her, and brought her into the ark to himself. 10So he waited yet another seven days; and again he sent out the dove from the ark. 11The dove came to him toward evening, and behold, in her beak was a freshly picked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the water was abated from the earth. 12Then he waited yet another seven days, and sent out the dove; but she did not return to him again.
In this section the rain and flooding have stopped and they are waiting for the earth to be habitable once again. They were in the ark a total of 371 days. It took roughly 7 months for the earth to dry out and Noah sent birds out to test for dry land.
- A dove was sent and returned.
- A raven (scavenger bird) did not.
- The dove sent out a second time returned this time with an olive branch or seedling to denote that greenery was sprouting again.
13Now it came about in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, on the first of the month, the water was dried up from the earth. Then Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and behold, the surface of the ground was dried up. 14In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry.
In the final days that Noah was in the ark he was being very cautious about disembarking and made absolutely sure that the earth was dry and habitable once again.
Dr. Henry Morris, who is a professor of civil engineering and has done research in the area of scientific creationism lists several physical changes that would have been the result of a world-wide flood:
- The oceans would be more extensive since they now contain the residue of water from below and above the earth.
- Much less land is habitable and productive having either been destroyed or covered with water.
- The thermal vapor blanket was dissolved causing the earth to be subject to extreme temperatures thus creating the tropical and arctic climates as well as greater violent weather.
- Mountain ranges produced, making much of the land uninhabitable.
- The earth's crust now having greater movement because of the emptying of the subterranean water reservoirs.
- The fossil records are produced as all forms of life are buried in the sediment of the flood. These are scattered everywhere and are misread as evolutionary models instead of records of the death caused by the flood.
God and Noah After the Flood – vs. 15-22
15Then God spoke to Noah, saying, 16"Go out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and your sons' wives with you. 17Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you, birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, that they may breed abundantly on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth." 18So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons' wives with him. 19Every beast, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out by their families from the ark.
Just as God had invited Noah into the ark, now He commands him and his family to leave the ark and go forth to populate and subdue the land once again.
There is a parallel here with the church once again. Jesus invites us into the church and once we enter in, He sends us forth to go and make disciples of all nations (multiply). The Bible confirms that all humans and animals find their original ancestors from these people on the ark and these animals.
Andrew Woods in his book "The Center of the Earth" shows that the earth's land area center is just a short distance from Mount Ararat.
Animals began to multiply, diversify within their types and find places where the climate, food and geography suited their particular needs. As the weather changed from greenhouse to tropical to arctic, some animals adapted and some died.
- For example, the dinosaur, the pteronodous, creodous and other strange pre-diluvian beasts did not adapt and became extinct.
- Scientists like to say, but cannot prove, the idea of evolution over a period of millions of years. However, these creatures could have just as easily become extinct over a period of a few centuries given the right conditions.
20Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
This is the first mention of "altar" in the Bible. Noah offers sacrifices of thanks.
Note that he gives one seventh of his wealth. The clean animals were for food and clothing and important for survival and Noah had seven pairs to begin to replenish the supply but he offers approximately 15%.
21The Lord smelled the soothing aroma; and the Lord said to Himself, "I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man's heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done. 22"While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,
And cold and heat,
And summer and winter,
And day and night
Shall not cease."
God responds to Noah's prayer by promising two things:
1. He would not "curse" or condemn the earth as He had done with the flood again.
He establishes that man's nature is now sinful. This is not to justify it but to reassure Noah that He permits man to live even though he is sinful. Noah knows that God destroyed man because of sin and needs reassurance that as sin appears in man (including himself), God will not destroy the world again.
2. The new environment will be able to sustain man.
Noah knew the old world and its environment but now faces devastation and an uncertain future. God promises him that there will be a cycle of harvesting and that the new environment will be cyclical so as not to despair when the violent weather comes. This is also a promise for future generations that the environment and the earth will always be capable to sustain man.
The Establishment of Human Government – 9:1-17
Chapter 9 begins the description of the covenant that God makes with Noah and includes instructions for human social government that until this time had not existed. And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them,
1"Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. 2The fear of you and the terror of you will be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given.
God once again gives man a charge to multiply and replenish the earth. This time he does not have "dominion" over the earth as he once did because the perfect harmony between man and the environment has now been destroyed by the flood. Instead, God puts the "fear" of man into the animals so that they will not totally overrun and destroy mankind. Man is also given the right to use the environment for his purposes (in good stewardship).
3Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant. 4Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.
God also authorizes for the first time the eating of meat. This may have been done before but not with God's permission. Perhaps the weather required more protein. Perhaps as a way of population control.
God does not permit the eating of blood.
- Physically dangerous.
- Theologically the blood represents life and life is what is offered to God in sacrifice. It was to be offered to God, not used for food.
- Avoid pagan practice of drinking the blood to gain the powers and character of the victim, animal or human.
5Surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. And from every man, from every man's brother I will require the life of man. 6"Whoever sheds man's blood,
By man his blood shall be shed,
For in the image of God
He made man.
God establishes the concept that life as represented by the blood of animals and man belongs to God and He will judge those who spill blood or who murder.
Even animals are under God's judgment if they kill a person (Mosaic Law specified that the animal be killed). And humans who kill other humans must pay with their lives.
In verse 6 God is quite specific in two ways:
- The price for murder will be the forfeiture of one's own life.
- The responsibility to carry out this justice is now given to man.
Until this time there was no government, no police, and each man rendered justice in his own way according to conscience and ability.
As men became more sinful this entire society fell into evil violence.
God now sets the large perimeter around social justice. There will be required a life for a life and God now authorizes man to execute justice without fear of revenge. If God authorizes execution there is no revenge on the properly appointed executioner thus ending the cycle of revenge.
If man has the right to execute capital punishment, he also has the right and responsibility to develop laws that will help prevent and discourage the type of things that lead to the ultimate crime (robbery, rape, etc.)
Some final thoughts about capital punishment and the Bible.
- Both the Old and the New Testament support the idea that the government has a right to execute murderers. Genesis 9:5-6; Romans 13:1-4. However God will judge those who miscarry justice – Exodus 23:7.
- Both the Old and the New Testament support the idea that God loves and encourages mercy towards murderers, for example David, Paul.
A balanced, Biblical view of this question may be the following: The government retains the right, given to it by God, to either exercise the death penalty or show mercy depending on the crime, repentance and circumstance of each case. One reason that this debate is hard to solve is that the Bible authorizes and promotes both. Those responsible for these decisions should always pray for God's wisdom.