We’re told in the book of Genesis how the Lord unleashed a Flood upon the earth.
In fact, if we look closely, there were two floods, one after the other.
The first Flood
The first Flood is the flood of waters.
“The fountains of the great deep burst forth and the windows of the heavens were opened”- ch7 v11
The details of the event are not important.
I’m interested in the Lord’s motives for doing what he does.
We can see two sets of purposes governing his actions.
On the one hand, he wants to remove the presence of Sin from the world.
The Lord sees that “the wickedness of man is great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart is only evil
continuously” (ch6 v5).
One of the symptoms of the corrupted world is that the earth is “filled with violence”.
Therefore the Lord is “sorry that he made man upon the earth”, and determines to make an end of them, to blot them out.
On the other hand, he wants to keep the presence of humanity in the world.
Noah has found favour in his eyes.
This makes his willingness to “blot out” the human race less complete.
He tells Noah to build an ark so that he can save himself and his family.
He promises to establish a covenant with Noah, and after the Flood is over he keeps that promise.
The Lord is facing a dilemma which goes back to the opening chapters of Genesis.
He established the human race in the world, under himself, but the relationship had broken down.
They set their own wills against his, deciding for themselves what was right and what was wrong.
They fell away into Sin and disobedience.
The natural consequence is the violence which now fills the world, as they continue to set their wills against each other.
The tree of what knowledge?
The story of Cain and Babel
The premise running through the Bible is that God cannot be reconciled with Sin.
That accounts for his first purpose in the Flood.
But as long as Sin remains part of human life, the Lord’s two purposes are logically incompatible.
If Sin is to be removed outright, then the human race must be removed outright.
If the human race is allowed to remain, then Sin must be allowed to remain.
The story of the Flood shows that God is unwilling to take the first option.
In a pattern which becomes familiar in the Old Testament, he threatens the ultimate recourse and then draws back.
For the moment, this means that he’s obliged to accept the second option.
The drastic action of the Flood has not succeeded in removing Sin from the world, as becomes clear from the sequel.
God admits as much; his reason for promising not to repeat this Flood is that “the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (ch8 v21),
which is much the same reason as he gave for sending the Flood in the first place.
When the reason for doing something becomes a reason for leaving it alone, that’s an admission of defeat, if only a temporary defeat.
Perhaps he’d better think it out again.
If he wants to rebuild his relationship with humanity, the first requirement must be to find some way of detaching them from Sin.
The second Flood
The second flood is the flood of Abraham’s children.
God made a special calling of Abraham, taking him away from his father’s family.
He promised him that his descendants would be a great nation- ch2 vv1-2
More than that, he promised that they would be a multitude of nations- ch17 v4
More than that, he promised that that their number would match the quantity of dust on the earth- ch13 v16
More than that, he promised that their number would equal the number of stars in the sky- ch15 v5
The promise has been fulfilled.
If we allow Paul’s definition, that the children of Abraham are those who share his faith in God, then the number is even greater.
What was the purpose of this flood?
The key statement is the promise of a covenant;
“I will establish my covenant between me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God
to you and to your descendants after you”- ch17 v7
In other words, they will be held secure in a permanent relation with God.
The rest of the Bible is the story of that relationship.
I’ve already touched on the point that the old relationship cannot be restored without doing something about Sin, bringing man’s will back into
alignment with God’s will.
Therefore the Biblical story of the relation between God and his people is constantly addressing the problem of Sin and the ways of dealing with
There is the method of sacrifice- God announces the conditions on which he is prepared to disregard the existence of Sin.
There is the method of Law- God’s people try to commit themselves to following God’s will more consciously.
There is the Christian approach, dependent upon One whose will has never been out of alignment with his Father’s will. This approach combines
features from both the other two.
But all of them, one way or another, involve being part of the flood of Abraham’s children, unleashed upon the world from the time of the twelfth
chapter of Genesis.
Thus the purpose of the second Flood is to redeem the failure of the first Flood.
It is to find a way to separate man from Sin, so that God and man can be reconciled.
edit on 22-8-2014 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)