Understanding the Old Testament

Noah and the Flood

(All quotations are from the New American Standard Bible translation)

I cannot tell you whether the story of Noah and the Flood is history, hyperbole, legend, or parable. To my knowledge, scientists have found no evidence of a worldwide flood, but the story is part of so many ancient cultures that I have trouble dismissing it as complete fiction. However, it doesn’t matter, because we can learn much from the story, whether or not it is based in fact.

First, we see that God cannot tolerate evil. When we consider God’s omniscience, we can easily understand why. He doesn’t merely see our cruelty to one another—He experiences it, just as we do. He feels each blow, each stab of pain. No wonder He longs for a world without violence.

Second, He will go out of His way to preserve goodness in the world. Thus, He delays His judgment to give Noah time to build a huge boat so that He can preserve Noah and his family.

Third, He is merciful, for He preserves not only the righteous Noah, but also his whole family. And He provided food for them to eat during the flood, for although Noah took only one pair of most animals, God told him to take seven pairs of all of the “clean” animals—i.e., animals that Noah and his family could lawfully kill and eat. (Genesis 7:2; see also Leviticus 11:1-31.)

You may well ask, “Where is God’s mercy toward those who perished?” We will revisit this question later. But for now, consider 1 Peter 4:6, which tells us that after Jesus died on the cross He preached to those who are dead “that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God.” Those who perished in the flood lost their lives on earth, but they still have the opportunity for eternal life if they will listen to Jesus in the next life.

And that is another key to understanding the Old Testament—what I call The Eternal Perspective. This life is simply unimportant compared to eternity, and eternity is where God is trying to get us to.

Question to ponder or discuss:  C.S. Lewis says that if God is outside of time—which Lewis believes He is—then when Jesus preached to the dead He preached not only to those who died before the first century A.D., but also to those who died thereafter. What do you think of that line of reasoning?

Copyright 2017 by Don Davidson

My book, Beyond Blind Faith: Reasons for the Hope We Have (1 Peter 3:15), is available on Amazon.com as either a print book or a Kindle e-book. Here's the link:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074MVHVHP Read Chapter 1 (pdf format)



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