Series: Consider this… “A Conversational Defense of our Faith”
Lesson #3: The Flood – Literal or Legend?
Scenario: You’re in a conversation with someone about the Bible, and you begin to talk specifics. The person says, “Well, I choose a more open-minded approach than most Christians. A lot of Bible stories weren’t really literal, like a big flood and animals in a boat…that’s a bit of a stretch.” How do you respond?
The flood described in Genesis is by far the most sweeping physical event in history. Many of our natural resources and scenery can be directly traced to this event. It is a very important part of the Biblical narrative, and worthy of study. For our purpose in this lesson, I want to consider two questions.
Question #1 – Was it a literal global flood?
- Genesis chapters 6-9 describe the event with specific details, such as boat specifications, dates, timeframe, water height, limiting of animal categories to “kinds”, occupants of the boat, food provisions, Noah’s age, sources of the water, and the after effects.
- If the flood was literal, then we should expect to find evidence on the earth’s surface, and beneath. Observation reveals a geological record pointing to a rapidly developed, catastrophic event, not long slow deposits over “millions of years”. For example:
- The Fountains of the Great Deep – In Genesis 7:11 God broke up (those words literally mean “ripped apart”) the fountains of the great deep. This sudden global release of subterranean water would have come with incredible heat and pressure. This alone would deliver massive cataclysmic destruction at the points of origin, on the earth’s surface, and final ground elevations. This is exactly what we see with the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the Ring of Fire, mountain ranges from surface compression, and faults from plate subduction. Here are some links with details:
- When the water began receding in Genesis chapter 8, it revealed the devastation of the flood. Today we see an abundance of formations that can only be described by an event like the flood. For example, fossils of sea creatures high above sea level, rapid burial of plant and animal life, rapidly deposited layers of sediment, the Grand Canyon, and much more. Here are some links with details:
Question #2 – What difference does the Flood story make now?
- God is gracious. Gen. 6:8 says, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” Noah’s deliverance was based on God showing Him “unmerited favor” along with his family. Incidentally, we’re here now because of it.
- God honored His covenants (with Noah, saving him and his family-Gen. 6:18) & (with Himself, to never flood the earth again-Gen. 8:21-22). God always keeps his promises…to the letter.
- Worship is important. Noah’s first recorded act after leaving the ark was to build an altar and worship (Gen. 8:20). Based on how Noah is first mentioned, I think he worshipped regularly.
- Noah’s faith is a key part of the story, not just ancillary. (He acted on faith, and fear of the Lord-Hebrews 11:7). Building the ark took a long time, and considering the conditions of the culture, he no doubt heard a lot of naysayer comments.
- Rebellion against God is our ongoing core problem (Gen. 6:5 & 8:21). The story starts and ends with God commenting on the condition of our hearts. We cannot change ourselves, only He can do that.
- God’s Word is not just “kind of true” or “mostly true”, but is specifically true in every way.
- Sin brings God’s wrath, and the flood is referenced in the New Testament as an example (Luke 17:26-30 & II Peter 3:1-13).
- Christ suffered the penalty of God’s wrath for us. His redemptive work on the cross provides a way for us to have a personal relationship with Him (Rom.5:1-2, 5:8, 6:23, 8:1).
The story of Noah and the Flood is often in children’s lessons, but rare in adult studies. The scoffers are busy spreading their message, and I encourage you to take a little time to familiarize yourself with the facts. I’ve included several websites on the Links page. With anecdotal evidence all around, we have a great opportunity to show the overarching theme of the gospel by a fascinating picture of God’s provision. What a story…what a truth!