The Significance of Genesis: Worldwide Flood of Judgment and God’s Grace (Genesis 7:11-24).
Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, April 24, 2022
My dad’s side of the family comes from Johnston, Pennsylvania.
In the 1880s, if you wanted a good life with a good job, you moved to Johnstown, PA. The Pennsylvania Main Line Canal came through town, so that brought jobs. So did the Pennsylvania Railroad. And the Cambria Iron Works. Families were moving in from Wales. From Germany. Not to mention there are beautiful mountains, covered with forest, all around town. And right through the town runs the Conemaugh River.
In fact, the area is so beautiful, the country’s richest people—Andrew Carnegie and Andrew Mellon—would come out from Pittsburgh to hunt and fish at a private club up above town, where an old earth dam had been modified to make a fishing lake for them.
On May 30, 1889, a huge rainstorm came through and dropped six to 10 inches of rain. Despite that weather, the next day the town lined up along Main Street for the Memorial Day parade. The Methodist pastor, H. L. Chapman, said, “The morning was delightful, the city was in its gayest mood, with flags, banners and flowers everywhere … The streets were more crowded than we had ever seen before.”
And then the old dam miles above town collapsed, releasing almost four billion gallons of water. When that wall of water and debris hit Johnstown 57 minutes later, it was 60 feet high and traveling at 40 miles an hour. People tried to escape by running toward high ground. But over 2,000 of the 30,000 people in town died. Some bodies were found as far away as Cincinnati, and some were not discovered until 20 years later.
The Johnstown Flood remains one of the greatest tragedies in American history, behind only the Galveston Hurricane and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. And in every one of those cases, life was fine. Until it wasn’t. In a moment, in a way that was unexpected and most people were not prepared for, something cataclysmic occurred, and people were swept away.
Floods are scary. The force of water is amazing. Today, we talk about another flood.
We have been preaching through Genesis chapters 1-11. My point has been to show the significance of Genesis to the rest of the Bible.
My great idea is:
The Significance of Genesis: We see the worldwide flood of judgment and God’s grace saving Noah and his family (Genesis 7:11-24). We also see God intervene to prevent the escalating depravity of humanity.
- First, we see the flood begins (Genesis 7:11-12).
- Let’s put this in context before we read the Scripture.
- In verses 1-10, Genesis 7:1-10, we see the occupants of the ark: Noah, his wife, their sons and their wives, plus a pair of all animals and seven pairs of clean animals.
- They entered the ark because of the flood.
- Verse 10, Genesis 7:10, says that after seven days the flood of water came upon the earth.
- Verse 11 is a time marker and gives extra detail: read with me verse 11, Genesis 7:11, In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened.
- Look how the flood happened: “all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened.”
- Water came from underground and the sky.
- The Hebrew term תְּהוֹם (téhom, “deep”) refers to the watery deep, the salty ocean—especially the primeval ocean that surrounds and underlies the earth (see Gen 1:2).
- Water came from two different sources—one below and one above. Exactly what is meant by all the sources of the vast watery depths is unknown; the phrase appears to refer to a massive outflow of pressurized water from underground sources that burst out of the ground with devastating effect. No known phenomenon in nature today corresponds to this description.
- A peculiar feature of the flood narrative is the number of detailed chronological notices (cf. 8:4–5, 13–14). By pinpointing the exact date of the flood within Noah’s life, the text underlines that it was a real event. all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened (7:11). Powerful imagery is used here to capture the intensity of the flood. From below and above, water poured out to cover the land. Rain fell continuously for forty days and forty nights (v. 12).
- Verse 12, Genesis 7:12, And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights.
- Verse 12: the rain fell 40 days and 40 nights is stating what God had planned. See verse 4 and verse 17.
- In Genesis 7:13-16: the text once again shares the occupants of the ark: They include Noah, his wife, their three sons, and their wives, plus a pair of all animals, and seven pairs of clean animals.
- Look at verse 16, Genesis 7:16, And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him. And the Lord shut him in.
- Verse 16: they entered as God commanded and the Lord closed the door.
- Notice that: The LORD closed the door: The use of the personal name “Yahweh” (“Lord”) underscores God’s special relationship with Noah.
- The author gave no details to explain how God performed the supernatural act of shutting Noah in. This divine act highlights the truth found elsewhere in the Bible: “Salvation belongs to the Lord” (Jnh 2:9).
- Verses 17-24: The ordeal outside the ark.
- The underground waters burst forth, and torrential rain falls from heaven for forty days, covering the highest mountains and drowning all human and animal life.
- Read with me Genesis 7:17-24:
17 Then the flood came upon the earth for forty days, and the water increased and lifted up the ark, so that it rose above the earth. 18 The water prevailed and increased greatly upon the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. 19 The water prevailed more and more upon the earth, so that all the high mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered. 20 The water prevailed fifteen cubits higher, and the mountains were covered. 21 All flesh that moved on the earth perished, birds and cattle and beasts and every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth, and all mankind; 22 of all that was on the dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, died. 23 Thus He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky, and they were blotted out from the earth; and only Noah was left, together with those that were with him in the ark. 24 The water prevailed upon the earth one hundred and fifty days.
- The water came upon the earth, again, 40 days and 40 nights. Constant rain and water from under the earth.
- The water lifts the ark up.
- The ark rose above the earth… That is picturesque language.
- Verse 18 builds on this.
- The water prevailed which usually has a meaning of being prevalent but also force.
- “prevail” is used 4 times in the next several verses.
- The water stayed on the earth 150 days. The Hebrew word translated as “prevail” in the NASB is גָּבַר
- Gābhar be strong, mighty.
- The Hebrew verb translated “prevailed over” suggests that the waters were stronger than the earth. The earth and everything in it were no match for the return of the chaotic deep.
- Verse 19: all the high mountains were covered everywhere.
- 15 cubits above the mountains. A cubit was 18 inches: More than twenty feet is literally fifteen cubits, which is about 22½ feet.
- Through the use of expanded restatement the author brings the detailed account of the flood’s destruction to a climax.
- Verses 21-23 go to detail to show the results.
- Verse 22: all whose nostrils had the spirit of life died. This seems to suggest that all that breathed oxygen died.
- For dramatic effect a second expanded expression of the flood’s destructive effects immediately follows the one in the previous verse.
- Verse 23: again, great detail to show the result: all died, only Noah and those on the ark lived.
- Verse 24: the water “prevailed” upon the earth 150 days.
- Though the text does not explicitly say so, the total of 150 days seems to include the forty days of rain. The Hebrew word translated as surged [prevailed in the NASB and ESV] emphasizes the power of the waters.
- The flood brought a whole world to an end (2 Pet. 2:5; 3:6). It prefigures the final judgment, which ends the present heavens and earth and brings a new world (Rev. 21:1). God preserves those who belong to Christ, the final Noah.
- In the New Testament, the flood is referenced by Jesus: Matthew 24:38-39 is good: For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
- The total elapse of time in the flood narrative can be viewed in different ways depending on how the given information is merged. From the information given in 7:11 and 8:14 it can be determined that Noah and his family were in the ark for twelve months and eleven days. The exact number of days would depend on how many days were counted in a month and whether any adjustments were being made between lunar and solar reckonings. The eleven days has been found interesting by some, since the lunar year of 354 days is eleven days shorter than the solar year.
- God is faithful. God said that He would save Noah and his family and He did (see Gen 6:8, 18).
- God preserved a remnant; we must praise God for His faithfulness to His creation.
- God intervened to prevent the escalating depravity of the world. Think about that. Too often we judge God for the flood; however, if the whole world was like the Nazi’s, or Stalin, or ISIS, wouldn’t we want someone to make it stop? God intervened. The world was really bad and God put a stop to it.
- In saving Noah’s family God provided a future for humanity.
- In saving Noah’s family God provided a way of salvation for humanity in the future through Jesus.
- We must have faith that the Lord knows what is best. Noah trusted the Lord (Genesis 7:12-16).
- Noah trusted the Lord to close the ark (Genesis 7:16).
- Noah trusted the Lord to enter the ark (Genesis 7:13-16).
- We must trust the Lord following His written instructions in His Word. We have more information from God than Noah did.
- We must trust the Lord following the voice of the Holy Spirit.
- We must trust the Lord honoring His ways.
- We must trust the Lord with integrity.
- We must trust the Lord with His call on our life. His call is revealed in His word, for example, purity, integrity, loving others, sharing the Gospel, commitment to the church, etc.
- Noah trusted the Lord to close the ark (Genesis 7:16).
- God is just and He will not let sin go unpunished (Ex 34:7). We must praise Him for His forgiveness and recognize our sin is against Him.
- We see God’s grace with Noah.
Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast throughout the last week of August, 2005—destroying buildings, flooding cities, and leaving millions of people homeless. However, the storm’s most destructive consequence may have been the unleashing of human nature.
While New Orleans law officials and National Guardsmen concentrated on rescuing survivors, hundreds of looters took to the streets in the days following Katrina’s wrath. Initially the looters targeted supermarkets and drug stores, focusing on food, medicine, and diapers. However, these seemingly innocent motives soon turned to greed.
On historic Canal Street, dozens of looters ripped open the steel gates protecting clothing and jewelry stores. Many waded through the flooded streets with industrial-sized trashcans full of merchandise, which they floated on makeshift rafts. In Biloxi, Mississippi, people picked through casino slot machines for coins and ransacked other businesses.
Frighteningly, many of the looters made off with weapons. New Orleans’ homeland security chief, Terry Ebbert, said looters broke into stores all over town to steal guns, and the Times-Picayune newspaper reported that the gun section at a new Wal-Mart in the Lower Garden District was quickly cleaned out.
“The looting is out of control,” said French Quarter Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson. “We’re using exhausted, scarce police to control looting, when they should be used for search and rescue while we still have people on rooftops.”
Have we improved? We are still sinners, and we need God’s grace.
 David McCullough, The Johnstown Flood (Simon and Schuster, 1968), p. 22; David McCullough, “This 19th-Century Disaster Made a Historian of Me,” History.com (8-27-18)
 Ibid. 19.
 Ibid. 19.
 Victor Harold Matthews, Mark W. Chavalas, and John H. Walton, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), Ge 7:11–8:5.
 Source: “Looters Run Wild in New Orleans,” Foxnews.com (8-31-05).