Does the Bible teach that Noah’s flood was universal?

 I must emphasize that I am not (at the moment) interested in whether or not Noah’s flood actually covered the earth. I am instead focusing on whether the Bible teaches Noah’s flood covered the earth. These are two separate issues that I would like to keep divided for the time being.

The Bible talks about the flood in these terms:

Genesis 6:13  And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth.

Genesis 6:17  For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die.

Genesis 7:4  For in seven days I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground.”

Genesis 7:19  And the waters prevailed so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered.

Genesis 7:21  And all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, livestock, beasts, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and all mankind.

Genesis 7:22  Everything on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died.

Genesis 7:23  He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens. They were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark.

Genesis 9:15  I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.

According to Genesis 6-9 the flood annihilated
all flesh,
all flesh,
every living thing,
under the whole heaven,
all flesh,
all swarming creatures,
all mankind,
every living thing,
every living creature of all flesh,
all flesh.
After the flood, “only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark.”

Being the good Calvinist that I am- perhaps I should look for reasons why “all” does not mean “all.” When God speaks of “all flesh” he means everything breathing under the sky (6:17 cf. 7:22). This would be good news for any one visiting the moon or vacationing in the space station, but for anyone on earth this does not seem to be very reassuring.

When God says he intends to destroy “every living thing” he is speaking specifically of those living things he had made (7:4). This is certainly good news for any life forms that arose by evolution; and I guess any Artificial Intelligence life forms would have rested easy too.

So we do have some wiggle room. According to the Bible, only those things that lived on earth, under the sky, breathing air, created by God, were destroyed. Any creature fitting those qualifications was wiped out, except Noah and those who were with him on the ark.

If you can cut through the sarcasm, you likely see that the Bible pretty clearly teaches that the flood of Noah was “universal;” though a better term would be global.

Once again, I am only asking what the Bible teaches about Noah’s flood. I am only concentrating on what the Bible intends for its readers to believe about the flood. If words mean anything, and I believe they do, the Bible teaches that the flood was global. The flood destroyed all God-created, land-dwelling creatures that breathe: except for the ones on the ark. This is the conclusion an unbiased reading of the Bible leads to.

The waters of Noah’s flood covered the entire earth: the Bible teaches this; the Bible intends its readers to believe this.

So what?

I enjoy a good argument as much as the next guy…which is to say, probably more than I should. But a “good argument” should also be a “fair fight.” I do not really enjoy arguing with someone who is making things up as they go along. Such an exercise is pointless.

For example, the other week I came across a Romanist radio program. The speaker was talking about the Roman Mass and as a committed Protestant I thoroughly enjoyed it! I thoroughly enjoyed it because the speaker spoke as a committed Romanist. He asserted that Rome believed the Eucharistic Host (the bread, the wafer) was God Himself and should be worshipped as such. If Rome is right, Protestants are refusing to worship God. If Protestants are right, Romanists are committing idolatry. His assertions were explicit, direct, and absolutely correct. Even though his belief is wrong, he was at least being honest with the ramifications of that belief. Good arguments grow in this fertile soil: men who are honest in their disagreement.

So do not tell me the Bible does not teach a global flood. Just be honest and tell me that you do not believe what the Bible teaches. That is where our discussion must begin.

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