Have you ever lost something important to you? How did you respond?
7 The Lord then said to Noah, ‘Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. 2 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, 3 and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. 4 Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.’
5 And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him.
6 Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth. 7 And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood. 8 Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, 9 male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God had commanded Noah. 10 And after the seven days the floodwaters came on the earth.
11 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. 12 And rain fell on the earth for forty days and forty nights.
13 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. 14 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. 15 Pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life in them came to Noah and entered the ark. 16 The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God had commanded Noah. Then the Lord shut him in.
17 For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth. 18 The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. 19 They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. 20 The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than fifteen cubits. 21 Every living thing that moved on land perished – birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. 22 Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. 23 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.
24 The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days.
If you recall Genesis 1, God made our world by separating the waters above from the waters below (Genesis 1:6–8). In today’s chapter, he opens up the ‘floodgates’ (quite literally): making holes in the dome above and the ground below, and all the chaotic water of the flood re-emerges and the world is lost (v 11). So where Genesis 1 was a creation story, this is a ‘de-creation’ story (v 23). It is not just that it was a really wet season and rained a lot. This is a story on a whole different scale. The basic project of creation is deliberately dismantled. We will find out why tomorrow.
More or less all living land creatures are saved, some two-by-two, and some by sevens (or possibly seven pairs). At heart, God is overseeing the survival of all animals. Then through Noah, his wife, and their three sons plus wives, the survival of the human race too.
Undeniably this is a chapter describing massive loss of life. Yet the emphasis in the way in which the story is told is mainly on the preservation of life. Even in the midst of judgement there is life.
Arguably the whole point of God’s judgement, at any time, is to preserve life in the long run. Genesis 1–11 makes this point repeatedly: in Eden, with Cain, in the flood. In what ways might this be true for us today?
Deeper Bible study
‘In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice.’1
By the end of Genesis 6, it appears that Noah has brought his family and two of all creatures into the ark, but in verses 1–5 of chapter 7 we have the same bit of story retold. That is, the command to enter the ark (with seven pairs of every clean animal) and a repeat that Noah did as commanded (6:22; 7:5). Noah’s family and the animals have now gone into the ark twice. In verses 6–10, Noah, his family and the animals (two by two) enter the ark for the third time, seven days before the flood waters come. In verses 11–16, we hear that the rain fell on the earth for 40 days and ‘on that very day’ Noah and his family, plus the animals (again, in pairs, it seems) entered the ark for the fourth time. This time the Lord closes the door (no more entries after the Lord closes the door!). Finally, verses 17–24 tell us (again) that it rained for 40 days and that everything outside the ark died.
What’s happening? We have four accounts of Noah, his family and the animals entering the ark. Whether Noah is in the ark seven days before the rain or one day seems immaterial; he made it in time! It is as if the writer keeps rewinding the same piece of film in order to focus on one bit: the salvation of Noah’s family and the animals. Genesis 7 effectively says, ‘God destroyed the earth, but he saved an essential core group of humans and animals. I repeat: he saved Noah and his family, plus all animal types. Please don’t miss this: he saved Noah’s family and a sample population of the animals. Yes, Noah and a pair (or seven pairs of clean) animals were saved.’ In the midst of destruction, there is salvation.
Do you stand under God’s judgement or under the blood of Jesus? If the first, then ask him to save you. If the second, then thank him for saving you.
1Rom 11:5, NASB
Bible in a year
Read the Bible in a year: Genesis 28,29; Psalms 7,8
Pray for Scripture Union
Shine in Schools encourages and equips pupils to share their faith with their friends and takes place in November each year. Over the next two days the planning group will review last year and plan for this November. Pray that they will have wisdom and know God’s guidance.