The theological necessity of belief in a literal global flood.
by Rod Jackson
All verses are quoted from the NASB anything in [square brackets] is added by me for clarity.
In this article I will not look at the (overwhelming) geological evidence of a global flood, but am more interested in the theological evidence.
"Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth." Luke 2:1
This verse states that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, nothing unusual about that. But it says it went out into "all the inhabited earth". Now the Roman empire of that time was very large, but it did not include Japan or China and other places. So it is clear that when it speaks of "all the earth" it means "all the roman empire" or "all the known world". Therefore sometimes when the bible uses the expression "all the earth" or equivalent it is not speaking about the entire world but a local area of the world. In the book of Genesis it describes a flood that came upon the people as God's judgement, in the days of Noah. In fact God said to Noah -
"Behold, I, even I am bringing the flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life, from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall perish." Genesis 6:17
God here talks about destroying "all flesh under heaven". But should this be understood as relatively speaking or absolutely speaking? As we have already seen "all" may not necessarily mean "absolutely all". Because of this fact it is reasonable to ask - was Noah's flood a global or a local flood?
Some people like to use something Jesus said to show the flood was a global flood. When Jesus was teaching His disciples, He prophesied about His second coming. Jesus said,
"For just like the lightning, when it flashes out of one part of the sky, shines to the other part of the sky, so will the Son of Man be in His day. But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man:" Luke 17:24-26
So the argument goes, when Jesus comes as judge at the second coming, this is compared above "as it was in the days of Noah". The judgement to come is going to be a global judgement (even the dead will be raised), therefore, they say, the judgement in the "days of Noah" was a global judgement. But is this really what Jesus was saying, lets re-read the passage from v26 -
"And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. It was the same as happened in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building; but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, the one who is on the housetop and whose goods are in the house must not go down to take them out; and likewise the one who is in the field must not turn back. Remember Lot's wife." Luke 17:26-32
So the passage is talking about how oblivious the pagans were to the coming judgement. It is not talking about the scope of the judgement, as it includes the destruction of Sodom. Sodom was not the "whole world" but a city, that God destroyed in the Old Testament (cf. Genesis 19:1-29).
I believe there is a good theological reason to believe that the flood was global and not local. Let us look again at the description of the flood back in Genesis. This time let us add in the word "local" and "global" respectively and see which makes sense. After the flood God makes a covenant with Noah and his family saying,
"I [God] establish My covenant with you [Noah and family]; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of [a local] flood, neither shall there again be a [local] flood to destroy the earth [locally]." Genesis 9:11
Notice the theological implications of this belief. If the flood of Noah was a local flood then God is a liar, as there have been many local floods that have destroyed the earth, locally. As opposed to reading God as saying to Noah and his family,
"I [God] establish My covenant with you [Noah and family]; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of [a global] flood, neither shall there again be a [global] flood to destroy the earth [globally]." Genesis 9:11
God is truth and cannot lie. Hence it is theologically necessary to believe in a global flood. Otherwise God is a liar! We know from Peter's prophesy that the world will not be destroyed by flood waters but will be destroyed by fire, as it is written -
"But by His [God's] word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men." 2 Peter 3:7
Thus I conclude that it is theologically necessary to believe in a global flood.
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