And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth. And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters. And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered. Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered. And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died. And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark. And the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days.(Genesis 7:17-24)
For forty days and nights, water poured down upon the earth from the rent liquid canopy which God had set in the heavens. Water also shot up out of the earth in violent torrents, from the massive underground storehouses of water, set in place at creation. By the time the deluge had ceased, the tips of the highest mountains on earth were 22 feet under water.
All life, men, women, children, and any animal or bird life which once drew breath were drowned. Ancient cities which dated back to Cain’s original city,Enoch were wiped out, buried under tons of mud, and debris from the shifting land masses. Entire forests were instantly buried under tons of shifting mud; trees, shrubs, beasts, birds, were all thrown into the cataclysmic heaps we find today in the ‘fossil record’.
But for 150 days none of that would have been visible. Had Noah been able to get a glimpse outside through the one window on the ark, he would have seen nothing but the waves of water, in every direction. The entire old world was erased by the water. It perished in the water, as Peter described it,
Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: (2 Peter 3;9)
The water, sent by God, served several distinct purposes which are worth noting. What did the water do?
* The Water was an instrument of Divine wrath- It killed everything and everybody of the “World that then was…”. God is a Holy God, He hates sin and evil, and when it became evident that the human race was reprobating itself, and after a very long time given for repentance, God judged the world, putting it to death in the deluge.
* The Water was a burial of that which was dead– What do we do with a corpse? We bury it. The Water served as a burial of that which was dead, from the dust came the “World that then was…” to the dust it returned, via the water.
* The Water served as a means of salvation and Separation– The same Water which buried the old world, lifted Noah and his family above and out of it. The flood, we are told, “bore up the ark , it was lifted up above the earth..”. Peter links the flood of Noah to Believers baptism, teaching,
For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:(I Peter 3:18-20)
Note the phrase “Eight souls were saved by water”. The same water that condemned the world, lifted up the Ark, separating it from the world it had fled, removing Noah and his family from the mudslides, and other cataclysmic events which fell upon the world. Like the gospel, the flood both condemns and saves, depending on whether you are in the ark(Christ) or out of it.
The way the flood lifted Noah and his family up out of the world, even so does baptism now serve to save us out of the world. Properly seen, the act of baptism is a testimony of resignation from this world, and a prophecy of the coming sentence of judgment upon our world, and an appeal to God for a good conscience via the resurrection of Jesus!
The water “saves” us in the sense that it is the line of separation. The baptised christian has renounced the world, he can never have the same relationship with it that he once did.
We see this same idea in the story of the Exodus. The children of Israel never really left Egypt, until they crossed the Red Sea. Through the water the separation became complete, for Egypt went in after them, but never came out of the Sea, the waters having come down upon the “horses and riders” of Pharoah.
* The Water prepared the way for a New Heavens and Earth-There was a sense in which the world that Noah and his family stepped out of the Ark into, was completely different from the world that they left to enter the ark. The canopy above their heads was replaced by sky and clouds. The weather would consequently be different, the topography of the earth would show the signs of cataclysm, the population of the earth would have been greatly reduced, indeed, it was as though an eraser had wiped the slate clean(almost), and “All things” had now become “new”.
Noah’s ark and the new earth and heavens he stepped into, are dim types of what the ultimate plan of God is.
And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.(Revelation 21:5)
God is going to “Judge the world in Righteousness”, and ultimately destroy everything of this Age of sin, death, corruption, and deceit. It is all dead and has to go. But first He is remaking the hearts of those He has redeemed, that we might be fit to take our place in His “New Heavens and the New earth”.“If any man be in Christ, He is a new creation, the old has passed away, and all things have become new…”( 2 Corinthians 5:17)
Everything that the water was used for in the story of Noah, the cross of Jesus, and the gospel of it, is likewise used in our time. The cross is the revelation and instrument of Divine wrath, it is our own flood, but poured out upon Jesus in our stead. It is also the saving and separating principle, as Paul the apostle said,
But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.(Galatians 6:14-15)
And finally, the cross has made the way for God to inaugurate a new creation, wiping out the old,(We have died with Christ), and paying the price for sinners to be “Born again” and partakers of the New Creation.