We have seen the preparation of the ark, the warnings of God by it, and his long-suffering for a hundred and twenty years. Now we see it finished; now the end of all flesh is come before him.
Ver. 1. Observe, 1. God gave special notice to Noah, saying, “Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous.” He who in well-doing commits himself into the hands of a faithful Creator, needs not fear being overtaken by surprise. What have we to fear when he whom we serve hath the keys of hell and of death? This is not the only instance in which, when impending ills have been ready to burst upon the world, God has, in effect, said to his servants, “Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee; hide thyself, as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.” 2. God gave him all his household with him. We are not informed whether any of Noah’s family at present followed his example; it is certain that all did not; yet all entered with him into the ark for his sake. This indeed was but a specimen of the mercy which was to be exercised towards his distant posterity on behalf of him, as we have seen in the former chapter. But it is of importance to observe, that though temporal blessings may be given to the ungodly children of a godly parent, yet without walking in his steps they will not be partakers with him in those which are spiritual and eternal. 3. It is an affecting thought that there should be no more than Noah and his family to enter into the ark. Peter speaks of them as few; and few they were, considering the vast numbers that were left behind. Noah had long been a preacher of righteousness; and what! is there not one sinner brought to repentance by his preaching? It should seem not one; or, if there were any, they were taken away from the evil to come. Not one that we know of was found at the time who had received his warnings, and was desirous of casting in his lot with him. We are ready to think our ministry has but little success; but his, so far as appears, was without any; yet, like Enoch, he pleased God. 4. The righteousness of Noah is reported as the reason of the difference put between him and the world. This does not imply that the favour shown to him is to be ascribed to his own merit; for whatever he was, he was by grace; and all his righteousness was rewardable only out of respect to Him in whom he believed; but being accepted for his sake, his works also were accepted and honoured. And while the mercy of God was manifested towards him, the distinction between him and the world being made according to character, would render his justice apparent. Thus at the last day, though the righteous will have nothing to boast of, yet, every man being judged according to his works, the world will be constrained to acknowledge the equity of the Divine proceedings.
Ver. 2, 3. Of the animals which were to enter into the ark with Noah, those that were clean, that is, those which were fit for human food and for sacrifice to God, were to go in by sevens, and those which were unclean, only by two of a kind. It would seem as if this direction differed from that in chap. 6:19, 20, which mentions only two of every sort; but the meaning there may be, that whatever number entered in they should be in pairs, that is, male and female, to preserve them alive; whereas here the direction is more particular, appointing the number of pairs that should be admitted, according as they were clean or unclean. This order is expressive of the goodness of God in providing food for man, and of his regard for his own worship.
Ver. 4–9. Just one week was allowed for Noah to embark. What a week was this! What feelings must it excite! His neighbours had seen him busily employed for the last hundred and twenty years in rearing the massy fabric; and doubtless had had many a laugh at the old man’s folly and credulity; and now, behold, he is going to remove all his family into it, with birds, and beasts, and creeping things, and provisions for their accommodation! “Well, let him go! a week longer, and we shall see what will become of his dreams!” Meanwhile they eat and drink, and buy and sell, and marry and are given in marriage. As for Noah, he must have felt much in contemplating the destruction of the whole of his species, to whom he had preached righteousness in vain. But it is not for him to linger; but to “do according to all that the Lord commanded him.” He had borne his testimony; he could do no more. He, his sons, his wife, and his son’s wives, therefore, with all the inferior creatures, which probably were caused to assemble before him by the same power which brought them to Adam to be named, enter into the ark. The same thing which is said of him in ver. 7 is repeated in ver. 13. He doubtless would have to enter and re-enter many times in the course of the week; but the last describes his final entrance, when he should return no more.
Ver. 10–16. From the account taken together, it appears that though God suffered long with the world during the ministry of Noah, yet the flood came upon them at last very suddenly. The words, after seven days, in ver. 10, seem to mean on the seventh day;* for that was the day when Noah made his final entrance into the ark; namely, the seventeenth day of the second month, answering to our October or November, in the six hundredth year of his life; and “on that same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven opened.” What a scene of consternation and dismay must that day have exhibited, on the part of those who were left behind! The manner in which the rains set in would leave little or no hope of their being soon over. It was not a common rain: it came in torrents, or, as we should say, in a manner as though heaven arid earth were come together. The waters of the subterraneous cavities from beneath, and of the clouds from above, all met together at God’s command, to execute his wrath on guilty men.† There is one sentence concerning Noah which is worthy of special notice: when he and all pertaining to him had entered into the ark, it is said, “And the Lord shut him in.” The door of such a stupendous building may be supposed to have been too large for human hands to fasten, especially so few as they were, and all with inside it. It is possible, too, there might be, by this time, numbers crowding round it for admittance; for those who trifle with death at a distance are often the most terrified when it approaches. But lo, all is over! That act which shut Noah and his family in shut them for ever out! And let it be considered that something very nearly resembling this will ere long be acted over again. “As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be at the coming of the Son of man.” Not only shall the world, as then, be full of dissipation, but the concluding scene is described in nearly the same words—“And they that were ready went in, and the door was shut!”
Ver. 17–24. We hear no more of the inhabitants of the world, except that “all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: all in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died.” We are informed, however, of the progress of the flood. For six weeks, within two days, it continued to rain incessantly; during which period it was of sufficient depth to bear up the ark from the earth, which after this floated upon the surface of the waters, like a ship on the sea. For some time, however, there were mountains and high hills which were out of water. Hither therefore, we may naturally suppose, the inhabitants of the earth would repair, as to their last refuge: but, by the end of the forty days, these also were covered; the waters rising above seven yards higher than the highest of them. Thus every creature was swept away and buried in one watery grave, Noah and his family only excepted.
The waters prevailed upon the earth a hundred and fifty days (that is, about five months) before they began to abate. This might seem to us unnecessary, seeing every living creature would be drowned within the first six weeks; but it would serve to exercise the faith and patience of Noah, and to impress his posterity with the greatness of the Divine displeasure against man’s sin. As the land of Israel should have its sabbaths during the captivity, so the whole earth, for a time, shall be relieved from its load, and fully purified, as it were, from its uncleanness.
Excerpt from: “The Flood,” in Expository Discourses on the Books of Genesis, Discourse XII.
Fuller, A. G. (1988). The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Expositions—Miscellaneous. (J. Belcher, Ed.) (Vol. 3, pp. 32–35). Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications.