Answers in Genesis | A Bible Class Answering Questions on the Flood Narrative
I’ve had a couple questions arising from a study of the Flood narrative. We’ll try to answer these questions the best that we can. The answers I’ll give are simply my opinion, but, Lord willing, we’ll be encouraged to dig deeper into the text and learn more Scripture.
Question One: Why Did People Live So Long Before the Flood?
People certainly lived longer before the Flood than afterwards.
- Adam lived 930 years (Gen 5:3-5); Methusela lived 969 years (Gen 5:25-27).
- Terah lived 205 years (Gen 11:32); Abraham lived 175 years (Gen 25:7).
- Joseph lived 110 years (Gen 50:26).
Therefore, throughout Genesis you find people living fewer and fewer years.
The simplest answer to this question is that God said after the Flood man’s life would be shortened. “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years” (Gen 6:3). “The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away” (Ps 90:10).
Therefore, it seems to me: Death is a curse upon man because of sin (Gen 2:16-17; Rom 5:12). Therefore, man’s physical life has been shortened to prevent man from becoming more and more sinful.
Some believe that the firmament God placed in the heavens prevented people from dying from natural causes at a young age. Genesis 1:6-8. There was water above the firmament. Many people believe that this acted to keep the temperature of earth just right, cut down on radiation from the sun, and produce a perfect climate for habitation.
The “windows of heaven” were opened at the Flood (Gen 7:11). Many suggest that the “widows of heaven” is another description for the firmament.
Firmament seems to be another word for sky. Birds were created to “fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens” (Gen 1:20). David indicates that the firmament still exists: “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork” (Ps 19:1).
This would not preclude a layer of water in the sky to protect man. This is a very plausible theory, but the Bible does not say definitively that this is what happened.
The command to fill the earth and subdue it (Gen 1:28) also seems to have played a big role in the length of man’s life before the Flood. Methuselah was 187 years old when his firstborn son was born (Gen 5:25-27). Sarah laughed at the idea of a 100-year-old man and 90-year-old woman having a son (Gen 18:12).
Second Question: What is the Curse of Genesis 8:21?
“The Lord smelled a soothing aroma. Then the Lord said in His heart, ‘I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done’” (Gen 8:21). Does this refer to the curse of the Flood? Notice God says, “nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done”.” He seems to differentiate between the curse and the Flood.
Does this refer to the same curse given to Adam?
My initial reaction is that this was the curse to Adam. God does make a covenant with Noah never again to flood all the earth (Gen 9:11). However, in Genesis 8:21, it seems there is a difference between the Flood and the curse. Every commentary I have checked says it was the curse of the Flood.
God cursed the ground for Adam’s sake (Gen 3:17). God cursed Cain from the earth (Gen 4:11). God promises never again to curse the ground for man’s sake (Gen 8:21). I think still think this goes back to the curse on Adam. But, I’m willing to leave open the idea that it refers to the Flood.