Last week we studied about the sin of Adam and Eve and their subsequent expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Then we looked into the lives of their children and saw plainly there were two life styles emerging. Seth's family began calling on the name of the Lord. They are referred to in Chapter 6 as "sons of God." The family of Cain, however, took after Cain in their morals. A love of God is missing. And as we see even today, children tend to take on the morals of their parents and even loosen them some unless a love of God can touch their heart and pull them out of this downward spiral of immorality. Eventually the righteous began to mingle with the unrighteous. The Bible states: "The sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all that they chose." (Cf. Romans 8:14.) Out of these intermarriages came a generation of men and women in almost total rebellion against God. That the intermarriages resulted in such a shameful condition should not shock us. Paul reminded us of the consequences of such in I Corinthians 15:33 when he said, "Be not deceived: evil companionships corrupt good morals."
There is little doubt that a catastrophic flood actually did occur. Preserved in the myths and legends of almost every people on the face of the globe is the memory of the great catastrophe. While myths may not have any scientific value, they are significant in indicating the fact that an impression was left in the minds of the races of mankind that could not be erased. The account of the Genesis Flood hardly stands alone. Researchers have described over 100 flood traditions from Europe, Asia, Australia, the East Indies, the Americas, East Africa, and many other places. These traditions agree in too many vital points not to have originated from the same factual event.
Let's look a little closer at this time just before the Flood. With a thermal vapor blanket encircling the world, that God placed there on the second day of creation, things were quite different. This canopy would give the earth a "greenhouse" effect, producing a warm, uniform, tropical climate worldwide. The temperature of the entire earth would be very nearly the same at every latitude. This fact is proven by the fossil record. The same flora and fauna fossils are found throughout the world, from the Artic regions to the African and Gobi desserts which were at one time covered with luxuriant vegetation. The terrain was different. The land was low and there were no high mountains forming physical or climatic barriers. This made it quite easy to populate the earth. We find out from Psalm 104:8 that God caused the mountains to rise and the valleys to sink during the Flood.
Another vast difference was the size and age of the humans and animals. This is probably due to the climate and lack of diseases and other physical problems. Everything was conducive to physical health and longevity. It has been suggested that there possibly was a much higher carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere which would have slowed down maturation rates and induced longer life. Slowing maturation would also produce, in some instances, giantism. Geological and biblical evidences certainly indicate that plants, animals, and even humans of the past have been larger than we now observe.
There are some physical evidences that a world-wide flood did occur. Vast animal graveyards have been found worldwide. Evidence of a great, sudden, and watery cataclysm, followed by a deep freeze, across the entire great north, burying a host of mammoths, mastodons, elephants, and other great beasts in a region which is now almost totally devoid of vegetation has been documented. There is abundant evidence of profuse vegetation and a temperate, even subtropical climate prevailing in Antarctica and the northern polar regions at some time in the past. Worldwide fossilization has occurred in vast quantities, including fossils of all kinds. Many great rifts, fissures, and lava beds have been discovered, scarring the world ocean floor, telling us of some gigantic submarine upheaval of the earth's crust (as in the breaking up of the "fountains of the deep"). Marine fossils have been found buried and exposed at almost every altitude. And on and on and on such evidences could be listed.
How many of you have heard of the excavations being done on the Paluxy River near Glen Rose, Texas? Perhaps the most convincing and solid evidence for the Flood comes from there. For here scientists, (geologists, paleontologists, etc.) have been finding HUMAN FOOTPRINTS embedded in Cretaceous limestone ALONGSIDE DINOSAUR FOOTPRINTS MADE AT THE SAME TIME!! What that means is that these dinosaurs and humans were running through some squishy, muddy area at the same time which was soon thereafter covered with layers of other soil as if the ground had suddenly opened up and belched more mud. I have a book on these findings. In 1984 it was reported, "Baugh and Hall excavated a human footprint with the big toe and smaller toes in their descending angle and the arched instep, scientifically peculiar to the human species. . . . There is definite evidence that man and dinosaurs co-existed. . . . The fact that these tracks were so clearly preserved in this porous substance indicated rapid burial - again, the Flood." My family will be going there later this month.
You know the details of the Flood. I'd like to give you some suggestions for answers for some of the problems that people bring up when the Flood is mentioned. There was plenty of room on the Ark for the animals. The Ark had a carrying capacity of at least 522 train stock cars. The width, 50 cubits (75 feet), is about 1/2 as wide as our auditorium. The length, 300 cubits (450 feet), is about 4 1/2 times LONGER than our auditorium. There were 3 floors this size. That's long and skinny, but on the same proportions as many of our Naval ships are built today. It had at least 101,250 square feet of floor space. That is sufficient room for all the animals. Noah was not required to take full grown specimen. And many of the animals could have hibernated while on the Ark, easing some of the burden on Noah and his family. I surmise that young dinosaurs were taken on the Ark, but became extinct at some later time due to the change in climate or some such similar occurrence before they could multiply sufficiently to maintain their species on the earth. --If indeed they are really extinct.
The story of the Flood follows the story of Cain and Abel so closely in Genesis that it might leave the impression that we are dealing with just a few short years here. But, assuming that none of the generations were left out in the lineage from Adam to Noah in chapter 5, the time from creation to the Flood was somewhere around 1,656 years! Think about it. 1,656 years is a long time. That's more than 3 times longer than white men have been on this continent. In that amount of time, people would have multiplied (especially people who lived to advanced ages as did the patriarchs), and would have spread to many areas of the globe. It has been estimated that the population of the earth could have been as much as one billion people in that length of time. "The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." Multiply that by perhaps a billion people, and that's a whole lot of sinning going on. So much so that the Lord was sorry that He had made man. But, the Lord had already promised a Savior would come, so instead of wiping out the entire earth and starting anew, the Lord finds one righteous man to save, through whom He could keep His promise.
In the midst of sin all around him, Noah remained righteous, a good man. His character is described as being honest (probably an unusual trait for his day and time) and blameless in his generation. I suppose he was the "oddball" of his day. He "walked with God." I get the feeling that I can't even begin to understand all that that phrase entails. Because of Noah, a "probation period" of 120 years was established. During that time we know that Noah preached to the people of his generation, all the while carrying out the commands of God regarding the building of the Ark. In a little over a hundred years, Noah's work was completed, but for all his preaching, Noah's only "converts" were members of his own family group. Please note that even though the converts were few, Noah DID NOT CHANGE THE MESSAGE GOD HAD GIVEN HIM! We know this is true because the biblical account states that the ark floated. Had Noah altered God's commands, thereby disobeying Him, the ark would have sunk straight down to the bottom of the sea.
The Bible gives the impression that it had not ever rained before. We don't even have a record that anyone had ever even attempted to build a vessel to float on water before. The 120 years that Noah and his family spent building this Ark, on dry land, to God's specifications must have been peculiar in the sight of the people. I suppose all of you in studying your lesson this week have realized how ridiculous this project must have seemed to Noah's neighbors and peers. It must be something akin to watching a neighbor stop his career in order to have time to build a spacecraft in his backyard to take him to Saturn to escape a giant comet that he says will collide with the earth and totally blow it to pieces. If my neighbor came to me with that message (no matter how good or bad he was), saying God told him all this and urging me to come along with him, I'd either burst out laughing or go call my psychiatrist neighbor for help for this poor fellow.
Did you take the time to put yourself into Noah's wife's shoes or his daughter-in-laws' shoes? I think if I were Mrs. Noah, I would have said, at various times before the Flood began, some things like, "Honey, I know you are a righteous man and all, but are you SURE you got this message straight? Are you sure God isn't just testing you? What's gonna be coming out of the sky? How deep did God say it would get? Does everyone have to be destroyed? Can't we find room for my hairdresser at least? And all these animals that have been coming our way lately, are you sure He meant for us to take them all? It sure is gonna be noisy and smelly and a whole lot of work caring for those animals. Surely God wouldn't be upset if we built a separate ark for them. He didn't say we couldn't, did He?" I'm afraid the devil would be using me to make Noah question his Lord.
We never see Noah question his mission. The Hebrew writer tells us "by FAITH Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, took heed and constructed an ark for the saving of his household." (Hebrews 11:7). Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). Noah was sure this event, that he was forewarned about, would come to pass and his conviction caused Him to carry out his mission amidst ridicule and jest. I wonder if we could talk today to Noah if he wouldn't say that as trying and hard as all the months he and his family spent inside the ark during the Flood, they were not nearly as hard to endure as these years that were spent in preparation and preaching to mankind. In my mind, the hardest time of all would have been the week just before the rains started. For the Lord had them load the ark seven days before the Flood began. Had I been one of the females on that Ark, I'm afraid my faith would have wavered severely while waiting aboard the Ark before the rains began. I imagine the neighbors got a good laugh out of this family that moved in with all these animals on this strange looking craft. Noah had the courage to go against the flow and do what God asked him to do.
This is a story we tell our youngest children cause they love the animals, and we sing cute little songs about Noah and the Ark and Flood. Sometimes we forget that this story in particular is put here for us adults, too. What do we need to learn from this story? I've come up with four things.
And going on to the story of the Tower of Babel. What can we learn from the story of Babel? Perhaps the same lessons.
These four lessons, mentioned as coming from these two stories, apply to us today. And when the Lord comes again to destroy the Earth with fire, the righteous will have a reward of a home in heaven.
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR