One of the most popular objections to God and the Bible is the violence in the Old Testament. However, usually, people focus on the destruction of the Canaanites. Frankly, those stories are tame compared to the Flood. You want to talk about God destroying a civilization? Let’s talk about the time he flooded the world and killed everyone. How can we defend a God who wiped out almost all human life? Was the Flood Justified? How can Christians respond to this challenge?
Understanding God’s Justice
We tend to apply human rules to God. Since it would be wrong for us to cause this much death and destruction, is it wrong for God to do the same? No, because of two things. First, God is sovereign. He is both the creator and maintainer of the world. If he chooses to take a life, that is his prerogative, but we do not believe he does so without reason.
Second, God is just and hates evil. It can be hard for us to hear about God having wrath, but holiness is part of his nature. It is remarkable that God has not done this again, given humanity’s continued rebellion. To quote Jonathan Edwards, we are sinners in the hands of an angry God. Though there is love and mercy, we are not entitled to anything. If God were truly fair, we’d have had more than a few global floods like this.
The World at the Time
Was the Flood justified based on the world at the time? We have very little information about the pre-Flood world. We read, “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5, NIV). Beyond that and a brief description of the Nephilim issue, we can do little more than guess.
However, consider God’s actions in other situations. Nothing from the horrid practices of the Canaanites to the unprecedented violence of the 20th century led to God wiping out humanity again. Maybe that is because of his covenant with Noah never to flood the world again. Alternatively, God could find other ways to cause destruction. I suspect we have yet to see the world get that bad again.
What About the Children?
Think of the children, right? Even if humanity was so wicked, how could it be just to kill those who were so young? Once again, though, God is merciful and will judge fairly. If you hold to the age of accountability as we do, these children who did not have a chance to understand their actions would ultimately be safe in the kingdom of Heaven.
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