GENESIS 6–9 NOAH AND THE FLOOD
Bible Background: This is the first big story in the Bible after Adam & Eve and Cain & Abel. It’s one of those “pre-history” stories, where writers are looking back and trying to explain how we got where we are, and why things are the way they are. This story is at the same time terrifying and comforting.
Digging Deeper: 1. In many ways this story is about the nature of God. We hear God speak. We learn God’s heart is broken. We see how God thinks. Noah never speaks! Chapter 6:5 ties in with 8:23. The problem at hand is the human heart. Even though humans are made in the image of God, their hearts are full of evil thoughts. (Biblical writers saw the heart as the center of a person, rather than the brain.) God decides to “undo” the creation God made to be very good.
2. Noah was introduced in chapter 5 as part of Adam’s family tree; and as grandson of Methuselah. All we know about him is that he is 600 years old; he walks with God; and has found favor with God. Though the human race is capable of great sin and evil, God cannot totally give up on us!
3. Genesis 6–9 is a compilation of at least two versions of the ‘flood’ story. One source can be identified by the use of the name Yahweh (LORD) for God; and the other can be identified as using the name Elohim (God) for God. We end up with a few different details, like “How many of each kind of animal?” And “how many days did the flood last?” Your answer will vary!
4. When the flood is over, God talks to himself in 8:21. “I will never again curse the ground because of humankind, for the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth; nor will I ever again destroy every living creature as I have done.” Compare this to the scene at the start in 6:5 and you see that human nature doesn’t change as a result of the flood, but God changes how God will deal with people and their sin and evil. Ultimately, God deals with sin and evil mercifully and completely in the person of Jesus.
5. God makes a covenant with Noah and his family and every living creature to never again destroy the earth with a flood. God puts the “bow in the sky” to remind God of the promise God has made. The ‘bow’ is to us a symbol of beauty and promise. The writers may intend for us to picture this as “God, setting aside his weapon, his bow” and vowing never to use God’s overwhelming force against humans again!
6. The Story of the Flood will leave us with many questions. The question it does answer is this: Is God more a God of mercy or a God of judgement? At the end of this story, God has opted for mercy.