Example Of The Flood
“For this they willfully forget, that by the word of God the heavens were of old and the earth standing out of the water and in the water, through which the world that then existed was destroyed, being overflowed with water.”
These scoffers of the Christian’s hopes willfully forget that God once destroyed humanity from off the face of the earth by a global flood (Gn 6-8). Only Noah and his faithful family were spared. In referring to the prophet Enoch, Jude also referred to these “mockers in the last times [before the flood] who would walk according to their own lusts” (Jd 18; see 2 Tm 3:1-5). In its original context, Enoch’s declaration was made in expectation of the flood of Noah’s day. While preparing the ark, Noah preached a message of worldwide destruction, which message was mocked by those of his generation. The same mockery of those who proclaimed the end of Israel prevailed throughout the Roman Empire at the time Peter wrote. The presence of the mockers in the society of both Peter and Enoch’s immediate readers indicated that both men lived in the last times of their respective generations.
In the years previous to the flood of Noah’s day, Enoch preached about ungodly characters in Noah’s generation who mocked Noah because of what he preached. Therefore, in the flood God came …
“… to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds that they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against Him” (Jd 14,15).
This is where we would have no problem in keeping Enoch’s declaration, and Peter’s quotation of Enoch through Jude, in the historical context of the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of national Israel. Jude’s quotation of Enoch’s prophecy is significant. Enoch spoke of the judgment of mockers in Noah’s day. The judgment that came upon Noah’s generation was destruction by flood waters. Jude used this “coming in judgment” in Noah’s day to illustrate the coming in judgment upon Jerusalem in his own day. When judgment came, it would also come upon those who mocked the Jewish Christians.
We would be in the historical context of 2 Peter 3 to use in-time judgments of God in the past as the flood and Jerusalem’s destruction to give warnings of the final coming in judgment at the end of time. By the time Peter concluded this chapter, he used metaphorical language in order to reveal judgment events. His immediate readers were going to experience an in-time illustration of the final judgment at the end of time.
Peter emphasized the fact that God can cause catastrophic judgment. The world that existed before the flood was destroyed by the flood. This passage teaches that more than the destruction of humanity by the flood occurred at the time of the flood.
Peter uses the Greek word kataklustheis that means “to overthrow with water.” The earth before the flood was “standing out of water and in the water” (See Gn 1:7-10). It was first formed a watery mass (Gn 1:1-3). God then separated the water from the land in order to produce dry land. There were the “waters” or canopy of firmament above and the watery mist that came up from the earth to water vegetation (Gn 2:6).
However, God overthrew the world that existed before the flood with the water of the flood. The physical world that we now experience is far different from the physical appearance of the surface of the earth that existed before the flood. The flood radically changed the surface of the earth. This present earth is also destined for another radical change in the future. We cannot know at this time what will be in the new heavens and earth. But we do know that there will be a radical change in order to produce a dwelling place for us throughout eternity.
Peter’s point is clear. Noah’s flood was not a local washout that resulted from a local rainstorm. It was global (Gn 7:11,19). The God who created the world can cause such global judgments. And since He can, then He can certainly terminate local elements of persecution and world empires of Peter’s present time and ours. He can even terminate the physical world that He created out of nothing. Peter wants to encourage the faithful that the God they serve is not a limited God who has been created after the image of man. He is the God who can exist apart from the mind of man. Therefore, we must recall the words of the psalmist:
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth is removed and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea, though its water roar and be trouble, though the mountains shake with its swelling” (Ps 46:1-3).
[Next in series: Aug. 26]