As was stated, I have these questions:
- How was the flood worked?
- What is the meaning of the text at Genesis 7:11?
- Was the flood universal?
The first and the second of these three questions have been answered in Beacon Lights for the month of June. The question of the universality of the deluge I reserved for this issue.
The Genesis narrative states that the flood was universal.
But in what sense was it universal?
We must let the Scriptures supply the answer.
Genesis 7:17, “And was the flood forty days upon the earth and increased the waters and lifted up the ark and it was high above the earth. And were strong the waters and they increased very upon the earth; and walked the ark upon the faces of the waters. And the waters were very strong upon the earth. And were covered all high mountains that were under all the heavens. Fifteen cubits upward were strong the waters and covered the mountains.” (So reads the original text).
Certainly the thought in this Scripture passage with unmistakable clarity is that this entire globe of ours was covered by water—the waters of the flood. Take notice of the statement, “And the waters . . . covered all the high mountains that were under all the heavens.”
Allow me to shed some light on this statement. First, there is solid ground in the Scriptures for the view that at the time of the flood there was but one continent—and this continent Asia—and that all the rest of our globe was sea. There is that passage at 2 Peter 3:4. Allow me to again quote it, “For this they—the mockers of Noah’s day—willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water; whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.”
The passage makes mention of “the earth standing out of the water and in the water.” The way this statement reads—the author speaks of the earth— seems to imply that it was the only earth or continent that then was. And as the rest of the earth would then be one vast sea, the whole face of our entire globe was under water at the time of the flood. So it is true indeed that “the waters were strong upon the earth—the whole earth”, and that “were covered all high mountains that were under all the heavens.”
Second, the Flood was universal also in the sense that it was destructive of the entire ante-diluvian humanity with the exception of the eight souls that entered the ark, and not only of this humanity but of the cattle and the wild animals and every swarming thing that swarmed the earth. All substance was destroyed from man to beast and the creeping things and the fowls of the heavens. All perished with the exception of the two or the seven of each kind with Noah in the ark.
No statement occurs stating definitely that also the sea animals perished. But I cannot otherwise conclude but that they did with the exception of the two or the seven of each kind. As water is the element in which they swarm, they went not with Noah into the ark.
The text at Genesis 6:17 would seem to compel the conclusion that also the sea animals did indeed perish. Here the text reads, “And I behold I do bring a flood upon the earth to destroy all flesh wherein is the breath of life from under heaven; everything that is in it shall die.”
“All flesh under heaven wherein is the breath of life,” must include also the sea animals.
The critics of all times have always raised many objections to the Genesis narrative of the Flood. Before we examine some of them, we should by all means consider the following. Christ gave the sanction of His authority to the Genesis narrative of the Flood. He did so by the word of His own mouth. Said He not, “But as the days of Noah were, so shall the coming of the Son of man be. For as the days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving to marriage, until the day that Noah entered the Ark, and knew not until the flood came and took them all away; so shall the coming of the Son of Man be . . .” (Luke 17:26, 27; Matt. 24:37). The Scripture passage at 2 Pet. 3:3-5 has already been considered.
Christ believed the Genesis narrative of the flood. Now certainly all the so called difficulties that the critics have discovered in the Genesis narrative of the flood must have stood out in the mind of Christ as well. For Christ was not a moron but the very Son of God with a human intelligence equal to that of any of the critics, certainly, and with a heart free from their prejudices—the prejudices of sin. And He accepted the Genesis narrative of the flood as a record unerring and infallible. Hence, to raise doubts regarding the veracity of this narrative is very actually to put a question mark behind Christ; it is really to deny His trustworthiness as our great Teacher.
The following is also a thing of which we may take notice. Nearly all the nations of the earth have legends which preserve the memory of the flood. And, their sum and total form a world-wide tradition of a flood far greater than any inundation of waters, or change in nature, recorded in any later or more partial history. This the most skeptical of the critics have felt themselves compelled to admit. All these legends have been compared with the Genesis narrative, and it was seen that the latter must be the original from which all the others stemmed. The Genesis narrative is chaste and grand. The legends—the classical stories of which are the Indian and the Persian—are grotesque, exaggerated, indistinct and confused. But there is a ground truth in all these legends. All speak of a great catastrophe by water and of a righteous man who was saved in an ark.
Now some of the objections. __
First the impossibility of Noah being capable of building so huge a structure as the ark at that time. The civilization of the ante-diluvian race was too primitive, it is said. There were not the necessary tools and machinery on hand.
Reply. The Genesis narrative says that it was done; and that settles the matter. Can the critics explain how the Egyptians were able to build their pyramids? They cannot. Yet the pyramids were built. For they still stand as a witness to the fact that it was done.
Second, the impossibility of Noah assembling such a multitude of animals an of his driving them into the ark.
Reply. The Lord did this for him. We can refer here to the instinct of animals, which, in a presentiment of natural catastrophe, seek an asylum, sometimes almost in violation of their natural habits. Birds in a storm fly to ships. Wolves come to villages. This instinct is of God. This presentiment of natural catastrophe is of God. If we only believe in God through Christ we will have no difficulty with the Genesis narrative of the. flood.
Third, the difficulty of including so many animals in a structure of the size of the ark, and the difficulty of feeding so many animals. Do the critics know how many animals were in the ark? They do not. Yet they claim they do. Two of every species of unclean animals and seven of every species of clean animals. There were at least 1500 species, they say. This multiplied by two equals 3000 animals; but the number is much greater since 7 animals of each clean species went into the ark and perhaps 14 of each clean species. Thus the number of animals in the ark must have been somewhere between 6 and 7 thousand, it is said. How, it is asked, could a structure of the size of the ark hold all these animals together with the food that was necessary to keep them alive for a period of a whole year that Noah with all the animals was in the ark?
Reply. The Genesis narrative says that it took place, and that settles the matter. But let us consider the following. Certainly the branching of the animal species had not become as great at that day as it is now. In the beginning God created a number of ground types or species, that through the years continued to unfold. For each species there must have been only a ground type in the ark out of which all the varieties of the same have preceded. Further, in the ark these animals were in a state of inactivity, of benumbing torper, like the bear in time of winter, whereby the necessity of feeding would be greatly diminished. Let us consider that with God all things are possible. He tells us that He did it, and that is final.
Finally, the Genesis narrative states that the waters of the flood rose to fifteen cubits above the highest mountain, thus rose to nearly five miles above the level of the sea. There is not enough water in the universe, it is said, to cover the earth with a layer of water that deep.
Reply. It is a question whether at that time there were mountains on the earth that high. Without a doubt the history of the deluge is a history of a catastrophe in which the terrain of the earth experienced violent modifications through the cooperation of fire. Without a-doubt the mountain formation was begun in the days of creation and completed at the time of the flood.
A word in conclusion. No one yet has been able to prove by citing facts that the Genesis narrative of the flood cannot be true. All that the critics can do is to come with conjectures. But conjectures and not facts and thus prove nothing. The fact is that the Flood is a historical reality.