Rather than reading the Bible through the eyes of modern secularism, this provocative six-part course teaches you to read the Bible through its own eyes—as a record of God’s dealing with the human race. When you read it at this level, you will discover reasons to worship God in areas of life you probably never before associated with “religion.”
© Charles A. Clough 1996
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 2: Buried Truths of Origins
Chapter 5: The Flood: The Buried Truth of Divine Intervention
Lesson 20 – Review of Creation, Fall, and Flood;
God’s Intervention of Judgment and Salvation
21 Mar 1996
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
I want to paint the larger picture, because I want you to appreciate that these early events of Scripture shape the whole rest of the Bible. The whole rest of the Bible is really shaped by what’s going on here, and you mess with this part of the Scripture and you’re going to mess with the rest of the Bible, because Jesus, the Apostles, the later writers of the Bible, all go back to these texts so you can’t, because we may be intellectually embarrassed about these texts in the last 200-300 years of history, we can’t just sweep them aside and go on and say everything’s cool. It doesn’t work that way, because we shoot ourselves in the foot when we do that. These three events that we’re looking at, creation, the fall and the flood, almost by themselves encapsulate the gospel, if you think about it. These three events orient us to the correct thinking we need for the rest of the Bible. Creation orients us to the Creator/creation distinction. The creation is the ground of everything else that goes on, including redemption, and that’s why the great creeds of the church do not begin with Jesus. The great creeds of historic Christian faith, “I believe in God the Father, Almighty, the Maker of heaven and earth,” and why does the church do that? It does that because that’s the starting point. It isn’t redemption that’s the starting point, the starting point is creation, then we have redemption. So creation shapes everything. Creation shapes what you think about God, what you think about man, what you think about nature, and what you think about the relationship of all three of those. It’s all shaped by what happens in creation.
We spent considerable time going to the next event, the fall, and our whole point in the fall was that it’s distinct from creation, a very important point, so trivial, so elementary, so obvious to anybody that reads the Bible, but the conclusion that comes out of this is earth shaking because what it says is that for an interval between the creation and the fall the universe was good and free of sin, free of death and free of evil. There was an interval of time; creation and the fall were separate. That’s tremendous because it means that the universe and existence as we know it, it’s not necessary to have evil there. Death, sorrow and suffering are not necessary components of existence. You say that sounds so philosophical; please don’t think that because the point is that the Bible and the Bible alone has this interval.
Oriental religion doesn’t have that interval, philosophies do not have that interval, no one else outside of the Bible has this story, this story cannot be found any other place, other than the Bible and those rare tribes across the earth that are occasionally discovered that remember these stories from their heritage, going back from father to son, father to son, father to son, all the way back to Noah. But this tells us something that is often overlooked around the world. Around the world there is a tendency to develop what is called dualism, i.e. there is a power of good and there is a power of evil. In fact I’m sure you’ve seen this symbol, the oriental people have taken this symbol for the yin and the yang and it appears, I think in the Korean flag, and that symbol is carried into their cooking, the sweet and sour, etc., they like to think in terms of dualism. It’s fine to have contrast but be careful, there is no dualism in the Bible when it comes to good and evil. No dualism here.
The fall is not equal and opposite to the creation, the fall is only the destruction of the creation and partial destruction at that. The power of evil is not equal and opposite to the power of good in the Bible. God is the Creator and there is no other creator; Satan is not a creator, he’s a creature, so evil is always something that is less, far less than God Himself. If we have the Creator/creature distinction evil comes in only at the creature level, not at the Creator level. That’s very important because the only answers that exist to this problem, outside of the Bible, are usually one of these two, either there is a dualism that you’ll find where people believe that good and evil are equal and opposite, both of them powerful, and they’re perpetually fighting with one another, or you have what we saw in the text that were written back in the time of the Bible by the pagans surrounding Israel, and in those pagan pieces of literature you observe that the gods and goddesses themselves were evil. So the solution is either to have a dualism or to have evil gods, that the universe has always been evil. That’s why we drew the picture of the contrast, that when you start with a pagan idea of an ultimately impersonal universe in which both God and men and goddesses dwell, good and evil go on and are inseparable, and they are a part of normality.
You say again, isn’t this too theoretical. Let me give a modern problem that comes out of this discussion. Right now we have a group of people, they’re not unique because our sin nature always wants to do this so I’m not trying to pick on one group people, but because they make such a convenient target I can’t help it. It’s the gay agenda that’s going on. These people are rich, they’re powerful, and they’re politically connected. And they’ve made vast inroads already into our culture, demanding that we legitimize and normalize the abnormal. But lest we get too picky and look down our noses at them, let’s look at ourselves, because every time we cater to our flesh we’re doing the same thing, we’re trying to normalize the abnormal, and it’s always a tendency of fallen man to do that, because if we don’t do that we’re convicted by our conscience. Think about it, either we’re reminded when we sin that it’s abnormal, that we weren’t created to live this way, then we have to deal with it, but if we don’t want to deal with it, then another possible way of dealing with it is just to say it’s not really abnormal. It’s like driving down the road and all of a sudden the engine light comes on, and you say I don’t want to stop for the engine light, knock it out, no problem. That’s what goes on here, we try to legitimize and normalize the abnormal.
By saying in the Bible that the evil began in time, and ultimately will be terminated, what we have done is say that in the Bible evil is bracketed, that’s what we mean. Evil has a starting point, evil has an ejection point. Evil will be dealt with and it will be dealt with in a permanent way by a cosmic exclusion to the Lake of Fire, which can be viewed as a cosmic garbage dump forever and ever. It’s not any mistake that the word for “hell” in the Scripture is “Gehenna” which was the garbage dump in Jerusalem. In the ancient world they just threw all the stuff down there because Jerusalem is on a hill, it just rolls downhill, and that was the garbage dump. It’s interesting that the Lord Jesus Christ coined that word, Gehenna, the garbage dump, was His emblem of what hell is. It’s a garbage dump for evil. So evil is discarded from the universe at a point in the future. The challenge is that, that outside of the Scripture nobody handles the problem. Everybody fusses about it but nobody deals with the problem, nobody has an origin of evil, nobody has an end of evil. It is in the Bible and the Bible alone where evil is bracketed. It is never allowed to become dualism; it is never allowed to ascend to the potency of God Almighty. God is supreme over evil.
We want to think about these three events because as we have creation and the fall, so now we have the flood, and it doesn’t require a doctorate to realize that the New Testament, every time it talks about the flood, every time, it’s always in the same context, it’s always in the context of the return of Christ. It’s very interesting. Look up in the concordance, test it for yourself. Every time New Testament authors think of Noah and they think of the climactic flood event they think future to that great event of the return of Jesus Christ. So there’s a pattern to history, the beginning, the origin of evil, and finally the answer to evil. Here we have the Bible’s answer to evil. Everybody is accusing us Bible-believing Christians, if your God is so great, if your God is so loving, how come He lets all this happen. For starters, that’s not the way the universe was when it left His hand. Who screwed up? God or man? So let’s get the blame where it belongs to start with, and then finally let’s say that eventually God does deal with the problem, and that’s the theology of what we’re looking at here, three events and those three events give you stories.
That’s why I hope you’re reading the text as we go through this because if you’re struggling with this, just picture the creation of Adam in your mind’s eye, try to draw it to yourself in your own mind, of God shaping this dust of the earth into a person; try thinking in your mind’s eye what it must have looked like when Eve and Adam ate of the fruit. Try to picture in your mind’s eye Noah building the ark in the flood event. Use the imagination powers of your mind. Satan uses these, when we’re tempted he always uses our imaginations; well, the Holy Spirit can use our imaginations too. Get the artistic creativity going and think of these things and it will feed your theology and your doctrines so you can feel it emotionally as well as comprehend what’s going on. That’s why the Old Testament is so powerful a vehicle for truth, because the OT gives stories, the it doesn’t just give precepts, it gives a story, a living story, an adventure story that you can remember, a child can remember this. But those stories are so structured that they encapsulate tremendous truth.
We’ve dealt with the flood event because we wanted to show you that the text of Scripture does in fact teach a universal flood. To go back to the issue, in Genesis 6-8 you have the flood story. The flood story taken at face value is an obvious contradiction to what is known as historical geology. So if we look at what we’re taught as geophysical history, and what the Bible teaches in Genesis 6-8, we’ve got a big messy conflict going. Undeniable, it’s there. But we have the same problem in Genesis 1-2, what the Bible reports happened seems so utterly different from the reconstruction of history. So what we have done during this series is say let’s look at Genesis 6-8 like we did with Genesis 1-2, and let’s test how we’re going to approach this. We can approach it from the standpoint of capitulation, that’s one approach to the Bible, the liberals have tried that and that is that the Bible is just a bunch of stories so hey, no problem, just old stories, and discard it, as just interesting drama from the past. That’s capitulation, and eventually capitulation costs you because you can’t hold on to the truth if you don’t hold on to the story that shows the truth.
Then you have the accommodationists, and they’re usually born again people who are frankly just overwhelmed in their faith and in their thinking, they’re so overwhelmed by this problem that they just throw up their hands and say well, we’ve got to make Genesis fit historical geology, we’ve got to make Genesis fit whatever the current role of scientific speculation is. We’ve seen that work for 150 years and fail every time we’ve tried it. So that’s why in the 20th century there are some very stubborn Christians who are what we call the counter-attacking type of Christians who are saying wait a minute, we’ve gone 100 years, we’ve played this little accommodation game long enough, it hasn’t worked, so if there’s a conflict between the Bible and the constructions of history that science gives us, there must be something systematically going wrong in these historic constructions of science, not the Bible.
We spent several hours studying this and coming up with several arguments why, even if you disagree with what the word A-L-L means, when it says all the mountains were covered, there are still arguments that show the global nature of the flood. One of those was the Depth-Time argument, in Genesis 7:19-20 where it’s a simple deduction that if Noah is reporting a flood in the Mesopotamian valley, and for one year it covered all the hills, such that a boat with a draft of 22½ feet never ran aground, where on earth do you hold that much water in the Mesopotamian valley for one year while this whole thing is going on, unless you have had a massive problem here. Moreover, if you look at a map, where does the ark wind up after it’s all over? It winds up in eastern Turkey. If this was just a Mesopotamian flood, which way does the water go in a flood? It goes toward the Persian Gulf. The ark should wind up down here. So the ark is going the wrong direction. So the Depth-Time argument simply says that the data of Scripture doesn’t let you conclude it is a local flood.
In addition to that argument we said there was the argument about the ark itself. The ark had a certain design, it had a size, it was fully sufficient. Let me give you a reference, it’s just been published, a seven year study on the ark of Noah. The author of this is John Woodmorappe, he’s been quite a diligent student, he’s a Christian with two degrees, I think one in biology and one in geology, and he’s written a report of a seven year study just on the ark of Noah, and it’s called Noah’s Ark: A Feasibility Study. You can get it from the Institution for Creation Research, same outfit that produces a lot of Christian creationist materials. That report is well worth it.
The feasibility study by John Woodmorappe goes through hundreds of argument, he tried to go back through and answer every single objection to Noah’s ark. There have been all kinds of objections, obvious ones like the objection that you can’t fit all the animals in the ark, and he says yes you can, and he has improved on Morris and Whitcomb’s book that they did in 1961, and he shows that the ark could have taken more, actually only 1/4th of it was actually occupied by animals, 3/4th of it was empty. If that’s so that raises a theological question about the fact that God had plenty of room in the ark if more people had responded to the preaching of Noah.
So the empty ark is actually a tragic reminder theologically of a lost opportunity, that salvation was broader than people who received it. And he goes into things like how did eight people handle all the manure, a little problem, you’ve got a gene pool of the entire land animal kingdom, and unless they hibernated, which is another theory, that God hibernated them in the ark so their processes slowed down, you still have a little problem. So he goes through that, he has gone to ranchers, to people who work with animals, he’s gotten statistics about what can and can’t be done related to the size, it goes into everything. I suggest when you hear all these “O I don’t believe that,” half the people that say that never read the story anyway, but just remember that here’s a good reference volume and you’ll learn more here than you ever wanted to ask.
Let’s go on. The design of the ark, this is interesting, Henry Morris is the first guy to point this out to my knowledge, but it has been pointed out numerous times since, the ark was so big that there was not a naval vessel built in the human race until 1846 or so, that exceeded the size. Nowhere in human history was there ever a boat built this big until the 1850s. Moreover, if you look at the design, the flatness of this rectangle, and you can do a thought experiment just looking at this picture, but if this is a scale drawing of the ark in scale, think of cutting a piece of wood that long, that wide, of balsa wood or something, and putting it in an aquarium. Then cut out another piece of wood that would be a perfect cube, this is a typical pagan idea of an ark, weird design, and put it in the aquarium, and then do a little slosh experiment with the water in the aquarium, start creating waves, or do it in a bathtub, and watch which wood stabilizes. What’s going to happen to a cube? It’s going to tumble. But what happens to this thing? This thing, Morris has computed, you take the center of gravity, then you take the buoyancy principle, and you see how the center of gravity is relative to the buoyancy force, and you can see how far this boat can rock without tipping over. I’m not sure but I remember the calculations, it can go up to something like 50 or 60 degrees and still right itself. So we’re talking big stability here. So the ark design shows a cosmic purpose, a universal flood purpose.
The third thing that plays a role, and we spent considerable time in 2 Peter 3, because 2 Peter 3 is an apostolic interpretation of Genesis 6-8, a very, very important passage. In that passage Peter speaks in terms that even dwarf the original text of Genesis 6-8. Peter says the heavens and the earth which were, and the heavens and the earth which are. Now if we’ve read Genesis correctly, what do we know about that word pair, heaven and earth when it’s paired together. The first occurrence of this word pair in the Bible is Genesis 1:1, and in Genesis 1:1 heaven and earth refers to the universe, the universe, not just planet earth, the entire universe. Peter is apparently teaching here that universe number one was before the flood, universe number two is what we live in, and then he points to the third universe, which is the radical recreation, the resurrected universe. We’re talking big, heavy stuff here, big interruption into history. The entire universe was apparently involved in the flood, according to Peter in this passage. Amazing commentary! I’ve been a student of this for many years and always when I read an accommodationist or I read somebody that’s trying to waffle on this issue, I go back to the index in the back of the book or article and look up if he’s referred to 2 Peter 3:5-7, and I have never seen an accommodationist deal with that. Not once. They always gloss over the one crucial New Testament guideline to interpreting Genesis 6-8, it’s never discussed, they just go on, try to make it a little local flood, somebody’s bathtub ran over or something.
While we’re in 2 Peter 3 there’s another thing I think is best introduced now, because there’s something in the context that’s very powerful, and we as Christians have to come to grips with this idea. The context is the Second Advent of Christ and what’s going to happen and in verse 4 Peter prefaces this commentary with a remark. 2 Peter 3:4 is the introduction to that section. Then verse 5 talks about the first universe, in verse 7 the second universe. Packed between those two like meat in a sandwich with two pieces of bread, verse 6 reports that the entire world was destroyed. Prior to that, in verse 4, Peter paraphrases the skeptic.
This is one of the finest depictions of the fallacy of pagan thought that I know, encapsulated in one verse. There’s other great things, the book of Ecclesiastes, there’s Romans 1, but if you want one verse in the Bible that tells you the theme of unbelief, here it is. 2 Peter 3:4, “And saying, Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” Look at the word “continues” there. When we started this course I made a point about reason, I said that no matter what you do in language, whether it’s math, or anything else you have got to, you have GOT to, you can’t stop breathing and you can’t stop doing this, you have got to have a constant somewhere in the equation. Here’s a simple linear equation, it will not work if you do not have A and B constants. You can’t have an equation of total variables. The other thing you have to have is the rules of reason and logic that control the depiction of that equation. This is math but you can do the same thing with a sentence, a piece of language. In order to have a sentence structure you’ve got to have nouns or their substitutes that speak of categories that are going to endure. A dog has to be a dog yesterday, today and tomorrow. It can’t be changing and mutating into a cat, because if it does that my sentence blows away because it’s meaningless. It becomes meaningless gobbledy-gook. So I have to have categories that are rigid and stable, and I have to have rules of grammar. That used to be taught before they taught sex education and replaced it. Rules of grammar are necessary for communication, inference, etc. So you have to have all of these things in order to make language work.
Here’s the clinker, you can’t get the constants from inside your head. The Greeks proved that. And you can’t get the constants from piling data upon data. Some people think you can. We showed this chart and all this fuzzy area is human knowledge. The problem with it is it’s always incomplete, because I always get the next piece of data. How do I know the next piece of data isn’t going to invalidate the pile of data I already have. I don’t know what’s constant unless I have total knowledge, unless I have total knowledge I can’t really be sure my constants are going to hold up. So to have any knowledge at all, because I’ve got to speak about it, I’ve got to compute it, I need constants to do that computing, I need constants to do that talking, I need constants to do that thinking, but my problem is, where do I get those from, I can’t get them from data because my data base is always finite. How do I get a universal infinitely stable, constant, out of a finite data base? You can talk scientific instruments all you want to but after you’ve done it all, it’s still a finite data base, and always will be a finite data base.
So I can’t think without somehow confessing I have got a universal, I’ve got rules of reason. The trick is where do we get those from? The apostate unbelieving mind wants to get them from something that is safe. The apostate unbelieving fleshly mind wants to protect itself from what it knows very well is God there; God is the source, because it’s one of His characteristics, His immutability. That’s where the constant is. What the pagan mind wants to do is erect a substitute constant, idolatry. It wants to have a God that’s safe, that doesn’t interfere, that doesn’t make moral and spiritual demands that I don’t have to be accountable to. So it tries to create things.
Now let’s read the verse 4 again, “And saying, Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep,” time past, watch the next clause because wrapped into this clause is the doctrine of the autonomous man, I want to take that sentence apart, it’s so important, “all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” Subject: “all.” Verb: “continues” and not just “continues” but “continues as,” there has been no fundamental changes. Do you see what that sentence is saying? “All,” there’s your universal, that’s the universal term in that sentence. And what is the verb? The verb makes the audacious claim that this universal has never changed, it truly is a universal. But wait a minute, how can a person like this say that? How do they know? There is a claim to perfect knowledge, at least to the past, isn’t there. And what about the future is implied in this verse? That it’s going to continue just as it was.
So here we have the collision, and this is at the heart of the attack upon the Bible. The Bible presents a God, we went through His attributes, that He is sovereign, etc. and one of His attributes is that He is immutable, He is the same yesterday, today and forever, and God will not permit anything else to be absolute point of reference than Himself. If that’s the case, what I construct as a creature is subject to interruption. For example, the laws of physics of bread was interrupted when Jesus fed multiplied the loaves. Something was going on in the molecules, try doing that trick. What happened to the laws of physics that controlled yeast? What happened to the biochemistry that was going on there? It was interrupted, it was overridden, suddenly my equations that describe the behavior of yeast and bread and the biochemistry, what do you do about that time interval in which it was interrupted? You see the problem is, if you don’t want to confess God, and you want to keep God out of the picture… let’s just put our heads in that frame of reference for a minute, let’s say we don’t want God to interfere. We don’t want any outside reference point. But now we have an interruption. What does that do to our whole thought process?
If we need constants and universals to make our engine go, and we have an interruption, what we have introduced is chaos, and if you look at the thinkers that really oppose Biblical Christianity they’ll all say this in the final analysis. If you read them far enough and they’ll all come to this conclusion, this Bible is irrational is one way they say it, what they mean is not that it’s not internally logical, what they mean when they say the Bible and you Bible fundamentalists are irrational people, what they mean is that you allow these tremendous interruptions and you’ve destroyed the basis of all reasoning. The answer is: No, we haven’t, we’ve destroyed the basis of apostate reasoning, but there’s godly reasoning, and the godly reasoning isn’t interrupted by these things because the godly reason depended on God, not these rules.
The center of gravity of our thinking is to think God’s thoughts after Him. That’s why the Gospel of John begins “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” That word, logos is a code word for the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus. But isn’t it interesting what He’s called, He’s called the logos. What’s the logos? It’s the language; here is where the constant is. Jesus—language. In Genesis 1:1 what happens? How does God create? He creates by speaking. Language is the creation, it’s the tool. Where’s it coming from? A God who is immutable. Can He think in uninterrupted fashion, with constants? Of course He can. And therefore this makes the entire universe contingent on His Word. If God hiccupped the universe would quiver, if not disappear. We are contingent, and it’s that fear of being totally contingent and dependent upon an interfering God with whom I have to be responsible to that terrifies the non-Christian. That’s why they will never agree, they will never, ever, as long as they’re non-Christians, agree unless the God the Holy Spirit moves in their heart. They will not agree because they are terrified to agree, to admit this is to destroy all confidence in me, in self. I can’t do that, it’s either God or me and I don’t want to deal with Him, I’ve got to be me, so I’m going to build this defense, and I am not going to let you Christians pierce it, because if I let you pierce it I destroy the whole basis of what I’m standing for.
This verse is just loaded, “all things continue as they were,” let us do our computing, let us do our equation development, let us do our predicting, let us do our extrapolations, let us do our statistics on the assumption that all has continued. And on the basis of that we find no evidence for a flood and Noah, we find no evidence of creation. Of course you don’t, because you set the equations up to destroy that, there was an ethical motive behind your equations, the equations weren’t neutral, they were spiritually and ethically controlled and shaped. Don’t ever forget this, because you get into the science thing here, don’t get blown out of the tub because somebody throws an equation your way. Math is just another language, that’s all it is, and you can curse in a language and you can curse in math. And it looks so neat and so impressive, but you can utter blasphemy with an equation, and if you write any equation that claims that you have an absolute, if you claim that those constants are universals that are protected from any divine interference, you’ve blasphemed. That’s an equation of unbelief. And no Christian can ever write a mathematical equation with that in his mind. All our equations are contingent; they are descriptions of His usual mode of operation.
But notice what else is in verse 4, it says “the promise of His coming,” now to get a promise what do we have to do? God has to speak a language, so the Bible says, and this is why the flood story is so important, we’re not just speaking of an interruption, we’re speaking of a dynamic end to history, an end which is described by language of God’s own mind. He has said ahead of time I am going to do this, and I am going to do this to every last molecule in this universe, you watch. And unbelief in verse 4, says yeah, we’re watching God, and I don’t see it happening, where’s the promise? Do you see the blasphemy involved in this? So that’s the ground motive behind the flood.
We want to go on in the notes and I want to move on to the last argument, we started it and we want to again show the cosmic nature of the flood and the fact that we’re talking big stuff here, we’re talking a universal change. On the notes I have another verse on the same thing, you can plot this on a piece of graph paper, if you want a thrill, it will only take 10 or 15 minutes, and I know it sounds simple but just try it, get a graph paper, set it up, go through Genesis 5 for here, and go through Genesis 10-11 for here, and plot your points from the data, from Scripture. Every time somebody dies you’re given the age at death, stick a point in the graph, and here’s what you get. After you have done that, and you’ve seen that you can curve fit and all you engineers will notice that’s a nice exponential decay curve that you see there, when you have this feeling of the sensation of look what this thing is telling me, look at what this data is telling me here, something momentous is happening.
You get this sort of a thing in science when a capacitor discharges, you get it when you take a hot water bottle and put cold ice in it and twirl it with a thermometer, all kinds of things. When you go from one steady state to another steady state, that’s when you get those kinds of transitions. Moses didn’t have his TI calculator and work all this out with a log scale, this is real data, and it’s amazing. Do you know what the explanation of this data is from the critical point of view? The usual explanation you run into to try to kiss this whole thing of is: well, they must have changed the calendars. You don’t have to be a mathematician to think, if I change the calendars, is that the kind of curve I’m going to get? I’m going to get a step function, when the calendar changes, they must have changed the calendar 100 times between Noah and Abraham, do that curve. So the critics just wallow all over the place, better to just be honest and say I don’t believe it instead of coming up with that stuff.
My point in the fourth reason behind the global flood is that this shows you that it is a cosmic event, we can’t make the flood a small thing, it is the event of all of the Bible that alone is as the great complete picture of Jesus Christ return.
Now we want to start drawing conclusions theologically. On page 77 [blank spot] I’m going to list five characteristics in the notes of the flood story that will give you a picture of salvation. I want you to be so impressed with the saving work of God that you’ll not be fuzzy and think of the gospel ever again as some sort of weak, anemic psychological experience. So many times in our day we think so and so had a religious experience. So do the Buddha people have religious experiences, the Hindus have religious experiences, so what? We eat three meals a day, so what? That’s not the issue. The issue is what is salvation? When God saves, what does He do? One of the first big ideas to notice from the story of Noah is you can’t have salvation unless you already have judgment. These two are married together in the Bible. Go back and think about why are these two things married together. They are married together because what is the reason for salvation? It’s to get rid of evil, isn’t that the whole story. If you’re going to get rid of evil then you’ve got to have judgment. So you can’t have a saving work of God without having a judging work of God. But notice something. In this section I said “God’s Intervention of Judgment and Salvation.” If you think back to the way we started, this is why I started tonight with the slide that shows these events, because I wanted to prepare you, prepare the way you think about the flood. The creation story is the total story of every Adam, every soul, every molecule, every angel, everything is in place. Then we destroy it with the fall into sin. We’ve introduced chaos, we’ve introduced suffering, we’ve introduced death, we’ve introduced strife, because we creatures have chosen that course of disobedience.
We have contaminated the whole thing, so the whole universe is now cursed. Wesley’s hymn Joy to the World says “far as the curse is found,” very interesting. Wesleyan hymns weren’t like some of our modern hymn writers, they studied their Bibles carefully, and when he said that the salvation is out to the limit, as far as the curse is found, what he is saying is that the curse, being universal, has to have a universal answer, and the answer for salvation, and if you can just grasp this it will keep you grace oriented, it will keep you from drifting into a system of good works, and all the little heresies that come along and all the cults. Here’s the deal. If the universe was created perfect, and if the entire universe was contaminated, every molecule, every person, the whole thing has been ruined, then doesn’t it follow that the creation can’t save itself; doesn’t it follow that whatever saving work has to be done has to come from outside, there has to be an intervention. God, the Creator, the One who created it originally had to come in, it seems to be so elementary, so simple, and we lose the big picture.
If, and it goes back to what I’ve said, if you lose your sense of creation and your sense of the fall, you cannot protect a proper doctrine of salvation. Being straight on the gospel requires that you be straight in creation and the fall, otherwise you’re trying to diagnose something wrongly, and when you get a wrong diagnosis you get a wrong solution to the problem. If we understand the radical nature of creation and the fall, then we will understand that whatever salvation happens, it has got to come from outside, it’s got to be an intervention, whether it’s God working in our lives to sanctify us, we’re never sanctified without pain? Why is that? Because something’s being judged in our life at that point, and God’s saying time to move on fellow, that gets out of your life and this gets in. So we have these little mini-interventions, these personal crises, even in our Christian growth. It’s always God intervening. We’re not doing it, we don’t want to do it, but we’re kicked in the behind to do it, because we constantly get intervened, intervened, intervened, intervened. It’s got to be that way. That’s the argument against good works. Good works can only work if you have a weak fall, and every religion that has a works based salvation basically you can tell right away has a very, very trivial and shallow view of what sin’s all about, haven’t got a clue.
So the first point we’re making in this outline on page 77 is that the first great characteristic, when God goes to work, is He gives a gracious warning. You always have Him being gracious before the judgment. He doesn’t just suddenly clobber somebody, there is grace. The Noah story, you read the story, the ark didn’t just appear on the block of a downtown city square one afternoon. This thing was a project, took a number of years, people had to walk by and see it. If we want to get a proper analogy for our 20th century, think of it as a group of people who suddenly get a message that the planet earth is going to be destroyed, and the scientists mock them, we can’t see any asteroid coming our way, but this group of people says no, the earth is going to be destroyed. Oh, I don’t believe that. Then you begin to see these people building a space ship. Oh, this is ridiculous, come on. Same thing, Noah was building a boat, they’d never seen a boat this big, there never had been rain before, what are you talking about rain, what’s rain? They’re talking about a physical event that they’ve never seen, never empirically observed, not part of their data set, and yet here these people act this way. It constituted a preaching of righteousness, it wasn’t just that Noah preached righteousness verbally, he did that probably, but he also preached by his life, he sat there and he built this ark and he was condemning the world because by building that ark he was saying it’s all through, history is done, it’s over with. What is the passionate concern of the sinful heart? Don’t disturb me God; I’m trying to build my empire here. See how threatening it is to have somebody sitting there building an ark. The very fact the ark is being built dooms; it’s a message of doom. You don’t build arks unless the world is doomed. So it sends a message.
And that’s the point, whenever God works in our lives, and in Scripture it’s always grace before judgment. But here is another aspect. Grace can be considered in a sense an abnormal extension of His love. Grace can be seen as an abnormality. What do I mean by abnormal love? Because from creation it was not needed. Grace was a sign of love after we have the abnormality of the fall come into place. Grace is love having to deal with disobedience, with sin, and unrighteousness. But there’s an inner tension, grace is always in tension with the holiness of God. It can’t go on forever, and there comes an end of grace. This is something that is not a popular message. The day of grace will one day be over. Grace does not go on and on and on. And it’s precisely this that’s so ironic about people that fuss about all the suffering in the world; they don’t realize that when they’re asking to end all the suffering in the world, what are they also asking to end? Grace. Because it’s grace that lets the suffering go on, to allow people to respond before the boom is lowered. So when you say I want to get rid of all this suffering, okay, wham, it’s all done with. That’s what happens. Well, I didn’t mean to end it that way. Well how do you mean it then? If evil is evil it’s got to be eradicated. Yeah, but can’t there be kind of an in between, a little demilitarized zone? No, God doesn’t work that way.
The first feature of salvation is this grace factor that is a temporary factor. The second thing that we learn through the flood is what I call perfect discrimination, meaning that God can separate, you have perfect separation. Perfect separation! Nobody was accidentally left outside of the boat. Notice the Peter quote, and do you notice how the flood story must have impressed the Apostle Peter? He’s got more to say about the flood than all the other writers of the Bible. Do you now why he might have? What was Peter’s profession? A fisherman. So it’s not unusual that boats fascinated him, and maybe he got into this flood story. God preserved Noah with seven others when He brought a flood on the world of the ungodly. The Lord knows, Peter applies it to us, the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation and to keep the unrighteousness under punishment for the day of judgment. He ascertained that by careful study of this flood.
God doesn’t judge statistically. It wasn’t that the center of the bell-shaped curve happened to be the ark, and we just lost the tail on the right and left side. No, there were eight and only eight people that had responded to God’s grace. Only eight found grace in His sight, and everyone else did not. The whole human race is divided into two sets and they are mutually exclusive sets. And God does the sorting. This is sobering material. There’s no fuzziness here, there’s no hesitancy here. You can say how did He make sure that the believers were all in one place, or in one family, you mean everybody in Noah’s day rebelled? Apparently so. What does it say here? It says God knows how to rescue the godly from temptation. So we have another attribute of God here, and that is the attribute of His holiness. God is a holy God, and His holiness will discriminate. He calls the shots! They are His to call, they are His standards to set up, and there are no arguments about what the standard is, His and His alone.
The “only one way of salvation” we’ll get into next time because that’s a central objection, everybody has the gospel, you Christians are so bigoted, only one way of salvation. Why? There’s a reason why, there weren’t two boats, there was only one. There wasn’t a cube and a rectangle, there was only a rectangle, for reasons, there are reasons why this was so. God has His reasons. So we’re starting to examine the doctrines of salvation using the richness of the story of the flood. And I want you to read the Genesis story, Genesis 6-8, sit there and let your mind soak, turn on the power of your imagination. Use the stuff that God gave you, the TV picture in your head; use that to think about the richness of the story, and the greatness of this salvation.
Question asked, can’t hear, something about what gave credence to Noah at that time so the people would look at him as saved: Clough replies: I don’t think anything did, and I think that was precisely the problem, that he was looked upon as a weirdo, because we’ve got to think in terms of if we were writing the story, I always try to picture myself as a movie producer or an author and if you were assigned the project, produce a film of the days of Noah, and you think about how you’d screen write it, how do you explain that on the entire planet earth, nobody believes except him and his family. That always strikes me, there’s not one person outside of that family that got on the boat. When you think that the people that lived in Noah’s day had experienced the stories told them by men who lived 900 years, I think it was Methuselah that would die just before the flood, if you work out the ages, so all the people that were adults in Noah’s day had, theoretically at least, access to people who knew the sons of Adam. That’s how close they were to creation, and how far down they deteriorated. It’s amazing, tremendous debauchery, and that’s one of the things we’ll get into after the flood, why capital punishment happens, for example, and people can’t understand, isn’t that an awful cruel thing to happen. There are reasons for that too. But something blinded that whole generation, absolutely couldn’t believe it, it’s just too incredible, there’s no precedent involved, and you must be mad.
Question asked: Clough replies: Yes, and it’s interesting how the Bible depicts the fact after the flood Noah falls, and so it also shows you that he wasn’t perfect either, but the point is, that obviously it gives credence to the power of a family, because when you had to declare which side of the fence you were going to go on, it was broken on family lines, so I think that says something about the unit of the family.
Question asked: Clough replies: It’s usually culture shock for a lot of people to be faced with that, but I’m convinced personally that until people start to ask the questions you can’t cram the answer, and you’ve got to stimulate the questions, because the gospel is an answer; the gospel is an absolutely incredible silly-sounding message if you’re not asking the right questions. And if you think about you personally came to the Lord, some of you may have had people try to force it on you and you can probably remember tuning it out. I can remember going by signs that said “Jesus Saves.” This is when I was a kid. I wasn’t a Christian, Jesus saves what? And there was this sarcastic remark, He saves saving green stamps, that’s what people would say in my generation that saw that, an absolutely meaningless message, I didn’t have a clue what was going on, but then when God started bringing me to Himself and started doing things that woke me up to the fact that I had some big problems here, then when we started talking about Jesus saves, now we’re listening, we’re tuned to the right frequency. But you can’t send the message if the receiver is not turned on. So you’ve got to turn the receiver on to hear.
Question, something about how geography has changed, the antediluvian rivers, how are they fairly certain where Eden was located. Clough replies: They’re not, if you take a radical view, and that’s what I forgot to do tonight, I was going to start the lesson that way. I was going to finish up where we were the other night when we were dealing with that map of Eden, because… see the problem is if you look at the map of the text in Genesis 2 where there were four rivers coming out, etc. You can’t make sense of that in today’s geography. People like Martin Luther, John Calvin, it’s not us that’s observing it, these guys knew it, Luther says very frankly that this is a different earth, and one of the great Old Testament scholars was William Albright, the father of American archeology, up until Dr. Albright’s teaching at John Hopkins the Americans didn’t have any archeology to speak of, he was the father of it in this country, and in his early days he was very much a liberal and you wouldn’t classify him as he approached the end of his life as an evangelical but he wrote a book called Toward a More Conservative View, a very famous article and he said after 40 years of digging in the Middle East I haven’t found any case where I can sustain the early criticisms of the Scripture, every time I’ve dug and encountered data in the record it’s confirmed the Scripture. So he says I’ve come to the conclusion that the Bible is a historically valid document. Powerful words from a man of his prestige. And he, in 1922, at the beginning of his career wrote this book called The Mythical Land of Eden and it’s a classic case, he goes through this map of Genesis 2-3 and says this doesn’t fit, this is a memory of some far off weird fantasy land, and he says it’s sort of like the odd memories of the tribes elsewhere on other continents, that have this myth about the golden age that once existed, and the strange features of this golden age.
So the way to view it, because two of the rivers that are in there are mentioned, Tigris and Euphrates, and if you think about cities that we have in our country, like York Pennsylvania, now if you were a student 100 years from now and we were nuked, the whole civilization was dead and you were digging around and found evidence of a place in Pennsylvania called York, and then your colleagues digging in Europe found this place called York in England, you’d begin to say what is happening here, how can we have two cities, one must have come from the other, and you might infer, if you have the dating right, etc. you’d say that York over there is younger than this York, but I’ll bet the people that settled this York must have come from that York. That’s the kind of stuff that might have gone along so that what we call the Tigris and Euphrates, which if you look on a map where is the fountainhead of the Tigris and Euphrates river system? It’s in the Ararat area. So presumably they are one of the first two rivers that were seen by the sons of Noah, and when they hunted around for names they said let’s just name that for the river we knew in the previous world. That’s probably how a lot of the names were transferred. There’s a city of Enoch, and those names, yet you see the cities of similar names after the flood, post-flood.
That issue of the terrain, I think, is just another evidence besides this longevity curve that changes sharply that we’re dealing with something so incomprehensible, so shocking that it’s hard to even think about it. The way I try to discipline my mind to think about it is think about the earth as if I took a time machine back prior to the time of Noah I would have a hard time seeing the planet for earth, it’d be so different. And when I start thinking that way then I think but wait a minute, when I took historical geology in school, wasn’t that what they taught, because if you have the pictures in geology textbooks they always show you how the continents changed, and there was these vast changes, so really they’re doing the same think, it’s just that they drag it out over time, whereas the Bible compresses the time scale. But the Bible is telling us something was different, something happened with the flood. And you can’t minimize and trivialize it. I think it’s a warning, because the very people, the very mentality that wants to trivialize the flood of Noah is the same exact mentality that wants to trivialize the return of Christ. We don’t want anything to interfere with our lives, like the return of Christ, come on, give me a break.
So there’s an ethical spiritual motive here to sweep this whole thing aside, and the flood of Noah is a sharp reminder. Isn’t it striking that when Peter wants to discuss the return of Christ, the one event that comes back to his mind is the flood of Noah. Why that? Why does he do that? In the Olivet Discourse, what did Jesus say, “As in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the Son of Man.” I think there’s profound truth in there. These questions in Noah’s day about what evidence did the people have that he was right… now he appeared weird, but don’t we appear weird, think about it, aren’t we weird going around talking about the Second Advent of Christ? Do you know an astronomer that sees the Second Advent of Christ coming in a telescope? There’s no astronomical evidence of the return of Christ. You can go through the whole universe and not find any hints that Christ is coming. What equations tell me that Christ is coming? I don’t know of any equations based on today’s data that tell me Christ is coming. It was the same thing in Noah’s day, if you were creating a movie you could have some fun with dialogues, and have Noah sitting there discussing this with a scientist of his time, Noah, you’re absolutely crazy, we haven’t got a shred of evidence that there’s going to be any disruption in the universe, see those stars Noah, they’ve been there since creation, do you see any of the stars exploding Noah, do you see any signs in the heavens of any great catastrophe on the way, no, no.
The Bible observes and there’s another observation in the text, “and they knew not,” until the water came, so that evidently the day that that flood started and God opened the fountains of the deep there wasn’t a physical clue, the only thing that Morris and Whitcomb say that might have been a clue was the fact that the animals began to come to the ark. And he suggests, and it’s just a speculation, that the fountains of the deep, the beginning had to have vibrations, and animals get very upset before an earthquake, it’s like they can detect the earth starting to move before we can, dogs and cats go crazy, and then boom, it’s like they have that sense. But the problem with explaining it quite that way is why did two, only two, of each kind come. So there must have been an angelic interference somehow, maybe angelic shepherds leading these animals on a little leash up to the ark, we’re not told how. But why, for example, weren’t there fifteen dinosaurs beating on the door, only two, how come? We don’t know. I think it was supernatural. I think the Genesis text reports something so profound and in a way it tricks us because it reports it like it was just normal history, so we sit there and go through that text and read it, and we’re hypnotized by how regular and normal it appears and we just zip right on through, and then there’s these little mystery things.
I want to show you some of these mysteries, if you’re a careful student of observation. Let’s watch some of the mysteries in that text. We are so familiar with it, but let me show you some things that people have looked at and wondered about. In Genesis 6:13 you have God coming to Noah with the announcement. Notice He comes to Noah; He doesn’t come to the whole earth. This is a private message. We don’t have any report in this text of that message being boomed across a big PA system, like happened at Mt. Sinai, the Ten Commandments, I’ve been there and there’s an open valley that heads west in that place, and you can imagine a big voice in that valley reverberating down this place. But here it’s a quiet message, it’s quiet and it’s private. [“Then God said to Noah, The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth.”]
The plan is given, then it says in verse 19-20, “you shall bring two of every kind,” but then it says not to the ark but “into the ark,” notice the preposition, bring it into the ark, we always get the picture that Noah and his family are herding these animals up to the ark. There’s another verse later on that suggests the animals came to them, and then they opened the door and brought them abroad, that they didn’t go searching all over the place for these animals. You’ll notice in verse 21 “some of all food which is edible, and gather it to yourself; and it shall be food for you and for them.” So clearly all the food supply in the ark had to be gathered by this family and it’s a picture of man’s helping animals. If you want a humane society message, here it is. Who saved the gene pool? These people are so worried about bringing God into the classroom, it’d be slick on earth day to write an essay on the most fantastic contribution man has ever made to the environment, and tell the story of Noah and see what they do with that one. I’ll pay for your lawyer if you get in trouble…
But notice, going down, the strict timetable. Genesis 7:4, “For after seven more days, I will send rain on the earth,” notice the number 7, the number 7 is a week, so the very structure of creation week is embedded in the time structure. Notice in verse 6 the exact year of the flood is exactly when he was six hundred years old. Notice it says in verse 9, it talks about the animals and it says they, “there went into the ark to Noah two by two, male and female, as God had commanded Noah.” Now it says God commanded Noah, that’s back in chapter 6, you bring them in but then it says “there went unto Noah.” Who’s doing what here, you can sit and ponder that for some time about how did the animals get to the ark, did they just migrate there, and what does it mean they went into the ark by twos, then it says but God commanded Noah.
Notice in verse 10 the exact time, “And it came about after the seven days, that the water of the flood came upon the earth.” Then “on the same day” in verse 11, “all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened,” so the water came from below as well as from above. Some of you are familiar with the Jewish writer, Josephus, he wrote a book called Antiquities of the Jews and the reason it’s kind of a neat book is because Josephus was a contemporary of Jesus, so he writes about what Jews thought in Jesus days. He even mentions Jesus in the Antiquities of the Jews; some of these people say Jesus is never mentioned outside of the Bible. Oh yeah, what about Josephus. Josephus reports all these traditions that the Jews believed in Jesus day, stuff that’s not in our Bible, and one of the things they believed about verse 11, where it says “the fountains of the great deep burst open,” they had memories of this in their Jewish tradition about there were geysers of steam and they boiled people alive, the water that was coming up from the earth, and you’d think geologically that makes sense, that these subterranean waters were hot, and these people were fried. And this may be one reason, perhaps, we don’t know why there are so few human fossils in the rock record. You think what happened to all these people, why don’t we encounter more bones in some of the deeper layers? But maybe they were in one area or whatever.
Notice in verse 12, the rain actually only lasted 40 days and 40 nights. But I guarantee you to get rain to last 40 days and 40 nights requires some stupendous atmospherics that we don’t have, and you can say I’ve been around here when it’s rained a week. Yeah, but the reason it’s rained 7 days is because the moisture was being transported into this area, but on the rest of the earth it wasn’t raining 7 days. Other parts were giving up moisture that would be transported here so it could rain. But here it’s raining upon the earth; this is all over the place. So the question is, where is this water coming from? That’s a big question. You look at this text, 40 days and 40 nights, and nobody ever thinks where did this rain come from? One explanation for the 40 days and 40 nights is that this hot water was just continually evaporating and raining down again, evaporating and raining down again, evaporating and raining down again, etc.
So there’s a number of thoughts about this, I’m just trying to show you that when you read through this text don’t read through it at 30 miles an hour, just take it clause by clause and observe, observe, observe, ask questions of the text. And it goes on and you have the story of the dove, and the fact that he sent out a raven, and the dove found no resting place in Genesis 8:9 so she returned to the ark, “But the dove found no resting place for the sole of her foot, so she returned to him into the ark; for the water was on the surface of all the earth. Then he put out his hand and took her, and brought into the ark to himself.” He waited seven more days, the dove came back and in her beak was a freshly picked olive leaf, and people say it couldn’t sprout and grow like that. If you read the book The Genesis Flood Morris deals with that question. So there’s a lot of details in the text and unbelievers like to cease on every little thing they can to nitpick the text. So our side has spent a lot of hours researching this and I assure you there are answers to these things.
Notice the care in Genesis 8:13, “Now it came about in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, on the first of the month,” notice the first, it was one year, the flood was just one year. What a year that was. “Then Noah removed the covering of the art, and looked, and behold, the surface of the ground was dried up.” So there are strange things in the text, details that you need to pay attention to. In Genesis 7:16 the Lord closed it, what does that mean? How did the Lord close the door of the ark? It says “the LORD closed it,” it doesn’t say God closed it, notice, it says the Lord closed it. Everywhere you see the word “LORD” it’s Yahweh, and that’s the personal nature of the covenant God, was this a Theophany, did God appear and walk up a plank or come up to the edge of the boat and shut the thing, seal it, what did He do to it? The Bible leaves us in suspense; the Holy Spirit never tells us what He did or how He did it.
Those are the things that you want to look at as you read this material. Next time read Genesis 8:20 through chapter 9, and we’ll end the flood, but next time I want to finish the theological reflection on the flood event but if you read ahead that will be the next great event we deal with which is in the way of covenant.