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TRADITIONS OF THE FLOOD

(SERMON #18 ON THE BOOK OF GENESIS)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, June 11, 2017

“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 don’t take the Great Flood seriously. 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 frightening. The moral breakdown which led to the judgment of the Flood is too sinful 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.

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. 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,

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 many 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...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. 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, tonight 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 of Jesus Christ. We can learn many great Bible truths by studying Noah’s ark.

I. First, the ark speaks about salvation.

Listen to I Peter, chapter three, verse twenty. Listen to 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). Undoubtedly 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.

(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. Make sure you are one of those who are saved.


Yes, the ark speaks of salvation. Those who were in the ark were saved. Those who were not in the ark were lost. Listen 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. There is only one way to be saved today – and that is by Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Genesis 6:16 says,

“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. Jesus said,

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

Again Jesus said,

“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 to Jesus, for He is the only door to salvation! Come to Jesus or you will perish, as they perished in the Flood!

II. Second, 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.

We read of 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 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).

4.  Concerning David,

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

5.   Concerning Paul,

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

John Newton said,

‘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. Third, the ark speaks about the coming judgment.

Second Peter, chapter three, says,

“The world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished” (II Peter 3:6).

The Bible says 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).

The next verse in II Peter 3 says,

“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 are now preparing to attack America with nuclear weapons. North Korea also has a nuclear bomb that can reach California! We don’t 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. Amen.


WHEN YOU WRITE TO DR. HYMERS YOU MUST TELL HIM WHAT COUNTRY YOU ARE WRITING FROM OR HE CANNOT ANSWER YOUR E-MAIL. If these sermons bless you send an e-mail to Dr. Hymers and tell him, but always include what country you are writing from. Dr. Hymers’ e-mail is at rlhymersjr@sbcglobal.net (click here). You can write to Dr. Hymers in any language, but write in English if you can. If you want to write to Dr. Hymers by postal mail, his address is P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015. You may telephone him at (818)352-0452.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Noah Song: 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.    First, the ark speaks about salvation, II Peter 3:20; Genesis 6:3;
II Peter 2:5; Genesis 6:16; John 10:7, 9.

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

III.  Third, the ark speaks about the coming judgment,
II Peter 3:6, 7; Amos 4:12; Hebrews 1:3; 8:1.