A Verse by Verse Study of Genesis 7:1-24
Over 100 years passed since God spoke to Noah and commanded him to build an ark. At some point the ark would have been finished and Noah would have waited. A giant ark sat waiting for years, but Noah had faith that God’s word was true.
We can learn a lot about what God wants from us by considering the question: why did God choose Noah?
Perseverance in Righteousness
In Genesis 7:1 we read that after the 120-year timeline God had set in Genesis 6:3, when everything was ready, God commanded Noah and his family to go into the boat. Noah had spent years before the flood in active obedience. He not only believed that God would do what he said he would do, he obeyed what God told him to do in preparation.
We can often start off feeling strong in our faith and desiring to serve and obey God, but as time goes on and life seems to return to the mundane, we can easily lose our focus and desire to persevere.
In this passage, God reminds Noah why he chose him and his family: because ‘you alone are righteous’ (NLT). When the rest of the world became wicked, Noah and his family stood alone, continuing to obey God, building the ark, and waiting.
In Genesis 7:2-5 God gives Noah commands about how to prepare and what he should bring with him on the ark, giving him only one week before sending the great flood.
Noah was to bring:
- Seven pairs (male and female) of each kind of animal approved for eating and sacrifice
- One pair of every other kind of animal
- Seven pairs of every kind of bird
Many people wonder how Noah gathered all these animals. In Genesis 6:20, God told Noah that the animals would come to him – a kind of migration. God created animals with migratory instincts, and it would not be difficult for God to give the animals an urge to migrate to the ark.
Isaiah 1:3 tells us that, ‘The ox knows its master, the donkey its owner’s manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.’ (NIV)
God doesn’t have a problem getting animals to do what he wants – only man is stubborn and ignorant of God commands.
Noah had to have great faith and trust in God. He didn’t question God commands or his ability to succeed in such an enormous task in such a short period of time. He just set to work and did as God commanded.
Noah would have been around 480 years old when God first commanded him to build the ark, and Noah was 600 years old when God finally told him and his family to board the ark.
Genesis 7:6-9 tells us that Noah, his family, and all the animals boarded the ark and waited the seven days for the rain to come. Imagine what it might have been like to be on board the ark with every kind of animal and animal excrement. The people outside the ark would have thought Noah and his family were insane and most likely mocked them.
But Noah waited patiently inside the ark. He knew God would do as he promised, but he had to be patient just a little longer.
Then in Genesis 7:10-12 the flood waters come. The passage tells us that water erupted from both the ground and the sky for forty days and nights.
Where did all that water come from? Most of the earth is covered by water, and much of it frozen on mountaintops. Not to mention deep reservoirs underground. There is more than enough water on and over earth to cover the entire surface. No doubt the flooding was also accompanied by great geological catastrophe.
A flood of this magnitude would have been terrifying. And an ark, which had never been built or used before, would have a lot of cause for concern. Would the ark hold up under a catastrophic storm? Would they survive as God promised? These thoughts would cross anyone’s mind. But Noah had courage because he knew that the sovereign God was on his side.
The Number 40
The number 40 in the Bible has special and significant meaning especially when it associated with a new beginning. In this context it is associated with testing and purification. You can see this in Exodus 24:18 & Deuteronomy 9:25 (Moses on Mount Sinai) Numbers 13:25 (the spies in Canaan) Numbers 14:33 & Numbers 32:13 (Israel’s time in the wilderness) 1 Kings 19:8 (Elijah’s miraculous journey to Sinai) and Mark 1:13 (Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness).
God Fulfills His Promise
Genesis 7:13-16 is a summary statement describing how everything was fulfilled as God had promised. All things were ready for the flood and then God brought his judgment upon the earth.
Notice, in verse 16, how God closed the door to the ark behind Noah and his family. Noah did not close the door on anyone’s salvation – he did not leave anyone behind – God did it. In this same way, it is never our job to exclude someone from salvation – to determine that someone is or is not worthy to share the gospel with. If the door is to be closed, we must let God close it.
Is God Patient?
2 Peter 3:9-10 tells us that God is patient with us because he doesn’t want anyone to be destroyed, but a day of judgment will come.
God kept the door open until the last possible minute, but there came a time when the door had to be closed.
Revelations 3:7 says, ‘What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.’ (NIV).
The ark was salvation for Noah, but condemnation for the world. There were no second chances for those left behind. 2 Peter 2:5 tells us that ‘Noah warned the world of God’s righteous judgement’ but they refused to listen.
The Flood: Global or Local?
Many Christians and skeptics of the Bible deny the possibility of a global flood. Some scholars say that Genesis 1-11 should not be translated literally, while scientists deny the plausibility or evidence of a global flood.
But the description of the flood in this passage is so specific and complete that it is impossible to conclude that the Bible referred to a local flood. Despite what some experts may say, this passage is describing a world-wide flood.
For example, if this were not a global flood, then the ark itself would have been unnecessary. Noah and his family could have been instructed to move to a safe location. Also, if this were only a local flood, then God’s promise to never again bring such a flood would be false.
More Evidence for a Global Flood
Other passages also refer to a global flood (Psalms 104:5-9 & 2 Peter 3:5-6) and the Bible traces all humanity back to Noah, indicating that humanity began again after the time of the flood.
There is also evidence for a global flood outside of the Bible. Hundreds of cultures have their own accounts and legends of a global flood. One of the most noteworthy flood accounts is the Sumerian legend of Gilgamesh and the flood.
These accounts describe a very similar story to Noah in the Bible which include a favored family, survival by boat, and a catastrophic flood. Many of the stories also include wickedness as the reason for destruction, the saving of animals, and the survivors ending up on a mountaintop. Many of the accounts also include birds being sent out and a rainbow.
Clearly, people of ancient cultures remembered and passed down this remarkable event.
Genesis 7:24 tells us that the flood lasted 150 days without receding. 5 months. Noah, his family, and all the animals were safe in the ark during this time. God sustained Noah and his family through a time of catastrophic judgement.
Noah had to fully rely on God during this time. Being shut inside the ark, behind a door closed by God, with nothing left in the world outside, would not have been easy to endure. But Noah learned to fully trust and rely on God.
Salvation & Judgment
The ark is seen as a typology depicting God’s plan of salvation. It is a picture of how Jesus saved us by dying for us, followed by a burial and a resurrection. Noah underwent burial in the belly of an ark, representing Christ. He died to all the old things so that he could come out into a new world, made righteous through purification.
Noah represents what God is looking for in his holy people – those whom he calls his children. And just as Noah did, we too must die in Christ that we may live with him.
But the flood also serves as a warning of a coming final judgment.
Matthew 24:37-39, Jesus said, ‘When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes.’ (NLT)
A Love Story
Many read the story of Noah and the flood, and only see a demonstration of God’s judgment and wrath. But this story is truly a love story.
God loves the world and wants everyone in it to experience perfect joy and fulfillment by living righteously. Sin only brings about destruction and chaos and God wants to save us from that end.
God’s wrath flows from his love. He patiently waits for mankind to turn back to him, but there will come a time – as in the time of the flood – where God will no longer wait. In his judgement he purifies the world from wickedness, so that his followers can enjoy a union with him and the life that he intended.
The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament by Edmund P. Clowney. Beginning with Adam and Eve, Dr. Clowney takes a fascinating walk through the Old Testament, revealing Christ in places where he is usually overlooked.
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