The Noah Narrative: Prelude to the Deluge

Conditions on Earth

The antediluvian world was, like Vanity Fair, a system of entertainment, technology and prosperity (Gen 4:20-22). This was a materially prosperous civilization, not Neanderthals in caves. They ate, drank and married freely (Luk 17:27). It’s possible that the antediluvian world numbered in the billions.[1] The parallels between Noah’s world and ours are clear: man has filled the globe with sin, and in materialistic blindness has no thought of God. The façade of progress cannot hide man’s total depravity.

When God finished creation, He “saw … it was very good” (Gen 1:31), but now He “saw that the wickedness of man was great [lit. multiplied] in the earth” (6:5).[2]  “The proliferation of the human population leads to a proliferation of lawless behaviour. This is one of several verbal echoes of the creation story, suggesting a perversion of creation by man and then a reversal of creation by God.”[3]  There is further evidence that the original creation needed re-creation; God said, “I will destroy man whom I have created … beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls” (6:7; cf. 1:26). It is God’s prerogative to kill and make alive (Deu 32:39), to build and to pull down (Jer 31:28), to create and re-create. This was instructive for Genesis’ original readership. Israel was about to be planted in a promised land; life and prosperity lay before them, contingent on obedience.  “I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil …. But if thine heart turn away … ye shall surely perish [from] the land” (Deu 30:15-18).

Man’s heart was filled with wickedness, but God’s immutable response was that He “grieveth Himself – unto His heart” (Gen 6:6 YLT). God’s affections are different than ours. He does not change (Mal 3:6; Num 23:19) or have passions (Act 14:15). God cannot be acted upon so that He alters. “If your transgressions are multiplied, what do you do to him? If you are righteous, what do you give to him?” (Job 35:6-7 ESV). God is immutable – in His essential nature there is no change; He is impassible – immune from suffering. He is eternally blessèd. However, immutability does not mean motionlessness, nor impassibility indifference. Although God does not have passions, He does have affections[4] – according to His unchanging nature He voluntarily disposes Himself towards man in different ways. Because man had now changed in relation to God, God, according to His unchanging nature, altered His disposition to man. The inner life of God doesn’t change, but His affections to man do. This meant that God didn’t rashly destroy man, but showed perfect justice, longsuffering and grace.

The Exception of Noah

The generations of Adam ended in corruption and the seed of the woman was nearly extinguished, but God would raise up another generation (Gen 6:9) to further His purpose.  Noah, like Adam, started by walking with God, and both were heads of the world (cf. 9:2; Psa 8:6), but ended in nakedness due to sin. Although God turned His face from man (“repenteth me”), His gracious eyes were toward Noah (vv7-8).

Noah was blameless in a day of utter degradation (v9), showing it is possible and expected to be light in a dark world.

Noah followed the example of his great-grandfather in walking with God (5:22). This is an example of generational harmony that should be followed today. Further, he raised a godly seed (v10) in a godless age, showing harmony between the genders. Mrs. Noah followed the creatorial blueprint in being a help to her husband and mothering children (2:18). Noah was responsible for building and preaching (2Pe 2:5). In a day of gender confusion, we should remember the design and function that God has for man and woman. No formula or educational method will save children. Noah’s sons saw a father who feared Jehovah and lived by faith.  Parents today must do the same.

The Destruction to Come

The announcement of the deluge “sounds like a drumroll, of cadences, stressing repeated terms … that are … semantically parallel.”[5] This section follows a pattern – judgement announced (vv13,17-18) and instructions to build (vv14-16,19-21).[6]

Lessons for Israel

As Israel read the ark’s dimensions, they would have been reminded of another construction project – the tabernacle. Obedience in carrying out the prescribed details would save them in a land inhabited by Canaanites.[7]

The planet and all flesh were corrupt (vv11a,12b). God would therefore destroy all flesh “with the earth” (v13). The fall and the flood affected the environment. This was a further lesson to Israel – “the land, whither I bring you to dwell … [could] spue you … out” (Lev 20:22). Sin – not CO2 – has corrupted the earth. This will be remedied at the advent of Christ (Rom 8:19).



Enoch’s rapture away from coming wrath (5:24; cf. 1Th 1:10) coincided with the removal of the Spirit of God (6:3; cf. 2Th 2:7), whilst Noah and his family (a faithful remnant) were preserved through the flood, showing in type how the Church and Israel relate to the Great Tribulation. This remnant would rule over a new earth (Isa 65:17) with a new head. This prefigures the millennial glory of Christ and His earthly people, Israel.


Noah’s ark (of specified wood and dimensions, like the ark of the covenant) was made with rooms (lit. nests) and covered (kapar, lit. atoned) with pitch (koper, lit. ransom). There was a ransom substance that completely enveloped the ark. This substance, pitch, would endure the fury of the waves, averting wrath and ensuring safety for Noah and his family. Though propitiation is multi-faceted, here we see the aversion of wrath because a ransom substance interposes between God and man. Pitch saved Noah from the deluge; the blood of Christ saved us from hell.

On Him almighty vengeance fell,
That must have sunk a world to hell;
He bore it for the chosen race
And thus became their hiding-place.[8]


God said, “I do bring a flood of waters upon the earth” (v17). The planet was baptised in a watery grave, but the same water saved Noah (1Pe 3:20). Peter makes clear that the deluge typifies baptism. Noah entered the ark, and it brought him into a new world. Similarly, we have been buried with Christ and raised to newness of life. We have been severed from the old world and its way of life.


The ark was made for Noah and his house (Heb 11:7) – “make for thyself [singular] an ark” (6:14 YLT). Simultaneously, the Spirit of Christ preached through Noah as the ark was being prepared (1Pe 3:20; 2Pe 2:5). Peter links the longsuffering of God with salvation (1Pe 3:20; 2Pe 3:9). The disobedience of the people shows they had opportunity to obey the message being preached. Although God sovereignly elected to save one family, man sealed his own fate in rejection. These are paradoxical truths that meet in God.

How sweet and aweful is the place
With Christ within the doors,
While everlasting love displays
The choicest of her stores.

Why was I made to hear Thy voice,
And enter while there’s room,
When thousands make a wretched choice
And rather starve than come?[9]

In Christ

Although the Noahic covenant is not inaugurated until chapter 9, such is the certainty of his salvation that God says, “I have established My covenant with thee” (6:18 YLT). Noah only had to believe God’s word to enjoy the assurance of salvation.

Noah mirrors Adam again as all living things (cattle, bird and bug) are brought to him (v19-20; cf. 1:22-30; 2:19). The old head and order would be replaced with a new one.

Salvation was also linked with Noah (note vv18-20: “thy sons, and thy wife … with thee,” “two of every sort … with thee,” “every sort shall come unto thee”). Union with the “just” one (singular, v9) meant salvation. “God’s work of bringing salvation … through Noah is part of a larger biblical pattern, in which the many are saved (or lost) in solidarity with the one, a pattern that reaches its climax in Christ: the (only) righteous Man who is vindicated in his resurrection and (justifies those who are ‘in Him’).”[10]

The ark was for salvation and preservation. The male and female binaries looked forward to replenishing the earth. Just as Adam was given every herb for food (1:29-30), Noah had to gather food for the ark’s occupants. Noah’s faith was evidenced by his obedience – “all that God commanded him, so did he” (v22). Faith without works is dead. May we, like Noah, live for eternity in a corrupt world.

[1] Robert Carter & Chris Hardy, “Modelling Biblical Human Population Growth,”

[2] Bible quotations in this article are from the KJV unless otherwise noted.

[3] Robert Alter, The Five Books of Moses, Vol 1, The Hebrew Bible (New York, NY: W.W. Norton and Company, 2019), 26.

[4] Kevin DeYoung, “Tis Mystery All, the Immortal Dies: Why the Gospel of Christ’s Suffering Is More Glorious Because God Does Not Suffer,”

[5] Alter, 26.

[6] Kenneth A. Mathews, Genesis 1–11:26, Vol 1A, The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1996), 360.

[7] Mathews, 365.

[8] Jehoiada Brewer (1752-1817)

[9] Isaac Watts (1674-1748)

[10] Josh Jensen, “Spending Time with Noah,”