The following reading of Genesis 1.1-2.3 is formatted ala The Books of the Bible: Covenant History without any chapter or verse marketings. The description below is taken from Preface. It explains the use of line space and format instead of chapters and verses.
Because the biblical books were handwritten, read aloud, and then hand-copied long before standardized printing, their authors and compilers needed a way to indicate divisions within the text itself. They often did this by repeating a phrase or expression each time they made a transition from one section to another. We can confirm that particular phrases are significant in this way by observing how their placement reinforces a structure that can already be recognized implicitly from other characteristics of a book, such as changes in topic, movement in place or time, or shifts from one kind of writing to another. Through line spacing, we’ve marked off sections of varying sizes. The smallest are indicated by one blank line, the next largest by two lines, and so on, up to four-line breaks in the largest books. We’ve also indicated key divisions with a large initial capital letter of new sections. Our goal is to encourage meaningful units to be read in their entirety and so with greater appreciation and understanding.
Zondervan. NIV, The Books of the Bible: Covenant History: Discover the Origins of God’s People (Kindle Locations 265-272). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.
Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high. Make a roof for it, leaving below the roof an opening one cubit high all around. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks. I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.”
Noah did everything just as God commanded him.
The LORD then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. Seven days from now I will send rainon the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.”
Noah did everything just as God commanded him.
Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth. And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood. Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God had commanded Noah. And after the seven days the floodwaters came on the earth.
In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.
On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark. They had with them every wild animal according to its kind, all livestock according to their kinds, every creature that moves along the ground according to its kind and every bird according to its kind, everything with wings. Pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life in them came to Noah and entered the ark. The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God had commanded Noah. Then the LORD shut him in.
For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth. The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than fifteen cubits. Every living thing that moved on land perished—birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind.
Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; people and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds were wiped from the earth.
Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.
The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days.
By the generation of Noah, human evil had reached despair. Moral pollution was so great that the limits of divine tolerance had been reached. As we have seen in the past, the story of the Flood demonstrates the judgment and grace of God. This story has caused endless discussions, usually centered on the other flood stories of the ancient world, including questions about the size of the ark, where its remains are today, and the size of the flood. Was it universal or local? This drive of the Western mind to think in segments and its propensity for a scientific focus often causes the reader of this story to miss the theological implications. In my opinion, “The Ark Encounter” is a dispensational theological attempt to literally reproduce the ark mentioned in Genesis. For those of you old enough to remember Disneyland’s “E” ticket rides, the Ark Encounter is that idea on steroids.
In this story, there is a continual comparison between the present situation of humankind and its bend to undermining the creation of God as described in the first chapters of Genesis. Humankind and its sin had put the world in a reversal mode from the original purpose of God. The ark that Noah was directed to build was the new template for the new creation of God. Like Adam and Eve in the garden, Noah lived in harmony with the animals. While the flood would destroy humankind as it had become, it would continue because of God’s grace and mercy. We must always keep in mind that these stories are set against the backdrop of polytheism. As mentioned before, there were other flood stories in the ancient world in which the gods brought judgment on humankind because of such things as making too much noise.[ref]Tremper Longman III. Genesis. Zondervan. 2016.[/ref] The Genesis Flood story demonstrates that the God of creation did not want his creation reversed. The core of sin is to reverse what God had created, therefore he took control over his creation and brought it under his creatively destructive hand. It was his to make, his to judge, and his to destroy.
This story is to answer some basic questions:
- What is going to happen to humankind?
- Will it get away with practicing immorality and enjoying its baser nature?
The answer to these questions is a clear resounding NO!
The first sentences of Genesis 6 provide an account that helps the reader to understand the reason for the Flood. The sons of God see how beautiful the daughters of men are. The Lord sees how terrible the earth has become. The actions and thoughts of humankind had become evil. Sin had engulfed the whole of humankind. Among his peers, Noah stood out as a righteous, blameless man who knew how to walk with God. The favor of God given to Noah was not something that he earned by his right living, but something that he found by the gracious hand of God. Throughout the Flood story, God is the speaker and Noah is the listener and follower. In that relationship, Noah is given instruction to build an ark.
God commands Noah to build an ark, which was about 450 feet long, seventy-five feet wide, and forty-five feet high. (These are the dimensions ascribed to the ark in the Good News Translations (GNT). The Hebrew word for ark only appears here in the Flood narrative and in Exodus 2.3, 5 where it is the basket in which the mother of Moses places the infant. It is interesting that two remarkable persons in the First Testament are spared from drowning by means of an ark. The “ark” mentioned in the “Ark of the Covenant” is a different Hebrew word. No one knows what kind of wood from which the ark was constructed. The word, which describes the wood, appears only here in the whole of Scripture. Whatever kind of wood was used to create the ark, the result was that the ark was a seaworthy vessel.
Into the ark, Noah was to take all kinds of animals so that animal life in the created world would be preserved. A distinction was made between those animals that were clean and those that were unclean. For the preservation of life, Noah was to take two of every kind of animal on board the ark with him. It should be noted that Noah did not have to go and gather the animals. The text tells us that the animals would “come” to him. It was God’s job to direct the animals toward the ark.
God made a covenant with Noah (Genesis 6.18), which may be a reference to the actual covenant made with Noah after the Flood, which was sealed by God with a rainbow (Genesis 9.9-17). The main feature of the covenant was entirely instituted by God. It applied to Noah and to his progeny and all living creatures. It was an unconditional covenant, which was a different kind covenant given to Moses in Exodus. Never again would God destroy all creation with a flood. Two features can be pointed out in this story at this point. First, God is the judge of the whole earth, which is his to judge. Second, God made provision for the recipients of his grace, which was his prerogative.
God repeated his direction for Noah to enter the ark as God confirms his belief about Noah’s character. In addition to himself, Noah is to take his complete family. The text tells us that the command included taking seven of every clean and two of every unclean animal. This is not a discrepancy in the story. It is further information given by God to Noah. It might be interesting to note that Noah is given a week’s warning before the flood was to begin. He accomplished all that he was asked to do and entered the ark.
The narrator uses an interesting Chiastic structured outline as he explains the actual flood:
7 days after God spoke to Noah the flood began
40 days it rained
150 days the water covered the earth
40 days later Noah opened the window of the ark
7 days later Noah dispatches a raven
This 7-40-150-40-7 sequence is a literary device that was given to help the hearer of the book understand the story as it was being told to him or her. It does not necessarily represent a literal period of time in which these events must have happened.
The narrator of the Flood repeats and summarizes again. He tells us that the family of Noah entered the ark. However, he does not tell us anything about their character. These sentences focus on getting into the ark. God commands the group into the ark (v. 16a) and closes the door behind them (v. 16b). The latter use of the word “Lord,” the personal name of God, indicates that he was the protector of the ark and its occupants. In essence, the Flood un-created the earth and returned it to a pre-creation condition. The water fell from above and sprang from the deep. This fits with the ancient mindset that the flat earth they lived on was completely surrounded by water. We must constantly remember that God used what they understood to speak to them. This is not a story to prove some scientific belief. Rather, it is theological.
These final sentences of Chapter 7 focus on what was happening outside of the ark. Inside the ark there was salvation, that is, their lives were saved from destruction. Outside the ark, there was total destruction. This part of the story ends with a statement about how many days the water flooded the earth. One might notice the parallel between being inside the garden and inside the ark. Inside there is life with God. Outside there is devastation. Inside there is life. Outside there is death.
We cannot overemphasize that the primary value of the book of Genesis is theology, as it is with all Scripture. Westerners spend an inordinate amount of time, energy, and money trying to investigate the incidentals of the Flood story and miss the theological impact. The story is crystal clear. God does not like sin. He will judge it, bring redemption, and give new life. We are pre-occupied with all the details such as the size of the ark, or what was the specific kind of wood that it was made from, or how did they feed all those animals and dispose of the refuse. These incidentals and many others in the story are really non-issues. History is important. However, it is the theological significance of the event that carries the punch.
Community Discussion Questions
➡ |CDQ Info|
- When God gives you directions, how thorough are you in carrying them out?
- How does sin in you un-create what God has done? Be specific.
- Why is being inside, where God’s presence is, better than outside? List as many reasons as you can.
- Why do you think Westerners spend so much time and energy trying to find the ark? Is this important?
- What is the theological conclusion of this part of the story?