I will destroy them with the earth - Not only the human race was to he destroyed, but all terrestrial animals, i.e. those which could not live in the waters. These must necessarily be destroyed when the whole surface of the earth was drowned. But destroying the earth may probably mean the alteration of its constitution. Dr. Woodward, in his natural history of the earth, has rendered it exceedingly probable that the whole terrestrial substance was amalgamated with the waters, after which the different materials of its composition settled in beds or strata according to their respective gravities. This theory, however, is disputed by others.
- Section VI - The Deluge
- XXIII. The Ark
9. דור dôr “age, time from birth to death,” applied either to an individual or the whole contemporary race, running parallel with some leading individual. Hence, the “race” or “generation” living during that time.
14. תבה tēbâh “chest, ark.” It is used only of this vessel of Noah‘s construction, and of the little vessel in which Moses was put Exodus 2:3, Exodus 2:5. The root, according to Furst, means “to be hollow.” אבה 'ēbeh a cognate word, signifies “a reed;” κιβωτός kibōtos Septuagint. גפר goper α . λ ., perhaps “fir, cypress, resinous wood.” קן qēn “nest, room; related: prepare, rear up.”
16. צהר tsohar “shining, light;” not the same as the חלון chalôn Genesis 8:6, or the aperture through which Noah let out the raven.
18. ברית berı̂yt “covenant; related: cut, eat, choose, decide.”
The close of the preceding document introduces the opening topic of this one. The same rule applies to all that have gone before. The generations of the skies and the land Genesis 2:4 are introduced by the finishing of the skies and the land Genesis 2:1; the generations of man in the line of Sheth Genesis 5:1, by the birth of Sheth Genesis 4:25; and now the generations of Noah, by the notice that Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. The narrative here also, as usual, reverts to a point of time before the stage of affairs described in the close of the preceding passage. Yet there is nothing here that seems to indicate a new author. The previous paragraph is historical, and closely connected with the end of the fourth chapter; and it suitably prepares for the proceedings of Noah, under the divine direction, on the eye of the deluge. We have now a recapitulation of the agent and the occasion, and then the divine commission and its execution.
Here are the man and the occasion.
The generations of Noah. - In the third document we had the generations of man; now we are limited to Noah, because he is himself at peace with God, and is now the head and representative of those who are in the same blessed relation. The narrative, therefore, for the first time, formally confines itself to the portion of the human family in communion with God, Noah is here characterized by two new and important epithets - “just” and “perfect.” It is to be remembered that he had already found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Adam was created good; but by disobedience he became guilty, and all his race, Noah among the rest, became involved in that guilt. To be just is to be right in point of law, and thereby entitled to all the blessings of the acquitted and justified. When applied to the guilty, this epithet implies pardon of sin among other benefits of grace. It also presupposes that spiritual change by which the soul returns from estrangement to reconciliation with God. Hence, Noah is not only just, but perfect. This attribute of character imports not only the turning from darkness to light, from error to truth, from wrong to right, but the stability of moral determination which arises from the struggle, the trial, the victory of good over evil, therein involved. The just is the right in law; the perfect is the tested in holiness. “In his ages;” among the men of his age. This phrase indicates the contrast between Noah and the men of his day. It is probable, moreover, that he was of pure descent, and in that respect also distinguished from his contemporaries who were the offspring of promiscuous intermarriage between the godly and the ungodly. “Noah walked with God,” like Henok. This is the native consequence of his victory over sin, and his acceptance with God. His sons are mentioned, as they are essentially connected with the following events.
And the land was corrupt. - In contrast with Noah, the rest of the race were corrupt - entirely depraved by sin. “It was filled with violence” - with the outward exhibition of inward carnality. “And God saw this.” It was patent to the eye of Heaven. This is the ground of the following commission.
The directions concerning the ark embrace the purpose to destroy the race of man Genesis 6:13, the plan and specification of the ark Genesis 6:14-16, the announcement of the deluge Genesis 6:17, the arrangements for the preservation of Noah and his family, and certain kinds of animals Genesis 6:18-21.
The end of all flesh. - The end may mean either the point to which it tends, or the extermination of the race. The latter is the simpler. All flesh is to be understood of the whole race, while yet it does not preclude the exception of Noah and his family. This teaches us to beware of applying an inflexible literality to such terms as all, when used in the sense of ordinary conversation. “Is come before me,” is in the contemplation of my mind as an event soon to be realized. “For the land is filled with violence.” The reason. “I will destroy them.” The resolve. There is retribution here, for the words “corrupt” and “destroy” are the same in the original.
The ark. - Reckoning the cubit at 1.8 feet, we find the length to be about 540, the breadth 90, and the height 54 feet. The construction of such a vessel implies great skill in carpentry. The lighting apparatus is not described so particularly that we can form any conception of it. It was probably in the roof. The roof may have been flat. “And to a cubit shalt thou finish it above.” The cubit is possibly the height of the parapet round the lighting and ventilating aperture. The opening occupied, it may be, a considerable portion of the roof, and was covered during the rain with an awning מכסה mı̂ksēh Genesis 8:13. If, however, it was in the sides of the ark, the cubit was merely its height. It was then finished with a strong railing, which went round the whole ark, and over which the covering, above mentioned, hung down on every side. The door was in the side, and the stories were three. In each were of course many “nests” or chambers, for animals and stores. It may be curious to a mechanical mind to frame the details of this structure from the general hints here given; but it could not serve any practical end. Only the animals necessary to man, or unusual to the region covered by the deluge, required to be included in the ark. It seems likely that wild animals in general were not included. It is obvious, therefore, that we cannot calculate the number of animals preserved in the ark, or compare the space they would require with its recorded dimensions. We may rest assured that there was accommodation for all that needed to be there.
The method of destruction is now specified. A water flood shall cover the land, in which all flesh shall perish. I, “behold,” I. This catastrophe is due to the interposition of the Creator. It does not come according to the ordinary laws of physics, but according to the higher law of ethics.
The covenant with Noah. Here is the first appearance of a covenant between God and man on the face of Scripture. A covenant is a solemn compact, tacit or express, between two parties, in which each is bound to perform his part. Hence, a covenant implies the moral faculty; and wherever the moral faculty exists, there must needs be a covenant. Consequently, between God and man there was of necessity a covenant from the very beginning, though the name do not appear. At first it was a covenant of works, in regard to man; but now that works have failed, it can only be a covenant of grace to the penitent sinner. “My covenant.” The word “my” points to its original establishment with Adam. My primeval covenant, which I am resolved not to abandon. “Will I establish.” Though Adam has failed, yet will I find means of maintaining my covenant of life with the seed of the woman. “With thee.” Though all flesh be to perish through breach of my covenant, yet will I uphold it with thee. “Go into the ark.” This is the means of safety. Some may say in their hearts, this is a clumsy way to save Noah. But if he is to be saved, there must be some way. And it is not a sign of wisdom to prescribe the way to the All-wise. Rather let us reflect that the erection of this ark was a daily warning to a wicked race, a deepening lesson of reliance on God to Noah and his household, and a most salutary occupation for the progenitors of the future race of mankind. “And thy sons, etc.” Noah‘s household share in the covenant.
And of all the living. - For the sake of Noah, the animal species also shall be preserved, “two of each, male and female.” They are to come in pairs for propagation. The fowl, the cattle, the creeping thing or smaller animals, are to come. From this it appears that the wild animals are not included among the inmates of the ark. (See Genesis 7:2-3, Genesis 7:8.) The word “all” is not to be pressed beyond the specification of the writer. As the deluge was universal only in respect to the human race, it was not necessary to include any animals but those that were near man, and within the range of the overwhelming waters. Fodder and other provisions for a year have to be laid in.
The obedience of Noah and the accomplishment of his task are here recorded. The building of so enormous a fabric must have occupied many years.
Of the antediluvians we read, “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.... And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth” (Genesis 6:5, 13). HP 343.3Read in context »
Enoch's life and character, which were so holy that he was translated to heaven without seeing death, represent what the lives and characters of all must be, if, like Enoch, they are to be translated when Christ shall come. His life was what the life of every individual may be if he closely connects with God. We should remember that Enoch was surrounded with influences so depraved that God brought a flood of waters on the world to destroy its inhabitants for their corruption.... OHC 278.2Read in context »
Giants Before the Flood—At the first resurrection all come forth in immortal bloom, but at the second, the marks of the curse are visible upon all. All come up as they went down into their graves. Those who lived before the Flood, come forth with their giant-like stature, more than twice as tall as men now living upon the earth, and well proportioned. The generations after the Flood were less in stature (Spiritual Gifts 3:84). 1BC 1090.1
5. Degenerated From Lightness to Debasing Sins—We have the history of the antediluvians, and of the cities of the plain, whose course of conduct degenerated from lightness and frivolity to debasing sins that called down the wrath of God in a most dreadful destruction, in order to rid the earth of the curse of their contaminating influence. Inclination and passion bore sway over reason. Self was their god, and the knowledge of the Most High was nearly obliterated through the selfish indulgence of corrupt passions (Letter 74, 1896). 1BC 1090.2
Perverted What Was Lawful—The sin of the antediluvians was in perverting that which in itself was lawful. They corrupted God's gifts by using them to minister to their selfish desires. The indulgence of appetite and base passion made their imaginations altogether corrupt. The antediluvians were slaves of Satan, led and controlled by him (Manuscript 24, 1891). 1BC 1090.3
Corrupted Through Perverted Appetite—The inhabitants of the Noachian world were destroyed, because they were corrupted through the indulgence of perverted appetite (The Signs of the Times, September 2, 1875, reprinted from Testimonies for the Church 3:162). 1BC 1090.4
11. Worshiped Self-indulgence; Fostered Crime—They worshipped selfish indulgence,—eating, drinking, merry-making,—and resorted to acts of violence and crime if their desires and passions were interfered with. 1BC 1090.5
In the days of Noah the overwhelming majority was opposed to the truth, and enamored with a tissue of falsehoods. The land was filled with violence. War, crime, murder, was the order of the day. Just so will it be before Christ's second coming (Manuscript 24, 1891). 1BC 1090.6
12, 13. Noah Ridiculed—Before the destruction of the old world by a flood, there were talented men, men who possessed skill and knowledge. But they became corrupt in their imagination, because they left God out of their plans and councils. They were wise to do what God had never told them to do, wise to do evil. The Lord saw that this example would be deleterious to those who should afterwards be born, and He took the matter in hand. For one hundred twenty years He sent them warnings through His servant Noah. But they used the probation so graciously granted them in ridiculing Noah. They caricatured him and criticized him. They laughed at him for his peculiar earnestness and intense feeling in regard to the judgments which he declared God would surely fulfill. They talked of science and of the laws controlling nature. Then they held a carnival over the words of Noah, calling him a crazy fanatic. God's patience was exhausted. He said to Noah, “The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them, and, behold, I will destroy them from the earth” (Manuscript 29, 1890). 1BC 1090.7
17 (2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 14:10). Coal and Oil Agencies in Final Destruction—Those majestic trees which God had caused to grow upon the earth, for the benefit of the inhabitants of the old world, and which they had used to form into idols, and to corrupt themselves with, God has reserved in the earth, in the shape of coal and oil to use as agencies in their final destruction. As He called forth the waters in the earth at the time of the Flood, as weapons from His arsenal to accomplish the destruction of the antediluvian race, so at the end of the one thousand years He will call forth the fires in the earth as His weapons which He has reserved for the final destruction, not only of successive generations since the Flood, but the antediluvian race who perished by the Flood (Spiritual Gifts 3:87). 1BC 1090.8Read in context »
In the green fields and under the shadow of the goodly trees they set up the altars of their idols. Extensive groves, that retained their foliage throughout the year, were dedicated to the worship of false gods. With these groves were connected beautiful gardens, their long, winding avenues overhung with fruit-bearing trees of all descriptions, adorned with statuary, and furnished with all that could delight the senses or minister to the voluptuous desires of the people, and thus allure them to participate in the idolatrous worship. PP 91.1
Men put God out of their knowledge and worshiped the creatures of their own imagination; and as the result, they became more and more debased. The psalmist describes the effect produced upon the worshiper by the adoration of idols. He says, “They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.” Psalm 115:8. It is a law of the human mind that by beholding we become changed. Man will rise no higher than his conceptions of truth, purity, and holiness. If the mind is never exalted above the level of humanity, if it is not uplifted by faith to contemplate infinite wisdom and love, the man will be constantly sinking lower and lower. The worshipers of false gods clothed their deities with human attributes and passions, and thus their standard of character was degraded to the likeness of sinful humanity. They were defiled in consequence. “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.... The earth also was corrupt before God; and the earth was filled with violence.” God had given men His commandments as a rule of life, but His law was transgressed, and every conceivable sin was the result. The wickedness of men was open and daring, justice was trampled in the dust, and the cries of the oppressed reached unto heaven. PP 91.2
Polygamy had been early introduced, contrary to the divine arrangement at the beginning. The Lord gave to Adam one wife, showing His order in that respect. But after the Fall, men chose to follow their own sinful desires; and as the result, crime and wretchedness rapidly increased. Neither the marriage relation nor the rights of property were respected. Whoever coveted the wives or the possessions of his neighbor, took them by force, and men exulted in their deeds of violence. They delighted in destroying the life of animals; and the use of flesh for food rendered them still more cruel and bloodthirsty, until they came to regard human life with astonishing indifference. PP 91.3Read in context »