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Noah's Flood

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 ASK THE PASTOR BY DAN KIEHL, Senior Pastor, Oakwood Presbyterian Church

     Question: “Was the flood in the time of Noah a local event or was it a worldwide flood?”

     Answer: I believe that the flood in Noah's day was worldwide because that is the plain and obvious reading of the story in Scripture. Gen. 7:20, 21 says that "...the waters prevailed so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered. The waters prevailed above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep. And all flesh died that moved on the earth..." If the rains took six weeks to cover the mountains of Ararat, and continued to cover them for 16 more weeks, and then for 10 more weeks you could see nothing but mountain peaks, and then it took another 21 weeks before Noah and the animals could come off the ark, it's not possible to reconcile all of that with a local flood, even a huge one. Also, if the flood was only local, then why didn't God just tell Noah to leave the area - he could have easily done so in the time it took for him to build the ark.

     The main objection that I've heard to a universal flood (from both Christian and secular sources) is the fact that today, there is not enough water in the earth's system to cover all the mountains. That is true, but it assumes that the atmosphere and topography of the earth today are relatively the same as they were before the flood. However, I think there are some indications in the story of the flood, that combined with scientific study and common sense, would indicate that the atmosphere and topography of the earth went through some radical and violent changes during the flood. For instance, most creation scientists believe that the oceans are considerably deeper and the mountains are considerably higher today than they were before God sent the flood. This would explain the depth problem and a lot of the geological formations we see in the world.

     From a Biblical interpretation standpoint, to interpret the flood as being local weakens one's interpretation of other passages in Scripture. Several other passages refer to the flood as having destroyed all humanity except Noah and his family, including Jesus' statement in Luke 17. In 2 Peter 3, Peter compares the judgment of the flood to the final judgment of the world by fire – "...the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment..." If the flood was local, what does that say about the Day of Judgment?

Posted by Rev. Dan Kiehl with