Great Flood

The Great Flood refers to the deluge described in Genesis chapters 6 through 8 as God's judgment on mankind and the account of Noah and the Ark.


Purpose of the flood

"The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the LORD said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them." But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD." (Genesis 6: 5-8)

Noah lived in a time of great corruption, when "the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and ...every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Genesis 6:5), "the earth was filled with violence" (Genesis 6:11), and when "all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth." (Genesis 6:12). God "determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them." (Genesis 6:13)

In stark contrast to Genesis 1:31, which says "And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good", Genesis 6:12 says "And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt".

Historicity of the flood

The remarkable level of detail regarding the whole of the deluge account, including the dimensions of the Ark, the year the flood occurred, and how long it lasted, all attest to the historicity of the account.^[1]^

From chronogenealogies in the Bible, the flood is calculated to have occurred in Anno Mundi 1656, or 1656 years after the creation of the world.^[2]^

In Luke 17:26-27, when talking about the coming of the Kingdom of God, Jesus said "Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all." In these verses Jesus takes the flood account as an historical event, which "destroyed them all".

For people whose conviction of the supremacy and authority of Scripture is influenced by modernist thinking, and requires, or is facilitated by, scientific evidence, it is encouraging to learn that there is extra-Biblical evidence to support historical events described in the Bible, and no indisputable evidence to deny them. So, while the ultimate authority for Christians remains the Scriptures, it is worth mentioning that there is much scientific evidence to support a world-wide flood.^[3]^^[4]^

Extent of the flood

Global flood

The language used in the flood account describes universal destruction. In Genesis 7:11-24 (the description of the events of the flood itself), the word "all" appears 8 times, and the word "every" appears 6 times. "[The ark] rose high above the earth" (7:17), "the waters prevailed so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered... covering them fifteen cubits deep" (7:19, 20), "And all flesh died" (7:21), "He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens. ... Only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark." (7:23)

Local flood

There are those who argue that the flood was merely a local event, confined to the Mesopotamian area, although this position is based more on acceptance of secular geology and evolutionary presuppositions than on the biblical text itself. The local flood theory can be traced back to John Pye Smith in 1839, who's arguments are repeated today, even by those who have never heard of him.^[5]^

Problems with the local flood hypothesis^[6]^

If the Flood was local...

  • why did Noah have to build an Ark? He could have walked to the other side of the mountains and missed it.

  • why did God send the animals to the Ark so they would escape death? There would have been other animals to reproduce that kind if these particular ones had died.

  • why was the Ark big enough to hold all kinds of land vertebrate animals that have ever existed? If only Mesopotamian animals were aboard, the Ark could have been much smaller.

  • why would birds have been sent on board? These could simply have winged across to a nearby mountain range.

  • how could the waters rise to 15 cubits (8 meters) above the mountains (Genesis 7:20)? Water seeks its own level. It couldn’t rise to cover the local mountains while leaving the rest of the world untouched.

  • people who did not happen to be living in the vicinity would not be affected by it. They would have escaped God’s judgment on sin. If this happened, what did Christ mean when He likened the coming judgment of all men to the judgment of ‘all’ men (Matthew 24:37–39) in the days of Noah? A partial judgment in Noah’s day means a partial judgment to come.

  • God would have repeatedly broken His promise never to send such a flood again.


  1. Global flood
  2. Biblical chronogenealogies, by Dr. Jonathan Sarfati, CMI Australia
  3. Geology Questions and Answers, on the Creation Ministries International (CMI) website.
  4. Fossils Questions and Answers, on the CMI website.
  5. Animals, a Deluge and Noah's Ark, by Dr Murray R. Adamthwaite
  6. Noah's Flood covered the whole earth

External links

Global flood

Local flood