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Why Did God Flood the Earth in the Bible?

Why Did God Flood the Earth in the Bible?

One of the most well-known stories in the entire Bible is the story of Noah and the flood recorded in Genesis 6-8. This is a story of God’s mercy and God’s judgment both occurring at the same time.

The instrument of judgment God used in this story to judge the people of the earth was water. Have you ever stopped to wonder why did God flood the earth? He could have used any means of judgment yet for some reason he chose to use water which makes you wonder if there is any significance to that?

While there may not be a definitive answer to that question, I think there are some good speculations and arguments you can make as to why God did flood the earth.

Why Was God's Judgment Necessary?

As we begin this conversation, I think it is important to recognize why judgment was necessary in the first place. To put it in the simplest of terms, the hearts of men were wicked and evil.

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. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. Genesis 6:5-8

What we see here is how truly wicked the hearts of men were. Imagine a world where every thought of a person’s heart was only evil? I know our society may not be there yet, but it feels like this is the direction it is heading in.

Because of the evil in men’s hearts God brought judgment because it reached a point where he could not allow the sinful condition to continue any longer. The sobering lesson here is that sin will not run rampant forever for there will come a time when God will judge sin just as he judged it in the days of Noah.

Knowing this about the condition of men’s hearts helps us understand why God brought judgment but it doesn’t answer why did God flood the earth or maybe it does.

Water and Judgment

In Noah’s account we see that water is used as a form of judgment. This did not just happen here but there are other examples in scripture where water was used as a form of judgment.

The Red Sea 

When the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, God used the waters of the Red Sea to destroy the Egyptian army. 

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen.” Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward it, and the Lord swept them into the sea. The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen—the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived. Exodus 14:26-28

Pharaoh and the Israelite boys

God was not the only one who used water as a form of judgment. Pharaoh did the same thing with the Israelite boys that were born in Egypt. God’s judgment was because of sin while Pharaoh's judgment was a result of fear.

Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.” Exodus 1:22

While the Nile was used as an instrument of judgment it is important to recognize that out of the same water that brought judgment, it also brought life because Moses was plucked out of that same Nile River.

Water and Creation

Water was not only a form of judgment, but it was also part of the creation story. If you go back to the creation account in Genesis, look at the first two verses.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. Genesis 1:1-2

Water was part of the creation process.

And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.

And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:6-10

According to the Genesis account there seems to be a time when the earth was covered with water and out of that God separated the waters and brought forth dry land which was necessary for the living creatures he would soon create. Seeing water in a creative process and also in a judgmental process I think this helps us answer the question why did God flood the earth?

The Reason God Sent a Flood to the Earth

I am going to give you two thoughts here as to why God flooded the earth. The answers are judgment and creation. God used water as a matter of judging, purging and cleansing the earth from its sinful condition.

By the way water as purification was not just an Old Testament concept it appears in the New Testament as well. The difference is the cleansing and purifying agent, God uses in the New Testament is the water of his word.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. Ephesians 5:25-27

However, water has a dual purpose and here is where I tie it back to creation. Remember in creation God separated the waters and called back the waters to create boundaries of dry land. Could it be possible that God was doing the same thing with the flood waters in Noah’s day?

The flooding of the earth was like giving an artist a brand-new canvas to create on. Since God was not interested in destroying the earth but recreating the earth this could be why God chose to flood the earth. Had God wanted to destroy the earth completely he would have used fire and not water. Also remember that God had to preserve the life of Noah, his family, as well as the living creatures that were in the ark.

By flooding the earth, God could judge the earth and at the same time preserve life. Because God used a flood the earth remained intact and when the waters receded life was allowed to continue as before the flood.

But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded. Now the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens had been closed, and the rain had stopped falling from the sky. The water receded steadily from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down. Genesis 8:1-3

The First Flood and the Last Flood

I think it is fair to say that God used the flood as a way of preservation and judgment. The flood was the first one to destroy the earth and it will be the last one to destroy the earth. God will still judge the sinner and preserve the saint just as he did with Noah, however, he has chosen to never again do it by means of a flood.

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.” Genesis 9:8-11

I hope I have provided some credible thoughts as to why God used the flood but even if he did for a different reason it something we won’t have to worry about again.

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Javier_Art_Photography

Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club.  He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. He has also just released his new book The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. Do you want to go deeper in your walk with the Lord but can’t seem to overcome the stuff that keeps getting in the way? This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. To learn more about his ministry please visit