Noah, the flood, and creation in reverse

Animals board Noah’s ark in this 19th century work by American artist Edward Hicks, which can be seen in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. There are a surprising number of parallels between the story of the flood and the creation story in Genesis 1.

Animals board Noah’s ark in this 19th century work by American artist Edward Hicks, which can be seen in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. There are a surprising number of parallels between the story of the flood and the creation story in Genesis 1.

Most of us are familiar with the story of Noah’s flood, but did you know that Scripture describes Noah’s flood in ways that harken back to the creation story? This suggestion might seem strange at first, but there are some uncanny parallels. Let’s examine a few.

When God created the heavens and the earth, He said after each day, “It is good.” He finishes creation on the sixth day, when he says again, “It is very good” (Genesis 1:31). The flood story, however, begins with God’s stating His disapproval. He looked upon earth and saw that everyone except Noah and his family were wicked (Genesis 6:5, 12). Creation is completed with divine approval, and the destruction of the world begins with divine disapproval.

The next two parallels concern water. What does water have to do with creation? You might have missed it, but it’s there. Before the first day of creation, “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2). As 2 Peter 3:5 explains, “… the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God.” Water preceded the creation of the plants, animals and humans, and with Noah’s flood the process is reversed; plants, animals and humans were destroyed by water.

Even the flood itself harkens back to creation. We often think that 40 days and nights of rain caused the flood, but that’s not how the Bible describes it. Genesis 7:11 says, “All the fountains of the great abyss burst forth, and the floodgates of the sky were opened.” The flood waters came from the sky and the ground! That’s strange. Why would water come from the ground? Look at the second day of creation. On the second day, God separated the “waters above” from the “water below” (Genesis 1:6-8). The flood reverses what God had accomplished on the second day of creation so that these two bodies of water were no longer separated.

Day four of creation is also present in Noah’s flood. On the fourth day, God created the sun and moon to “…mark the fixed times, the days and the years.” The flood temporarily suspended these seasons, so that after the flood God promised, “As long as the earth lasts, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22).

Even the seven days of creation as a whole finds its place within the flood narrative. God created the heavens and the earth and completed filling the earth with plants, animals and humans in a six-day period and rested on the seventh day. In Genesis 7:4, we learn that God commanded Noah to gather all the animals and his family into the ark within seven days. After seven days, the flood begins and the world returns to a watery chaos.

The parallels with creation continue even after flood. For example, Genesis 8:1 says that “…God remembered Noah … and caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water subsided.” The same Hebrew word translated “wind” is also translated as “spirit” in Genesis 1:2 (i.e., “the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters”). Creation begins with the spirit over the water and Noah’s flood ends with the spirit or wind moving over the water.

There are even some parallels between Noah and Adam. Genesis 2:7 tells us that God created Adam from the earth. In Hebrew, there is a word play between the word “Adam” and the word for earth (adamah). Strangely enough, Noah is described as a “man of the earth” (ish ha-adamah) in Genesis 9:20. Noah, like Adam, was commanded by God to be “fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 9:1, 7). Moreover, Adam was righteous, sinned and was cursed (Genesis 3:17-18). Similarly, Noah was a righteous man, who sins (Genesis 9:20-21) and his sin is followed by a curse (Genesis 9:20-25).

The next time you read Noah’s flood, take some time and look for these and other parallels with the creation narrative. You might be surprised at what you’ll find.

Gary Michuta is an apologist, author and speaker and a member of St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Livonia. Visit his website at www.handsonapologetics.com.