Noah and the Flood Bible Story Study Guide

Noah set a righteous example to his entire generation

Noah and the Flood
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Over the course of time as the children of Adam populated the earth, humans continued to overstep the limits God had placed on them. Man's increasing disobedience caused God to reassert his lordship by engineering a fresh start that would give the human race another opportunity at obedience.

The consequence of humankind's widespread corruption was a great flood that effectively ended all but a remnant of life on earth. God’s grace preserved the lives of eight people -- Noah and his family. Then God made a covenant promise to never again destroy the earth by flood.

Noah and the Flood Bible Story Summary

God saw how great wickedness had become and decided to wipe humankind off the face of the earth. But one righteous man among all the people of that time, Noah, found favor in God's eyes.

With very specific instructions, God told Noah to build an ark for him and his family in preparation for a catastrophic flood that would destroy every living thing on earth. God also instructed Noah to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, both male and female, and seven pairs of all the clean animals, along with every kind of food to be stored for the animals and his family while on the ark. Noah obeyed everything God commanded him to do.

After Noah and his family had entered the ark, rain fell for a period of forty days and nights. The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days, and every living thing was destroyed.

As the waters receded, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. Noah and his family continued to wait for almost eight more months while the surface of the earth dried out.

Finally after an entire year, God invited Noah to come out of the ark. Immediately, Noah built an altar and offered burnt sacrifices with some of the clean animals to give thanks to God for deliverance. God was pleased with the offerings and promised never again to destroy all the living creatures as he had just done.

Later God established a covenant with Noah: "Never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth." As a sign of this everlasting covenant, God set a rainbow in the clouds.

Scripture Reference

The story of Noah's ark and the flood is found in Genesis 6:1-11:32.

Historical Context

Noah was the grandson of Methuselah, the oldest person in the Bible, who died at 969 years old in the year of the flood. Noah's father was Lamech, but we are not told his mother's name. Noah was a tenth generation descendant of Adam, the first human being on earth.

Scripture tells us Noah was a farmer (Genesis 9:20). He was already 500 years old when he fathered three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Noah lived 350 years after the flood and died at 950 years old.

Major Themes and Life Lessons

The two major themes of the Genesis flood account are God's judgment of sin and his good news of deliverance and salvation to those who trust in him.

God's purpose in the flood was not to destroy people but to destroy wickedness and sin. Before God decided to wipe the people from the face of the earth, he first warned Noah, making a covenant to save Noah and his family. The whole time Noah and his family labored constantly to build the ark (120 years), Noah also preached a message of repentance. With the coming judgment, God provided plenty of time and a way of escape for those who would look to him in faith. But the violent generation ignored Noah's message.

Noah’s story serves as an example of righteous living and enduring faith in the face of completely immoral and faithless times.

It's important to note that sin was not wiped out by the flood. Noah was described in the Bible as "righteous" and "blameless," but he was not sinless. Noah, however, did not behave as the other wicked people of his day, but rather, "walked with God."

Points of Interest

  • Like Adam, Noah was a father of the human race. God told Noah and his family the same thing he told Adam: "be fruitful and multiply." (Genesis 1:28, 9:7).
  • Genesis 7:16 interestingly points out that God shut them in the ark, or "closed the door," so to speak. Noah was a type or forerunner of Jesus Christ. Just as Christ was sealed in the tomb after his crucifixion and death, so was Noah shut in the ark. As Noah became the hope for humanity after the flood, so Christ became the hope for humanity after his resurrection.
  • With more detail in Genesis 7:2-3, God instructed Noah to take seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, and two of every kind of unclean animal. Bible scholars have calculated that approximately 45,000 animals might have fit on the ark.
  • The ark was exactly six times longer than it was wide. According to the Life Application Bible study notes, this is the same ratio used by modern shipbuilders.
  • In modern times, researchers continue to look for evidence of Noah's Ark.

Question for Reflection

Noah was righteous and blameless, but he was not sinless (see Genesis 9:20-21). Noah pleased God and found favor because he loved and obeyed God with his whole heart. As a result, Noah's life was an example to his entire generation. Although everyone around him followed the evil in their hearts, Noah followed God. Does your life set an example, or are you negatively influenced by the people around you?

Sources

  • International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, James Orr, general editor
  • New Unger's Bible Dictionary, R.K. Harrison, editor
  • Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Trent C. Butler, general editor