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TRADITIONS OF THE FLOOD

(SERMON #18 ON THE BOOK OF GENESIS)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Morning, August 26, 2007
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

“But as the days of Noe [Noah] were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe [Noah] entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away: so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37-39).


Many new-evangelicals in our day trivialize the Great Flood. They put out storybooks for children which contain bright drawings of a beautiful ark with happy animals and birds. Children who read this sort of thing in Sunday School grow up to think of the Flood as a fairy tale, like Hansel and Gretel, Tales of the Arabian Nights, Gulliver’s Travels, or a Harry Potter story. I think the silly storybooks about Noah’s Ark are one of the modern features which prejudice people against serious Christianity. We’d be better off without any of these foolish “Disneyfied” books!

The account of the Great Flood and Noah’s Ark is very serious and extremely somber. The moral breakdown which led to the judgment of the Flood is too sordid for us to speak on in depth. The unimaginable horror accompanying the Flood itself should not be brought with vivid reality before minds of young children. The account of the Flood is adult material, which can only be appreciated and understood by mature minds. The Bible speaks on many subjects far too serious to be fully comprehended by the very young. The Ark and the Flood are among those subjects.

Yes, I believe that there was a literal Ark. It seems that every branch of the human race has an account of the Flood. We believe that these ancient accounts were handed down from days of antiquity, from the days of Noah himself. Dr. John Warwick Montgomery said:

The destruction of well nigh the whole human race…seems to have been handed down to their children, in consequence, with such terror-struck impressiveness that their remote descendants of the present day have not even yet forgotten it. It appears…in the most distant countries, and among the most barbarous tribes (John Warwick Montgomery, Ph.D., The Quest for Noah’s Ark, Bethany House, 1974, p. 25).

Dr. Henry H. Halley, in Halley’s Bible Handbook, tells us that virtually every civilization of antiquity had memories of the Flood in its ancient traditions. These include,

Babylonians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians, Hindus, Greeks, Chinese, Phrygians, Fiji Islanders, Esquimaux, Aboriginal Americans, Brazilians, Peruvians, Indians [from India], and indeed every branch of the whole human race, Semitic, Aryan, Turanian – have traditions of a Great Deluge that destroyed all mankind [in water], except one family, and which impressed itself indelibly on the memory of the ancestors of all these races before they separated (Henry H. Halley, Halley’s Bible Handbook, Regency, 1989 reprint, pp. 75-76).

Dr. M. R. DeHaan gave an easy-to-read list of several of these ancient Flood traditions:

      An Egyptian legend of the flood says that a long time ago the gods purified the earth by a great flood from which a few shepherds escaped by climbing a high mountain.
       The East Indian tradition relates that the great teacher Manu was warned by a fish of a coming flood and was commanded to build a vessel in which to find safety. Manu then fastened a cable from his ship to a horn on the fish’s head, and thus was towed to a mountain of India where the cable was fastened to a tree.
       The Chinese tradition describes the flood as follows, “And now the pillars of heaven were broken, the earth shook to its foundations, the sun and the stars disappeared, the earth broke up and its waters within engulfed the earth and overflowed. All these evils arose from man having rebelled against heaven, despising the supreme power of the universe.”
       The Greeks [said] that the god Zeus was angry and threatened to destroy the earth. Prometheus, who was gifted with prophetic foresight, warned his son Deucalion of the coming flood. Deucalion then constructed an ark which eventually was run aground in Thessaly. There he and his wife Pyrrah (the only survivors) repopulated the earth…
       In Britain there is an ancient Druid legend that because of the wickedness of man, the Supreme Being sent a flood, when the waves of the sea lifted themselves up all around the island of Britain. But a patriarch with a select company found refuge in a strong ship, survived the flood, and repeopled the earth.
       Among the American Indians, the tradition of a flood is found in every tribe. Among the 120 tribes in North, Central, and South America, not a tribe exists which does not have a legend of a great deluge in which from three to eight persons were saved and cast upon a high mountain…
       The Babylonian tradition, dating back to the fourth century B.C., narrates that a great flood once covered the earth. The king Ardates was warned by the god Cronos and ordered to build a ship 3,000 feet long and 1,200 feet wide, in which the king, some friends, and a large number of animals, with all necessary food, passed through the flood. This tradition also relates the sending out of birds which returned to him again; but the third time they did not return. The ship came to rest on the mountains of Armenia. However, they were ordered back to Babylonia, but the remains of the ark (so says the legend) still exist in the Corcyrenian mountains. The Babylonian tradition goes into great detail concerning the dimension, floors, rooms and stories, suggesting that it may be a distorted and corrupted version of the Biblical description (M. R. DeHaan, M.D., The Days of Noah, Zondervan, 1963, pp. 152-154).

These traditions do not “prove” that the Bible account is true. We need no external proof of the Biblical account. We believe that the Book of Genesis is the divinely inspired Word of God. Yet these traditions do show that the Great Flood is deeply ingrained in the history of antiquity.

Now, this morning I want us to think about the ark – Noah’s ark. It was not a boat. It was an ark. The Hebrew word translated “ark” is “tebah.” It means a chest or box. It was covered with pitch which was jet black. The ark was nothing more than a huge box painted black. It was not built for sailing, but merely to stay afloat in a storm. The ark is a type, or illustration. We can learn many great Bible truths by studying Noah’s ark.

I. First, the ark speaks about being saved.

Please turn in your Bible to I Peter, chapter three, verse twenty. I want you to notice the second half of the verse:

“…the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing [while the ark was being constructed], wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water”
      (I Peter 3:20).

We learn two great truths from this verse.

(1)  “The longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah.” God patiently waited for Noah to build the ark before His judgment fell on the earth. God said that man’s “days shall be an hundred and twenty years” (Genesis 6:3). That means it took 120 years for Noah to build the ark. During this time Noah preached to the unbelieving world (ref. II Peter 2:5). Probably many thousands of people came to see this great ark being built. Noah preached to them about the coming flood, and their need for salvation. No one but his own family paid attention to his preaching, but God waited patiently before sending judgment. Jesus said, “As the days of Noe [Noah] were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37). Most people are just as indifferent to the message of salvation today as they were in the time of Noah.

(2)  “Wherein few [a few], that is, eight souls were saved by [through the] water.” Only a few people were saved. Jesus told us in Matthew 24:37 that the end-times would be similar to Noah’s day. Only a few people were saved then, and only a few people are truly saved now. What does it mean to be saved? Among other things, it means to be saved from the Judgment. Although the world will not be judged by water in the future, it will be judged, and only a few will be saved from that coming Judgment, just as only a few were saved in the days of Noah. Make sure you are one of those who are saved when God judges our world.


Yes, the ark speaks of salvation. Those who were in the ark were saved. Those who were not in the ark were lost. Turn to II Peter, chapter two, verse five:

“And {God] spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly” (II Peter 2:5).

The ark is a picture of Jesus Christ. There was only one way for people to be saved. They had to get into the ark. Jesus said, “No man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). There is only one way to be saved today – and that is by Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

People undoubtedly thought that there were many ways to be saved in the time of Noah, but they were wrong. There was only one way to be saved, and that was by getting into the ark. This is a picture of coming to Christ for salvation.

Turn in your Bible to Genesis, chapter six, verse sixteen:

“A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof…” (Genesis 6:16).

God said, “The door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof.” There was only one door to the ark.

“Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door…” (John 10:7).

Jesus Christ is the door to salvation. Jesus said again:

“I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved” (John 10:9).

If you want to be saved, the only door to salvation is Jesus Christ. You must enter into salvation through Him. There was only one door to the ark. They had to come through that door or perish in the judgment. And you must come in to Jesus, the Son of God, or you will perish. Yes, the ark speaks of salvation – through Jesus Christ.

II. Secondly, the ark speaks about godly fear.

In Hebrews, chapter eleven, verse seven, we read,

“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house…” (Hebrews 11:7).

In plain English, Noah was afraid as he prepared the ark. And this fear moved him to construct the ark carefully. He was afraid of making a mistake, and not getting saved, and not getting his family saved. The punishment of sin and the need for salvation weighed heavily on his mind at night. Each morning he got up and again “moved with fear,” as he went to work on the ark. The ark, the message of coming judgment, the responsibility of getting his family saved, the preaching he did – all of this filled him with fear as he looked out over the great ark that he was building.

Now, there is a message concerning godly fear throughout the Scriptures.

1.  Concerning Adam,

“I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid” (Genesis 3:10).

2.  Concerning Abraham,

“And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him” (Genesis 15:12).

3.  Concerning Sarah,

“Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid” (Genesis 18:15).

4.  Concerning Moses,

“Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God” (Exodus 3:6).

5.  Concerning David,

“And David was afraid of the Lord that day”
      (II Samuel 6:9).

6.  Concerning Cornelius,

“And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord?” (Acts 10:4).

7.  Concerning Paul,

“Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (II Corinthians 5:11).

Every one of those verses is translated by the NASV nearly as strongly as the KJV. Yet when the modern translators come to verses like Hebrews 11:7, they “water down” the translation, and seem to weaken them as much as possible! But the Bible says that Adam was afraid. The Bible says that Abraham had “an horror of great darkness.” Sarah, Moses, David, and Cornelius were afraid when they were in the presence of God. And Paul spoke of “the terror of the Lord.”

This may well be the result of them not understanding the nature of true conversion. In his famous hymn, “Amazing Grace,” John Newton wrote:

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved.
   (“Amazing Grace” by John Newton, 1725-1807).

The person who has no fear of judgment and no fear of God will never enter in to Christ – the ark of our salvation. The people in Noah’s day did not enter the ark because they had no fear. Noah entered the ark because he did have fear. The Bible plainly says,

“Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house” (Hebrews 11:7).

Are you afraid of the coming judgment? Do you fear God? The ark speaks of godly fear.

III. Thirdly, the ark speaks about the coming judgment.

In Second Peter, chapter three, verse three, we read,

“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished” (II Peter 3:3-6).

This passage of Scripture tells us that the unbelieving world of our day is “willingly ignorant” of the catastrophe that occurred when the world was flooded with water in the days of Noah. “Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished” (II Peter 3:6).

Dr. J. Vernon McGee said, “There is abundant evidence that some great cataclysm did take place and that all things have not continued as they were from the beginning of the creation” (J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson, 1983, volume V, p. 747).

Then, this passage of Scripture continues in verse seven by telling us:

“But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store [are preserved], reserved unto fire against [until] the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men”
      (II Peter 3:7).

Just as the world was destroyed by water in Noah’s time, it will be destroyed in the fire of God’s judgment in the future.

Many young people are deeply afraid that Muslim terrorists may even now be preparing to attack America with nuclear weapons. We may not have much time before some of our cities go up in the flames of a thermonuclear bomb. Many people tremble with fear at the thought of a world on fire.

As concerned as we are about such a possibility, we should be even more concerned about the fire of God’s judgment in the future, which the Bible predicts in the third chapter of II Peter.

The people in Noah’s day went right on, living their lives as though no judgment would come to them. And Jesus said:

“As the days of Noe [Noah] were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe [Noah] entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away: so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37-39).

Today your family and friends, who are not real Christians, go right on living as though judgment will never come. Yet our city is just one earthquake away from horrible judgment! Our world is just one fiery nuclear holocaust away from becoming a living Hell! Civilization is just a step or two away from the fiery judgment spoken of in the Bible.

I say, with the prophet Amos, “Prepare to meet thy God” (Amos 4:12). If you are not in the ark of safety, in the arms of Jesus Christ, you are not prepared for what lies ahead in our troubled world!

Christ died on the Cross to pay for your sins. He shed His precious Blood so your sins could be washed away. He ascended into the third Heaven, where He is seated “on the right hand of the Majesty [of God] in the heavens” (Hebrews 1:3; 8:1). Come to Christ! Come into the ark of safety. Come in to Christ and be saved from the coming fiery judgment of the wrath of Almighty God! Christ is the “Rock of Ages.” Augustus M. Toplady wrote,


Rock of Ages, cleft for me,

   Let me hide myself in Thee;

Let the water and the blood,

   From Thy riven side which flowed,

Be of sin the double cure,

   Cleanse me from its guilt and power.

(“Rock of Ages” by Augustus M. Toplady, 1740-1778).


Let the words of that old hymn move you to come to Christ and enter in to full salvation in Him.

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Genesis 6:13-18.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Rock of Ages” (by Augustus M. Toplady, 1740-1778).


THE OUTLINE OF

TRADITIONS OF THE FLOOD

(SERMON #18 ON THE BOOK OF GENESIS)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“But as the days of Noe [Noah] were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe [Noah] entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away: so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37-39).

I.   The ark speaks about being saved, II Peter 3:20; Genesis 6:3;
II Peter 2:5; Matthew 24:37; John 14:6; Genesis 6:16;
John 10:7, 9.

II.  The ark speaks about godly fear, Hebrews 11:7; Genesis 3:10;
Genesis 15:12; Genesis 18:15; Exodus 3:6; II Samuel 6:9;
Acts 10:4; II Corinthians 5:11.

III.  The ark speaks about the coming judgment, II Peter 3:3-7;
Amos 4:12; Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 8:1.