In this post we will examine the idea of whether God flooded the earth in the times of Noah. It is the culmination of the past six posts, so please read them all to get here.
And behold I, even I, do bring a flood of waters on the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life from under heaven, and everything that is in the earth shall die (Genesis 6.17)
If you start reading through the Bible, you will start with Genesis. It starts off with a gracious and kind God creating a paradise for His children, and when they sin, He clothes them and blesses them and provides a sacrifice for their sin, and promises a total redemption for them. When their son murders his brother, God marks him and protects him from lynch mobs. Despite sin obviously having consequences, we see a God of great grace and mercy and love and kindness.
Then we get to Genesis 6 and it seems at face value that God has suddenly become the destroyer! That God is out to get people. Now, we have examined in posts 1 and 2 of this series that God is not the destroyer, and looked the life of Jesus and the Hebrew language and found out that God will allow destruction to take place, but it is our sin that causes destruction. Now, is this the same for Noah’s flood, or is this a somehow divine exception where God decides He has to judge the planet? Is it true that God never engages in acts of destruction except when it comes to Noah’s flood?
Now, look at the Scripture above, at face value it seems very clear: God is going to bring a flood. But remember what said about God bringing something – we have to interpret Scripture with Scripture! When God says “I will bring” we find over and over that what God is doing is delivering people over to something, forsaking the people who reject Him and push Him away, and not actively destroying them.
This fundamental truth: that when we read of God destroying people, what happens is that God abandons them to their sin and the consequences of it, is still true when it comes to the flood.
In Job 42.11 we are told that the Lord brought evil against Job, same Hebrew word “bring”, but we know that satan did it, and not the Lord, but the Lord stepped back because through fear Job pushed Him out of his life, and in that sense, the Lord “brought” it. It is the same here: what happened to Job is satanic in nature, and has nothing to do with the good God that Jesus came to reveal.
The flood is the earth responding to the worst sins ever committed on the planet, and God is not to blame.
So we know from Scripture that man had dominion over the earth, and we know from our last blog post that the earth hates sin (see here). And in Genesis 6, we know that the violent sin of humanity was directly affecting the planet:
11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.
12 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.
13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. (Genesis 6.11-13, KJV)
Before God says in v. 17 “I will bring a flood”, He tells us clearly that the whole earth is corrupt due to the violence of humans. The wickedness of people before the flood had corrupted the world so much, and because the people were all over the planet, the entire planet was corrupted and sick. The earth responded to that much sin with a flood.
The flood was not the Father getting so fed up with His children He decided to wipe them out. God did everything to save people, He called Noah to build an ark, He held back the flood water as long as He could.
The flood was the earth’s way of cleansing itself from the sickness it had because of the sinfulness of humanity. It had been corrupted more than it could ever have been predicted and it reached a critical mass and the earth shook and the results of that was a flood that was global. It was not the Father fed up with His people, it was the earth.
Inside most modern buildings is a sprinkler system and if the temperature in a room gets too hot, the sprinkler goes on. The earth is the same, if the sin of humanity gets too hot, the sprinklers come on. In this case, the fire of vile, violent sin had infected the whole planet causing a global “sprinkler” activation. The accumulation of sin makes the earth sick and if it gets too sick, it just vomits. It is an earth failsafe, that is supposed to protect us and bless us. But sin as always distorts and destroys everything.
So Genesis 6.12 says “all flesh has corrupted the earth” – the word corrupt means to bring to decay and disaster. The disaster of the global flood was not caused by God, but by flesh. It is the same word “corrupt” in the next verse where God says “I will destroy them with the earth”. Man is destroying and corrupting the planet, but God is letting them – this is the passive tense. God is allowing it to happen because every human, apart from Noah, has pushed God out of the planet, and God will not invade the planet and not break His integrity to take lordship of the planet from us. If we want to destroy the world through constant and continue violent sin, God will allow us. And sin made the earth sicker than it has ever been made throughout history.
Violent sin causes natural disasters. The earth has a moral compass just like the law of gravity. When you jump off a building, you fall down, not up. When you sin, the earth cannot cope with it. And mankind was destroying itself, mankind’s sin was bringing about the flood.
The truth is that God was clearly holding back the flood as long as possible. Did you know that God upholds everything by the word of His power (Hebrews 1.3)? God is not the destroyer, He is the upholder, He is the one upholding and sustaining things, He uses His power to bring life and order, not death and destruction.
God had to let the flood happen because the humans in charge of the earth made it happen and rejected God and would not turn to God or listen to God. Only one man listened and God used that as an opportunity to provide a way out from the global natural disaster.
God brings the ground out from the waters in creation, He does not then submerge the land into the ground by destruction. The flood of Noah was God stopping holding back the waters and letting the destruction caused my man’s sin continue and happen. God did not flood the earth, God did not cause the flood, God did not make the flood happen, God did not drown millions and millions of children. Sin did. Vile, evil, violent, continual sin.
It is interesting that in many cultures there are stories of gods fed up with humans and then deciding to destroy them all with floods, but those stories are paganism and they are not reflective of the true God of the Bible, who is trying to stop humanity from destroying the earth through their sin. In 1 Peter 3.20 God says He was patient with humanity until the ark was prepared. God gave people chance after change to come right, but they rejected Him and chose death, and God – because of His integrity – had to allow the people to have the death they chose. A death God did not create, did not do, and was not responsible for.
Nineveh was spared because the people repented, and the same could easily have happened if before the flood the people repented and came to God, and God through His wisdom would have shown them how to live in a way that stopped the flood. The people could have spoken and rebuked the flood the same way Jesus has rebuked and stilled storms. But they did not turn to God, they did not turn from their wicked ways. Noah preached to them for one hundred years, but no one listened. They in fact told God to leave them alone (Job 21.15-18). God is a gentle, loving Spirit and when He is told to leave people alone, He does. Reluctantly, and with grief, but He always will.
When you push God out of your life, your community, your business, your church, your planet there will always be consequences. The flood was not caused by God, God simply backed away and the earth sick with sin vomited the flood up (Genesis 7.10-11).
God had made a dome of water in the sky (Genesis 1.7) to protect people from radiation and heat from space, and it was destroyed and all that water started to fall from the sky, at the same time, the earth was shaking so badly that all the water under the earth started to erupt up. What a day that would have been. God was striving with people to not let it get this bad, to not let this happen, but when pushed out of the planet, God had no choice but to remove Himself, and the flood them happened.
God did not start the flood, it happened due to the sin of men. God knew it was coming, He could see it was coming, and He tried to stop it. He did not flood the earth.
One translation of Genesis 6.17 says God is going to unleash the flood. That language is close – God had leashed the flood and was restraining it, but when God was pushed out of earth by the violent sins of people and the people had infected the earth, God had to let go of the leash, and the flood just happened because of sin!
In order for you to realize the truth that God is not an angry destroyer of worlds, we must realize that some of the Old Testament language that looks causative is permissive. God merely removed His protection, and a flood that He was holding back, then happened. Even in the Greek, in 2 Peter 2.5, rather than best be translated God brought the flood, it is best translated God let loose the water.
I think most people are aware that Methuselah is the oldest man who ever lived. What most people do not know is that his name means “When he dies, it will come”, and he died the flood year. The man who was a living calendar to the flood, as named by his father, the prophet Enoch, lived longer than any other man, as God was holding it back as long as possible.
God- far from being the vindictive destroyer of the world – was the one holding back the flood as long as possible, stopping it from happening despite the sin of men hurting the earth so badly.
Humans destroyed the earth so badly that it vomited up a global flood. The pre-flood civilisation hated God and demanded He leave them alone, and He was the only one protecting them from their own rebellion. Look at Isaiah 54 in the New Living Translation:
“Just as I swore in the time of Noah
that I would never again let a flood cover the earth,
so now I swear
that I will never again be angry and punish you.
10 For the mountains may move
and the hills disappear,
but even then my faithful love for you will remain.
My covenant of blessing will never be broken,”
says the Lord, who has mercy on you. (Isaiah 54.9-10, NLT)
God did not cause the flood, He let it happen. He had to because humanity booted Him off the planet that they owned, that He gave them, that He promised was theirs, that He gave them dominion and ownership over.
Now some of you might accuse me of splitting hairs here, and ask “does it really matter if God made it happen or allowed it”, but it makes a huge difference because what is at stake here, and why I am writing these posts, and why I am so passionate about these things is that the entire character and nature of God rests in the answers to these questions. Is God the vengeful destroyer of worlds, or is God Christ-like, the loving kind Father who would do anything to bless, to help, to promote, to prosper His children. Does the Father steal, kill and destroy or is that satan?
Is God using His power to destroy anyone who sins, or is God doing everything to protect sinners and rebels and haters, until they push Him away and eventually, reluctantly, He has to leave them to the consequences of their choices?
When we study the Word properly, we find out that all natural disasters are satanic, are stealing from us, killing us, and destroying us, they are caused by sin, not a good, good Father. We know satan will cause a flood to kill people (Rev. 12.12-16) and we know God is like Jesus.
We can therefore conclude with confidence that God is not the one who sends floods. He is the One who protects us from the floods, and keeps them from washing us away. By staying in the Word, resting in the love of God, we can overcome every flood and storm caused by sin and satan. But you have to know God does not send natural disasters and does not cause floods, global or local.
Our next post will be on Sodom and Gomorrah.