There is still some debate over the nature of the flood recorded in Genesis six. Some suggest it was only a local flood because the idea of a universal flood is not plausible. Yet the language of the text is pretty clear that it is universal. Genesis 6:17 says, “For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die.” If the flood destroyed “all flesh” and “everything that is on the earth” outside of the ark died, it seems it must have been a worldwide flood. Answering questions about Genesis, one website argues for six facts that serve as scientific evidence for a universal flood instead of a local one. One reason the flood is universal is that we “find fossils of sea creatures in rock layers that cover all the continents.”[1] Further, there is extensive evidence of the rapid burial of plants and animals worldwide.

One of the more ancient bible commentators said, “It was with water that God washed away the sin of the world in the time of Noah.”[2] The Jews were to wash with water ceremonially, and you cannot miss the fact that water is what we use to remove defilement today from our hands and the rest of our bodies. The picture of the cleansing function of water is seen in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Ezekiel 36:25-26 says, “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” In Hebrews 10:22, the writer encourages us, “let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”

 God used the universal flood to wash away the sin and filth from the earth. God’s ultimate purpose was to preserve the purity of the line from Adam through Seth and then through Abraham to bring into the world the “seed of the woman” who would be the savior of the whole world. The washing away of the world’s sins with water in Noah’s day was a prophecy of what would come through the promised Redeemer who would wash away the world’s sins with his blood. The Apostle John tells us, “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7) The sacrifice of Jesus allows for the most profound cleansing possible: the removal of sin from our lives and the ability to stand before the throne of God without any blemish or stain. Because Jesus has washed us in His blood, and with the power of His Word, we can be redeemed. I love the old hymn asking, “Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?”


[2] Louth, Andrew, and Marco Conti, eds. 2001. Genesis 1–11. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.