We have now arrived at the account of the flood in Genesis 6-7. And as we come here it ought to be said that there is widespread discomfort today surrounding the flood event. Inside the Church, this might surprise you or it might not, but given our modern view of fairness it is now common to hear Christians today who view the flood as unfair. Almost as if we ought to be ashamed of this story, of God being so angry with sin and sinners that He wipes them all out. ‘Is this really the God we want the world to know and love?’ ‘Is this the God who loves us and have a wonderful plan for our lives?’ Outside the Church, there’s not widespread embarrassment but widespread disbelief. Most all of those who are not Christians that I’ve met view this story as one of many myths in the Bible, that exists for scaring people into some kind of religious obedience.
Church, what do we do this widespread discomfort and disbelief in our day? We must remember who God is. Out of sheer grace He made the world, mankind, and all in it. These are the ‘days of creation’ in Genesis 1. Sin then enters the world through Adam and Eve’s disobedience, and sin brings death, as God said it would. Sin continued increasing and increasing until the level that God, who once looked down and called His creation good, now looks down and sees that the “…wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” So justly, God states He will wipe the slate clean, and ushers in the ‘days of un-creation’, where He will destroy the world and all who live in it. All, of course, except Noah and his family. So even here there is grace present in sin, life present in death. Not all is dark here.
As you can imagine we have quite a bit of text before us, we’ll be reading every verse, but to handle it well, we’ll take it all in four headings.
Noah Contra Mundum (6:9-12)
“These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.”
With the mention of the word “generations” in v9, we now enter the third section of the book of Genesis. Remember this is the Hebrew word toledoth, which occurs ten times in Genesis, marking out the various sections of the book. This is the third use of the word bringing us into the third section of the book all about Noah and his descendants.
And Noah dominates this section. He’s immediately described in v9 in three ways: righteous, blameless, and it says he walked with God. This is the first time righteous and blameless occur in the Bible, and that Noah is said to be these things doesn’t mean Noah was perfect or sinless, no. These words mean Noah lived an exemplary life. In culture that had already gotten as bad as things could possibly get, Noah stood out as distinct and different. The words integrity, honor, and upright come to mind when comparing Noah to his age. Noah stands out as pure white in a world that is pitch black. Which will be a theme, at least for the text before us today, that will be repeated a few more times as we hear Noah doing all the Lord commands him to do. So, it’s no surprise to hear that he walked with God in life, experiencing for himself what Enoch did as he walked with God (5:24), and what Adam and Eve had done in the garden before the fall (3:8). And this is emphasized in v10 with the mention of his three sons because v10 links directly to 5:32. It seems Moses desires us to see Noah as a continuation of the godly line, or the seed of the woman.
Contrasting Noah with the rest of the world, it is truly Noah contra mundum, or Noah against the world. While he is described in godly terms the words used for the world in v11-12 are vile and wicked. Corrupt tops the list, and interestingly enough the word corrupt will be used in this flood narrative seven times, to give us the picture of a full and complete corruption present in the world at this time. Notice the word filled in v11? This is a play on words with Genesis 1:28. There Adam and Eve were commanded to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth with the image of God, but here the world now is eager to fill the earth with violence. This corruption though, is not hidden from God. He sees it, and He’ll respond to it.
God Contra Mundum (6:13-22)
“And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. But I will establish My covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.” Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.”
As we saw with Noah before, we now see God contra mundum, or God against the world. See this in v13. Right away we see God say words that ought to be alarming to us. He is determined to “make an end of all flesh…” Church, sin is no small matter. But why does God say this? Because the earth is filled with violence God says, “I will destroy them with the earth.” Ironically, because man has ruined the earth, God will ruin man, and notice, He’ll ruin man with the earth. This is why the flood can be called un-creation. Because while not completely undoing all creation, the flood will bring a break down the separation between the water and the dry land.
God then gives instructions to Noah in v14-16 on making the ark. This word ark is used seven times in the instructions to make it, and seven times later on during the time the water recedes. By using the ark seven times in these settings God is saying the ark is to be a complete salvation for Noah. And how curious, the only other time the word ark is used in the Bible is in Exodus 2:3, but there it’s translated basket. Just as this ark preserved Noah and his family through the judgment of the flood, so too that basket will preserve the baby Moses while he drifts down the Nile. The similarities are intended. God brings salvation through the flood in the ark with Noah, and later on God will bring salvation to baby Moses in the waters of the Nile, and later on through the man Moses God will bring His people salvation through the waters of the Red Sea. This is all the more fascinating when you remember Moses was the one who wrote Genesis. We can only imagine how much this meant to him as he was being carried along by the Spirit to pen these words.
Well, the ark was to be made of gopher wood, with many rooms (nests), covered in and out with pitch, 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high. There’s to be a roof, a top deck of sorts, a door in the side, and a lower, middle, and top deck. This ark in modern day measurements was to be around 450 feet long. Can you imagine the amount of time and effort and careful planning laid before Noah and his sons here? It took the modern ark exhibit over a year to be built and that was with over 1000 people working together. Noah had no modern tools or conveniences. No axes, chainsaws, trucks, or cranes. It is not out of bounds to think Noah was at work making the ark for over 100 years.
See v17 now. “For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die.” This is the third time God has said He will destroy all flesh, but now for the first time God explains how He will do it. It will be through a flood. Pay attention to the words of v17 though. It says “all flesh…under heaven” and “everything…on earth.” This flood cannot be localized to any degree, it is clearly global in scope.
Directly after such sobering words, don’t miss it Church, we hear words of grace to Noah in v18-21. “But I will establish My covenant with you…” This is the first use of the word covenant in the Bible so far, and two things are happening in it. First, these words here in Genesis 6 anticipate the covenant God makes with Noah in Genesis 9. Second, the covenant being made here in chapter 6 is all about the preservation of Noah and his children. See that? God is making a promise to a family. It’s made to Noah, but it applies to Noah and his children. And see that Noah isn’t passive in the covenant itself, he’s commanded to make the ark, but see God’s promise! He will preserve them through the judgment He’s bringing on the world. What a comfort this would’ve been and what a fuel it would’ve been to build the ark. I must say it, we enjoy this too Church. To hear and to know God is for you, that He is with you, makes all the difference in the world. We have this in Christ, forevermore! Noah enjoys a taste of it here in the midst of his own crooked and depraved generation.
This rest of chapter 6 finishes out with the mention of the animals needed on board. Two of every kind, male and female, along with food for them, food for Noah and his family, and v22 closes it out wonderfully, “Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.”
Let’s pick up the pace a bit to finish out as we look to chapter 7 now…
The Flood Begins (7:1-16)
“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. On the very same day Noah and his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them entered the ark, they and every beast, according to its kind, and all the livestock according to their kinds, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, according to its kind, and every bird, according to its kind, every winged creature. They went into the ark with Noah, two and two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life. And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him. And the LORD shut him in.”
Here the flood begins, and as it does we see Noah, his family, and the animals enter the ark. The mention of animals here is first and foremost all about what v3 says, to keep their kind alive on the earth. As God brings them to Noah it is reminiscent of the moment God once brought them to Adam in the garden for naming. And, we’ll soon see in chapter 8 how the theme of worship comes into prominence with these animals, as Noah sacrifices some of the clean animals in worship and gratitude to God after the flood. That the rains will come down for 40 days is no accidental happening. This will be a recurring pattern for God’s people: 40 days of rain, both Isaac and Esau marry their wives at 40 years old, Moses spends 40 days on Mt. Sinai, the spies sneak into Canaan for 40 days, and upon the people’s unbelief when the spies return God judges them with the 40 year wandering, Goliath taunts Israel for 40 days, Elijah takes 40 days to return to hiding after the Mt. Carmel battle, Jesus spends 40 days in wilderness testing, and the resurrected Jesus appears to His disciples for 40 days before His ascension. All in all, the pattern of 40 days begins here, and it usually refers to a great period of trial of testing. Lesson? For Noah and his family, a great trial is beginning.
After hearing how Noah did all that commanded of him, we see the sobering violent moment come in v11 as God bursts open the fountains of the great deep and the windows of the heavens. Which brings all creation back to a watery chaotic state. And then, it’s so quick you’d miss it unless you we’re reading slowly, in v16, we see God’s great care for His own amidst the coming judgment as He Himself shuts Noah and his family in the ark. God had instructed a door to be built into the side of the ark, Noah did, and I’m sure he wondered how he would shut it, but he need not worry, for God shut him in! Church, how wonderful is it to know the same great care will see us through the coming judgment as well, for Jesus told us in John 13 that He would love us to the end.
Now lastly see…
The Flood Prevails (7:17-24)
“The flood continued forty days on the earth. The waters increased and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. The waters prevailed and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the face of the waters. And the waters prevailed so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered. The waters prevailed above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep. And all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, livestock, beasts, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and all mankind. Everything on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died. He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens. They were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark. And the waters prevailed on the earth 150 days.”
The flood now prevails over all the earth. It says the waters rose so high that all the high mountains…think Everest here…even they were submerged. We see the repeated statements of the all-encompassing nature of the destruction: all flesh, birds, livestock, beasts, all swarming creatures, and all mankind, everything in whom was the breath of life…only Noah was left.
The picture is double edged here. As the ark ascended in safety and triumph, preserving Noah and his family from the waters, the wicked fell in judgment in those very waters. Such is the flood.
What are we to takeaway from this account? Three brief things:
First, be sobered by the judgment of God. Jesus uses these days of Noah to speak of His return and coming judgment. Matthew 24:37-39, “For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” As real as the flood is, so too will the coming judgment be. And as before, men and women were joyously going about their lives, ignoring God and doing as they pleased. But the flood came. And Church, judgment will come in the end. This is not the stuff of felt board Sunday school lessons, this is the terrifying wrath of God violently destroying the world and all sinners within it. Only by grace did Noah and his family escape the flood, and only by grace does any sinner escape the judgment to come.
Second, fan into flame a reverent fear of God. Hebrews 11:7, “By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.” Noah didn’t have a happy, go lucky, flippant attitude in building the ark. It says here in Hebrews he built it in reverent fear. Do you fear the Lord Church? You should. This is God, after all. Have we forgotten who He is? Or have we forgotten who we’re not? If it weren’t for the grace of God in Christ, we would be overwhelmed with the greatness of God.
Third, look to the greater Noah, Jesus Christ. Remember Gen. 5:28-29? “When Lamech had lived 182 years, he fathered a son and called his name Noah, saying, “Out of the ground that the LORD has cursed, this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands.” Rest was desired at Noah’s birth, thinking he’d be the one to finally bring it. Yet, rest would remain distant. Noah and his family, resting on top of the waters, and God’s people for thousands of years, would have to keep waiting for rest to come. But come it would in Christ. He is the greater Noah, He is the true Ark that preserves all who hide within Him from the judgment to come.
 John D. Currid, Genesis 1:1-25:18, EP Study Commentary (Holywell, UK: Evangelical Press, 2015), 185–186.
 Bruce K. Waltke, Genesis (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Academic, 2001), 133.
 Currid, Genesis 1:1-25:18, 186.
 Waltke, Genesis, 134.
 Currid, Genesis 1:1-25:18, 186–187.
 Ibid., 188–189.
 R. Kent Hughes, Genesis, Preaching the Word (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2004), 133.
 Waltke, Genesis, 135, footnote 46.
 Hughes, Genesis, 135.
 Miles V. Van Pelt, The Noahic Covenant of the Covenant of Grace, within Covenant Theology, ed. Waters, Reid, Muether (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2020) 117.
 Waltke, Genesis, 138, footnote 58.
 Currid, Genesis 1:1-25:18, 196.
 Most likely these are poetic phrases indicating the violent nature of the event.