Genesis 8–11: Flood & Fire

Read the Bible in 2023 ◊ Week 3: Monday

Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying, “As for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you and with your seed after you; and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that comes out of the ark, even every beast of the earth. Indeed I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, and there shall never again be a flood to destroy the earth.”
Genesis 9:8–11 LSB

Monday’s Bible reading is Genesis 8–11. Chapters 8 and 9 tell the events of Noah’s life as the Flood ends and his family begins life again on land. In chapters 10 and 11, his three sons and their descendants are traced as they separate by families, languages, lands and nations; the building of the Tower of Babel and the subsequent scattering of people is found in the first half of chapter 11.

Noah is mentioned several times in the New Testament. He is, of course in the genealogy of Jesus (Luke 3:36). Other New Testament references to Noah vividly compare Noah and his times with salvation and judgment.

In Matthew 24 Jesus compares the days of His second coming to the days of Noah (cf. Luke 17:26–27). People were not ready then for God’s coming judgment; they will not be ready when Jesus comes.

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then there will be two in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding grain at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left.
“Therefore stay awake, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.”
Matthew 24:36–42 LSB

Noah is found in the great faith chapter of the New Testament, Hebrews 11. Noah is listed because he believed God when He warned him of the flood yet to come, and built the ark God told him would save his household.

By faith Noah, being warned about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.
Hebrews 11:7 LSB

Peter refers to Noah in both of his letters. In his com­mentary on 1 Peter, Edmund Clowney explains Peter’s comparison of the deliver­ance of Noah’s family from judgment to our deliverance from judgment in 1 Peter 3:20b–21:

Peter continues to relate the time of Noah to that of the church by appealing to typology. The inspired authors of the New Testament find in the Old Testament history not merely instances of God’s saving power, but also anticipations of his final salvation in Christ. By providing the ark, God saved Noah and his family from the judgment of the flood. That deliverance, however, did not in itself give eternal life to the eight persons that were spared. Like the exodus liberation, it was a symbol of God’s final salvation from all sin and death. Peter uses the term ‘antitype’ to describe the relation of the new to the old. (3:21; NIV’s verb symbolizes translates the Greek noun antitypos). This use of ‘type’ and ‘antitype’ is itself figurative, drawn from the striking of coins or the impression of seals. ‘Type’ describes either a matrix from which an impression is made, or an image created.  In the letter to the Hebrews, the typology is vertical. That is, the heavenly realities are called the ‘type’ and the earthly symbolizes the ‘antitype’. The tabernacle in the wilderness was therefore the antitype of the heavenly sanctuary. In Paul’s letters and here in 1 Peter, the typology is horizontal in history: the Old Testament is the type, and therefore Christ’s fulfillment is the antitype.

…Peter would have us understand that the God who delivered Noah will also deliver us, and ours is the final salvation.1

In addition to God’s judgment, Peter also mentions one other thing about God in 1 Peter, His patience:

when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah
1 Peter 3:20b LSB

In his second letter, Peter again uses Noah, as well as Sodom and Gomorrah and Lot, to teach about God’s coming judgment and His rescue of the godly, in these verses, from trial.

For if God did not spare angels who sinned, but cast them into the pit and delivered them to chains of darkness, being kept for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter; and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds), then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trial, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment
2 Peter 2:4-9 LSB

In the next chapter Peter mentions the flood as he reminds us that mockers forget God destroyed the world by water; His coming judgment will be by fire.

This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles, knowing this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being deluged with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some consider slowness, but is patient toward you, not willing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be found out.
2 Peter 3:1-10 LSB

As he did in his first letter, Peter again, in the context of God’s judgment, also reminds us of God’s patience.

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some consider slowness, but is patient toward you, not willing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
2 Peter 3:9 LSB

Clowney comments, “God’s patience during the time before the flood is obviously like the patience he now shows in postponing judgment.”1,2

In Genesis 9, Noah becomes drunk and his son Ham dishonors him. In Genesis 10 the genealogy of Noah’s three sons is given.

In chapter 11, the Tower of Babel is constructed. Kent Hughes has some helpful insights:

As they wandered eastward from Ararat (Armenia), they settled into Mesopotamia on te broad, flat plain of Shinar in what the Talmud would call the “valley of the world.” Moses’ clear statement that they “settled there” (v. 2) is not incidental, because “settled” is the opposite of “dispersed” (v. 8), which is the story’s dramatic outcome. Their settling was in direct opposition to God’s post-flood command to “fill the earth” (9:1).

…The intent behind building “a tower with its top in the heavens” was to join or displace God.3

Meredith Kline comments,

As in Ps. 2 God laughs at the counsels of kings, so here he ridicules and humbles the vanity of the tower-builders, for He must descend (so the anthropomorphism) to catch sight of their proud pinnacle far below…What the Babelites thought to avert befell them more disruptively than was elsewhere transpiring naturally.

…the dispersion movement of Gn. 10 appears as a curse, a centrifugal force separating men and retarding the subjugation of the earth (cf. 6b). Yet in sin’s context this curse proved a blessing for it also retarded the ripening iniquity that accompanied civilization’s progress (v. 6) and so it forestalled such judgment as would have interfered with the unfolding of redemption.4

I was fascinated by Kline’s comment about God’s dispersion of people retarding their ripening iniquity. I remember a few years ago a friend and I were talking about how we both thought world events seemed to be ramping up. Today instantaneous communication between many parts of the world and translation apps and services reverse the dispersion of Babel. That is not without its benefits, but I wonder if they are negligible considering the many ways it has compounded evil as thoughts and deeds are copied from one side of the world to another. What one person doesn’t think of, another will, and then they’ll tell others about it, entice them to do it, or else work together to make it worse.

Francis Schaeffer points out something else about Babel:

The basic confusion among people is expressly stated to be language—not the color of skin, not race, not nation. Language is the key to the divisions of the people of the earth.5

Derek Kidner writes of God’s grace beyond Babel.

Pentecost opened a new chapter of the story, in the articulating of one gospel in many tongues. The final reversal is promised in Zephaniah 3:9: ‘Yea, at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord and serve him with one accord’ (RSV).6

Even as Cain did not learn from God’s judgment on his mother and father, so Noah’s descendants did not learn from God’s judgment with the Flood. And man today is the same as in the days of Noah—the evil intent of man’s heart remains the same. We still rebel; we still want to be like God.

God is unchanged: He is holy and judges sin, yet in His mercy, as in the days of Noah, for a time before His judgment, He is patient toward us.

In the next chapters in Genesis, in His great lovingkindness, God has plans to break the cycle of sin and death caused by hearts of stone. At the end of Genesis 11, a man named Abram is born, and through him, God will bless all the families of the earth.

Silvesterzug Laterne: Bk muc. (CC BY-SA 4.0).
The Ark on the waters, Jan van’t Hoff: Gospel Images. Genesis 7: 24.
1,2Edmund Clowney, The Message of 1 Peter (InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove IL: 1988) 164–165, 162.
3R. Kent Hughes, Genesis: Beginning & Blessing (Crossway Books, Wheaton IL: 2004) 170.
4Meredith G. Kline, “Genesis,” The New Bible Commentary: Revised, D. Guthrie, J. A. Motyer, eds., A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman, contributing eds., (Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove IL: 1970) 91–92.
5Francis Schaeffer, Genesis in space and time: the flow of biblical history (terVarsity Press, Downers Grove IL: 1972) 153.
6Derek Kidner, Genesis (Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove IL: 1967) 110.

I’m using Michael Coley’s Bible reading plan (one page PDF to print) to read through the Bible in 2023. Each day my posts are on different books because he divides Bible readings into seven categories, one for each day of the week: Epistles, The Law, History, Psalms, Poetry, Prophecy and Gospels. There’s more information on his plan and other ones at Read the Bible in 2023.

Copyright ©2021–2023 Iwana Carpenter

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