The flood narrative reminds us to rest in God’s promises even while we wrestle against Satanic powers.
The flood is not actually a story meant to stand on its own. It is, in fact, an interruption in the genealogies of Genesis. In other words, the flood narrative is designed to teach us something valuable about the conflict between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. This story is full of details that are meant to make us look backward and forward. The language used in Genesis 6-9 echoes the creation, the fall, and the first murder. It also hints at what is to come in the stories of Abraham, Moses, and Joshua. The flood cannot be rightly understood if it is ripped out of this context. It only makes sense as part of a wider narrative in which God creates and Satan corrupts. It is a true theological story that intends to remind us that we need to rest in God’s promise even while we wrestle against Satanic powers.
Lamech wants rest. He desperately desires to find relief from the effects of Adam’s sin. He hopefully names his son Noah (which sounds like rest) as a prayerful and prophetic expectation that God will fulfill his promise to crush the serpent through the seed of the woman.
Satan (6:1-4, 11-13)
Meanwhile Satan is working to corrupt God’s good creation. He is leading a rebellion of heavenly beings (the sons of god) that seeks to destroy the seed of the woman. His plan is to have these fallen spiritual beings cohabitate with women and create an army that will serve to disrupt God’s work at every turn.
Yahweh is grieved by the sin of his creation. Sin is not merely a theological concept for God. It is a deep and tragic betrayal of his love. It is an affront to his dignity and an insult to his perfection. Sin breaks the heart of God and the laws of the universe. It demands a just response.
God finds favor in Noah – before Noah ever earns it. God’s favor is always the basis of our faithfulness. We do not seek him unless he seeks us first. God alone can initiate a relationship with his creatures. Thankfully, he does so.
Faithfulness (6:9-10, 14-22)
Noah responds to God’s favor with faithful obedience. Noah does all of the things that God commands him to do. Scripture records no bargaining or questioning from Noah. In fact, Noah has very few words in this narrative because God’s role is the focus of the biblical author.
Flood (Gen 7-8:19)
God condemns sin. He sends a flood to destroy the rampant wickedness on the earth. This is an act of justice that is required by God’s perfection.
Covenant (Gen 8:19-9:17)
God’s condemnation is not the final scene in this story. After God justly responds to sin, he graciously establishes a covenant with his creation. This covenant is God’s doing. He makes it and he keeps it.
After God’s covenant is established, there is a brief scene that reminds us of humanity’s sinfulness. Noah plants a garden, gets drunk, and then gets naked. His shameful behavior will carry negative repercussions for his lineage. The ninth chapter of Genesis concludes the genealogy that began in chapter 5 with the familiar refrain that Noah died.