Noah’s Ark and salvation

Another reason the Flood could not have been local

Published in Creation magazine 37(4):22-24, 2015.

About 1656 years after the creation of the world, God destroyed all humans, except for eighton the Ark that Noah built, and all air-breathing land animals (except those on the Ark) in a great global judgment. Many marine creatures were also destroyed—some 95% of all fossils found are the remains or impressions of creatures who once lived in the sea. We see evidence of this deluge all over the earth, including on the highest mountains. Mt Everest has marine fossils at its peak.

Noah arkScripture tells us,

“… when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, an ark having been prepared, into which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. Which antitype now also saves us, baptism (not a putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God through the resurrection of Jesus Christ … .)” (1 Peter 3:20–21, KJ3).2

The Apostle Peter describes our being baptized into Christ’s death as an antitype of the saving of eight in the Ark. The original Greek word ἀντίτυπον (antitypon) has the meaning of a ‘representative’ or a ‘figure’. The dictionary definition of the English word ‘antitype’ is ‘something that is represented by a symbol’.  It comes from anti meaning ‘opposite’, as well as ‘in place of’, and typon an impression like from a die or stamp. So an opposite to the die is a representation or symbol of the original. In short, the Bible makes it clear that the Ark, which saved eight souls through the deluge, is a figure, or ‘type’, of Christ and His salvation. Through entering the Ark, all who responded to Noah’s preaching could be saved from the waters of judgment. Even so, by entering into Christ, the ultimate Ark of salvation, we are saved from the judgment to come.

Now there are those who, motivated by the desire to add millions of years to the Bible, (see section 1. below) claim the Flood was only a local event. One could point to much physical evidence indicating that it was global: sedimentary (water-laid) layers all over the earth; the fact that those sediments contain the buried remains of billions of creatures; and the evidence that they were buried rapidly, not slowly and gradually over hundreds of thousands or millions of years.

One could point to the scriptural texts themselves, which are overwhelming in their universality of description. If the writer had intended to describe a global Flood, what other language could he possibly have used?

Also, the Bible states that God sent to board the Ark two of every land-dwelling creature with the breath of life in it. Why would He do that if they could simply have migrated out of the area? Why build the Ark so big? Why take them at all, with all the associated problems of feeding them for a year, if the Flood were localized?3

Also, if the Flood were other than global, why take birds on board?  Most birds could have quickly flown away to mountains out of range of even the biggest local flood. Today many  birds migrate over vast distances, often non-stop. A local flood makes the whole account bizarre, even absurd.

Scripture also states that the floodwaters covered the highest mountains (Genesis 7:20).  So how could these waters cover the highest mountains in a local area and not be global? They couldn’t—it is physically impossible. Water seeks its own level. It couldn’t rise to cover the local mountains while leaving the rest of the world untouched. It means the Flood must have been global.4 See section 2. below.

The point is the flood was global. The Ark saved the souls God chose—those eight—from all the people of the earth.  For about 70 years, Noah and the Ark being built would have been a salvation witness to all, to repent of their sins and join Noah’s family on the Ark.5

Therefore by analogy, Christ is an antitype of the Ark, saving the souls of those who repent today. If the Flood was only local, there was no need for the Ark. Similarly,  you don’t need Christ if the effects of sin are only local, not global.  The Ark-Christ analogy breaks down for a local flood because the true Ark—the Lord Jesus Christ—did not come to make salvation available to just a few in Israel but to the whole world (1 Timothy 2:4, Acts 17:30).6

If people in some areas of the planet or at some time in history were not sinners, then they wouldn’t need to be saved.  But Christ came to die for the sins of whosoever (in the whole world) would call on Him for salvation. Romans 10:13 says, quoting Joel 2:32, that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”.  The effects of sin were on all people (Romans 3:23), because all have descended from “the first man, Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45). Christ, “the last Adam”, came to redeem all those who trust in Him in the midst of a global flood of sin.

So what about the naïve apologetics of old-earth proponents leading many astray today?7 The Bible is very clear in 1 Peter 3:20–21. We don’t preach a localized Christ. Just as the Flood represented the judgment of God on the whole world, so salvation is now for all those everywhere who repent.


fossils1. ‘Millions of years’—the inspiration for global Flood denial

For those trying to ‘harmonize’ the Bible with the popular belief in millions of years, Noah’s Flood is a stumbling block. This is because ‘millions of years’ is inextricably tied up with the belief that the fossil record is millions of years old. It could thus not have been laid down by the world-wide, year-long Genesis Flood. And such a global flood would in any case erase any geologic evidence of any sort of ‘pre-history’. Thus old-earth sympathizers are highly motivated to insist that the Flood was local—despite the overwhelming evidence of the text itself.


Flood waters2. Mountains and the Flood

There is enough water in the oceans today so that, if all the surface features of the earth were evened out, water would cover the globe to a depth of 2.7 km (1.7 miles). This is not enough to cover mountains the height of Everest, but it shows that the pre-Flood mountains could have been several kilometres high and still could have been covered. Today’s mountains (including the Himalayas) have blankets of sedimentary rock draped over them. Since sediments are usually laid horizontally, this shows they were thrust up through the overlying sediments after the Flood. Whether or not Psalm 104:8 is only about creation, or refers to this uplift in an apparent link to God’s rainbow promise never to flood the world again, is a point of debate. However, some such post-Flood uplift of land masses, with the Flood waters draining into today’s oceans, has clearly occurred.


References and Notes

  1. Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives. All humans descended from these 8 people post-Flood.
  2. Careful consideration of the typology here shows that Peter is not teaching the errant view that one must be baptized to be saved spiritually, as opposed to the biblical view that baptism is what saved people should do (see Sarfati, J. Is baptism necessary for salvation? creation.com/baptism, 14 February 2009).
  3. Hodge, B., and Sarfati, J.D., Yes, Noah did build an Ark!, creation.com/bbc-noah.
  4. Noah’s Flood covered the whole earth, creation.com/globalflood.
  5. The notion, propagated by astronomer Hugh Ross, that all people of the world at that time just happened to live in a local area of the Middle East scarcely needs comment.
  6. The idea that some promote in order to ‘harmonize’ Genesis with geology’s millions of years, that the Flood was not global physically but destroyed all humanity outside the Ark, breaks down by requiring the anthropological absurdity that after the thousands of years of human history they allege, no one ever lived outside of a small area of the Middle East.
  7. Faulkner, D., The dubious apologetics of Hugh Ross, creation.com/ross_apol.