What is the message of the flood story?

What is the message of the flood, and why did Jesus mention it in Luke 17:27 and Matthew 24?

There are several messages to the flood story.

The most apparent one is the obvious story of Yahweh becoming displeased with humanity and wiping out almost all life through through a global flood. Presumably after he opened up the firmament and let water pour in while more bubbled up from underneath.! The only ones saved were those saved by the ark.

One message that really has two sides. Salvation and destruction.

Jesus hyperlinks back to this “ end of the world “ myth by preaching a message of salvation and destruction.

This also hyperlinks and connects to baptism. As we see in 1 Peter.

1 Peter 3:17-22
New American Standard Bible
17 For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. 18 For Christ also suffered for sins once for all time, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 19 in which He also went and made proclamation to the spirits in prison, 20 who once were disobedient when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. 21 Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.

You’ll notice this message of water being chaotic and anti life in a way but with a ark of some sort making it safe.

The world was formless and void and seemed to be this watery mass but Yahweh brought up the land making it safe.

The garden of Eden was a paradise surrounded by four rivers as of it rose up out front them.

Noah and they ark. Moses was in a river but brought safely through a reed basket. We later seen the Israelites cross through a safe passage while the water crashed in on the Egyptians. Then we see baptism uniting us safely with Christ as he brings us through it and saved us.

So with the flood there is a story of judgement, but also a story of mercy and grace and life.

I might recommend picking up a copy of this book interviewed here:

One pertinent quote from Tremper Longman from the article:

TREMPER LONGMAN: A flood did happen, and that event became the vehicle for the biblical story. Genesis 1-11 as a whole is “theological history” that recounts actual events (the creation of the cosmos and humanity by God, human rebellion, the flood, etc.) but depicts these events in figurative language in order to make important, true theological statements. In the case of the Flood, it appears that a particularly devastating, regional flood was described hyperbolically (i.e. using purposeful exaggeration) in order to make important observations on sin, judgment, and grace as well as order, disorder, and divine re-ordering. Genesis 1-11 that talks about the far distant past is similar to say the book of Revelation that uses figurative language (e.g., Jesus appearing on a white horse with a sword coming out of his mouth in Revelation 19) to describe real events in the far distant future.


The Flood in question. It left a deep impact on all Indian Ocean gulf cultures. So Longman is fine. Except for the last sentence.

The message of the flood is that if we build human civilization on the habit of thinking only evil continually then all hope for humanity is gone and the world will be nothing but misery for everyone on the earth unless it is all wiped out so we can start again from scratch. Better that we be divided into many cultures and nations to limit the depravity we can indulge in without being overrun by others.

And there was I thinking it was the biblical explanation for rainbows!




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