Gen 7:17 The flood continued forty days on the earth. The waters increased and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. Gen 7:18 The waters prevailed and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the face of the waters. Gen 7:19 And the waters prevailed so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered. Gen 7:20 The waters prevailed above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep. Gen 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. Gen 7:22 Everything on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died.
The biblical flood is a case study in the coming of the Lord and the judgment that will occur at that time. In fact, one purpose of the flood is to teach us that this day is coming since God has already judged the world once.
There are also some interesting parallels that emphasize this. Just as Noah’s flood was historical so will the next general judgment be as well. Jesus and Peter both referred back to Noah’s flood as an historical event and we learn in Paul’s preaching that God, “has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).
Next both are universal; that is, no one will escape the judgment of sin. Either you will suffer for your sins or you will find escape in Jesus who has given himself as an offering for sin. The text above makes it clear that no land was left for man to climb to so he could avoid death. In Hebrews 9 we learn that no person will escape standing before the Lord, Heb 9:27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, Heb 9:28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
Finally, it will be sudden; without warning. Although God gave ample warning of the coming flood (judgment), one day he shut the door and sent the rain and no one could enter the ark at that point. 1Co 15:51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 1Co 15:52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. We are also told that today is the day of salvation, but once Christ comes back that day is over forever.
The important thing in all this is to see that there was only one means of surviving the flood and that was by entering the Ark which is a type of Jesus Christ who alone was able to turn away God’s wrath against sin in his body on the tree. As I was thinking about this I thought of how we are told that the water covered the highest mountain. From the beginning mankind has invented ways to work their way to God. But the problem is that there is no work good enough, no mountain high enough, that will save us from the guilt of sin.
Perhaps it is no coincidence that the Law was given on a mountain. A Law that could not save sinners because it demands perfect righteousness so it can only condemn humanity. Of course this hasn’t stop us from climbing Mt. Sinai anyway thinking that God has set the bar low enough for sinners to merit salvation. Many have tried to “be good” enough to atone for their sin only to find that when they reach the top God’s holiness is much higher than their feeble efforts and they are consumed; they drown in God’s righteous judgment. Even Mt. Sinai isn’t high enough.
Only the Ark, only Christ, could bear us up high enough to escape the guilt and penalty of sin and here is just one place where God has revealed his perfect salvation. God will glorify himself, not by accepting our sin ladened works as a suitable payment for sin but only by offering himself as the perfect Lamb so that he receives all the glory. As Genesis 22 says so well in a kind of play on words in the KJV, Gen 22:8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. And truly he did two thousand years ago he provided himself as the only ark of safety, the only suitable substitute in his Son, Jesus Christ.