Flood Narrative When God Flooded Thesis
Excerpt from Thesis :
The real question is not which party is right or wrong, but rather, what lessons can be learned and applied to modern man.
The Warnings in Genesis 7: 21-24
In these verses, we learn that God tried to warn his children, but on the day of the flood, they were still eating and drinking without abandon. They did not heed the final warning. This demonstrates that God was not set on his resolve to destroy humankind. He was acting the part of the father, giving his children one last time to change their ways. God gives his children many chances to repent. It is clear that he wishes them to repent, rather than to destroy them. First, he gives them 120 years, then a final week, and then on the day set for the flood to occur, he gives them one final chance. They can save themselves at any point in this time period by simply giving up their sin and returning to the grace of God. However, in the end, man's nature wins out, leading to his ultimate destruction.
The multiple warnings and grace periods given by God also demonstrate that man has a choice in his own destiny. Although God has the ultimate control over when his chosen people live and when they die, they still have choices to make. They are not like puppets or dolls, where the master determines their every move. They have a choice, indicating a certain degree of independence. They can choose to turn from sin and return to God, once again returning to his good graces, or they can continue to sin and suffer the ultimate consequences.
The argument of how much control God has over our lives is a key point of contention that divides Christians into many denominations. Some feel that we have no control; others feel that God allows us some control, but that we must be willing to suffer the consequences, for good or bad, of our actions. In the flood story, God does not say directly that he will cancel the flood if man returns to his graces, but it is strongly implied by God's actions in giving them many chances to repent and return to Godly ways. The flood was not a one way train with any brakes. God's multiple warnings before the flood suggest that man could have prevented his own destruction by a few simple acts, but he chose not to in the end, trading earthly pleasures for eternal peace.
The Rains Came
Genesis Chapter 7: 11-24 are the most widely debated among both Christians and non-Christians. The real question on everyone's mind is how big the flood actually was and how much devastation it entailed. This is a question that may never actually be answered by man, but it has become the key point of contention between scientists and theologians. Therefore, to not at least state the arguments of both sides would not do the flood narrative justice. The differences in interpretation of the flood differ as to whether the flood was universal, or whether it is simply a local event blown out of proportion.
When examining the two primary sides of the flood issue, one finds extremes on both sides. However, an examination of these sides appears to follow two basic patterns. Those that argue for wholesale destruction of the earth often do so through an exegesis of the flood narrative, Randy Hardy's exegesis falls into this category. His exegesis focuses on four keywords in the text, Machah (blot out), tehom (the deep), mayan (fountain or spring), and mabbul (cataclysm). The single point of this exegesis was to support his own position as to the size and scope of the flood, missing the deeper meanings of the rest of the flood narrative entirely.
Researchers who agree with the interpretation that the flood was a localized event often use outside evidence to support their argument. Mark Isaak's work is a prime example of this type of work. Mark Isaak poses many questions regarding logistics and the implications of the flood in an attempt to "prove" that the story of a global flood simply is not true. Hardy and Isaak exemplify the extremes of these two opposing viewpoints of the flood narrative. There are others that are somewhere in between these two extremes, but a majority of the writing regarding flood narrative gravitates heavily towards one of these extremes or the other.
The first point that needs to be made in this regard is that had the flood occurred in modern times with out satellites and communication devices, we would know the answer of how big the flood actually was. However, in the days of Noah, their knowledge was limited to the world around them. They could not see past the horizon and did not even know that the world was round at that point. We do not know how big the flood was, we only know how big the flood appeared to the naked eye and the experiences of the survivors.
The only thing of which we can be certain is that the ark was a very large vessel, even by today's standards. We know that the waters were deep enough and strong enough to launch the ark and make it float. We know that it rained for 40 days and 40 nights, which suggests an extended rainstorm and a very large rainstorm. Once again, we only have a local perspective, and have no way of looking in on other parts of the world. In Genesis 7:11 and 8:14, we can surmise that the waters were on earth 371 days.
The argument that has arisen over this particular portion of text is whether the concept of a global flood negates the Bible. In some circles, so much importance has been placed on the issue that the very foundation of Christian faith appears to be in the balance. However, whether geological evidence, literal translation, symbolic translation, or personal opinion prevails in a majority of society, the truth of the matter is that we were not there and the people who were there did not have the perspective to tell us.
The size of the flood is not the point of the flood narrative. In our world of Hollywood mega-disaster movies, we have developed a fascination with global destruction. However, to the Christian, the size of the flood is not the central issue. The only thing that we know about the flood for certain is that it was large enough to change the lives of the survivors and that is was inescapable to those in the immediate area. It was a dramatic event, regardless of whether it lives up to out modern Hollywood conventions and the standards of modern communication to qualify as a mega-disaster. It had the effect of shock and awe on Noah, his family, and the sinners who would not change. The key to understanding the flood narrative is to not become hung up on the size of the disaster, but the actions of the people and how it changed them and their relationship with God. Divine justice is satisfied and the sinners are now dead, except for Noah. God's hand has brought desolation and now must bring deliverance.
Lesson on Family Values
If one continues with the theme of looking at the larger lessons that can be filtered from the aftermath of flood, the narrative makes some valuable points about family values. God delivers the faithful family. God's resting of the ark on Mount Ararat can be interpreted as the rest that God gives to the faithful after a good tossing. It teaches us that God does not keep pounding us, but gives us a place to rest as a reward for our faithfulness. Now Noah and his family are given a respite from the deluge.
One might remember that God made a covenant with Noah, not the other members of his family. Yet, Noah's family was saved through his faithfulness. It is unlikely that any of those on the ark were sinners and worthy of destruction. This brings in a lesson about Noah's role as leader of his family. It is not likely that as Noah's children were growing up that Noah would have tolerated sinfulness in his own household. Neither would it make sense for Noah to remain committed to a sinful wife. Although, these elements of the story are not brought out in the text, it can be assumed that Noah, being a righteous man, would have maintained a righteous family as well. This is the only scenario that makes sense. If Noah's family were not worthy, they would have died in the flood too.
The survival of Noah's family suggests that Noah instilled his faithfulness in his family as well. This places a heavy burden on family leadership of today. It suggests that we not only have a responsibility to remain obedient ourselves, but…
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