The order to embark. — V.1. And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before Me in this generation. Here is the solemn command of Jehovah with which He announced the coming of the cataclysm; it was the signal of the approaching judgment. Of all the millions of men then living only Noah had been found righteous in the eyes of God. V.2. Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female; and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female. Here the account is more specific, distinguishing between clean and unclean animals. Cp. Lev. 11; Deut. 14. Of clean animals a total of seven of each kind were to be taken into the ark, probably three pairs and a fourth male intended for a sacrificial animal; but with regard to the unclean animals the arrangement by pairs was observed. V.3. Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female, to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth. So these animals and birds were to be the progenitors of the animal world after the Flood, to restock the earth, which would be rendered desolate by the universal destruction. V.4. For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth. First it had been years of respite, but now the time has narrowed down to a few days, thus emphasizing once more the inevitable doom. The destruction was to be brought upon the earth by a flood inaugurated by a steady rain of forty days and forty nights, and it was to include all animate creation, everything that had its own separate existence, all of which was to be blotted out from the face of the earth. V.5. And Noah did according unto all that the Lord commanded him. Cp. chap. 6, 22. V.6. And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth. The hundred and twenty years of grace had begun even before his marriage, or at least before the birth of his sons, chap. 5, 32, and the latter were now almost one hundred years old. Thus the entire congregation of believers had dwindled down to eight souls, Methuselah having died in the year of the Flood.
The embarkation. — V.7. And Noah went in, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the Flood. The members of Noah’s household were thus one with him in faith and in obedience, for which reason they all, unlike Lot’s wife, were saved in the catastrophe from the waters of the Deluge, which destroyed all other men. V.8. Of clean beasts, and of beasts that are not clean, and of fowls, and of every thing that creepeth upon the earth, v.9. there went in two and two unto Noah into the ark, the male and the female, as God had commanded Noah. It was not a mere presentiment of coming danger that prompted the animals to gather about Noah, the clean and the unclean mammals, birds, and reptiles, neither was it a matter of instinct only, but it happened thus by God’s arrangement, and it was He that commanded the animals to assemble at the place where the ark stood ready for occupancy. By pairs they entered into the ark under the direction of Noah, who thus fulfilled the command of God. V.10. And it came to pass after seven days that the waters of the Flood were upon the earth. Exactly according to the prediction of God, on the seventh day after His final command to Noah, the Flood came upon the earth. God’s promises, whether they concern a blessing or a punishment, can never fail of fulfillment. It is a part of true wisdom in the believers to rely implicitly in His Word.
The flood begins. — V.11. In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. V.12. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights. The exact fixing of the day on which the terrible punishment of God had its beginning serves to emphasize its importance for all time. It was not a small local disturbance which is here recorded, but a universal deluge, a flood which covered the entire earth. It was a miracle of God’s avenging and punitive justice. For all the fountains of the great deep were split open and broke forth: the waters beneath the earth which are otherwise locked and hidden in its depths rushed forth with impetuous force. And the windows of heaven were opened. The waters which are ordinarily held back by the firmament set above by the Lord, chap. 1, 6. 7, were now released to pour their masses upon the earth. At the same time a rain set in which streamed down without intermission for forty days and forty nights. V.13. In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth; the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark; v.14. they and every beast after his kind and all the cattle after their kind and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind and every fowl after his kind, every bird of every sort. V.15. And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life. V.16. And they that went in went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him. And the Lord shut him in. Time and again the emphasis is placed upon the exact manner in which the command of God was carried out. All the mammals of every kind, according to genera and species, had assembled, likewise the birds and the reptiles, in the interval of seven days after the Lord’s first announcement. The family of Noah had likewise been obedient to the command of God, to the last letter. The embarkation had thus been completed just as God had outlined it before the Flood began. And the Lord Himself locked the door after Noah. All the clamoring of men for admission after the beginning of the predicted catastrophe would be vain, their repentance would come too late. Let no man be deceived; the same God that brought the Deluge upon a fallen race is living today, and He is not mocked. To continue in trespass in the face of the plain words of the Lord is a dangerous proceeding, to say the least. We know that a punishment, even greater and more terrible than the Deluge, is coming at the end of the world. The heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the Day of Judgment and perdition of ungodly men, 2 Pet. 3, 7. Then will the fire of divine wrath burn through all eternity.
The destruction caused by the flood. — V.17. And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lifted up above the earth. It took forty days for the Flood to reach its crest, to come to full development. During this time the ark was lifted up from the dry land where it had been built; high above the earth the vessel of deliverance rode majestically forward. V.18. And the waters prevailed and were increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters. Greater, farther, and wider the expanse of the waters grew, a limitless ocean where formerly only the dry land had been seen. V.19. And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills that were under the whole heaven were covered. The very repetition of similar expressions serves to impress upon the reader the immensity of that waste of waters which stretched out over the whole earth. Finally even the summits of the highest mountains sank beneath the flood of waters, and men and animals that may have sought safety in the mountains perished like the rest. V.20. Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered. To think of a partial flood, of a local deluge, with this plain account before us were madness; for if the Deluge, after reaching its crest, stood on the earth for more than one hundred days and the ark did not settle on Mount Ararat until the waters subsided, then it stands to reason that it must have been a great deal higher than 16,000 feet, the height of Mount Ararat, and the fact that water seeks its own level would alone demand our belief in the universality of the Flood. Besides, the expression is very general: The mountains were covered; wherever they were on the entire surface of the earth, they were hidden by this mass of waters sent as a punishment by God. V.21. 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; v.22. all in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died. All animate beings on earth which breathe with lungs and have the ability to move about on the dry land: reptiles, birds, mammals, men, they all had to perish in the great Flood. V.23. 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. As Jehovah had announced, v.4, so He carried His threat into execution: every being that has an independent existence and maintains its life by breathing with lungs was destroyed. And Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark. V.24. And the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days. In the midst of that fearful waste of waters, in which all living, animate beings of the earth found their grave, and which covered the earth for a full hundred and fifty days after reaching its highest level, only Noah and his family were saved, the water in their case serving as the means of lifting up their vessel and thus preserving their lives. The water of the Deluge, according to Scriptures, is a type of Baptism, 1 Pet. 3, 20.21. The water of Baptism delivers us and saves us; it washes away the filth of our sins and presents us to God as His children through the merits of Jesus Christ, our Savior. Thus there is comfort for us even in this story of death and destruction.