Table of contents
The human race began to multiply very rapidly from the children of Adam and Eve. At that time people lived for a very long time, up to nine hundred years or more.
From Seth there came forth pious and good people, "sons of God," but from Cain, wicked and evil people, "sons of men," At first, the offspring of Seth lived separately from the offspring of Cain. They preserved faith in God and the coming Saviour. Later however, they began to take for themselves wives from the daughters of the offspring of Cain, and through them, began to adopt bad habits, to be corrupted, and to forget the true God.
After a considerable time, the wickedness of men was so great that, of all the people on earth, only one of the offspring of Seth remained faithful to God, the righteous Noah and his family.
Beholding the great corruption of mankind, the merciful Lord gave them 120 years for repentance and correction. But men not only did not correct themselves, they became even worse.
Then the Lord decided to cleanse the earth of the evil human race with water, but to preserve the righteous Noah and his family on the earth to continue the human race.
God said to Noah, "The end has come for all creatures, for the earth has been filled by them with evil works; and I shall obliterate them from the face of the earth. I shall bring upon the earth a flood of water to destroy all that is upon the earth" (Cf. Gen. 6:13-17). He commanded Noah to build an ark, a huge, rectangular vessel like a house, in which there would be room for his family and animals, and He gave him the precise measurements and directions for this. Noah accepted God’s commandment with faith and began to build the ark.
When the ark was ready, Noah, at the command of God, entered into it with his wife, his three sons and their wives, and at God’s direction, took with him all the animals and birds which could not live in the water: of the clean ones, that is, the ones which could be offered in sacrifice, seven pairs, and of the unclean ones, one pair, in order to preserve their kind upon the earth. He also took a reserve of food for them all for an entire year.
On that day when Noah entered into the ark, the waters of the flood gushed upon the earth, and "all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened" (Gen. 7:11). There came about a mighty flood from the seas and oceans and from heaven rain poured down upon the earth for forty days and forty nights. The water rose over the earth higher than the highest mountains; it prevailed for 150 days and drowned all men and animals except the ones that were on the ark.
After 150 days the water began slowly to recede. In the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat (in present day Turkey). On the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains appeared. After one year came to an end, the water receded into its proper place.
Noah opened a window in the ark and released a raven, in order to learn whether or not the water had receded from the earth, but the raven flew out and returned to the protection of the ark.
Then Noah released a dove which, when it had flown away, could not find a place to live, because the water was still over the heights of the entire earth, and it returned to the ark. After seven days, Noah again released the dove from the ark. This time the dove returned in the evening and brought a fresh olive leaf in its beak. Noah understood that the water had receded from the earth and that plants had appeared upon it. After waiting another seven days, Noah again released the dove, and this time it did not return to him. He opened the roof of the ark and beheld that the earth had dried.
Then, at the command of God, Noah went forth from the ark with all his family, and released all the animals that were with him.
Noah erected an altar, a place for offering sacrifices, and he offered for his salvation a sacrifice of thanksgiving to God from all the clean animals and birds. God mercifully accepted the sacrifice of Noah, blessed him and his sons, and promised that there would never again be such a flood to destroy all life on earth for the sins of men, that is, there would never again be a world-wide flood. As a sign of this promise, the Lord showed a rainbow in the clouds, which from that time has served as a faithful reminder to men of this promise of God.
Note: See Genesis, chaps. 4:17-24; 5; 6:1-22; 7; 8; 9:1-17.