The intents of human hearts are only wicked all the time. All flesh, man and animal, has corrupted its way on the earth. The earth is full of violence. Things are this way because the Holy Spirit does not strive with humanity. Humanity has shown that, if left to her own devices, she is unjust, unmerciful, and entirely selfish—entitled. So, God is going to baptize the earth.
1 וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהוָה֙ לְנֹ֔חַ בֹּֽא־אַתָּ֥ה וְכָל־בֵּיתְךָ֖ אֶל־הַתֵּבָ֑ה כִּֽי־אֹתְךָ֥ רָאִ֛יתִי צַדִּ֥יק לְפָנַ֖י בַּדּ֥וֹר הַזֶּֽה׃
2 מִכֹּ֣ל׀ הַבְּהֵמָ֣ה הַטְּהוֹרָ֗ה תִּֽקַּח־לְךָ֛ שִׁבְעָ֥ה שִׁבְעָ֖ה אִ֣ישׁ וְאִשְׁתּ֑וֹ וּמִן־הַבְּהֵמָ֡ה אֲ֠שֶׁר לֹ֣א טְהֹרָ֥ה הִ֛וא שְׁנַ֖יִם אִ֥ישׁ וְאִשְׁתּֽוֹ׃
3 גַּ֣ם מֵע֧וֹף הַשָּׁמַ֛יִם שִׁבְעָ֥ה שִׁבְעָ֖ה זָכָ֣ר וּנְקֵבָ֑ה לְחַיּ֥וֹת זֶ֖רַע עַל־פְּנֵ֥י כָל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃
4 כִּי֩ לְיָמִ֨ים ע֜וֹד שִׁבְעָ֗ה אָֽנֹכִי֙ מַמְטִ֣יר עַל־הָאָ֔רֶץ אַרְבָּעִ֣ים י֔וֹם וְאַרְבָּעִ֖ים לָ֑יְלָה וּמָחִ֗יתִי אֶֽת־כָּל־הַיְקוּם֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָשִׂ֔יתִי מֵעַ֖ל פְּנֵ֥י הָֽאֲדָמָֽה׃
5 וַיַּ֖עַשׂ נֹ֑חַ כְּכֹ֥ל אֲשֶׁר־צִוָּ֖הוּ יְהוָֽה׃
6 וְנֹ֕חַ בֶּן־שֵׁ֥שׁ מֵא֖וֹת שָׁנָ֑ה וְהַמַּבּ֣וּל הָיָ֔ה מַ֖יִם עַל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃
7 וַיָּ֣בֹא נֹ֗חַ וּ֠בָנָיו וְאִשְׁתּ֧וֹ וּנְשֵֽׁי־בָנָ֛יו אִתּ֖וֹ אֶל־הַתֵּבָ֑ה מִפְּנֵ֖י מֵ֥י הַמַּבּֽוּל׃
8 מִן־הַבְּהֵמָה֙ הַטְּהוֹרָ֔ה וּמִן־הַ֨בְּהֵמָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר אֵינֶ֖נָּה טְהֹרָ֑ה וּמִ֨ן־הָע֔וֹף וְכֹ֥ל אֲשֶׁר־רֹמֵ֖שׂ עַל־הָֽאֲדָמָֽה׃
9 שְׁנַ֨יִם שְׁנַ֜יִם בָּ֧אוּ אֶל־נֹ֛חַ אֶל־הַתֵּבָ֖ה זָכָ֣ר וּנְקֵבָ֑ה כַּֽאֲשֶׁ֛ר צִוָּ֥ה אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֶת־נֹֽחַ׃
10 וַֽיְהִ֖י לְשִׁבְעַ֣ת הַיָּמִ֑ים וּמֵ֣י הַמַּבּ֔וּל הָי֖וּ עַל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃
11 בִּשְׁנַ֨ת שֵׁשׁ־מֵא֤וֹת שָׁנָה֙ לְחַיֵּי־נֹ֔חַ בַּחֹ֙דֶשׁ֙ הַשֵּׁנִ֔י בְּשִׁבְעָֽה־עָשָׂ֥ר י֖וֹם לַחֹ֑דֶשׁ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֗ה נִבְקְעוּ֙ כָּֽל־מַעְיְנֹת֙ תְּה֣וֹם רַבָּ֔ה וַאֲרֻבֹּ֥ת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם נִפְתָּֽחוּ׃
12 וַֽיְהִ֥י הַגֶּ֖שֶׁם עַל־הָאָ֑רֶץ אַרְבָּעִ֣ים י֔וֹם וְאַרְבָּעִ֖ים לָֽיְלָה׃
13 בְּעֶ֨צֶם הַיּ֤וֹם הַזֶּה֙ בָּ֣א נֹ֔חַ וְשֵׁם־וְחָ֥ם וָיֶ֖פֶת בְּנֵי־נֹ֑חַ וְאֵ֣שֶׁת נֹ֗חַ וּשְׁלֹ֧שֶׁת נְשֵֽׁי־בָנָ֛יו אִתָּ֖ם אֶל־הַתֵּבָֽה׃
14 הֵ֜מָּה וְכָל־הַֽחַיָּ֣ה לְמִינָ֗הּ וְכָל־הַבְּהֵמָה֙ לְמִינָ֔הּ וְכָל־הָרֶ֛מֶשׂ הָרֹמֵ֥שׂ עַל־הָאָ֖רֶץ לְמִינֵ֑הוּ וְכָל־הָע֣וֹף לְמִינֵ֔הוּ כֹּ֖ל צִפּ֥וֹר כָּל־כָּנָֽף׃
15 וַיָּבֹ֥אוּ אֶל־נֹ֖חַ אֶל־הַתֵּבָ֑ה שְׁנַ֤יִם שְׁנַ֙יִם֙ מִכָּל־הַבָּשָׂ֔ר אֲשֶׁר־בּ֖וֹ ר֥וּחַ חַיִּֽים׃
16 וְהַבָּאִ֗ים זָכָ֨ר וּנְקֵבָ֤ה מִכָּל־בָּשָׂר֙ בָּ֔אוּ כַּֽאֲשֶׁ֛ר צִוָּ֥ה אֹת֖וֹ אֱלֹהִ֑ים וַיִּסְגֹּ֥ר יְהוָ֖ה בַּֽעֲדֽוֹ׃
17 וַֽיְהִ֧י הַמַּבּ֛וּל אַרְבָּעִ֥ים י֖וֹם עַל־הָאָ֑רֶץ וַיִּרְבּ֣וּ הַמַּ֗יִם וַיִּשְׂאוּ֙ אֶת־הַתֵּבָ֔ה וַתָּ֖רָם מֵעַ֥ל הָאָֽרֶץ׃
18 וַיִּגְבְּר֥וּ הַמַּ֛יִם וַיִּרְבּ֥וּ מְאֹ֖ד עַל־הָאָ֑רֶץ וַתֵּ֥לֶךְ הַתֵּבָ֖ה עַל־פְּנֵ֥י הַמָּֽיִם׃
19 וְהַמַּ֗יִם גָּֽבְר֛וּ מְאֹ֥ד מְאֹ֖ד עַל־הָאָ֑רֶץ וַיְכֻסּ֗וּ כָּל־הֶֽהָרִים֙ הַגְּבֹהִ֔ים אֲשֶׁר־תַּ֖חַת כָּל־הַשָּׁמָֽיִם׃
20 חֲמֵ֨שׁ עֶשְׂרֵ֤ה אַמָּה֙ מִלְמַ֔עְלָה גָּבְר֖וּ הַמָּ֑יִם וַיְכֻסּ֖וּ הֶהָרִֽים׃
21 וַיִּגְוַ֞ע כָּל־בָּשָׂ֣ר׀ הָרֹמֵ֣שׂ עַל־הָאָ֗רֶץ בָּע֤וֹף וּבַבְּהֵמָה֙ וּבַ֣חַיָּ֔ה וּבְכָל־הַשֶּׁ֖רֶץ הַשֹּׁרֵ֣ץ עַל־הָאָ֑רֶץ וְכֹ֖ל הָאָדָֽם׃
22 כֹּ֡ל אֲשֶׁר֩ נִשְׁמַת־ר֨וּחַ חַיִּ֜ים בְּאַפָּ֗יו מִכֹּ֛ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר בֶּחָֽרָבָ֖ה מֵֽתוּ׃
23 וַיִּ֜מַח אֶֽת־כָּל־הַיְק֣וּם׀ אֲשֶׁ֣ר׀ עַל־פְּנֵ֣י הָֽאֲדָמָ֗ה מֵאָדָ֤ם עַד־בְּהֵמָה֙ עַד־רֶ֙מֶשׂ֙ וְעַד־ע֣וֹף הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם וַיִּמָּח֖וּ מִן־הָאָ֑רֶץ וַיִשָּׁ֧אֶר אַךְ־נֹ֛חַ וַֽאֲשֶׁ֥ר אִתּ֖וֹ בַּתֵּבָֽה׃
24 וַיִּגְבְּר֥וּ הַמַּ֖יִם עַל־הָאָ֑רֶץ חֲמִשִּׁ֥ים וּמְאַ֖ת יֽוֹם׃
Preparation (v. 1-9)
Then the Lord said to Noah, “Enter the ark, you and all your household, for you alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this time. You shall take with you of every clean animal by sevens, a male and his female; and of the animals that are not clean two, a male and his female; also of the birds of the sky, by sevens, male and female, to keep offspring alive on the face of all the earth. For after seven more days, I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights; and I will blot out from the face of the land every living thing that I have made.”
Yahweh instructs Noah to take his household, seven of every clean animal and bird, and two of every unclean animal onto the ark. God is about to destroy every living thing left on the earth outside the ark. Moses does not clarify for us why seven of every clean animal and bird are sheltered on the ark but only two of every unclean animal. The Law has not yet been given to Israel (Israel is not yet a nation in need of a Law). Yet, there is some understanding as to what is clean and unclean. It could be that the clean animals were placed on the ark as food, though there are some who contend against that idea because God instructed Noah to take the food of the earth to eat with his family and all the animals (cf. 6:21) and will not explicitly give animals as food until after the flood subsides (cf. 9:3). Just as they are not yet explicitly given for food, neither have animals been prohibited as food. I simply don’t want to read too much into the text.
There is an emphasis on the clean and unclean aspect of animal life. There are more clean animals than unclean. There are just enough unclean animals to reproduce and start over. There are seven of each clean animal and bird—seven being the number of completion. The animals, themselves, typify the bruising of the serpent’s head and show what God is doing by immersing the whole world in water. Uncleanliness, unrighteousness, will still be present, but cleanliness, righteousness, will be restored to a great degree. This is a washing of renewal. If the withdrawal of the Holy Spirit caused humanity, left to her own devices, to plunge into wretchedness, renewal means the Holy Spirit will once again strive with humanity. The godless season in the history of humankind is over. Humanity failed to be righteous. The world is being baptized with the waters of renewal.
Noah did according to all that the Lord had commanded him. Now Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of water came upon the earth. Then Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him entered the ark because of the water of the flood. Of clean animals and animals that are not clean and birds and everything that creeps on the ground, there went into the ark to Noah by twos, male and female, as God had commanded Noah.
One hundred and twenty years after the beginning of Genesis 6, and one hundred years after Noah’s sons are born, the flood waters come. Noah’s household, seven of every clean animal and bird, and two of every unclean animal enter the ark just as God commanded. There is no need to be too illustrative, here. We want to guard ourselves from adding details to the story that are not there. When we begin adding details, we risk misappropriating the text to insist on doctrines and practices that are not present.
All aboard (v. 10-16)
It came about after the seven days, that the water of the flood came upon the earth. In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened. The rain fell upon the earth for forty days and forty nights. On the very same day Noah and Shem and Ham and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them, entered the ark, they and every beast after its kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth after its kind, and every bird after its kind, all sorts of birds. So they went into the ark to Noah, by twos of all flesh in which was the breath of life. Those that entered, male and female of all flesh, entered as God had commanded him; and the Lord closed it behind him.
Moses enters historical data, so that it can be known at what time the flood occurred. The inclusion of this historical data (days, months, and years) means that Moses intends this story to be read as literal history—not as a legendary account like other Ancient Near East literature. Water comes from the sky and the ground. It rains for forty days and nights—which will become a significant numerical theme in the Bible. The Israelites will spend forty years in the wilderness. Christ will spend forty days in the wilderness.
The floodwaters begin to come, and the designated survivors enter the ark as the waters come. Here is the most important detail of the story—Yahweh closes the door. Noah has been obedient, but he is not saving himself. God closes the door. There is some debate today as to whether the ark could float. People have produced scale models and tested its buoyancy and resistance to thrashing waves in a wave simulator. I say it doesn’t matter whether the ark could float on its own. The whole point, here, is that God was keeping Noah and all aboard the ark. The ark does not have to float on its own. God is doing this work. He is always the one who delivers His people. He is always the one who renews His earth.
Baptism (v. 17-24)
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. The water prevailed and increased greatly upon the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. The water prevailed more and more upon the earth, so that all the high mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered. The water prevailed fifteen cubits higher, and the mountains were covered. 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; of all that was on the dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, died. 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. The water prevailed upon the earth one hundred and fifty days.
Do you ever wonder why baptists practice full immersion, believer’s baptism? Do you ever wonder why the New Testament refers to baptism as the act that washes away sin (cf. Acts 22:16)? The answer, I think, goes back to this global flood. I don’t think believer’s baptism is salvific, but highly symbolic of the types we see throughout the Bible. The wretched earth is fully immersed. When it emerges, it is full of the Holy Spirit again. God destroyed the earth because the relational absence of His Spirit caused humankind to fully give in to their own wretched nature. He will promise to never again destroy the earth (8:21-22). Then, He will promise to never again flood the earth (9:11). After the Flood, the Holy Spirit strives with people—and He will never stop striving with people again. Not only will the earth never again be destroyed, but the curse that was upon the ground because of Adam will be finished (cf. 8:21). This flood is truly a baptism of regeneration for the earth. Noah is in fact the one through whom rest from work and the toil of hands arising from the ground is granted (cf. 5:29).
We often act like the earth is still cursed and that human wretchedness is worse than it has ever been. We haven’t paid attention to the account of the flood even though it is one of our most popular Bible stories. God doesn’t tarry like we often presume. He has ended the curse upon the ground, which is why, after the flood, vaster civilizations can develop and irrigate and build aquifers and preserve meat and develop technologies like did not exist before. The end of the curse upon the ground through the baptism of the earth even makes it possible for people to try to build a tower to heaven, which we will see in the narrative not too long from now.
There is one last type that we see fulfilled in Christ and His promise to the church. The corrupt are raptured from the earth and the righteous, not of their own but by spiritual heritage as seed of the woman in Christ, inherit the earth. Christ teaches as much. The unrighteous will be taken and the righteous left (cf. Matthew 24:36-51). The meek will inherit the earth (cf. Matthew 5:5). The church will come down to the earth (cf. Revelation 21). So, the earth will never again be destroyed but continuously renewed from the moment of this baptism, and the people of God will stay and inherit the renewed earth. Hallelujah!
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