The Flood
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

We have been studying together the book of Genesis, and we are now ready to begin the study of what the Word of God has to say about the Flood. We would like for us to think about the actual Flood without any reference in detail to the Ark, or the people who were in the Ark, or what was accomplished by the Ark. We will think about the Flood and the Flood alone.

I would like to suggest three ways which I am going to talk about. You might keep these three things in mind, particularly if you read the Scriptures that are related to it. First, we will talk about the duration of the Flood. How long did it last? If you ask the average person, he says forty days and forty nights. That is not the answer to the question. Next, we will talk about the devastation of the Flood. How far reaching was it? Did it reach only a few people in a little part of the world? How far reaching was the Flood? Third, we will think about the lessons that have come out of the Flood, because the Spirit of God has been pleased to use the Flood as a text for several sermons in the Bible. The truth that is related to the Flood is illustrated in the extra passages of Scripture, if we may call them that.

Reason for the Flood Was Sin

I want to read the portion of the Word of God that deals with the Flood and only with the Flood. That means we will have to skip about in these chapters 6-8. We will read all the Scriptures related to the Flood first, and then we will go back and talk about these things specifically. Will you notice Genesis, chapter 6, verse 9:

Genesis 6:

9These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.

Let us pause for just a moment. You will notice the first statement, “These are the generations of Noah.” You will remember that when we began our study of the book of Genesis, we told you that was a key phrase, each time presenting a new section in the book of Genesis. And so, as we read verse 9, we are introduced to the third section of the book of Genesis, and this third section is going to deal with the Flood. We read in Genesis, chapter 6:

Genesis 6:

9These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.
10And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
11The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.
12And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.
13And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.

These verses describe the cause of the Flood. The cause of the Flood was that the whole earth was filled with violence and sin. We pointed out to you that the primary sin (not the only sin) was the mingling of the sons of God with the daughters of men, producing a race of monstrosities called Nephiulim (giants). However, because of that sin, along with others, God found it necessary to destroy the earth and its people. Will you skip down to verse 17 of this chapter and notice what God said:

Genesis 6:

17And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.

Notice chapter 7, verse 4:

Genesis 7:

4For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.
5And Noah did according unto all that the Lord commanded him.
6And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth.

Will you now notice verse 10:

Genesis 7:

10And it came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth.
11In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.
12And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.

Notice verse 17:

Genesis 7:

17And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth.
18And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters.
19And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered.
20Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.
21And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man:
22All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died.
23And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.
24And the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days.

Genesis 8:

1And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters asswaged;
2The fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained;
3And the waters returned from off the earth continually: and after the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated.
4And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.
5And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month: in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, were the tops of the mountains seen.
6And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made:
7And he sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth.
8Also he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground;
9But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth: then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark.
10And he stayed yet other seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark;
11And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.
12And he stayed yet other seven days; and sent forth the dove; which returned not again unto him any more.
13And it came to pass in the six hundredth and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from off the earth: and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and, behold, the face of the ground was dry.
14And in the second month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, was the earth dried.

We will stop our reading there because these verses of Scripture tell the story of the Flood until the ground was dried up, and Noah could walk on it once more.

Duration of the Flood

I said that we were going to think about the Flood first from the standpoint of its duration. How long did it actually last? I am going to suggest to you, and I think you will be able to see it in the Word of God, that the Flood lasted one year and ten days. One year and ten days was the Flood upon the earth. The record in Genesis is very clear and accurate, with dates and divisions of time clearly represented. You will notice by looking at the Scriptures that this period of time, one year and ten days, was divided up.

First, I am going to ask you to turn to Genesis, chapter 7, verse 11:

Genesis 7:

11In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.

That was the beginning of the Flood, “in the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month.” If you will turn over to chapter 8 and notice verse 13:

Genesis 8:

13And it came to pass in the six hundredth and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from off the earth: and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and, behold, the face of the ground was dry.
14And in the second month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, was the earth dried.

That was the beginning and the end of this period of time known as the Flood. The Flood began, then, in the six hundredth year of Noah's life, the second month, the seventeenth day. It ended in the six hundred and first year of Noah's life, the second month, the twenty-seventh day. This period of time, a year and ten days, is divided up into distinct periods.

Rain Fell for Forty Days and Forty Nights

Look at chapter 7, verse 4, where we read:

Genesis 7:

4For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.

The first thing that God said to Noah, after a hundred and twenty years of dealing with men, was, “Noah, seven days from now…one week from now…I am going to begin the Flood, and it will rain in the beginning of the Flood for forty days and forty nights.” That is the first time period related to the Flood, the period of forty days and forty nights when there was nothing but rain, an unceasing pouring of rain.

This may be taken somewhat calmly by us, because we are used to rain, even in Texas. Will you keep in mind that it had never rained on the earth before. This was a tremendous thing for men to experience. We are going to see in chapter 11 of the book of Hebrews that Noah had to accept that by faith. He had never seen rain. He did not know what rain was. God said, “I am going to open the windows of Heaven. I am going to pour out rain for forty days and forty nights.” Then God did just that.

Flood Waters for One Hundred and Fifty Days

Now look at chapter 7, verse 24:

Genesis 7:

24And the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days.

Will you look at chapter 8, verse 3:

Genesis 8:

3And the waters returned from off the earth continually: and after the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated.

This 150 day period includes the 40 day period we have already described.

The waters stopped rising at the end of the 150 day period. If you are following this period of a year and ten days, it is divided up, first, into a forty-day period of unceasing rain day and night, during which time the waters rose and subsequently continued to rise, and they did not stop rising until the end of a five month period (150 days).

The Ark Rested On Mount Ararat One Hundred and Fifty Days After the Flood Began

Will you look at chapter 8, verse 4:

Genesis 8:

4And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.

We are introduced here to another time period. Five months from the time the Flood started, the Ark lodged upon the mountain peak of Ararat, though the mountain peak of Ararat was 14,000 feet above sea level. The Ark rested upon Mount Ararat five months after the Flood actually began.

Mountain Tops Seen Seven Months and Fourteen Days After the Flood Began

Look at chapter 8, verse 5:

Genesis 8:

5And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month: in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, were the tops of the mountains seen.

Keep in mind what we are reading. The waters rose for five months. At the end of the five month period (150 days) , they ceased to rise, so that the Ark rested on the top of Mount Ararat, which is 14,000 feet above sea level. Then two and a half months later, when the water was measured in the mind of God, this water had lowered enough for the tops of the mountains to be seen.

Will you let that grip your hearts, and see how specific the Word of God is and how frightening this is? Seven and one-half months after the Flood began, the waters had receded only enough for the tops of the mountains to be seen.

The Raven and the Dove Sent Forth Forty Days Later

Will you look at chapter 8, verse 6:

Genesis 8:

6And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made:
7And he sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth.
8Also he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground;
9But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth: then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark.

Keep thinking as we go along. Seven and one-half months from the time the Flood began, you could see the tops of the mountains. As Noah looked out the window of the Ark, he observed that the tops of the mmountains were visible. One month and ten days (40 days) later, he let a raven and a dove fly out of the Ark. The raven stayed out and flew from place to place. It did not need dry ground.

However, the dove could not stay out. It needed dry ground. So it flew back to the Ark, and Noah reached out and brought the dove back into the Ark with him.

Dove Sent Forth Seven Days Later, the Sign of Peace

Look at verse 10 and you will see another time period of this year.

Genesis 8:

10And he stayed yet other seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark;
11And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.

“So Noah knew that the waters were abated from the earth.” He waited one week, seven days, and sent out the dove again. This time the dove came back to the Ark with an olive leaf in her mouth. Noah knew that though the ground was not dry, the waters had abated enough for vegetation to be visible and the dove could get the olive leaf and bring it back. In passing, you may not have realized this, or maybe you have and have forgotten it. This is the reason the dove with the olive leaf in her mouth is the symbol of eternal peace. This is where it began, right here, because the warfare and the blood upon the earth had ceased, and the dove was able to come back to Noah with evidence that the waters had abated.

Dove Again Sent Forth Seven Days Later

Will you look at verse 12:

Genesis 8:

12And he stayed yet other seven days; and sent forth the dove; which returned not again unto him any more.

He waited one week and sent out the dove. The dove did not come back, and Noah knew she had found a lodging place.

The Face of the Ground Was Dry Ten Months and Fourteen Days After the Flood Began

We are coming to the end of the period in verse 13:

Genesis 8:

13And it came to pass in the six hundredth and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from off the earth: and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and, behold, the face of the ground was dry.

That is, all the water was gone. Yet the ground still was not safe to tread upon as yet. It was still pretty muddy or marshy, so he waited yet another period.

He waited until the second month, the twenty-seventh day of the month, and the earth was completely dried. As you read in the rest of the chapter, which we will not take the time to do, God said, “It is time to leave the Ark, Noah.” Then Noah went out on the face of the dried ground.

Devastation of the Flood…The Whole Earth Covered by Water

One of the reasons we have taken the time to go over this duration of the Flood is to emphasize to you what we are going to talk about next…the devastation of the Flood. How far reaching was it? If you have read very much about the Flood, you know that there are many, many things said about it. Some people say it was just a little upheaval in the plains of Sinai, and no one knew anything much about it. Other people say it covered the world that was inhabited in what we call the early Bible lands, and no more than that.

Earth Was Dry One Year and Ten Days After the Flood Began

Notice verse 14:

Genesis 8:

14And in the second month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, was the earth dried.

Then there are people who say that it was a flood that covered the entire earth. The least we can say about it is that it was no little thing. This was a big thing.

As we look at the devastation of the Flood, we want to see how far reaching it was. As we read the passage of Scripture the first time, and as we re-read it to ascertain the time period, you recognized various phrases which suggest how far reaching the Flood was.

For example, the phrase all the earth is repeated two times. The face of the earth is repeated two times. The face of the whole earth is mentioned one time. All the high hills is mentioned one time. All the mountains is mentioned another time, and of course the word earth many more times. These phrases indicate that all the earth was affected by the Flood. If we are to accept these words at their ordinary, primary meaning, we would have to assume that not just a little corner of the earth was affected, but all the earth.

Of course, we expect liberalists who do not accept the authenticity of the Word of God to argue about how far reaching the Flood was, and they suggest that there was not any Flood at all. You will find some conservative Bible scholars who are sound in other things for the most part, suggesting that the Flood was not total, that it affected only that part of the earth that we call Bible lands today. One of the reasons they use for that, as we are going to see in the passage of Scripture at which we will look, is the phrase, the world that then was . They suggest that that phrase in the Bible, the world that then was (II Peter 3:6), is a reference to only that part of the world inhabited by the people mentioned in the Word of God.

I want to suggest by examining other phrases, which I am sure you will recognize as I repeat them, that not just part of the people or a certain group of people, but all the people were affected by the Flood.

For example, the phrase, all the flood , is repeated four times. Everything in the earth is mentioned one time. Every living substance is mentioned one time. Every man is mentioned more than one time. And the phrase, all in whose nostrils was the breath of life is mentioned one time.

We have to accept those words for what they are. We have no alternative but to think that the Flood affected the whole earth and the whole human race.

Origin of the Flood Waters

I would like for us to notice one other thing about the devastation of the Flood which is indicated to us by the source of the water. May I suggest we turn to chapter 7, and notice verse 6

Genesis 7:

6And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth.

Look at verse 11:

Genesis 7:

11In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.

The first verse to which we called your attention says the flood waters were upon the earth. This verse of Scripture tells us from where they came. First, the fountains of the great deep were broken up. Bible scholars are inclined to believe that the fountains of the great deep are a reference to some sort of tidal wave that broke open great undercurrents of water that caused them to break out like mighty fountains from the earth. The fountains of the deep were broken up. Second, the windows of Heaven were opened, which of course is a forecast of the statement that the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights as stated in Genesis, chapter 7, verse 12. Thus the Flood was caused by water coming up from the deep and water coming down from Heaven.

Depth of the Flood Waters

If you will look at verse 19, you will see the extent of the water as far as depth is concerned:

Genesis 7:

19And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered.

Notice what it says: “All the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered.” Notice chapter 7, verse 20:

Genesis 7:

20Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.

In our translation it is not as apparent as it is in the original, but the text means that water rose fifteen cubits above the mountains. Get that picture in your minds…fifteen cubits above the mountains. That is how deep the water was. If we look only at Mount Ararat, since it is mentioned specifically in the Word, you will recall we just told you it was 14,000 feet high. Was the water fifteen cubits above that mountain? No. It was fifteen cubits above the mountains, not necessarily Mount Ararat, but perhaps the hightest mountains.

Of course, there is a difference of opinion as to the exact length of a Bible cubit. The difference is not serious. Some people say it is eighteen inches, and some people say twenty-two inches. To be conversative, we could say the water…the crest of the water…was at least twenty to thirty feet above Mount Ararat, which is 14,000 feet in height. I have told you repeatedly that I am not naturally inclined to statistics. As a matter of fact, I have to get my teeth set just right to say the word. However, there are people who are interested in statistics and make studies of them, and we have no reason to doubt their word. Such people tell us that on the basis of these Scriptures I have given you and on the basis of the highest mountains in the world, the water that covered the earth during the Flood was five miles deep. That will give you some indication of what a tremendous thing this was. Five miles of water covering the whole earth under the whole heaven. That is a terrific thing!

You will notice that I have not said anything about the discoveries of geology and geologists. I could say something about that. Much has been written about it. I will say in passing that the consensus among most geologists is that the earth was entirely covered with water at one time. They find no difficulty in believing the story of the Flood. Not all, mind you, not all, but enough.

I will say this, with all due respect to such thoughts. Though it is interesting for us to know that those discoveries bear out the Word of God, we should not put our faith on these discoveries. If every geologist in the world says, “There was absolutely no Flood, and could have been no Flood upon the earth,” it would make absolutely no difference to us. If the Word of God says it, then it is true! It is encouraging, uplifting, and a good thing to know that the Bible verifies what the geologists say, and the geologists verify what the Bible says. Yet, I want you to realize that that is not necessary. The Spirit of God said in the book of Hebrews (11:3), “Through faith, we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God.” We believe that, regardless of who agrees and who does not agree.

Historians will tell us that there is plenty of evidence that the Flood covered the earth, because in the writings, in the literature, of every race of people except the Negro race, there is an account of a universal flood. The accounts differ. For example, many of them have many gods related to the Flood. There are different names for the passengers who were in the Ark, and that sort of thing. There is a consensus in all the areas of the world that the earth was completely covered by a Flood at one time. That may aid the faith of some who find it difficult to believe, but once again, if the Bible were the only source for this information, then we would believe it, because by faith, we accept what the Word of God says.

Other Bible References to the Flood

I would like for us to notice together briefly some spiritual lessons that have been taken from the Flood. It is amazing how much in the Bible refers to the story of the Flood. For example, when God was dealing with Job in His ministry of humbling Job, He talked to him about the Flood. He said to Job in so many words, “Job, where were you when I sent the Flood? You could not have done anything about that….”, indicating that God was in complete control of the situation.

The Psalmist uses the Flood a number of times as a text for a lesson, reminding us of the brevity of life. “…that our days are swept away as the days in the flood.” “Now”, someone says, “as the days in a flood.” There were not two floods. It is a reference to the Flood about which we are now speaking.

I would like for us to turn to the second epistle of Peter, chapter 3. We will read this passage of Scripture, and then we are going to point out one or two things about it related to the Flood, without any attempt to expound the passage:

II Peter 3:

1This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:
2That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:
3Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
4And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
5For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
6Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:
7But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
8But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
10But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
11Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,
12Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
13Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
14Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.
15And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
16As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
17Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.
18But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

That is a good sermon based upon the Flood, isn't it? Peter is saying that in the day in which we live, there will be men who will say, “Why do you people talk about the coming of Christ all the time? What makes you think that Christ is coming back? Why, all things have continued from the very day of the beginning of creation as they were. Nothing has ever interrupted the affairs of this earth. What makes you think that there is going to be any interruption?” “Well,” Peter said, “You are ignorant, and evidently you are willingly ignorant, because it is very plainly written that the course of this world since the age of creation has been interrupted, twice by water.”

Two Universal Floods Upon the Earth

You know the earth was covered with a flood twice. Noah's Flood was the second flood. The first flood was found in chapter 1, verse 2, of the book of Genesis, and is again described in verse 5 of this chapter at which we are looking. The second flood (Noah's Flood) was described in chapter 3, verse 6, of II Peter. Peter is saying that if God interrupted the affairs of this world before, he could do it again. However, God stays with His Word, and He made a promise to Noah that never again would He destroy the earth with water. Never again would there be a flood.

Fire To Be the Next Agent of Destruction

He is going to destroy it a different way. This time He is going to destroy it by fire. That is what He says in verse 7:

II Peter 3:

7But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

In those days people said, “The flood is coming,” and no one believed them. People today that preach the Word of God ought to preach that Jesus is coming, because that is what the Bible says, “Jesus is coming.” Yet, no one believes it. Noah said, “God is going to destroy the earth one of these days.” That is what preachers should be talking about today, not the destruction of the earth by the atomic bomb, but the destruction of this earth by the fire that is stored up in the Word of God. There is a judgment coming from God, but we do not hear much preaching about that today. Noah said, because he was a man of righteousness, “You people ought to live right. You ought to live godly.” The preacher living in the end of this age ought to preach the same way. Peter did in his day. Look at verse 11:

II Peter 3:

11Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,

In II Peter, chapter 2, verse 5, Peter again uses the Flood as a basis for judgment. As God judged once, He will judge again.

II Peter 2:

5And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;

What makes you think God will not send judgment again? Will you turn to I Peter, chapter 3, verse 18:

I Peter 3:

18For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the spirit:
19By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
20Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
21The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

This passage of Scripture emphasizes primarily the longsuffering of God as it was illustrated in the days of the Flood.

Baptism Not Essential to Salvation

Because there is such a controversy among people about baptism, most passages of Scripture lose their impact as soon as one sees the word baptism . That is all they see. They miss everything else that is in the verse, and they do not know what the rest of the teaching of the verse is. In order to get back to the thought, I want to review. Let me say, first of all, that this verse of Scripture does not say that baptism saves you. There is no salvation in baptism. This verse of Scripture does not teach that! Every verse of Scripture that is not as clear as we would like for it to be should be taken in the light of other Scriptures that are clear because the Bible never contradicts itself. The Bible is very clear in the fact that there is no merit for salvation in baptism. There is no such thing as baptismal regeneration. That is very plainly taught in the Bible.

The second reason we know that this does not mean baptism solely is found in the simple statement in verse 21. It is talking about the answer of a good conscience toward God. Salvation does not clean you up. It just cleans up your conscience. If you are a child of God, you ought to be baptized. You do not have a good conscience before the Lord until you are. That is what the Word of God says. Baptism is not essential to salvation because there is nothing essential to salvation but the blood of Christ. Baptism is necessary for obedience because the Lord Jesus Christ commanded it. That which the Lord Jesus Christ commanded cannot be ignored.

Christ's Work While His Body Was In the Grave

With that out of the way, let us notice what the Spirit of God has to say about the longsuffering in the days of Noah. In verse 18, we read:

I Peter 3:

18For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the spirit:
19By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
20Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

There are two interpretations of this passage of Scripture, and either one of them I think is acceptable because there is truth in relation to either of them. Let me read this for you in a way that will bring out one of these interpretations: “Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By this spirit also the Gospel was preached unto those souls that are now in prison when they were alive in the days of Noah, when they were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited until the ark was prepared.”

It would seem to me that the same spirit that raised the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead occupied Noah while he preached the Gospel to those people who lived in his day…those people who were disobedient while the Ark was being prepared and while the longsuffering of God waited. There is nothing wrong with that interpretation because it happened exactly that way.

The other interpretation, and I much prefer it, says that when the Lord Jesus Christ died, He went down to the nether world…down to what the Bible calls Hades . He did two things. First He made an announcement. This word that he translated preached is not the usual word for preaching or preaching the Gospel. It is a word used more often in the Bible for announcement. He went down there and announced to those spirits who had died without accepting Noah's message, “Sin has been judged in Me. God's work is completed, and you are eternally, hopelessly lost.” The idea is not that He preached to them to give them a second chance for salvation, but that He made an announcement that His earthly work was done.

Secondly, we have learned from such passages as Ephesians, chapter 4, that He announced to the blessed dead that the work of redemption was finished. Then He subsequently moved the Paradise portion of Hades up to the throne of God, where Heaven is now. Thus today we say that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

The Word of God is simply emphasizing that the Lord Jesus Christ made an announcement to people who had no excuse because of the longsuffering of God. The Flood is the greatest example of the longsuffering of God in the Word of God. Do you know how long God waited? God waited specifically 120 years. Then, as though He were making a last final effort, He waited seven more days for these people to get right with God.

Do you know that one of the most wonderful illustrations of the mercy and longsuffering of God is in the life of Methuselah? Methuselah, we learned, was the son of Enoch. When Methuselah was born, he was given the name Methuselah which means, When he dies, justice will come . Here is an illustration of the mercy and the longsuffering of God. Do you realize that God let Methuselah live longer than anyone who had ever lived on the face of the earth? Did you ever wonder why Methuselah lived longer than anyone else? It was that God did not want to bring justice. Judgment is a strange work with God. He did not want to bring it, so he kept Methuselah alive so that men might come to God. That is the mercy of God.

There are other passages of Scripture where the Flood is used as a text for the message, but we will not have time for each one, so we will have to stop here.


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