And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark. — Genesis 7:23
Some saw it as divine intervention, others attributed it to a simple quirk of fate, fortune, or physics. Whatever one’s viewpoint, a nine-year-old boy’s amazing survival in an air crash in Libya in 2010 added another name to a very short list of individuals who have lived through an aviation disaster that claimed all other lives on board. The boy, Ruben van Assouw, suffered multiple fractures when the plane he and his family were on crashed at the Tripoli International Airport, killing all other passengers and the crew members. President of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, was among those who termed the boy’s survival a “miracle.” Though his injuries required lengthy hospitalization, young Ruben is expected to eventually make a full recovery.
Accounts vary of how many sole survivors there have been in the aviation industry’s relatively short history, but the event is so rare that the numbers are thought to be in the tens rather than the hundreds. Most of these escapes have been attributed to unique circumstances.
Thousands of years ago, a tiny band of eight survivors escaped a horrific event that dwarfs any disaster in history, and their escape certainly can be attributed to unique circumstances. When every living creature in the whole world was destroyed by the Flood, our focus verse relates that “Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.” Safe inside the ark that God had directed him to build, this righteous man and his family were preserved by the mercy and grace of God.
God’s mercy had been extended to all upon the earth. When He resolved to destroy man and all living things as a result of man’s abhorrent sins, He did not carry it out immediately. For 120 years, the people heard from Noah about God’s impending judgment, yet they took no positive action to mitigate God’s just anger. Even after Noah and his family went into the ark — their place of safety and salvation — God waited seven days before sending the rain. At last, however, judgment fell, and all mankind perished except for Noah and his family.
We probably will never know why young Ruben was spared. However, we do know why Noah and his family survived: it was because Noah was righteous and he believed and obeyed God. These are priceless attributes! Let us determine to believe God’s Word and follow Him. If we do so, we will be spared the judgment that will someday come upon this world.
This text relates Noah’s entry into the ark with his family and pairs of every kind of animal (verses 7-9), the chronology of the Flood (verses 10-24), and the events immediately following (chapter 8).
The rain, coupled with untold tons of subterranean waters, brought disaster to the unrighteous populace — a universal judgment of God upon a universally wicked society. Verse 7:20 indicates that the water rose 15 cubits, which is approximately 22½ feet. The chronology of the Flood reveals that the period of time between when the rain began to fall until the earth dried (Genesis 8:14) was a total of 371 days.
The “mountains of Ararat” (verse 4) where the ark came to rest are thought by most researchers to refer to a range of mountains located in Eastern Turkey on the borders of Iran, Armenia, and Nakhchivan. The range is in the ancient territory of Urartu (Ararat is the newer Armenian name of Urartu), a region which covers thousands of square miles and has hundreds of mountains. Mount Ararat, the highest peak in that range, is a volcanic mountain with an elevation of 16,945 feet; it rises far above the surrounding plains that are 2,000 to 3,000 feet high.
When Noah and his family left the ark at God’s command, God reiterated the directive initially given to mankind (see Genesis 1:28) to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.” It is noteworthy that Noah’s first action, after having been shut in the ark for over a year, was to build an altar to the Lord.
The statement that God “smelled a sweet savour” indicates that God approved of Noah’s action. He responded with a promise that He would never again totally disrupt the natural processes of life on earth. Included in this declaration of mercy was recognition of the carnal condition with which all are born, “for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Genesis 8:21). As descendants of Adam, the eight individuals who had found refuge from divine retribution in the ark still had been born with sinful natures, and thus their descendants would continue to exhibit carnality.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. The early history of the human race
D. The judgment upon mankind
3. The nature of judgment (7:6-24)
4. The aftermath of judgment (8:1-22)
a. The recession of the waters (8:1-14)
b. The departure from the ark (8:15-22)
God’s provision of a place of safety for faithful Noah and his family should inspire us to also be faithful and obedient to God.