THE LESSON OF THE FLOOD
--GENESIS 8:1-16.--FEBRUARY 3.--
Golden Text:--"The salvation of the
righteous is of the Lord."--Psa. 37:39.
BEFORE seeking the lesson of the flood it is appropriate that we inquire, Was there a flood? The answer of the oldest histories attest the fact that there was. The Bible record itself we may estimate as one of the oldest, if not the original, of these histories, for reliance cannot be placed upon the dates assigned by scientists to the baked clay tablets found in the ruins of Nineveh. In their endeavor to find something older than the Bible, from which they claim the Bible account was made up, they add thousands of years to the antiquity of the flood, and thus quite disagree with the Bible records, which we hold are in nowise invalidated by their guessing. The genealogy from Noah to Abraham and Moses is clearly set forth, with a directness not even imitated in the Babylonian records.
The Apostle forewarns us that the wisdom of the world is foolishness to God, even as the wisdom and plan and revelations [R3933 : page 38] of God are foolishness to these "wise men." In their efforts to disprove the faith of Jews and Christians-- in their endeavor to ignore all divine revelation and, if possible, to ignore a personal Creator, they make an attack upon the book of Genesis, affecting to be able to distinguish the interweaving of two different accounts, assuming that if this were true the credibility of the Scriptures would be impaired, and that the world would be obliged to reject the thought of a divinely inspired account and to accept as scientific truth the conjectures of these "wise men." On this subject we quote from Reverend Peloubet, D.D. He says:--
"The contradictions or criticisms are from those who not only see two narratives, but take for granted that each one is the whole. The Babylonian traditions of the deluge, which many critics regard as the source of the Bible account, contain the combined narrative. There are almost universal traditions of a flood, with great similarity of details. The most important of these is the Chaldean account, written on clay tablets found among the ruins of Nineveh and now in the British Museum. There is nothing in geology to discredit the story of the deluge, but much to confirm the fact."
On this subject another writer, LeNormant, says:--
"The account of the deluge is a universal tradition in all branches of the human family, with the sole exception of the black race. And a tradition everywhere so exact and so concordant cannot possibly be referred to an imaginary myth....It must be the reminiscence of an actual and terrible event...near to the primitive cradle of mankind, and previous to the separation of the families from whom the principal races were to descend."
Professor Willis J. Beecher, D.D., on this subject, says:--
"Whatever inspiration one holds that they have must be predicated on the Scriptures rather than of the sources. It is the Scriptures in their present form that have won their way to universal acceptance as a great literature.... The literary excellence of the passage is due to the authors who put the Scriptures in their present form. As for the alleged contradictions, they do not exist."
In reply to the criticism that one part of the account mentions the fact that seven pairs of clean animals were preserved and another verse relates that the animals went in two and two, Professor Beecher remarks properly that, "The statement that all the animals went in by pairs is entirely consistent with the statement that some of them went in by sevens."
THE EXTENT OF THE DELUGE
We have discussed this matter in "Scripture Studies" (DAWN), Vol. VI., chapter I., but here give a quotation from Peloubet. He says:--
"It is the opinion of almost all, even the most conservative, that the deluge was limited in extent. 'Earth' is frequently used where it must mean the land, the 'region,' where men existed. When the account says that 'all the high hills that were under the whole heaven were covered' by the waters of the flood, and that 'every living substance was destroyed,' a reasonable interpretation in accordance with our own knowledge of the frequent use of language in literature--often exemplified in the Bible itself--would regard it as from the standpoint of the observer, and not necessarily imply that the total earth was covered, but only the regions known to man and inhabited by man. Thus, when the Savior said that the Queen of Sheba came from the uttermost parts of the earth, and the Acts report that in Jerusalem at Pentecost were people 'out of every nation under heaven,' they would not be proved untruthful nor even inexact if land should be found further away than Sheba or a tribe that was not represented at Pentecost."
THE PREPARATION OF THE ARK
Some skeptics have made sport of the Scriptural record of the size of the Ark, and again of the Bible's declaration that up to the time of the flood there had been no rain on the earth--that vegetation was sustained by a mist that arose. (Gen. 2:6.) The latter objection we have answered quite at length in "Scripture Studies" (DAWN), Vol. VI., chapter I., showing that the waters of the deluge up to that [R3934 : page 38] time had constituted a heavy film or envelope which encased the earth, and which by divine arrangement broke and descended upon the world partly in heavy rain and partly by a great flood from the two poles. As for the objections to the size and proportions of the Ark we quote the following:--
"Modern vessels, being built for swift sailing, are much longer in proportion to their width than was the Ark. The Ark was of three stories, built of gopher wood, probably cypress, a resinous fir. It was made water tight by covering it with bitumen (asphalt), which abounded in that region as well as around the Dead Sea. Around it, close to the roof for safety, an opening for light and ventilation, one cubit high, ran around the four sides, interrupted by beams or poles supporting the roof. Rooms, literally nests or cells, were made in three tiers for the accommodation of the animals. They would strengthen the whole structure. There was a single door. The dimensions given of the Ark, compared with our large modern ships, are:--
LENGTH WIDTH HEIGHTThe Ark, 300 cubits, 450 ft.; 50 cubits, 75 ft.; 30 cubits, 45 ft. "Wilhelm der Grosse," 648 " 65 " 45 " "Great Eastern," 680 " 82.5 ft.; 58 "
"Geike writes: 'In the beginning of the seventeenth century, says J. D. Michaelis, a ship was built with a round hull, after the proportions given in Genesis 6, and it was found to the astonishment of all, that these proportions given in the oldest book in the world were precisely the most advantageous for safety and for stowage. Peter Jansen, a Mennonite, who lived at Hoorn in North Holland, was its builder; and his Ark differed from Noah's only in size. When launched it proved to be able to bear one-third more freight than other ships of the same measurement. The Dutch at once began to build others like it, calling them Noah's arks, and they ceased to be used only because they could not carry cannon."
THE PERIOD OF THE FLOOD
The very minute account of the flood seems to indicate that from the time Noah and his family and his sons' families and the beasts, birds, etc., entered the Ark and the raining began, until the time that the earth was totally dried, was a full year of 365 days. We read that Noah was 600 years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth (Gen. 7:6); and again, "It came to pass in the six hundred and first year, in the first month and the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from off the earth." (Gen. 8:13.) [R3934 : page 39] The record seems to be that it rained for forty days and forty nights (Gen. 7:12), and that the great fountains of waters were completely ruptured, broken up (the main body of the flood coming to the earth from the poles), so that the waters continued to increase or prevail upon the earth for 150 days after it ceased raining--a period of six months or more. Then not only was the rain restrained but the windows of heaven were stopped and the fountains of the deep.
Gradually the waters began to assuage until on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the Ark rested or grounded upon the Ararat mountains (Gen. 8:4), the waters continuing to decrease for another month, when surrounding and lower mountains were plainly visible; and forty days thereafter Noah--by way of determining how greatly the flood had subsided--sent forth a raven and a dove, which flew away and returned repeatedly until the dove returned to him with a green olive sprig, by which he knew that the waters were assuaged even to the valleys, and a week later the dove returned not to him, indicating that habitable conditions prevailed in the earth. Under the direction of the Lord, Noah and all under his care left the Ark on the twenty-seventh day of the second month; and since he entered the Ark on the seventeenth day of the second month, this would apparently imply a period of one year and ten days, but the difference is accounted for by the fact that the time is measured in lunar months.
THE CAUSE OF THE FLOOD
As already shown (Vol. VI., chap. I.), Noah's flood was a result of the breaking of the last one of the great rings which originally surrounded the earth, after the manner that we now see the rings of Saturn. But the time of the breaking of this envelope of water causing the deluge was so timed by divine wisdom and foreknowledge as to meet a crisis in the affairs of mankind. Had God foreseen that Adam would not have sinned, and that subsequent events respecting the race would not have transpired, he doubtless would have predestinated that the rain of waters should have occurred before creating man in the earth. The crisis is particularly explained Scripturally by the statement, "The earth was corrupt before God and the earth was filled with violence." (Gen. 6:11.) We naturally and properly inquire how this could be, since God had created man in his own image and likeness?
The answer Scripturally given is that the sin of disobedience was the start and that the blemish extended to all of Adam's race, of whom it is declared that they "were born in sin, shapen in iniquity." (Psa. 51:5.) But more than this, the record is that the violence caused by human deflection was accentuated from an outside source--the angels, the "sons of God," who, singing together in the morning of creation, had been given a supervisory work to do in respect to mankind. But the example of sin and degradation proved to be contagious, so that, as the apostles Peter and Jude describe, some of those angels left, abandoned, their first estate--their angelic estate--and assuming human organizations, which they had been privileged to do for the purpose of benefiting and assisting mankind, they misused those bodies and preferred to be men rather than to be angels, and, as the account in Genesis 6:1-5shows, these angels in their assumed human bodies had improper intercourse with humanity.--2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6.
Those "sons of God" saw the daughters of men that they were fair, and took them wives of all that they chose. As a result giants were born to them, "mighty men," "men of renown." The intimation is that these of illegitimate birth--contrary to divine arrangement and order--were far superior to the race of Adam, which by that time, centuries after the fall, were considerably degraded. The race of Adam were not matches at all for these giants and renowned ones, who both intellectually and physically were their superiors and ruled them ruthlessly and filled the earth with violence. How widespread was this corruption of the race by improper intercourse with the sons of God is shown by two statements: first, "All flesh had corrupted his way"; and again, "Noah only have I found perfect," not corrupted by these improper practices. This probably included Noah's family as well as himself, they being under his influence and direction.
This accounts to us for the utter destruction of the human race. It was no longer of purely Adamic stock, as God had designed; it was unfit, not proper for his further use in connection with the divine plans, except Noah and his family. Nor could Noah's preaching on the subject influence his relatives, friends and neighbors; they were so thoroughly ensnared and under the influence of the nephilim (giants), "mighty men," that they scoffed at Noah and his work and his preaching righteousness instead of repenting. The result was their taking away in death through the flood and the sparing only of Noah and his family, who were "perfect in their generation"--not impaired, not blemished, not commingled with the seed of angels, but of purely Adamic stock--to perpetuate the human race and carry out the divine purpose in its creation.
The redemption of Adam and his race by our Lord's sacrifice, and the securing thereby of an opportunity for their resurrection to perfection, eternal life, that was lost in Adam, in no sense of the word affects those "giants" of renown, for they were illegitimate. Their life came not through father Adam, and hence was not redeemed by Christ. They were an unlawful and in every way illegitimate race, and are hopelessly extinct.
THE LESSON OF THE FLOOD TO US
Our Lord Jesus calls our attention to the flood and the incidents connected therewith, and clearly intimates some parallel in the end of this Gospel age, describing which he says, "As it was in the days of Noah, they were eating and drinking, planting and building, and knew not until the flood came and took them all away, even thus shall it be in the coming [parousia] of the Son of Man." True, our Lord does not say that the similarity will be in the wickedness nor in the taking away, but merely in the knowing not of the time. However, he does intimate that some great catastrophe or calamity is to be expected in the end of this age which in some sense or degree will correspond to the calamity in the days of Noah. Turning to the Epistle of Peter (1 Pet. 3:20,21) we find there a reference to Noah, and the suggestion that Noah and his family saved in that flood typified or represented the Gospel Church saved in the flood or [R3935 : page 40] calamity which is about to overwhelm the world. This seems a further corroboration of our Lord's intimations and becomes the more impressive, especially as Peter is describing the incidents connected with the ending of this age and the inauguration of this new dispensation, just as did Jesus in his reference to Noah's day. Peter says that the Ark salvation "was a like figure whereunto baptism doth now save us." What is the figure? We reply that the flood of water which there submerged the world meant the death of the world, while Noah and his family although submerged in the same water were hidden in the Ark, and thus by the Ark their lives were spared. Similarly here we who are baptized into Christ, who become members of his body, enter the Ark of safety, although we are baptized into his death according to the flesh, are raised or saved, and on the other side the flood, on the other side the great calamity of death, in the new dispensation, in the "new earth" which the Scriptures describe, we shall live and be the representatives of God in establishing the new order of things. It is in harmony with this that the Scriptures represent Jesus as the Father of the everlasting age--the Life-Giver to all who will ever attain life eternal. All lost their lives through disobedience, through sin; our Lord Jesus paid the ransom price redeemed us with his own precious life, and proposes to succor, to give life to as many as will obey him. The whole period of the Millennial age is apportioned to this opportunity, and we who now accept of his grace are to be made participants with him in that glorious work--as the Bride, the Lamb's Wife.
GIANTS IN THESE DAYS ALSO
St. Peter intimates that as a flood of waters destroyed the human family in Noah's day, so fire will destroy in the end of this age. Elsewhere we have seen that the fire will be on a higher plane--symbolical fire or destruction--a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation, in the which not only the heavens of religious authority and power shall pass away with a great commotion, a fire, but the earth also (the present social structure, financial, political, social) shall melt with fervent heat--the various elements, such as the labor element, the capitalistic element, the political element, the religious element, shall melt in the fervency of the heat and passion and discord of that time.
We remember Zephaniah's description of the same great event when, after telling that the whole earth will be devoured with the fire of God's jealousy, he adds, "Then will I turn unto the people a pure message that they may all call upon the name of the Lord to serve him with one consent." (Zeph. 3:8,9.) Thus we are shown that the fire which shall devour the whole earth will not be a literal one, but the people will be left, though the social structure will be entirely consumed, and that then the Lord will give unto the people his message in its purity. The Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in its beams, and the whole earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the great deep.--Mal. 4:2; Isa. 11:9.
It was the improper blending of spiritual and natural matters that brought to pass the giants of olden times, through whom came the violence in the earth preceding the cataclysm of the deluge. Is it remarkable that we find a correspondency in our time? Have we not giants today-- of renown--of almost illimitable power amongst men? Are not these what are termed the "trusts" and financial princes of the earth, financially strong beyond any dream of the past? Is it not through the operation of these that the great time of trouble and violence is coming upon the world? Surely the picture is this precisely.
Now, then, in what sense were these giant corporations and trusts and massive fortunes developed? Are they of heathen origin? O, no! The heathen never dreamed of such things, never imagined the might and power over men which is in the grasp of these institutions. The heathen themselves indeed suffer from these very giants, who are using the machinery of government in Germany, Great Britain, Belgium, France and elsewhere to training their hands to increase their power and their revenues by the coercion of the heathen peoples, as in South Africa and elsewhere, for filthy lucre's sake, for the increase of the strength of the giants. Do not these giants really manage the wars and rule the kingdoms of earth? Surely it is so. But if not of natural or heathen origin whence came these giants? We answer that they are the offspring of a misdirected spiritual energy. The Spirit of the Lord operating in his consecrated people has exercised an enlightening influence all around them, amounting to what is known as present-day civilization. The majority of those thus civilized are far from being truly, Christianized; nevertheless the enlightenment which they have comes, proceeds, from Christianity.
It is this enlightenment, improperly received and improperly exercised in the world, that has begotten the spirit of selfishness, which has reached its development and maturity in these giants. The whole earth will shortly be in their power, in their grasp, unless the Lord in his providence shall permit some great calamity to overthrow present institutions. This he tells us he is about to do. He is about to permit the "wrath of man to praise him," to work the overthrow, to enkindle the fire between capital and labor, between the giants and those who are more and more coming under their pressure and control--to wage a battle to the death, which will really mean the perishing of our civil, religious, political, social, financial institutions of this present time, in the great time of fire and trouble--in anarchy.
Who will be saved in this time? Who will survive this storm? The Word of the Lord to his consecrated followers is, "Watch ye, therefore, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape those things coming upon the earth and to stand before the Son of man." We are to watch that we may not fall into this general trouble and snare that is coming upon the whole world to try the hearts of men, to run deep the ploughshare of trouble which eventually, under the new dispensation, shall be a blessing, but which in the present time will be only a most terrible trouble. Thank God that there is a rainbow promised, yea, a rainbow that is seen by those who have the eye of faith and look upon matters through the Word of God. The rainbow is the divine promise that never more shall there be such a great calamity upon the world, that with this calamity will be introduced the Kingdom of God's dear Son, and that never again shall the world be left, neither to fallen man nor to demons of the prince of this world nor to the kingdoms of this world, but [R3935 : page 41] he who redeemed the world shall be its Lord and King, and the dominion shall not be given to other people nor left to others; but when Messiah shall have conquered and put down all insubordination, and everything contrary to the divine will, then the Kingdom shall be delivered to God, even the Father, that he may be all in all.