Noah: Why Did God Flood the Earth?

The “Noah” movie, featuring Russell Crowe, premiered today! I’m seeing the whole range of responses from Christians, mostly:
– excitement that people might dust off their Bibles, or
– frustration that it may not be a close reflection of the Genesis account.
I tend toward the first camp. At least, I plan to see it.

Wednesday, I posted about whether Noah was a good or righteous man.

Today I’m posting a more disturbing question: Why did God flood the Earth? How could Noah stand by and watch it happen? Was Noah benevolent? Is God benevolent?

Justice is a Good Thing

When I hear about the great flood, I imagine neighbors, school moms, coworkers, etc., dying a horribly tragic and unfair death.

I don’t personally know any of the people who lived in Noah’s time. But I do know of other types of people…

cloudy sky pond

I remember when the news reported that Dennis Rader (“BTK”), the serial killer from the 1970s and ’80s, was still around and undetected in our city. I was horrified to read the details of his earliest, torturous murders. I wanted him found immediately, and then I wanted him burned, along with the place he occupied in the world – to remove all trace of him.

I felt the same anger when a little girl was randomly kidnapped and killed in Missouri recently. Nothing could undo the family’s incredible loss, but somehow I was still relieved that the killer was quickly brought to justice.

When my husband and I were living in the Southwest, he told me about a teenage girl who was brought in from a reservation. She had such severe injuries that she would never have a chance to live a normal life. She knew who had done this to her, so I asked if the men were in custody. I was in shock when my husband told me that probably nothing would be done at all: “This is common there” – and I wished I could find them myself.

When people hurt others in such horrific ways, we want justice! The desire for justice comes from God. It is part of being made in His image.

cloudy sky sun

How bad were the people in Noah’s time?

The people in Noah’s time were “only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5).

The Old Testament tells of the nations (and later, the Israelites) forcing their children into the fire, to be burned as sacrifices to the gods. There is the story of the horrible violation of a woman, by “some of the wicked men in the city,” and they left her on a doorstep to die (Judges 19). All the awful things that happen now were happening then, probably multiplied several times – and it was all the people, all the time.

God saw every detail personally – I can imagine He wanted to vomit, just like I do when I read the news sometimes – and He “regretted that he had made human beings on the earth” (Genesis 6:6). So He found one refreshing family and washed the rest of Earth clean in a flood.

If these people’s deaths had been delayed (no one lives forever), they were not going to turn around and change. Noah was described as a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5). But no one listened. It was more merciful to end the whole mess, abruptly. No family members would have to grieve each others’ loss, and humanity would have a fresh start.

Are we as bad as the people in Noah’s day? Will God destroy us again?

The flood was not fun for God. He gave Noah the sign of a rainbow as a promise that He would never flood the entire Earth again.

“Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.

As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”
(Genesis 8:21-22)

cloudy sky dark road

But that doesn’t mean the Earth will last forever. It won’t!

“…the foundations of the earth and the heavens… will perish…
they will all wear out like a garment.”
(Psalm 102:26)

Anyone’s life could end at any time. I don’t know when I’ll die, so this is my personal “end times.” The question isn’t really whether our society is as bad as Noah’s time, but whether I’m “good enough” for God.

My mind is drastically different from the mind of a serial killer. But in the same way, God’s mind is drastically different from mine. He is infinitely more healthy. I have thoughts and responses that make Him sick.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9)

“All our righteous acts are like filthy rags…” (Isaiah 64:6)

“There is no one who does good, not even one.” (Psalm 14:3)

God wants justice for the wrongs that I’ve done. Instead of destroying me, He sent Jesus to take my death penalty, just like the Old Testament predicted. Like trading cancer cells for healthy cells, Jesus took my sin – and the sins of anyone who trusts Him. He offers me all His righteousness in exchange. Jesus is like our saving ark. We enter by believing and trusting what He did for us, and this makes us good enough for God. I don’t have to worry about what will happen after death.

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed;

by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.”
(John 3:16, The Message)

cloudy sky red road

A secure relationship with a loving God – who will never turn away from me – frees me to focus on making life on Earth more refreshing and less evil. The rest of the big “unknowns” are in God’s hands. I can explore and ask questions, but I never need to worry about what will happen in the future.

One Response to “Noah: Why Did God Flood the Earth?”
  1. Barbara Greenstein says:

    Beautiful pictures, beautiful words, especially the closing paragraph! I look forward to reading your blog.. May God bless you for sharing your thoughts and talent for his glory!

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