Why the flood?

Make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. -Genesis 6:14

Dear members and friends,

Noah with his ark is definitely one of the most famous stories in the Bible. To my surprise, the debate regarding the actuality of Noah, the ark, and the flood still continues even in this 21st century. In my understanding, the core of the debate should not be whether the story is historically real or not, but whether Creator is indeed capable of killing all humans and animals due to the “wickedness” of humans. I asked this question during Children’s Time on a Sunday service and all four children present unanimously shook their heads agreeing that God would not have done such a thing. This matters deeply for two reasons: 1. A God who is capable of killing all humans and all animals in such a way seems to lack forgiveness, mercy and sympathy, and thus love cannot be the essential nature of such a God; 2. If indeed the essential nature of God is love, then the story of the flood cannot be literally true.

Indeed, there is more than one way to read any story written by any human. And the truth is that humans are not great at keeping flawless records, even if the person was actually present at the recorded of the event. This has to do with the innate nature of humans: we subjectify all things we see, hear, and experience in order for those things to make sense to our own mind. Now, what would happen to a story told by a being who transcend all human capacity when it is retold by a human? This is the precise reason why I firmly believe all stories in the Bible that have something to do with God must be read as symbolic messages from God. This stems from the simple truth, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.” (Isaiah 55:8) God, who is omnipotent and omnipresent, foresaw the dire destiny of humanity at the moment they chose to be selfish, which resulted in self-perpetuated misery and unhappiness. God desired to prepare a new way through which humans could still find their way back to God, meaning overcoming their selfishness. This new way is symbolized by Noah. The ark symbolizes how to implement this new way into oneself while going through the storm of negativity (the flood).

In this way of reading the Scripture, you might understand clearly that the story of the flood does not represent an act of devastating destruction, but an act of love. Even though humanity dove into the flood of selfishness and self-created misery, God prepared a path for human salvation.

Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee