Noah or Cain
One reason we may have a hard time understanding the story of the flood is that we start with the wrong person. We start with Noah, right? But we need to start with Cain. Now Cain was a murderer. So why did God let Cain, an uncaring guy who solved his jealousy problem with murder, go out and pursue his life? Well, remember, his parents, Adam and Eve had chosen to live by their conscience. They wanted to use their new knowledge of good and evil to make moral choices.
The Marked Man
Cain had chosen to kill his brother and God told Cain he would no longer be a gifted farmer. Cain’s experience of killing his brother left him with the fear that he, himself, could be killed, too. God put a mark on him to warn people not to kill him. The life of a country farmer denied him, he built a city.
This community eventually produced artisans like Tubal-Cain who developed tool making using bronze and iron and his half-brother Jubal whose musical abilities included both stringed and wind instruments. Jabal chose a nomadic life raising livestock.
Their father, Lamech, decided to have two wives. He had also made himself an exacting judge over wrongs done to him. He had killed someone for wounding him and said the punishment was high because he, Lamech said so. It was said that anyone who killed Cain would be avenged seven times. Lamech raised this to seventy times. He decided what was right for him and no one was to say otherwise.
While the descendants of Seth, another son of Adam, pursued farming, the descendants of Cain made choices that resulted in a complete breakdown of their society until it was described as everyone thinking about doing evil, all the time. Everyone made their own rules. The actions resulting from these evil thoughts are not described in detail but the result was this: the earth was filled with violence. Indeed it was corrupt because “all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth”.
The society did have well-known heroes but their acts are not detailed. There are several explanations for ‘the sons of God and the daughters of men’ but it could just refer to the two groups of people, those of Seth and those of Cain. That the descendants of Seth left farming to join in the new city-based society.
So, this society was a violent society. The man who started it had solved his problem with his brother by killing him and now violence was the solution to every conflict of every sort. Imagine a society without any government that allowed complete freedom to everyone to do anything. God was sorry he had made people. He had been moved when Abel was killed. He said the blood of Abel called to him from the ground. Now the earth is filled with violence that calls out to God. God sees complete corruption.
His solution: a flood.
Now, we come to Noah. Noah is of the direct line of Seth and has not joined in the corrupt society. God tells him to build an ark.
Noah does this with the help of his three sons but it takes a long time, maybe even 100 years. It says Noah is 500 before the flood and 600 after. The timing may relate to God saying, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”
Anyway, it is not an immediate flood. It is predicted by Noah with personal information from God. Do people know about it? I think it would make the news. Man predicts flood and is building large boat. But God does not tell Noah to go and inform the people. He tells him to build a big boat and gives him detailed instructions for doing so.
It says in Hebrews that Noah demonstrated his faith and so condemned the world. Peter says the God waited patiently while Noah built the ark. So people had time to repent and change if they wanted to. In fact, when the flood came, it wasn’t instant death for everyone. I’m sure you had some time to repent if you really wanted to.
But it was for the sake of people that God removed a completely corrupt society. All the people would have died anyway and probably violently. There was no way to reform this situation except with a new beginning. There was also an element of purging the earth itself and a new start for wild animals, birds and cattle, etc.
How many people died? It does not say. It says eight survived. How widespread was the flood? Big enough to end all life in the area. Did it reach to Australia and drown kangaroos? You tell me. When did it happen? Really unknown. Some say 5,000 years ago; others say 50,000. Adding up dates or time lengths in the Bible is a waste of time since that is not their purpose. They are there to show continuity not time itself.
But again, the purpose of the flood was to give mankind another chance, not to get rid of people. Peter points to a future where the Earth will again go through a dreadful transition to prepare for a very different way of life on earth. He says the flood was an example of this kind of change. Many, but not all will die before the new order predicted will be implemented.
Preparation for this is clear. Jesus has made things clear to all who listen. Believe him. God is willing that all would be saved. We just have to find out what He means by saved.
“No one comes to the Father except through Me” is not a restriction but rather an open invitation.
“I am the Door”. And the Door is open to all.
He is not willing that anyone would perish.