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Deeper Commentary

7:1 Yahweh said to Noah, Come with all of your household into the ship- "Come you [singular]... for you [you singular] have I seen righteous"- the focus is always upon God's individual relationship with Noah, as a result of which his family are saved. God saw Noah as righteous- but not his family? Noah and the seven had to leave behind their homes, land and families. They were promised just the bare necessities of life in the ark- just as we are assured of in Christ.

"Come you" is definitely alluded to in Is. 26:20,21. There seems a principle that God somehow removes or safeguards His people whilst He judges the earth (Gen. 19:22; Ex. 8:22; Ex. 9:26; Rev. 7:3).

His entire family consisted of his three sons. He therefore had no daughters and it would seem that his sons had no children. This tiny family size must be significant- for in those long lived ages, most women would have likely had over 50 children. Again, it was the small, broken and despised who were chosen of God. It seems that Noah's daughters in law only started bearing after the flood. Or it could be that he had other children and grandchildren, who were judged wicked. There would've been a huge division within the family over whether to support the salvation project or not; of the kind that continues to this day.

For I have seen your righteousness before Me in this generation- Heb. "you have I seen righteous". God 'saw' Noah as righteous- not that he was in himself, but God imputed righteousness to him, for Noah was saved by grace not his own righteousness, Gen. 6:8. Righteousness was imputed to Noah on account of his faith (Heb. 11:7). He was "moved with fear" because he really believed God's word of judgment. And therefore he prepared the ark, the works which are part and parcel of faith, and was counted righteous on account of his faith. The others were saved because they were "with him" (Gen. 7:25) rather than because of their own righteousness; for Noah alone was seen righteous, not 'Noah and his family'.

7:2 You shall take seven pairs of every clean animal with you, the male and his female. Of the animals that are not clean, take two, the male and his female- Three pairs and one for sacrifice? Or, seven pairs, because the clean were to be for sacrifices on the ark during the year they were on board? Initially, Noah had been told to just take pairs of all animals. Now, he is told to take seven pairs of the clean animals. People were vegetarian before the flood (Gen. 9:3), so the division of animals into clean and unclean was for the purpose of teaching the principles of acceptable sacrifice to God. This last minute push to obtain pairs of clean animals, just a week before the flood came (:4), would have involved frenetic activity on Noah's part. The parable of the marriage supper, along with other hints in Scripture, suggests a last minute desperate appeal to humanity on the eve of the Lord's return.

7:3 Also of the birds of the sky, seven and seven, male and female, to keep seed alive on the surface of all the earth- Lit. the face of all the earth / land. The earth / land is often described as having this "face", or 'presence', as if it is somehow consciously alive and is "the presence" of God to us. Hence any defacement of the planet is an act done upon the face or presence of God. The text here suggests that birds are preservers and distributors of seed; at least, that was how it was in the environment of the eretz of those times.

7:4 In seven days, I will cause it to rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights. Every living thing that I have made, I will destroy from the surface of the ground- According to :10- seven days of waiting for the rain whilst "shut in" , which we can compare with Is. 26:20. However, an alternative reading is possible. Gen. 7:4 "For yet seven days" could imply that Noah was asked to come into the ark seven days before the rain started coming. But Gen. 7:13 [along with Mt. 24:38; Lk. 17:27- quite an emphasis] says he entered only on the day that the rain came. Why did he hang around outside for those seven days? Was it from disobedience, just as Lot delayed in taking the way of escape from Divine judgment? Or because he was still desperately appealing for people to enter the ark? If so, this points forward to the intensity of our appeal to the world which there should be in the very last days, going into the byways and hedges and compelling [or trying to compel] people to "come in" (Lk. 14:23). If we think we're in the last days, our appeal should have this intensity. These seven days could be read as a delay by God in bringing the judgment of the flood, and may be alluded to in 2 Pet. 3:9, where we read that God's patience waited in the days of Noah because He so urgently awaited / hoped for repentance and response.

The number forty is typically associated with testing. The test was of the faith of Noah and his family. Being within the ark, shut in whilst the deluge came, would have been a scary experience. We would be wrong to imagine them within the ark, breathing sighs of relief. Rather were they being tested; for even within the ark, there was the possibility they would lose their faith, as there is for us too.

"Rain" was unknown at the time. As the perfect Father and Teacher, God uses language in a manner which will intellectually stretch His children; stretch us to rise up to His way of perceiving things. Thus sometimes God appears to use language with no regard as to whether the people who first heard it could understand it. God spoke to Job about snow (Job 37:6), to Abraham about sand on the sea shore (Gen. 22:17), and here to Noah about rain– things which they had never seen. And the New Testament concepts of grace, agape love, humility etc. were outside the ability of first century Greek to properly express; new words had to enter the language in order to express these ideas. Yet God is also capable of speaking in the language of the day, bringing Himself right down to our human level of language use. It is vital to appreciate that God uses language in different ways in different parts of the Bible – otherwise our interpretation of it will be inconsistent and contradictory.

God sending His rain upon the just [Noah and the other seven 'just', Gen. 6:9] and unjust [the unrighteous world] may be an allusion to this verse (Mt. 5:45). The universe isn't just ticking away by clockwork with God somehow distant and uninvolved. He is actively involved with us, and in that sense is not far from any one of us. Mt. 5:45 certainly sounds like a reference to the flood- and yet the context is of God's love towards both sinners and righteous alike. The destruction of "the old world" was therefore an act of love- although that's very hard for our human minds to accept. To curtail the lives of the wicked who refuse to repentant after extensive appeal to them, is, in fact, Divine grace.

7:5 Noah did everything that Yahweh commanded him- “Did all that was commanded by the Lord” is a phrase which in Hebrew occurs around 100 times in the Old Testament. The first occurrence of a phrase in the Bible is often instructive. In Gen. 6:22 and Gen. 7:5 we have the first occurrence of this, concerning Noah. He is therefore set up as a paradigm of faithful obedience to God which inspired many of later generations. As noted on Gen. 6:16, the ark was a kind of tabernacle. The comment upon Noah's obedient building is that made so often upon Moses' obedient building of the tabernacle, and the related commandments required to save Israel (Ex.  7:20; Ex. 12:50; Ex. 40:16).

7:6 Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters came on the land- Perhaps the flood began on his birthday. The Biblical account of the flood gives details which are imaginable, earthly realities; there is nothing of the grossly exaggerated and other-worldly which there is in the pagan flood legends. Thus the Biblical dimensions for the ark are realistic, whereas the boat mentioned in the Babylonian legend recorded by Berossus was supposedly about one kilometer long and half a kilometer wide. Noah was 600 years old according to the Biblical record, whereas Ziusudra, the Mesopotamian equivalent of Noah, was supposedly 36,000 years old at the time of the flood.

7:7 Noah went into the ship with his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives, in the face of the floodwaters- This could imply that like Lot facing the destruction of Sodom, they didn't enter as commanded them (see on Gen. 7:13), and waited until the floodwaters were right upon them before entering. Or perhaps the idea is that they saw those waters by faith, and entered the ark seeing the waters which were as yet invisible.

A careful reading of Gen. 7:7,10,13,16 reveals that Noah entered the ark twice- once before the seven days, and then finally at the end, perhaps when he had finished loading the animals. At the second entry he was shut in. Peter reasons in 1 Pet. 3 that the ark represents two things- being in Christ by baptism, and being saved from the tribulations to come on the world of the last days. These are typified respectively by the first and second entries of Noah into the ark. If our baptism is like that first entering in, then Noah's tense, earnest waiting for the rain in the next 7 days should typify our feelings towards the second coming (cp. the rain). We should live our whole lives after baptism as if we know for certain that the second coming is but a week away.


For Noah and his family the reality of these things would have ebbed and flowed during that week- some days and hours more than others. But it would have remained with them in the back of their minds as an ever-present reality. Methuselah's death by the time they entered the ark would have heightened their awareness of the shortness of the time ('Methuselah' = 'when he dies, it shall come'). By being in the ark with them, that same intensity of feeling ought to be ours. Never before would they have felt so estranged from the world around them which they knew had such limited time left to satisfy its pleasures. And what scant interest they would have paid to their own possessions, homes, farms and all the other material things around them which they knew would so shortly be ended. In all this lies a powerful lesson to us. Instead their minds would have been obsessed with the ark, the symbol of their faith down through the past years. 'We need this for the ark...we must do that for it' would have been their way of thinking down through those years, as Noah in faith prepared the ark for the saving of himself (Heb. 11). And this lays the pattern for our dedication and consumption with the things of the truth, the ark, Christ our Lord and His ecclesia.

He entered "because of the waters". They'd not seen the waters, but faith sees those things which are not as though they are, following God's principle of thinking likewise (Rom. 4:17; Heb. 11:3). Noah was "moved with fear" because of what he believed would come (Heb. 11:7- just as we should be, for the same phrase is used in Hebrews about us at Heb. 4:1). The motive for Noah's entry into the ark was partly fear (Heb. 11:7). Knowing the "terror of the Lord" (a phrase used in the OT with reference to coming judgment), Paul persuaded men to accept His grace (2 Cor. 5:11). Noah went into the ark (cp. baptism) from fear of the coming flood, as Israel crossed the Red Sea (again, baptism) from fear of the approaching Egyptians, as men fled to the city of refuge (again, Christ, Heb. 6:18) from fear of the avenger of blood, and as circumcision (cp. baptism) was performed with the threat of exclusion from the community (possibly by death) hanging over the child.

The sons were born to Noah when he was around 500, so by the time of the flood they were around 100 years old, as the flood came when he was 600 (Gen. 7:6). Lamech, Noah's father, had children at 182; most men of that epoch seem to have begun families by that age. Seeing there are no mention of Noah's sons having any children, it could be surmised that they took wives immediately prior to entering the ark, so as to "keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth" (Gen. 7:3). Those women in their turn must have been motivated by faith to go into the ark; surely they'd have faced huge opposition and rejection from their families for marrying into that strange 'Ark' family. Their motive could only have been faith in Noah's preaching, backed up as it were by the spirit of Christ which was seen in him (1 Pet. 1:11; 1 Pet. 3:18-20; 2 Pet. 2:5). Indeed, 1 Pet. 3:18-20 speaks of some people at Noah's time who "once were disobedient" but who were converted by his preaching in the spirit of Christ. Who were those converts, if they weren't those three girls who then married his sons?

There is Biblical emphasis upon the fact that Noah entered the ark on the very day the flood came; but this phrase seems to imply that he waited until the very last minute. This may have been because of the urgency and desperation he felt in appealing to others to come into the ark with him. He truly was a remarkable “preacher of righteousness”. Our knowledge of this world’s future means that as we walk the streets and mix with men and women, our heart should cry out for them, no matter how they behave towards us, and there should be a deep seated desire for at least some of them to come to repentance and thereby avoid the judgments to come.

 

7:8 Clean animals, animals that are not clean, birds, and everything that creeps on the ground- The emphasis is clearly that the ritually unclean could find salvation. The body of God's people have always struggled with this; their tendency has been to assume that those pronounced "unclean" cannot have any part within the system of salvation, however that was articulated over human history. And this has been the cause of so much sinful division amongst them.

7:9 Went by pairs to Noah into the ship, male and female, as God commanded Noah- "To Noah" makes us note again the emphasis upon Noah personally as the agent of salvation. Perhaps at no other point in salvation history apart from the cross, has so much depended upon one man. Noah's family, clean and unclean animals, were all saved because of one man's faith and subsequent works. The salvation of "male and female" of course points ahead to the salvation of all types of people, male and female, in Christ (Gal. 3:27-29). We note again that some Noah had to gather in; others came to him of their own volition, in response to God's working directly upon them. And so it is in our latter day Gospel work.

7:10 It happened after the seven days that the waters of the flood came on the earth- "The seven days" suggests this was a significant period. Is. 26:20 and other passages teach that there will be a 'shut in' period in the very last days to preserve the faithful from the beginning of judgment upon the land, just as Israel in Egypt were preserved from the effect of the judgments upon Egypt.

7:11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep were burst open, and the sky’s windows were opened- The different state of things before the flood perhaps meant there was a huge amount of water underground which now came to the surface through earthquakes and volcanoes. The opening of the sky's windows has been interpretted as meaning that a water canopy which then covered the land came crashing down to earth. But the opening of heaven's windows is used elsewhere in the Bible in a more figurative sense.

7:12 The rain was on the earth forty days and forty nights- Moses was in the cloud, which is also water, for the same period expressed with the same term (Ex. 24:18; Ex. 34:28). The idea is that a new creation emerged out of this experience. The Lord likewise in the wilderness (Mt. 4:2). Forty is clearly associated with testing, and the test was of Noah's faith rather than that of the surrounding world. The test was as to whether they believed that the promised final salvation would come, or whether they too would perish in the cataclysm. It's the same for us, who are within the ark of Christ.

7:13 In the same day Noah, and Shem, Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, entered into the ship- I suggested on Gen. 7:7 that perhaps they were intended to enter the ark seven days before the flood, but didn't do so until the very last moment. This could have been because of a delay in obedience which reflected a lack of faith, as Lot leaving Sodom; or a desperate desire to get out there and appeal to folks at the very last minute. Or maybe the wrench with unbelieving family was just too much. Noah's children took no children with them. Presumably they had children. Perhaps those children were old enough to respond, and refused. The pain of parting with them would've been intense.


7:14 They, and every animal after its kind, all the livestock after their kind, every creeping thing that creeps on the earth after its kind, and every bird after its kind, every bird of every sort- "After its kind" could refer to representatives of every genus rather than every species. But the more comfortable explanation is again that this refers to the animals known to eretz Israel. Apart from the size of the ark, the logistical issue of gathering literally all animals and birds and their appropriate food for a year... is considerable, if we insist upon a global flood.

7:15 They went to Noah into the ship, by pairs of all flesh with the breath of life in them- He gathered them, but they came unto him, as in our witness to the world. Animals are shy; did Noah work for many years to understand animals so that they came to him [cp. our understanding of the audience we preach to]? Or was it that animals only came to fear humans after the flood (Gen. 9:2) and therefore they came more naturally to Noah without their present shyness and nervousness of human beings? The record consistently defines the living creatures as those who had the breath of life in them, or as other verses say, within their nostrils. This may or may not be a point to remember in the abortion debate; for the unborn fetus is without the breath of life in its nostrils. That's why babies can be born underwater.

7:16 Those who went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God commanded him; and Yahweh shut him in- For "shut him in", see on Gen. 6:14. Note again the emphasis upon Noah- the animals came to him personally, he was shut in, and thereby his family and the animals were shut in too. As Gen. 7:23. The entry of the animals is framed here as being on account of Noah's obedience. The same Hebrew word for "shut in" occurs in Is. 26:20,21: "Come my people, enter into your chambers [cp. the rooms / nests in the ark] and shut your doors about you; hide yourself as for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For behold, the LORD is coming out from his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it, and will no more cover its slain". This passage in Isaiah seems to be applying the language of the flood to the preservation of God's people in the last days. The mention of the blood shed upon earth recalls Gen. 9:6. And inevitably we think of the significant New Testament teaching of how those who enter into Christ are "sealed" with the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13; Eph. 4:30).

"All flesh" is of course used of the universal appeal of the Gospel; indeed, "all flesh" is used of all those who hear the Gospel message and have the opportunity of salvation (Is. 40:5; Is. 49:26; 66:23; Ps. 65:2; Joel 2:28).

7:17 The flood was forty days on the earth- The idea is that the flooding was for forty days; the waters were on the earth just over a year.

The waters increased, and lifted up the ship, and it was lifted up above the earth- This is the word for the lifting up of acceptable sacrifice to God, found throughout the Pentateuch.

7:18 The waters prevailed, and increased greatly on the earth; and the ship floated on the surface of the waters- "The face [s.w. surface] of the waters" is the phrase used of how the Spirit of God fluttered upon the face of the waters to bring about creation (Gen. 1:2). The record is teaching that a new creation was to come about, despite human 'prevailing' against it. The idea of the waters prevailing may suggest that people tried their best to escape them by fleeing to higher ground, all to no avail.

7:19 The waters prevailed exceedingly on the earth. All the high mountains that were under the whole sky were covered- Perhaps a reference to the "high places" where idols were worshipped. For this is how the "high hills" of the eretz are commonly mentioned later in the Bible.

7:20 The waters prevailed fifteen cubits upward, and the mountains were covered- The Hebrew idea is that the mountains were filled in, the whole eretz became even, the mountains brought down and the valleys lifted up by the water until an even surface was created, upon which Noah and the ark moved. The idea is very similar to the picture of the coming of the Lord Jesus over a similarly filled in, even area in Isaiah 40. Noah is definitely to be read as a type of the Lord Jesus. "The mountains" in view are those of the eretz, the land promised to Abraham.

7:21 All flesh died that moved on the earth, including birds, livestock, animals, every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every man- The judgment upon man had radical implications for the animal creation; this continues the theme of how the natural creation suffered as a result of Adam's sin. His sin was repeated in essence by the society of Noah's time.

7:22 All in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life- This is the language of the creation of Adam; here we have a de-creation, in order that a new creation might come forth. As noted on :15, the record consistently defines the living creatures as those who had the breath of life in them, or as other verses say, within their nostrils. This may or may not be a point to remember in the abortion debate; for the unborn fetus is without the breath of life in its nostrils. That's why babies can be born underwater.

Of all that was on the dry land, died- The Hebrew implies a parched or waste land. This could suggest that the flood was local, of a waste land / wilderness forming a basin hemmed in by mountains. Or it could suggest that the busy, prosperous world of Noah was spiritually a waste land, a desert.

7:23 Every living thing was destroyed that was on the surface of the land, including man, livestock, creeping things, and birds of the sky. They were destroyed from the land- Perhaps the fowl of the heaven were destroyed by the heavy downpour of rain. As only a remnant of the human and natural creation survived, so only a remnant of the world around us will come through the future judgments on the earth. The fact an olive tree survived indicates that there was not total destruction. This kind of mass destruction is typical of that which will come upon Israel in the last days: "I will utterly consume all things from off the face of the land... I will consume man and beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven... and I will cut off man from off the land... that day is a day... of clouds and thick darkness... and I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men" (Zeph. 1). This is clearly flood language; the description of blind men may connect with Zech. 14:12 prophesying the loss of eyesight for the latter day invaders of the land (cp. how the men of Sodom were smitten with blindness in another type of the last days). Is. 54:9,10 promises that although God will judge Israel with the 'flood' of the second coming judgments, yet He will never totally reject them on account of the remnant: "As I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke (reject) thee. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee" . This is surely saying that the same order of physical catastrophe as came upon the earth at the flood will again come upon Israel in the last days; but we must not see this as God breaking His covenant of faithfulness to His true people. Heb. 11:1,7 stresses how much Noah really believed God's prophecy about the nature of the flood;  he was " moved with fear" by these predictions. The physical world around us is going to be changed beyond recognition; this ought to make it easier for us to come to terms with the fact that all aspects of our surrounding world will likewise pass away.

Only Noah was left alive, and those who were with him in the ship- Yet again, Noah is the focus of salvation, but in him and with him his family were saved. The others were saved because they were "with him" rather than because of their own righteousness; for Noah alone was seen righteous (Gen. 7:1), not 'Noah and his family'. It all speaks of salvation in Christ, for His sake and by grace. "Left alive" is literally "remained", and the idea is of a remnant- another idea which is developed in later scripture. For we are the remnant, out of the destroyed Israel after the flesh.

7:24 The waters prevailed on the earth one hundred and fifty days- Five months, a pattern of the last days, Rev. 9:5,10. The final siege of Jerusalem in AD70 lasted for the same period, coming after 3 years of the Roman campaign against Israel which started in AD67. The three and a half year suffering of Israel which culminated in AD70 may well point forward to a similar period in the last days; in which case the flood would typify the final months of that period, during which the judgments will be poured out most intensely. The five month tribulation of Rev. 9:10 may also have some relevance here. Thus the state of Israel in AD70 was typified by the world of Noah's time, which therefore looks forward also to the last days, in the light of the evident connections between that period and our last days which are made in 2 Pet. 3 and the Olivet prophecy.