The Flood in the days of Noah was one of the greatest events in the history of the world. The Bible states that all of humanity was destroyed except for the eight people who were on the ark (2 Peter 2:5, Matthew 24:39). We can learn some powerful lessons from the Flood. Let's see what the Bible says about it.
The story begins in Genesis 6. God saw that mankind was becoming more and more evil. The descendants of Adam were disobeying God by going their own way. All of mankind had chosen the way represented by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and the way of evil was dominating their whole society.
In Genesis 6:5 we see that God realized something had to be done. Mankind had become addicted to the way of Satan. In order ultimately to save humanity from its own misguided choices, God decided to destroy the whole rebellious society of that time and start all over again with merely eight people. He instructed Noah to build an ark for that purpose (Genesis 6:14).
One of the false ideas about the ark is that it was a small boat. Many who debate about the story of the Bible may not realize that the ark was of immense size. Notice some interesting things about the ark. It was 300 cubits long. If we accept a cubit as being about 18 inches, the ark would have been 450 feet long-much longer than a football field. It would have been around 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. The ark would have been more like a barge than a boat. Tests have been made with boats made of this proportional size and they are very stable. We can see the "scientific" correctness of the story.
In Genesis 7:2 God told Noah to take of all the beasts of the field into the ark. Notice that seven pairs of clean animals and at least one pair of unclean animals were to be taken into the ark. Some feel that Genesis 7:2 is referring only to seven clean animals of each kind, not seven pairs. Either way, this passage is also proof that the laws of clean and unclean foods merely reflected what was well known to mankind long before Moses.
God then brought the Flood on the earth and the ark floated on the waters. Remember that the ark did not have to sail anywhere. It only had to float on the waters to save the animals and mankind from total extinction. In Genesis 7:19 we see that "all the high hills under the whole heaven were covered." The Bible is obviously claiming that all the earth was covered by water.
Scoffers in the Last Days
Notice what the Bible claims about the last days of mankind. In 2 Peter 3:3-6 we see that the apostle Peter knew through the Holy Spirit that there would be a problem in the last days. There would be "scoffers" who, because of their own vanity, would lose sight of the truth of the Bible. They would believe their own theories before they would believe the Bible.
The Bible often reveals that the truth of the Scriptures has been hid from those who rely exclusively on their own observations and judgment. Let's notice some of those scriptures. In 1 Corinthians 1:20-25 Paul says that the things of God are foolishness to the world. Romans 1:20-22 states that humans became so vain in their own imaginations they lost the truth. Our world today almost worships "science."
Christ also indicated that the wise and the prudent of this world would be blinded to revealed knowledge. He said in Luke 10:21 that God had revealed the truth to babes (those willing to trust God and God's Word above all else) and had hidden this truth from those who were "wise."
The Bible says in Genesis 7:20 that the waters prevailed above the highest mountains by 15 cubits (about 22 feet). Genesis 7:21 indicates that all flesh died. The scriptures are very clear-all mankind and animals that breathed air (excluding fish of course) died!
The biblical account records that the ark landed on the "mountains of Ararat." The lowest place where the ark could have landed in that region is about 6,000 feet high. In other words, if you believe the Bible to be accurate at all in this matter, the water had to cover the earth by at least 6,000 feet.
The Revell Bible Dictionary (article "Ararat," page 83) says: "The mountains of Ararat lie in present day Turkey. Lake Van, the center of the district, is 6,000 feet above sea level, with mountains around it towering up nearly 17,000 feet. Tradition identifies the south slope of mount Massis (Ararat) as the landing place of the Ark... Only a cataclysm like that described in Genesis 6-9 could have lifted Noah's boat to such a height."
The Bible says the boat landed on a mountain, so the height of the landing had to be above 6,000 feet. This is indeed describing a "worldwide" flood.
God says in Genesis 9:12-15 that He set a rainbow in the clouds to be a sign that He would never again destroy the earth by a flood. If the Flood were local, then God did not fulfill His word. There have been many local floods, which have killed many people since the Genesis Flood.
Ancient Flood Stories
Do other ancient sources outside the Bible have the same story as the Bible? If the Bible is true and all humanity comes from Noah and his family, then we would expect to find stories of the Flood all over the world. This is exactly what we find.
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (article "The Deluge of Noah") gives some details of the Babylonian flood story: "Xisuthrus was warned beforehand by the deity Cronos, and told to build a ship and take with him his friends and relations and all the different animals with all necessary food and trust himself fearlessly to the deep, whereupon he built 'a vessel 5 stadia (3,000 feet) long and 2 stadia (1,200 feet) broad.' After the flood subsided Xisuthrus, like Noah, sent out birds which returned to him again."
There are Flood stories in most of the ancient civilizations of the world. These stories offer interesting confirmation that the biblical Flood was a historical event and that they are referring to the same event. Mayans, Indians, Greeks, Chinese and many others have a story of the Flood. Most of them have the common theme that God (or gods) got angry with mankind and destroyed almost everyone with a flood.
The Lesson of Faith
Noah believed and acted on the belief that God would destroy the world with a flood. He built a huge ark to preserve mankind and the animals of the earth. Can you imagine the ridicule that Noah received when he tried to warn his fellow human beings that the world was going to be destroyed by a flood? The Bible indicates that Noah may have preached to mankind for as much as 120 years before the Flood (Genesis 6:3). Noah must have felt a strong desire to preach and teach people that God was going to destroy them unless they repented. He had to wait a long time until the Flood occurred.
The Lesson of Righteousness
In 2 Peter 3:11 the apostle Peter states that since the earth has been destroyed by a flood and the world is again to be destroyed by fire, we should watch how we conduct ourselves. The Flood is a warning! The wicked will be destroyed, totally, absolutely and forever! The righteous will be delivered as God delivered Noah and his family.
The Lesson of Repentance
The message of repentance is one of the great lessons of the Flood. Christ and John the Baptist in the New Testament repeated it. In Matthew 3:7-11 John the Baptist warned the Pharisees that they must repent. He warned them that if they didn't, God would destroy them, which He did in 69 and 70 A.D. when Jerusalem and the Jewish nation were defeated.
In Mark 1:15 we see the same message being taught by Jesus. The Jews needed to repent or they would be destroyed. Noah preached to the world for some period of time and warned them about the Flood (2 Peter 2:5). If the world had heeded Noah's message, countless lives would have been saved.
The Flood of Noah was an historical event that changed the earth. There are important lessons that we can learn from this story. God does reward righteousness, and the wicked will indeed be destroyed in the end. God is just and fair!