Summary: In spite of the devastation on the outside, Noah and His family and the animals were safe and secure inside the ark.
A PATIENT FAMILY
No matter how they felt, or how much the ark was tossed on the waters, they were safe in God’s will. Patiently they waited for God to complete His work and put them back on the earth. Noah and his family spent one year and seventeen days in the ark, and even though they had chores to do, that’s a long time to spend in one place. But it is through “faith and patience” that we inherit God’s promised blessings (Heb. 6.12; 10.36), and Noah was willing to wait on the Lord.
Peter saw in Noah’s experience a picture of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ (1 Pe. 3.18-22). The earth in Noah’s day was immersed in water, but the ark floated on the water and brought Noah and his family to the place of safety. This was, to Peter, a picture of baptism: death burial, resurrection. The earth was “dead” and “buried” because of the water, but the ark rose up (resurrection) to bring the family through safely[iv]. Jesus died, was buried, and arose from the dead; and through His finished work, we have salvation from sin. Peter makes it clear that the water of baptism doesn’t wash away sin. It is our obedience to the Lord’s command to be baptized (Matt. 28.19-20) that cleanses the conscience and makes us right with God.
“And the waters prevailed upon the earth a hundred and fifty days.” In other words, for a period of approximately half a year, for five months, the waters continued to cover the earth.
The Genesis Flood not only answers the question of it being a universal rather than a local flood, but it also answers the question of uniformitarianism. There are those who take the position that there was no such thing as a great convulsion or catastrophe like the Flood. I am not going into detail, except to point out that Peter makes it very clear that we should expect such scoffers. “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (2 Pe, 3.3, 4). The scoffer has always been a uniformitarian, but you could not very well hold that position and accept the integrity of the Word of God at this particular point. This is very important to see.
Let us pause for a moment to imagine what the final hours may have been like for those shut out of the ark. They did not believe that a Flood would come, and probably when it did come they probably flattered themselves with hopes that it would abate, and never threaten their existence, but it continued to get worse. The water rose so high that the mountains were covered to a depth of fifteen cubits, or twenty-two and one-half feet.
As the water increased, the ark was lifted up to float on the surface. When all the buildings were demolished by the water or buried under it, the ark alone remained. The water that ruined everything else lifted the ark to safety. The more the water increased the higher the ark was lifted toward heaven. All the men, women, and children in the world, except the eight in the ark, died. It is easy to imagine the terror and bewilderment that seized them when they realized they were surrounded. Our Savior tells us that until the day the Flood came, they were eating and drinking (Luke 17.26, 27); they were drowned in security and sensuality until they were drowned in those waters, deaf and blind to all warnings. We may suppose that they tried all ways and means to save themselves, but it was all done in vain. We may also suppose that some of those who perished in the Flood had assisted Noah or were hired by him to help with the building of the ark, however, they were not wise enough to repent and secure themselves a place in the ark.
Now, let’s pause for a while to meditate on the terror of this destruction. It is easy to see “that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!” Who can stand before Him when He is angry? No doubt the surface of the earth, the manner of life, and the longevity of life were changed by this catastrophe. Everything on the earth, outside the ark, was destroyed. Only marine life survived. Now that the human race had been reduced to one single family, it was necessary that the number of beasts be reduced proportionally, otherwise by their numbers they would have acquired the ascendency and dominated the few who were supposed to repopulate the world. Sin had affected every aspect of life, and nothing short of a new beginning would suffice.