Did Noah Warn People About the Flood?

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I taught my daughter her Bible lesson today. We have been teaching her out of the A Beka Book Bible series from Pensacola Christian College. The author listed for this lesson is Fannelle Shepperson. Today’s lesson was about Noah and the flood. The lesson was fine until I came to the part where Noah builds the ark, where it says, “You can be sure the crowds came to watch. ‘Hey, Noah,’ they cried, ‘are you building a new house, or store, or barn?’ Very calmly, Noah said, ‘No, I’m building a ship….I’m building it because God told me to…’” In their telling of the story, Noah then relates the reason for the boat. He then told the people, “He has commanded me to build this ship, called an Ark, to warn you and to try to make you realize that the judgment of the Flood is coming. But He also love you, oh, so much, and if you will turn from and be sorry for your sins, and come into the Ark when I get it finished, you will be safe and protected from His anger and punishment of the Flood. Please listen and pay attention to God’s message.”

The lesson then states the people made fun of Noah. Later on, when the animals were arriving, the lesson states that the people continued to mock. Then it says, “As the last pair of animals disappeared from view into the huge ship, Noah came to the door and again begged the people, ‘Please listen to the Lord’s message—the world is going to be covered over with water and everything will be destroyed…The only place of safety is in this Ark! I plead with you to come in before it is forever too late!’ The crowd only laughed and hurled more insults at Noah.” Then came the week of no rain, where the lesson states that the people kept coming back every day to mock Noah and beat on the sides of the Ark.

Now I know it is common belief that Noah preached to the people the entire time he built the ark about the coming judgment, pleading with people to be saved. But is this what the Bible really teaches? Let’s look at the Biblical account.

The flood account is told from Genesis 6:5-9:29. The part that discusses the events leading up to the flood is told from Genesis 6:5-7:24. From these passages, we can see the following:

1. God never told Noah the invite was for everybody. The Bible specifically states in Genesis 6:17-18, “Behold, I, even I am bringing the flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life, from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall perish. But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.” That seems to be pretty clear that God’s plan was to save eight people, and eight people only.

2. The Bible says nothing about Noah warning anybody about the flood. The only thing that even comes close is in II Peter 2:5 where the Bible calls Noah a “preacher of righteousness.” Noah was 500 years old before God said anything to him about a flood, so this isn’t proof that he warned anybody about the flood.

3. Matthew 24:37-39 (and the parallel passage in Luke 17:27) states that the people living on the earth at the time of the flood “did not understand until the flood came and took them all away…” It seems unlikely that they would not understand that God wanted to destroy them, if Noah had been warning them the entire time he was building the Ark. And there’s another thing: how long did it take to build the ark? The lesson for my daughter states that it took 120 years. Genesis 5:32 says Noah was 500 years old when his kids were born. Genesis 7:6 says Noah was 600 years old when the flood happened. So it would seem that 100 years would be the maximum amount of time.

4. Some would argue that God always allows for people to be saved from judgment. The biblical teaching on hell would indicate otherwise. A concrete biblical example would be the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. The angels came to get Lot out of Sodom. Genesis 19:12 says that the invitation was for Lot and his family only. The people in these cities were never warned. In the same way, it is possible that the people in Noah’s day were not warned of the judgment to come.

5. When God wants people to be warned about judgment, He usually says so. Jonah was sent to warn the people of Nineveh of impending judgment. His message is found in Jonah 3:4. The people repented, and God stayed his judgment. It is possible that if enough people in Noah’s time had repented, God would not have sent the flood.

Were the people warned about the flood? Well, they were probably warned that something was up, given the fact that Noah was building this huge boat. Did Noah tell them about the flood? It’s possible, but the Bible doesn’t say. Was it God’s plan for more than eight people to be saved from the flood? According to the Bible: no.

Here’s a tip: if you are preparing lessons to teach people biblical truth, don’t add to the information given in the Bible and say that is what the Bible says. You can say, “Maybe this happened.” or “such-and-such is possible” but don’t say, “The Bible says X happened…” if the Bible doesn’t say it.

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About Steve Picray

I have been many things, but right now I am a registered nurse attempting to pay off my debt so that, God willing, I can be a pastor again someday. I have a wife and three kids. I am a conservative Christian (of the Baptist variety). This blog is about me: the things that happen to me, the things that interest me, and the things that bother me. If you have a question, just e-mail me at spicray AT gmail DOT com. God Bless!
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33 Responses to Did Noah Warn People About the Flood?

  1. Teresa says:

    >Thank you for writing this. I was getting ready to teach on this story this morning and wasn't able to find where it says they mocked him… apparently, because it's not in the Bible. Wow.

  2. Picky says:

    >No problem. Glad I could help. I was fuzzy on that very topic, and that's why I studied it. Interesting, no?

  3. Hannah says:

    I’ve been looking into this also, and while I have not yet found anything to prove the idea that Noah preached to the people, and that the people mocked him, I haven’t found anything to the contrary, and I find it slightly difficult to believe that so many people would say something like that with absolutely no evidence whatsoever to support it. It could be that they say that because considering the things going on around that time in scripture, it is very possible. I noticed that you only quoted old testament scripture, and I was wondering if you have looked into any references to the flood in the new testament, or even the psalms? Since I’m looking into this myself, would you like me to post anything else I find on the subject here?

    • Steve Picray says:

      I “only quoted old testament scripture”? Maybe you didn’t read the whole thing, because I quoted II Peter 2:5 AND Matthew 24:37-39 (and referred to the parallel passage in Luke 17:27). And i would welcome any contributions you would have, so long as you are open to constructive criticism, since I will let you know if I disagree. Thanks for the contribution!

  4. Tony says:

    thank you for posting this, I am preparing a message for a retirement center I speak at and I am going to speak on Noah and was wondering if it said that he was made fun of in the Bible or if he warned people as I have heard alot of preaching preaching from the pulpit that these things happened as if it was gospel so thank you.

  5. DeShana says:

    I remembered hearing about these un-truths when I was young. I searched online because I thought that they changed the bible and omitted somethings just come to the realization that people over time added to the Word of God. I will forever read the Word for myself and stick with what the Word says only! Thank you so much!

    • Steve Picray says:

      DeShana: Thanks for your comment! I do want to clarify that I’m not saying these things DIDN’T happen, I’m saying the Bible doesn’t say they happened. There’s a difference. I just want to be clear about this. It is possible that people mocked Noah for building the ark, but the Bible doesn’t say they did, so we should not say the Bible says they did. That’s all I’m saying: don’t say the Bible says something that it doesn’t say.

  6. Vic says:

    2 Pet 2.5 states that Noah was a preacher….Romans 10:14-15 reveals the purpose of a preacher….to reveal truth to others so that they too could be saved…..God was not willing that any should perish….

  7. nonsupernaturalist says:

    Dear Christian,

    I challenge you to watch this short, but very provocative video clip regarding the morality of your God’s act of killing so many little children in Noah’s Flood. If after watching this video clip you can still assert that your God and your belief system is good and moral, I will strongly and sincerely recommend that you see a mental health professional.

    • Steve Picray says:

      Dear Non-Christian. Thank you for commenting. I have a question for you in return. You criticize my God and my belief system, implying that they are bad and immoral. I would like to know where you think morality came from. You see, I have a concrete set of standards of right and wrong as given in the Bible. You may have heard of some of them, such as “don’t murder, don’t have sex with anyone who isn’t your spouse, etc. If you have an unmoving set of concrete standards, I’d like to know where they come from, because if you don’t, you have no right to refer to anybody else’s standards as immoral.

      As for the video, I could only get through a few minutes of the speaker’s mocking tone dripping with sarcasm before I had to shut it off. Although I will say this: for the two minutes I did listen to him, he seemed more concerned with debunking the comments of Dennis Prager that he did with debunking the Biblical account itself. Thank you for commenting.

  8. Jimmy withers says:

    1 Peter 3:18-20–read it from any of the fragments and you will see that Noah preached to the Antediluvians. It’s sad that most translators added hades/hell. I taught greek 36 years before retiring two years ago. I say this, not to brag but to make a point. Any second year greek student could read 1 Peter 3:18-20 and would conclude that Noah preached. A genuine bible student without a greek education understands that Christ did not go to hades to preach to the spirits of Noahs day. Christ through the Spirit through Noah.

    • Steve Picray says:

      I agree: Noah preached to the people of his day. I don’t think you can be a righteous man and not stand up for what is right, even if you’re the only one.

      But my original post stated in point #2 that Noah was a preacher of righteousness. What it does NOT say is that Noah warned people about the flood specifically, or that he invited them onto the ark, something that the Bible says God did not tell him to do.

      • Larry Danley says:

        I have to agree with you I can not find that Noah told people to change as in todays standards a preacher may just be preaching your going to hell if you don’t change your ways and that teaches nothing . also this will blow your mind do you know God nor Jesus ever talked about suicide it not in any bible of the face of the earth so that word is a man made word , crazy how preachers teach not the truth lol But I will say this we are in the last days on this earth if planet x is real it will be the start of the end and Jesus will return and he will be in a very bad mood , so much hate and bickering about does one believe in God / higher power or not ,evil has complete control now on the earth , My knees will bend and I am a sinner and I pray I will make it to the new world I am so looking forward to playing with a man eater Lion . Have a blessed day and God bless you your very wise person and you kept your cool more than the preacher man . Pun intended one lost black sheep is more special than the whole herd .

        • Steve Picray says:

          You’re right, they never talked about suicide, but they did mention murder as a sin, and suicide is a Latin word that means “a killing of oneself”.

          We have been in the last days since about 90AD when Revelation was written by the Apostle John. I firmly believe that Jesus Christ could return today, or He could wait a few more centuries. Wouldn’t shake my faith. Every time I think, “This world can’t get much worse,” it does.

  9. Bibi says:

    THANKS YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS ARTICLE! I recently decided to study the Bible for myself, and when it got to the story of Noah, I kept anticipating the verse where it’d say “and people laughed..” but to my surprise I finished the chapter and NOTHING! Which then brought me here, and I’m glad I found it. Your Matthew 24 reference and the fact that in Gen 6:18 God only mentions his family and the animals to enter the ark is confirmation for me. It’s unreal how we learn things from others and take it as truth. I’m aware that it plausible it happened but it wasn’t stated!

  10. Tynisha Brown says:

    Maybe God did it like that because of the fallen angels mingling with the women.

    • Steve Picray says:

      I’ve never taken a position on Genesis 6:1-4 other than to say that angels don’t have physical bodies, and therefore cannot have sex with human women.

      • phil says:

        There is no scriptural evidence to say that angels do not have physical bodies, in fact scripture teaches the opposite. in Hebrews 13:2 it makes it very clear that you would have no way of knowing whether you are talking to an angel or human.

        Then there is Genesis 19:5 where the men in Sodom wanted to have sex with the angels(not knowing they were angels) that were there for Lot, meaning they(the angels) were mistaken for flesh and blood humans by the men of sodom.

        Then there is Genesis 6:1-4 which makes it very clear that angels can indeed mate with women, and actually did, but by doing so they are turned their backs on God who says in heaven there is no marriage(Matthew 22:30), notice in matt22:30 it says angels in heaven(no reference of what fallen angels can do). but it no where says that they are physically incapable of having sex.

        There are many more passages that point to angels having physical bodies. be careful not to have preconceived notions when reading scripture and just read it how it is. it is very clear and not authored for confusion.

        • Steve Picray says:

          Actually Scripture seems to indicate that Angels are able to take on physical form at times, but for most of their existence they are “ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation.” Angels are shown over and over in the Bible to be spirit beings. Fallen angels (demons) are referred to as “unclean spirits.”

          Matthew 8:16, Luke 7:21, Ephesians 6:12.

          The Bible is not authored for confusion, but that doesn’t prove that angels are physical beings simply because they appear in physical form. God also appears in physical form to Abraham and to Joshua, but that doesn’t mean that He is always a physical being.

  11. Rich Sanchez says:

    Noah was building the ark people seen him building it so obviously he would of told them because he was a righteous man. He would of shared his faith. 2 Peter 2:5 calls him a preacher of righteousness. The ark was huge he built it exactly how God asked . Even with all the animals there would of been plenty of room if people took heed to his probable warning. In fact, men have heard warnings from many prophets over the ages, yet they usually ignore the warnings and are caught off guard by the judgment that follows. The entire history of the nation of Israel testifies to this truth.

    Furthermore, Matthew 24 goes on to record Jesus Himself warning our world of another coming judgment, His Second Coming. Nevertheless, Jesus says the world will be caught off guard when He returns:
    Matt. 24:37 “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah.
    Matt. 24:38 “For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark,
    Matt. 24:39 and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.
    Notice, the world will be surprised by the Second Coming despite the Bible’s many warnings (often repeated by preachers throughout the centuries) that this event will lead to judgment for the ungodly. If Jesus’ warnings will be ignored before His Second Coming, then certainly Noah’s warnings could have been ignored by his world before the flood.

    • Steve Picray says:

      Rich, I agree with most of what you wrote. But the point behind my post was that the Bible does not SAY that Noah warned people. It doesn’t say he invited anybody on the ark. I personally believe he didn’t invite anybody since God didn’t tell him to…God said, “I will save these eight people.”

  12. Kara Anderson says:

    Thank you for explaining this principle! I was doing a study of Genesis on my own, and realized that assumptions can be construed as facts very easily, and very mistakenly (a Google search by which brought me to this post). I fully agree that the Bible should never be morphed to fit our own standards and perceptions, and we shouldn’t add anything to what has been Divinely inspired. However, one reason for the specific argument that Noah wasn’t, in fact, mocked–or, at least, mocked unbearably–is the historical/geographical circumstances of his situation. I’ve learned of this from Halley’s Bible Handbook, which I encourage you to look up for further insight. Not only does it refrain from claiming that the Bible ever mentioned such a thing, Halley explains that the social conditions of Noah’s time actually translated to water travel and boat making being very common practices. So not only should we never add to God’s Word, we should also consider historical facts before trying to analyze the Bible.

  13. Mike J Wendt says:

    Don’t forget Hebrews 11:7 (ESV)
    “By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.”
    I didn’t read all the comments above, but did not find “Hebrews”. It says he condemned… what does this mean… I think we can infer some things here. The boat was huge… the “wicked” people would have seen it and must have thought Noah was being ridiculous and asked questions and then what else would people do except make fun of him… but I agree that we need to clear as teachers – and say, must have. We can not know for sure.
    The reason I think this is important is because of Genesis 6:22 – Noah did it… even though it was difficult and took a lot of hard work and time and people would have thought and probably said he was nuts.
    Keep on discussing and studying – God bless.

  14. steve bournias says:

    It is uncertain what Noah specifically said that made him a preacher of what is right and just. Thus the world of religion is divided. Did he or didn’t he say this or that? One certainty is this: in the resurrection of the righteous during the 1000 year judgement day Noah will rise, accept Christ and be saved and then he will tell all listening on God’s new earth [2peter3:13] and above in heaven what he did say and what he did not.

    • Steve Picray says:

      You’re right that we don’t know WHAT he preached, but I believe that he preached to people before the flood of their need for repentance (NOT inviting them onto the ark, though). There is biblical precedent for people repenting and not being judged (Nineveh) as well as NOT repenting and being judged (God telling Abraham if there are at least 10 righteous people in Sodom that He would not destroy it).

      As far as Noah “accepting Christ” in the millennium? No. Noah is already saved based on his trust in Christ, the future messiah of all mankind. People only get one chance to trust in the Redeemer, and that chance ends at the moment of death.

      • steve bournias says:

        So anyone not knowing about God is doomed? How bout all the non-jews that lived that heard nothing of God? Noah never heard bout the messiah? nor did david-they will -psalm110:1
        Noah preached righteousness for CENTURIES before the flood but God made a covenant with Noah because he alone walked with God.His contemporaries ate drank married bought sold and never gave God a passing thought. Thus we do not know the name of a single person who perished.The name of the wicked one will rot.

        • Steve Picray says:

          No. The Bible is clear that no person has an excuse because we are all sinners and we all have knowledge of God (Romans 1:19-21).

          Noah never heard about the Messiah? Why do you say that? God foretold the coming of the Messiah to Adam in Genesis 3:15. Noah had faith in God and this faith is what saved him (Hebrews 11).

          David definitely heard of the Messiah, because He was also foretold to Abraham (Genesis 12:3), Jacob (Gen 49:10), Moses (Numbers 24:17) AND David (2 Sam 7:12-16, Psalm 2, Psalm 110).

          • steve bournias says:

            paul says that these matters were a mystery or hidden from generations past and peter says that angels were desiring to know so the seed of genesis #;15 was unknown and thats why satan was roving and walking about teh earth in jobs time to find teh seed and destroy it…..people by the millions knew nothing of the messiah and will during a 1000 year longDAY of judgement…those who practiced good at the conclusion of that day to a resurrection of life and those that practiced evil during that day a resurrection of jusgment or damnantion…no man ascended to heaven before christ —john 3;13

  15. Pingback: Noah – Builder or Preacher | CanJAmerican

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