Summary: After all preparations had been completed, the Flood came. The rain did not stop until it had rained for forty days. At the same time, there were gigantic upheavals and shifting of the earth’s crust which caused the ocean’s floors to rise and break up their reservoirs of subterranean waters.
November 8, 2013
Commentary on the Book of Genesis
By: Tom Lowe
Lesson I.D.6: Extent and Effect of the Flood.
17 And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth.
18 And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters.
19 And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered.
20 Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.
21 And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man:
22 All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died.
23 And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.
24 And the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days.
After all preparations had been completed, the Flood came. The rain did not stop until it had rained for forty days. At the same time, there were gigantic upheavals and shifting of the earth’s crust which caused the ocean’s floors to rise and break up their reservoirs of subterranean waters (Ge. 7.11). According to verse 24, the water continued to rise for another 110 days after the rain had stopped, at which time the water stood at its greatest depth, and the ark had come to rest on a mountain peak of Ararat. It would take 150 days for the waters to recede, which takes us to the twelfth month, and the seventh day. And finally, two months and ten days later, Noah and his family left the ark and set the animals free. It was a year and ten days after God shut the door to the ark that Noah and his family emerged to walk on dry ground.
A Universal Judgement
In these “so called” enlightened times there are those who want to accommodate Scripture to modern science by subscribing to the theory that the Flood was “limited” and not universal. They say that Moses used “the language of appearance” to describe only what he could see. There are problems with both views, but the “limited” interpretation seems to be the weaker of the two[i]. The clear language of the text seems to state that God was bringing a universal judgment. God said He would destroy human and beasts “from the face of the earth,”[ii] and that “every living thing” would be destroyed (7.4, 21-23; 8.21). If the mountains were covered to such a height that the ark could float over the Ararat range and eventually settle down on a peak, then the entire planet must have been completely immersed (see vv. 18-20). A person reading Genesis 6-9 for the first time would conclude that the Flood was universal.
Now, if the Flood was not universal, why did God give the rainbow as a universal sign of His covenant? (Ge. 9.11-15). Why would people in a local area need such a sign? Furthermore, if the Flood was a local event, why did God tell Noah to build such a big vessel for saving his family and the animals? Noah certainly had enough time to gather his family and the animals in that area and lead them to a place where the Flood could not reach them.[iii] The phrase “All the high hills” describes the extent of the Flood as global, and so that there is no doubt, Moses adds “under the whole heaven.” (2 Pe. 3.5-7) There are over 270 Flood stories told in cultures all over the earth, which owe their origin to this one global event.
The human family had already reached North America, and the animals were certainly there—nobody would argue that point for a moment. But if you say that the Flood was not universal, then you have someone besides Noah starting the human family over again—and that is just not the way the Word of God tells it. You are on the horns of a dilemma, as I see it: you either have to accept the Word of God, or you have to reject what He says. To my way of thinking, to attempt to make a case for a local flood is actually, in the long run, to reject the Word of God. The Bible makes it very clear that it was a universal flood—“And every living substance was destroyed . . . and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.”