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 The number of people living on the earth increased, and the Lord God saw that the people were very evil. They thought only about evil things all the time. All this evil made the Lord sad in his heart. He was sorry he had ever made people.

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            The Lord said, "I will destroy all the people that I made on the earth. I will destroy every man and every animal and everything that crawls on the earth. I will also destroy the birds of the air."

            There was one man on earth, however, who pleased the Lord. His name was Noah. Noah was a good man who always walked with God. Noah and his wife had three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

            When God looked at the earth, he saw violence everywhere. People had become evil and cruel and had ruined their lives. God said to Noah, "All people have filled the earth with anger and cruelty, so I will destroy all living things. I will remove them from the earth."

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            Then God said to Noah, "Build a boat for yourself out of gopher wood and cover it with tar. Make the boat 146 meters (450 feet) long, twenty-three meters (75 feet) wide, and fourteen meters (45 feet) high. Make a window for the boat about half a meter (eighteen inches) below the roof. Put a door in the side of the boat, and make three floors--a top deck, a middle deck, and a lower deck."

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                Noah trusted God and did the things God commanded. Noah and his sons built the big boat according to God's instructions. While the boat was being built, Noah preached to the people warning them about the flood and urging them to change their ways. No one listened to him.

            The Lord said to Noah, "Gather your family and go into the boat. Get seven males and seven females of every kind of animal that can be used for sacrifices, and get one pair of every other animal on earth. Get seven pairs of all the birds. This will allow all the animals to continue living on earth after the other animals are destroyed. Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth. Every living thing on the earth will be destroyed. All the things I made will be gone."

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             Noah obeyed all the things that God commanded him. Noah and his family went into the boat. All the animals, all the birds, and all the insects that Noah had gathered went into the boat with Noah. God closed the door behind them and seven days later the flood began. On the seventeenth day of the second month all the springs under the ground split open and water began flowing from the ground. That same day the rains began falling on the earth. It was like windows in the sky were opened. The rain fell for forty days and forty nights. The water began rising and lifted the boat off the ground. The water continued to rise, and the boat floated on the water, high above the earth. The water rose until it was more than six meters (twenty feet) above the highest mountain.

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            So the flood destroyed every living thing that was on the earth--every man, every animal, everything that crawls, and every bird. God saved the lives of Noah, his family, and the animals with them in the boat.

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            The Lord made a wind blow over the earth, and the water began to disappear. After 150 days the water was low enough that the boat touched land again. The boat stopped on one of the mountains of Ararat.

            Forty days later, Noah opened the window he had made in the boat and sent out a raven. The raven flew from place to place until the ground was dry.

            Noah also sent out a dove. Water still covered the earth, so the dove came back to the boat. Noah reached out his hand, caught the dove, and brought it back into the ship.

            After seven days, Noah sent the dove out again. That afternoon the dove came back with a fresh olive leaf in its mouth. This was a sign to Noah that the water had dried up on the earth. Seven days later, Noah sent the dove out again. This time the dove did not came back.

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            On the twenty-seventh day of the second month (one year and seventeen days after he had entered the boat), Noah opened the door of the boat and went out with his sons, his wife, and his sons' wives. All the animals, everything that crawls, and every bird left the boat.

            Then Noah built an altar and worshiped the Lord. Noah took some of the birds and animals that had been with him in the boat. And he sacrificed them on the altar as a gift to God.

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            God blessed Noah and his sons and made an agreement with them. God said, "This is my promise to you. All life on the earth was destroyed by the flood, but that will never happen again. I have made a rainbow in the clouds. That rainbow is proof of the agreement between me and the earth. When I see the rainbow, I will remember the agreement between me and you and every living thing on the earth."

            After coming out of the boat Noah became a farmer. Noah and his family started a new life. God told Noah and his family to spread out and fill the earth with people again.   

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             The biblical account of the flood helps explain several geological mysteries. For example, geologists say that the stone trees in America's Petrified Forest came from mountains 100 kilometers (62 miles) away. Somehow, these trees floated across the desert to their present location and were covered by several hundred feet of soil. This put them under such great pressure that the wood in the trees changed to stone?

            In another case, a petrified log extends through several layers of soil. These layers of soil must have been laid down around the log quickly, as in a flood. The log would have rotted if each layer of soil had been laid down over a period of millions of years as Geologists say. California's Death Valley contains large rocks that came from rock formations 644 kilometers (400 miles) away. How did they get there? Could they have been swept there by a great flood?

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            And, why do the Chinese and several other ancient cultures trace their histories back to a great flood from which a family was saved in a big boat?

            The Bible is not a science textbook, nor does it solve all the mysteries of the universe. Yet, many of the questions that geologists have asked find reasonable answers in the biblical account of the flood.

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            From this biblical account of Noah and the flood we learn that we are caught in a conflict between good and evil.

1.      The forces of evil are powerful and widespread. After sin entered the world through Adam and Eve, it gained control of their son Cain. From Cain, it spread throughout the earth. People were held captive by lust, greed, violence, and other forms of evil. The happiness and joy that Adam and Eve experienced in the garden of Eden disappeared. Misery and fear took their place. Life on earth was ruined by sin.

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            The forces of evil are still very powerful in the world today. Our prisons are full and running over. Evil people are abusing members of their own family. Wives are beaten by their husbands. Children are abused by parents, relatives, or friends. The minds of children, young people, and adults are being destroyed by alcohol and drugs. People are dying of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. People fight each other, steal from each other, and hurt one another in a variety of ways. The poor are neglected, and the earth is filled with violence and corruption--in much the same way it was in Noah's time. Life is being ruined by sin.

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             2. The forces of good are also at work in the world. Noah and his family obeyed God even though the people around them gave themselves to evil lifestyles. It did not make him popular, but Noah urged his neighbors to turn from their evil ways. Noah has been called "a preacher of righteousness."

            Evil people usually get more attention than good people do. Newspapers always report murders, rapes, and robberies, but they are slow to mention the good things people do. Therefore, we are inclined to forget that there are people all around us who, like Noah, are trying to be faithful to God.

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            3. God hates evil. The story of Noah and the flood is a story about God's response to sin. God hates sin because sin is rebellion against him, and because sin hurts the people he loves. Adultery, child abuse, lying, stealing, wife beating, and mistreating others can only lead to pain. Like cancer, sin produces suffering and death. God loves everyone and does not want anyone to be hurt.

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            4. The flood was God's judgment against evil. Tender-hearted people have criticized God for ignoring the cries of the people who drowned in the flood. We must remember, however, that these evil people had refused to listen to God or to obey the preaching of Noah. They had been warned again and again. They had been given opportunity after opportunity to change their hearts and lives, but they had refused to change. They were infected by evil. They were sick with a spiritual disease. God sent the flood to punish evil people. God's plan was not to destroy mankind, but to save humanity from sin.

            As we continue our study, we will see how God's plan to save mankind from sin unfolds.

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Scripture References: Genesis 6-9; Matthew 24:36-39; I Peter 3:20-21; II Peter 2:5; Titus 2:11-14; 3:5.


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