A disaster of ‘biblical proportions’1
Published: 24 June 2014 (GMT+10)
In mid February, referring to the havoc caused by excessive winter rainfall and widespread flooding across England,2 The Economist (UK) commented: “‘BIBLICAL’—that is how David Cameron3 described the floods spreading misery through southern England. … yet his recourse to scripture also invited the uncomfortable question of who, exactly, is to blame.”4 It is now quite commonplace to hear politicians or journalists say that a freak weather event or natural disaster was of ‘biblical proportions’. By this they mean that it was something unusually great, enormous, epic, or even apocalyptic.
It is obvious that the biblical event referred to is ‘Noah’s Flood’, something that they usually concede is supposed to have destroyed the whole world. It’s ironic, therefore, that many professing Christians who have been influenced by evolution and ‘millions of years’ argue that Noah’s Flood was not global, affecting only a relatively small region of the Middle East (but see here).
In fact, that a truly global flood is plainly taught in Genesis is rarely questioned at all by non-Christians, even though they themselves usually deny that such a catastrophe actually happened. For instance, take “Noah”, the big-budget Hollywood movie released in cinemas and movie theatres earlier this year. As the following extracted quotations show, the trailers leave no doubt whatsoever that the “Great Flood” depicted in the film is geographically universal: “The World’s most epic event”, “… annihilate this world”, “This is the end of everything … the beginning of everything.”5
A ‘local flood’ simply isn’t in view! And for that matter, neither is there any doubt about this in the mind of actor Russell Crowe who plays the part of Noah. Interviewed a few months before the film’s release, he scoffed that people “consider Noah to be a benevolent figure because he looked after the animals. … are you kidding me? This is the dude that stood by and watched the entire population of the planet perish! He’s not benevolent. He’s not even nice” (emphasis added).6 So, when it’s convenient to do so, people readily acknowledge that the Bible describes a globe-destroying Flood—whether to draw comparison with natural calamities, for the sake of entertainment, or even as an axe to grind against biblical characters or God Himself.
The Economist writer also drew attention to the human tendency to apportion blame for our problems. What or who is responsible? Someone must be to blame! It’s interesting to see the reference to UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s “recourse to scripture”. This indicates that the Economist author knows full well what Scripture unambiguously teaches (as do the scriptwriters of Noah): God Himself sent the Flood in the days of Noah as a judgment upon human wickedness (Gen. 6:5–7); in other words, humanity’s sin was ultimately to blame.
The damaging 2013/14 UK winter storms have already been eclipsed by worse flooding across the Balkans—associated with over 2,000 landslides and leaving some one million people without fresh water in Bosnia-Herzegovina.7 Such ‘Natural disasters’ are a perennial challenge for human communities globally in this fallen, sin-cursed world, prompting the usual ‘Why?’ questions—and there are answers.
Coming back to England’s appalling winter flooding, the identity of the culprit depended on whose opinion you listened to—the government or another political party, the Environment Agency, the European Union, Global Warming, or perhaps just the exceptionally wet weather!8 Ironically, the Economist article, in blaming natural causes rather than man, had another allusion to Scripture: “Even if Mr Cameron had the wisdom of Solomon … he could not have prevented the flooding.” While some people may continue to debate that point, the rebellious people of Noah’s day certainly were powerless to prevent or even forestall the Flood—something which has sobering implications for our own generation as people increasingly reject the Creator God. Jesus compared the days before His second coming with the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37–39).
New for old
Even among church people, there is often profound ignorance of the true magnitude, extent and duration of the biblical Flood, an event attested to by numerous flood legends worldwide. That event was a geological and atmospheric cataclysm, the like of which the world has never come close to witnessing since, nor will do again (Genesis 9:11), The reason why God deemed such obliteration necessary is as disagreeable to modern readers as it is clear. Those antediluvian people had reached such depths of depravity—their thoughts being “only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5) and their violence unchecked (Genesis 6:11)—that a fresh beginning was desperately needed. So it was that God determined to wipe the slate clean, destroying that former world with a catastrophic Deluge (Genesis 6:17, 2 Peter 3:5–6). Just as a dilapidated old tower block (though home to many people) must sometimes be demolished in order to make way for a brand new building, the rotting corpse of that old world had first to be buried. Only then could the occupants of the Ark start over again, spreading out and filling the new world (Genesis 8:15–17).
Contrary to the insinuations of Russell Crowe, the real story of Noah is truly inspirational. Though an ordinary human being, God favoured Noah. He was a paragon of virtue in his generation, someone who walked with God (Genesis 6:8, 9). Being God-fearing, he obediently built the Ark, thereby saving his family and preserving representatives of each kind of land animal for the new world. True, the former godless world was condemned, and deservedly so, but the remarkable faith of Noah is a shining testimony and example to us all (Hebrews 11:1–2, 7).
He preached righteousness (2 Peter 2:5) and coming judgment so that the people of the day could have the opportunity to be saved on the Ark. So must we (John 16:8). The Ark provided a safe refuge from the judgement of the flood waters and wonderfully pictures salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. Just as people and animals needed to go into the Ark to be saved, so a person must be in Christ in order to receive forgiveness and escape God’s judgement. He alone can save us from sin and death. This requires genuine repentance and faith (Romans 10:9–13) but, for those who have called upon the Lord, the good news is that “old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
References and notes
- Modified version of an article that first appeared in Prayer News (CMI-UK/Europe), April 2014. Return to text.
- Winter storms of 2013–14 in the United Kingdom, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winter_storms_of_2013%E2%80%9314_in_the_United_Kingdom; accessed 21 May 2014. Return to text.
- The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom since 2010. Return to text.
- Britain’s Floods: Canute Cameron, The Economist (print edition), 15 February 2014; also at www.economist.com/news, 13 February 2014. Return to text.
- The trailers can be viewed online, e.g. at www.imdb.com or www.youtube.com. Return to text.
- See www.cineworld.co.uk/blog/noah-darren-aronofsky-russell-crowe, 17 September 2013; accessed 21 May 2014. Return to text.
- Balkan floods: ‘Quarter of Bosnia’ without clean water, 19 May 2014, www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-27477593; accessed 21 May 2014. Return to text.
- As well as torrential rain, there were record waves and storm surges. Atrocious weather and storms continued to batter the country through much of February too. Return to text.
Well said. The message is so relevant for today. I specially appreciated the affirmation that Noah was a blameless man who gave people the opportunity to come aboard, contrary to the movie's distortion. Also the need for us to be in Christ to be saved today.
Keep on keeping on.
I am a 47yr old South African and when I was in primary school, we were taught the story of Noah as is in the Bible. I always believed it to be a literal event and as a teacher later on in the early 90's taught my pupils the same thing. I am stunned at what the norm and beliefs are today, even among born-again believers. This issue is for me a fundamental issue in every aspect. Thanks CMI for being faithful contenders of the faith and truth, you have my full support!!!
I find it best when talking to secular people about the flood to just ask a few simple questions...Do you not understand that 3/4ths of this earth is currently flooded? That usually causes a brain freeze. Then I ask...And how about the other 1/4th of the earth? There is clear evidence that most of it has sedimentary layers with fossils in it. That indicates flooding! That means, that at some time in the past the entire earth was covered in water. Right? The only question is when. At this moment, they are confronted with the reality of their false beliefs. If they are interested in further discussion, I oblige, but if they scoff, I just walk away. But I know they will think about those questions!
I find it sadly ironic how this flood followed the UK's added clauses to their 'Academy Conversion Program'. The funding agreement bans the teaching of any scientific theory which rejects naturalism for federally funded schools.
I pray that the evolutionary theory will be so turned on its head that such a legislation will be forced to repeal. [web link removed as per feedback rules]
Well we are told in the Bible for us to have dominion over the planet and one part of that [is] doing our best by taking care of our environment. The weather they got that brought on the flooding wasn't that bad, but the problem is that "Environmental Agencies" got in the way and stopped the locals from doing what they could to protect the region from flooding. Based on what I have read is that one agenda the 'Environmental Agencies" wanted to have [was] more wetlands. So obviously the dredging that would take place to remove the build up of silt in the rivers wasn't done and thus the extra water led to the area becoming reclaiming the land and becoming a wetland. The denial of the dominion mandate is causing lots of problem when we should be tak[ing] control and care of the planet God gave us charge of.
Ian is absolutely right - it is the perverse and Godless thinking of the loopy left who are actually harming the environment, among others. Jesus said "you are of more value than many sparrows", thus giving us the correct priorities when dealing with these matters. Father God sends His rain for blessing and for judgment, as He sees fit. Whatever we sow, is what we will reap. Love your stuff CMI!
The earth is under a curse because of Adam and Eve's disobedience. Satan has blinded the eyes of those that have not come out of the darkness and into the light of Christ. They will rather believe a lie than to behold the Creator. Evolutionists don't have a leg to stand on.
Would it even be possible to only flood part of the Earth? As far as I am aware, water will spread out to an even depth over an entire surface, unless contained locally somehow.
The title of this article led me to believe that you were going to highlight how the secular world, while professing not to believe in an Almighty & Sovereign God, increasingly and somewhat scoffingly makes use of biblical language to describe unusual or unbelievable events (2 Pt 3: 1-8).
The fact that biblical references are used is not that surprising, considering our history. However, when Insurance companies insert "Acts of God" clauses in their policy wording to get-out paying for damage caused by unnatural disasters. And Business meetings refer to "Prayer Breakfasts" and "All Singing From The Same Hymn Sheet". And devilishly, how the Evil One persuades unbelievers to blaspheme, swear and curse by the Name or Title of "Jesus" and "God"; perversely in their conversations, entertainment media, articles and other communications, as to be common-place.
Still it's amazing that despite the vehement protestations and unbelief of the wicked, they actually exonorate the biblical account of how things came to be; The Eternal & Sovereign God behind it, and Why it has continued to be current and newsworthy throughout history.
Ps 50:6-23 outlines how Yahweh God abhors those who incorrectly call His Name or refer to His Statutes, while plotting to do evil against their neighbour. Therefore He will repay them for their great wickedness. But He will reward those who order their conduct and conversation correctly with His Salvation.
For The LORD will cause all the Ends of the Earth to Remember and to turn to The LORD. All the families of the nations will bow down before Him. and even those who go down to The Pit dust will kneel before Him. (Ps 22: 27-31, Is 45: 22-25.)