Board index Noah's Ark & the Flood

If the flood was local, how can God not send it again?

Postby Vortex » Wed Oct 17, 2018 12:16 pm

To those who believe Noah's flood was local, what does God's promise mean?

God says after the flood: "I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth."

This makes total sense from a global flood perspective, but none from a local flood. He said it won't happen again, which means what he just did is what will never happen again.

Yet local and very large floods still happen obviously. Either the author is not telling the truth, or the flood described is global, and we all know what the evidence has to say about a global flood (that it didn't happen).
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Re: If the flood was local, how can God not send it again?

Postby jimwalton » Wed Oct 17, 2018 12:16 pm

The flood is a multi-leveled narrative. One one level God is judging sin. On another level the story is "Take 2" of the creation story. There are many parallels between Gen. 6-9 and Gn. 1-3. A third level is that it is about order, nonorder, and disorder—three huge paradigms of the ancient worldview. Sin had brought disorder (evil and violence). God uses nonorder (the cosmic water) to obliterate that disorder and to reestablish a modicum of order (what he had instituted in Genesis 1). Though the flood doesn't eliminate disorder (it doesn't take sin out of the world, as admitted in Gn. 8.21), it resets the ordering process, and God here (Gn. 9.11) indicates that the established order will never again be reset by a flood. The flood account specifically fills the role of showing how God reestablished order after bringing the waters of the non ordered cosmos to wipe out the disorder that had come to dominate the world before the flood. The flood doesn't have to be global to accomplish this task. In this way the flood recapitulates the creation story of Genesis 1, and this is why the narrator and author of Genesis includes the story. He is showing how God had worked to bring about order in the past (Gn. 1) and is doing it again (Gn. 6-9). The stories work together to show that God's strategy of establishing order is one of his main modes of operation, and He will show this again when he makes a covenant with Abraham. The covenant is an order-bringing strategy that will reestablish his presence on the earth, which was lost by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Gn. 3). It all ties together.
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Re: If the flood was local, how can God not send it again?

Postby Poppins » Wed Oct 17, 2018 12:36 pm

What is it that God is promising will never happen again?
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Re: If the flood was local, how can God not send it again?

Postby jimwalton » Wed Oct 17, 2018 12:43 pm

He is promising that He will never again reset the established order by a flood.

God ordered the world to function in a certain way in Genesis 1: as His temple, with nature functioning to order and sustain life (time, agriculture, weather, seasons, circle of life, etc.). Sin brought disorder to the order God had instituted, and was in danger of ruining humanity's chances for a viable relationship with God. God used the flood to eliminate the cause of that disorder (the people groups in the vicinity of Noah) and therefore to reestablish a modicum of order. God was once again ordering the world to function in a certain way. To continue that effort, he instituted the covenant with Abraham to create even more order (with the prospect of reducing sin even more, ultimately through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, a descendant of Abraham).
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Re: If the flood was local, how can God not send it again?

Postby Poppins » Thu Oct 18, 2018 10:40 am

I appreciate the clarification.
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Re: If the flood was local, how can God not send it again?

Postby Sanguine » Thu Oct 18, 2018 11:56 am

> He is promising that He will never again reset the established order by a flood.

In other words he is promising not to wipe out entire civilizations again? Great guy.

What I am not getting is why you think he needed to wipe the people out in the first place. God didn't plan for something he knew would happen? Or was it his plan from the start to fail, murder thousands, then save a drunk with a boat?

I would also like to see the biblical references that indicate the Genesis story of creation and flood are indicitive of Gods established order, because this is an excuse I have never seen before.
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Re: If the flood was local, how can God not send it again?

Postby jimwalton » Wed Oct 31, 2018 3:49 pm

> In other words he is promising not to wipe out entire civilizations again?

Not necessarily. God has been judging civilizations since the corruption of sin made them incorrigible: the flood, Babel (no wipe out here, but judgment), Sodom and Gomorrah, Canaan (no wipe out here, but judgment), Babylon, Israel, Jerusalem... A police force is meant to contain crime; a judge is meant to convict crime. If God is moral, He will act to stop the hopeless depravity of civilizations.

> What I am not getting is why you think he needed to wipe the people out in the first place. God didn't plan for something he knew would happen? Or was it his plan from the start to fail, murder thousands, then save a drunk with a boat?

Considering that God is all-knowing, we have to go with the option that God knew it would happen. We also have to go with the plan to judge people who are evil. But it was also his plan that people have an opportunity to hear the truth, repent from evil, and get their lives right with God. We know that there had been plenty of people who were godly, but the evil people were wiping them out, as we see happening today in some cultures. We know that both Enoch and Noah were preachers of truth and righteousness to their cultures. But the cultures were incorrigible, and they refused to change despite all the opportunities to do so. God would have been willing to make a change if the people had changed (Jeremiah 18.1-12; Jonah 3.10). They didn't change, and so had to act or everything would go down in ruin.

> I would also like to see the biblical references that indicate the Genesis story of creation and flood are indicitive of Gods established order, because this is an excuse I have never seen before.

It's not a term that is used but an irrefutable concept. We see in Gn. 1.2 that the earth was without form and void, and darkness was on the face of the deep. In other words, in their culture, these are terms of nonorder. "darkness" and "sea" are conditions of nonorder. "Without form" (tohu) was a term of disorder in the ancient world. Then we see God bringing order to what was "without form and void." The ancient world saw all things in terms of order, disorder, and nonorder, and Genesis is a document of that culture and era. The starting condition of Genesis 1.2 is not lacking material, but lacking order and purpose. Even the term "good" throughout chapter 1 speaks of order rather than value. There are many other elements in Genesis 1, but I'll keep things somewhat brief.

Genesis 2.5 continue the theme of order. We can see that the earth itself is nonorder that needs to be resolved. Humankind will bring order out of nonorder, bringing to function what is non-functional. We can see through Genesis 1-2 a process of going from nonorder to order.

The Garden of Eden is portrayed as the center of order (not perfection). It's an archetypal sanctuary, "in the east" (the "west" was associated with chaos). God was the source of order, and wisdom in the ancient world was the ability to discern order. Sacred space (a temple, a garden) was the place of ultimate order. The humans were put in the garden to preserve order so that chaos was held at bay. Humankind was given a role or ordering the animals. The woman was the equal counterpart of man to establish and maintain order—to care for sacred space.

The serpent is a chaos creature introducing disorder. So much to say here but I'll try to keep it brief. Adam and Eve try to make themselves the center and source of order. Cain seeks order for himself by killing his brother, thus pursuing disorder to his own alleged benefit.

Even the genealogies of Gn. 5, similar to the Enuma Elish, are meant to reflect the order that was built into creation. The naming of Noah ("he will comfort us" at the end of the chapter (5.29) speaks to order in a realm of declining order. His name could indicate that he will be the one through whom order is preserved and nonorder quelled. The flood will be an order-restoring event.

Genesis 6.1-4 seems to be an example of disorder that needs to be addressed. 6.5-8 convinces us that evil had reached an unprecedented level and that God needed to act to restore order. In the flood story God uses nonorder (the flood) to obliterate disorder (the ubiquitous corruption) to reestablish some sense of order.

The story of the Tower of Babel (Gn. 11) is of the same sort. Those people, just like Adam, Cain, the Nephilim, etc., presume to make themselves the center of order and wisdom. They violate the boundaries of human and divine, creating disorder. God squelches their misstep to maintain some sense of order.

In Genesis 12 God establishes the covenant with Abraham, a move to institutionalize, if I dare use that word, order and to pave the way for the ultimate bringer of order (to the disruption of disorder and the end of nonorder), Jesus. There is so much more to say.
Order permeates the entire story.


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