Read: Genesis 5:32 – 9:29
The story of the flood is a stark reminder that God’s perfect world did not last long. The impact of the flood is worth pondering, both from the standpoint of the divine intention and from the standpoint of human reaction.
Discussion themes and questions:
- Flood from God’s point of view. How does Genesis present the divine perspective on the flood? What was God’s purpose in destroying the earth with a water disaster? Is there anything of “good news” in the flood or is it all bad news?
- Flood from the standpoint of the people living at the time. What kind of human reaction does Scripture record from those who were facing the specter of the flood? Does the Bible give us enough information to “justify” this act of destruction?
- Modern questions. From the standpoint of our modern world, it is a relatively simple matter to document the memory of a catastrophic water disaster. But why are each of the following controverted points?
- Universal vs. catastrophic vs. local. The ancient Babylonians and Assyrians knew about “the” flood; anthropologists have recorded stories from around the world in which the earth is devastated by a water disaster. So why is the “fact” of the flood such a controverted issue? Jeremiah 27:6-7 describes Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom in terms of “all the nations”; Daniel 2:37-39 suggests that the first three kingdoms represented by Daniel’s image involved “the whole earth”; In Colossians 1, Paul declares that his message went to the “whole world” (vs. 6) and that he had preached to “every creature under heaven.” How should these references affect our understanding of a water disaster that covered the “whole earth”?
- Supernatural vs. natural. Why is it that moderns have turned away from supernatural explanations to merely human ones?
- Theodicy questions. In a world continually inundated by “natural” disasters as well as those caused by human beings, how can believers make a case for a God who is both all-powerful and all good? One can see the flood as “protecting” the earth and its population from great depravity and evil, or as a divine judgment on that depravity and evil. What indications are there in the text of Scripture that might point to one interpretation over the other? Is it possible that both perspectives could be true?