Text: 2 Peter 3 cf Genesis 6-9
Foundational Truth: Cataclysmic changes during man’s early history altered much of the created world, but the essential truths about man himself remain unchanged.
On Friday we commemorated 19 years since the terrorist attacks on our country claimed the lives of 2,977 people. Some of the younger people in our congregation were not even born when this happened so they do not have any idea of a pre 9/11 world. But they are experiencing the year of Covid-19, and they will observe changes in the way things work before and after. But when they grow up and have kids, their kids will only know of a post Covid-19 world. The point I’m making is that it is hard to explain to someone else what life “used to be like”, isn’t it? We tend to think that the world as we know it is the world as it has always been.
That is exactly the point Peter makes here about the way the lost world thinks: everything continues as it always has. Because they cannot envision the world any other way than it is, they cannot imagine that Christ will return and restore all things for the sake of His Bride, which is the Church. In order to make this point about the change approaching in the future, Peter says that they are willfully ignorant that massive changes have taken place in the past, specifically during the days of Noah.
As we look at the biblical account of the early history of our ancestors, we discover that the cosmos is very different today than what it was like on the 7th day of Creation, when God rested. But what we sometimes miss is that the cosmos today is also not like the time period between the Fall of Man in Genesis 3 and the Great Flood during the days of Noah as recorded in chapter 6-9. There was an intermediary period that is somewhat mysterious to us, and yet it is the wiping away of that world by the judgment of God that explains much of what we see in the natural world today.
The first 11 chapters of Genesis tell natural history in 3 distinct epochs. The first is Paradise in the garden, before Adam plunged the human race into sin. The second is the antediluvian period, which literally means before the flood. This is the world inhabited by the descendants of Cain and of Seth, up until the worldwide flood during the days of Noah. And the third is this present age. Now these are the ages of natural history and do not necessarily correlate to different periods of redemptive history. For example, there was no change in the natural world when God gave the Law to Israel on Sinai. Nor was there an immediate change in the natural world when Christ came and fulfilled His mission. So we are talking about epochs of natural history, or we might call it Creation history.
The Antediluvian world:
One feature of the antediluvian world is that the earth was watered by a mist that went up from the ground as opposed to rain that fell from the sky. (Gen 2:6 cf Gen 7). This must cause us to reflect that the flora and fauna of that epoch were different than the flora and fauna of our world, even though the prototypes for all that we see around us today were saved through the flood by God’s intervention. We should expect to see some mysteries in the fossil record from that time period. Some of the animals, such as the larger dinosaurs, may not have been able to survive in the post-diluvian world
Another feature of that time period is what we would think of as unnaturally long life. Perhaps this had to do with the closeness of those early ancestors to the perfect creation of Adam and Eve, or perhaps it is related to the difference in the environment that prevented man from aging as quickly as he does today. Whatever the cause, the genealogies of Genesis 5 show us that it was normal for our early ancestors to live hundreds of years. As the Genesis narrative progresses, we see this life span decreasing to the point of being comparable to what we know today.
The flood brought about cataclysmic changes to the earth’s crust (Genesis 7:11 / Genesis 8:2) so that the fountains of the deep were broken up. The mountains we observe today were probably much shorter than what existed prior to the flood. The sea floor and great water basins of our planet are different. The position of the continents themselves are no doubt different today than formerly. It’s possible that the flood brought about massive glaciers and an ice age from which the planet is still warming. All of this is consistent with what we can observe in the created world.
The great claim of the evolutionary theory of life is that given enough time, something can come from nothing and turn into everything. By introducing massive amounts of time (hundreds of millions or even billions of years), the evolution model seeks to overcome internal incoherence as well as a lack of evidence regarding its validity. (For further study, consider Answers in Genesis or Is Genesis History?)
The great claim of the evolutionary theory of life is that given enough time, something can come from nothing and turn into everything.Tweet
What Survived the Flood
The image of God in man. (Genesis 9:6, James 3:8-9) We know that the earth was not only full of great men during the antediluvian period, but also great wickedness. They were intelligent and creative enough to amass great knowledge and advance human society in terms of music, metallurgy, and productivity. Yet they used this knowledge to corrupt the ways of all the earth. God saved Noah and his family precisely so that the image of God in man would not be compromised, and today we can look at one another knowing that each of us is made in the image of God.
The creation mandate. (Genesis 9:1, 9:7) God’s purpose for mankind is to fill the earth with image bearers who will exercise benevolent dominion over His creation. This creation mandate is repeated twice in Genesis 9. We know that mankind quickly corrupted this purpose (The Tower of Babel Narrative), and we see in our own world man’s continuing refusal to act as steward’s of creation. Nevertheless, God’s great purpose for mankind will be consummated in the new heaven and new earth.
The family. Matt 19:3ff God’s original design for marriage and the family remain intact, as shown by the words of Christ when he is responding to the Pharisee’s question about divorce. It is God who joined one man and one woman together, making of two one new flesh. What God joins together, man should not attempt to separate. Biblical history does not hide the failure of God’s people to embrace this as we see bigamy and adultery scattered throughout redemptive history. Yet these should not be considered examples to emulate, but cautionary tales to avoid. The legalization of homosexual marriages in our own society show that mankind continues to rebel against God’s design for the family. To believers, homosexual “marriage” is not something that should be disallowed; it is an impossibility. Anything less than the complementary nature of male and female coming together for the comfort of mutual society and the fruitfulness of new life is NOT marriage.
Sin. The battle between the seed of woman and the seed of the serpent. 9:20-24. The first act of Noah is to plant a vineyard and get drunk, opening the door for a breach between him and his son, who is cursed for his failure to honor his father. Though the image of God in man is retained, it is a marred image that must be redeemed.
Implications and Applications
- Natural history or science. Believers have a rational faith that is consistent with the reality we see in the world around us. There is no conflict between science and faith. Ours is a rational faith.
- Despite the cataclysmic changes in the natural world, God’s purpose for mankind has remained consistent throughout our history. But as humanity progresses further and as we see redemptive history played out, it becomes more apparent that mankind is too deeply affected by sin to fulfill our creation mandate. But God does not cast us off. Instead, he sends a new Adam, a second Adam, who will live righteously under the Law and then substitute His own righteousness for our sinfulness, taking our just punishment on the cross of Calvary.
That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.Ephesians 4:22-24
Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:Colossians 3:9-10