"Then the LORD said to Noah, 'Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation. You shall take with you seven each of every clean animal, a male and his female; two each of animals that are unclean, a male and his female; also seven each of birds of the air, male and female, to keep the species alive on the face of all the earth. For after seven more days I will cause it to rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and I will destroy from the face of the earth all living things that I have made.' And Noah did according to all that the LORD commanded him" (Gen. 7:1-6).
After many years of preparation, the ark is completed in harmony with God's instructions. There is great satisfaction in finishing a project of this magnitude, though it would be a bittersweet day when they entered the ark of deliverance and the door was shut, sentencing the rest of their fellow humans to death. The LORD did provide special instructions to take extras of certain animals (i.e., the "clean" ones or animals suitable for sacrifice and--in the near future--consumption; cf. 9:3). Did you notice God commanded Noah to "Come into the ark"; He didn't instruct him to "Go into the ark." The implication is clear: God was already in the ark, so to speak! Noah and his family would be safe, but they would have to continue trusting the LORD. What would it have been like to construct the ark and then dwell inside it for over a year? What would Noah's neighbors have thought? We can only imagine their continued ridicule, though no one would be laughing once the flood waters ravaged the Earth! Noah is again held up as a model of obedience and submission to the divine will.
"So Noah, with his sons, his wife, and his sons' wives, went into the ark because of the waters of the flood. Of clean animals, of animals that are unclean, of birds, and of everything that creeps on the earth, two by two they went into the ark to Noah, male and female, as God had commanded Noah. And it came to pass after seven days that the waters of the flood were on the earth. In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was on the earth forty days and forty nights. On the very same day Noah and Noah's sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and Noah's wife and the three wives of his sons with them, entered the ark--they and every beast after its kind, all cattle after their kind, every creeping thing that creeps on the earth after its kind, and every bird after its kind, every bird of every sort. And they went into the ark to Noah, two by two, of all flesh in which is the breath of life. So those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the LORD shut him in" (Gen. 7:7-16).
The day they entered the ark, God shut them in (sealing the door, no doubt). What does it mean to say that "the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened"? Essentially, it means that a lot of water--from above and below--accumulated on the surface of our planet very rapidly. It is reasonable to believe that the Earth may have originally been one large continent, but the land mass was broken up at this time by what is described here (i.e., the bursting forth of hidden fountains under the Earth's surface). Additionally, some have made a compelling case for what might be referred to as a "water canopy" surrounding the Earth prior to the flood. As incredible as it may sound to us today, it likely did not rain at all during the first 1656 years of the Earth's history. There are two factors which strongly suggest this conclusion: (1) There were no rainbows prior to the flood historically (or else the promise of 9:13 is significantly weakened)--implying no prior rain, and (2) 2:6 mentions a "mist" that "watered the whole face of the ground." I believe that Earth, prior to the flood, was a tropical environment with a very different atmosphere than what we have today (which may also be a key factor in the extreme longevity seen in the generations before the flood). In my opinion, the "waters which were above the firmament" were much different than what we recognize as clouds today (there was a lot more water there than is present in the sky today; which accounts for 40 straight days of raining!). If we are correct in this matter, it underscores even further the depth of Noah's faith. This man who toiled long and hard to construct an amazing ark may have never even experienced rain as we know it, let alone a flood! Yet he took God at His word, believed, and obeyed. What an example for us today! I believe the Earth was changed radically during the flood both above and below. There would have been seismic and volcanic activity during the entire period of the flood as the continental plates moved about as God changed the Earth radically (forging deep valleys in the sea and tall mountains on land during the process). The powerful forces involved in the global flood can surely explain much of our present fossil records, particularly the existence of sea creature fossils on the tops of mountains!
"Now the flood was on the earth forty days. The waters increased and lifted up the ark, and it rose above the earth. The waters prevailed and greatly increased on the earth, and the ark moved about on the surface of the waters. And the waters prevailed exceedingly on the earth, and all the high hills under the whole heaven were covered. The waters prevailed fifteen cubits upward, and the mountains were covered. And all flesh died that moved on the earth: birds and cattle and beasts and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every man. All in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, all that was on the dry land, died. So He destroyed all living things which were on the face of the ground: both man and cattle, creeping thing and bird of the air. They were destroyed from the earth. Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark remained alive. And the waters prevailed on the earth one hundred and fifty days" (Gen. 7:17-24).
The water level increased for nearly six weeks. The water dominated the entire planet, even covering up the highest hills and mountains (which likely were not as high then as they are today). God may have pushed the mountains up, so to speak, to their present heights and lowered valleys in the sea when it was time for the water to recede. Such is not difficult to imagine when one thinks about the powerful forces at work in the crust of the Earth during the entire flood and the effect of continental plates crashing into each other. One might wonder about the significance of the water rising 15 cubits above the highest mountain. This boat was designed for stability in rough water and it would have had about half of its height submerged in water and the other half above the surface. Half of the ark's height is precisely 15 cubits (cf. 6:15). In other words, as the ark was initially tossed about in the highly turbulent water, the water level was high enough to prevent the boat from striking the top of any mountain. God supplied just the right amount of water--nothing more and nothing less! All life forms not on the ark, perished (except sea creatures). Some, no doubt, survived longer than others, but all died. After the rain ceased, the flood waters prevailed on the planet for another 110 days. How many billions of creatures drowned? Only God knows. And what happens to most creatures that die in water? Eventually they become "floaters"! How many dead bodies (human and animal) floated to the surface to produce an awful stench (smelled only by God, most likely)? The thought of this perhaps sheds new light on 8:21 where Noah exits the ark safely and offers an array of burnt offerings - "And the Lord smelled a soothing aroma."
It is interesting to observe that every ancient culture has a flood story of some sort (e.g., Sumerians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Hittites, Chinese, etc.). Surely this lends credibility to the factualness of the global flood. Many skeptics refuse to affirm anything more than a local flood in Noah's day, but one cannot believe the Bible if he affirms such. Genesis 7:19 & 8:9 cannot be interpreted in any way as descriptive of a local flood (cf. Luke 17:27)! Besides, if God only sent a local flood, and Noah had over 100 years to prepare, wouldn't it have been easier to simply move somewhere else! Of course, a local flood would also not accomplish the intended purpose of God--namely, destroying all life except that which was on the ark. Finally, to affirm the flood account here as being a local flood (and not global) makes God a liar! God promised in 9:11 to never again do what He did here. If Noah experienced a local flood, then God promised not to do such again. But local floods are very common even in our day! To attempt to interpret the flood here as anything but global is just not possible!
Thank you for listening, and may the Lord bless you as you strive to do His will.