There is much controversy surrounding the details of the flood of Noah (including whether it even happened or not.) For those who believe the flood was an actual historical event, many still speculate as to the scope of it, and assert that it may have only been a localized flood. I believe that God’s intent behind the flood is more telling, and more important than what the magnitude of the flood may have been. The intent was made most clear: All living things aside from fish, both animals and people and birds of the sky were going to be wiped out due to their wickedness.
I do not feel scripture must be interpreted to mean that the flood literally covered the entire earth, but I do feel that the bible unquestionably teaches that all flesh with the breath of life would come to an end, save for Noah and his family, and the animals brought on the ark. We do not know what our planet and our continents looked like back then – perhaps all land was still relatively connected or very close in proximity, and thus all living creatures were within certain boundaries that may have been much less dispersed than we are today. if so, then yes, the flood may have been ‘localized’ in a sense but would still have been quite large in scope.
The language in chapters 6-8, when read in the plainest sense, leave little room for a different understanding as to the purpose of the flood. Consider these verses:
- “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land…” (Gen 6:7)
- “…all flesh had corrupted their way upon earth.” (Gen 6:12)
- “The end of all flesh has come before Me…” (Gen 6:13)
- “…everything that is on the earth shall perish.” (Gen. 6:17)
- “all the high mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered.” (Gen. 7:19)
- “all flesh that moved on the earth perished… and all mankind.” (Gen 7:21)
- “Thus He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky… and only Noah was left, together with those that were with him in the ark.” (Gen. 7:23)
So rather than perpetuating an age-old argument about whether the flood was local or global, my position is that the flood was exactly as large as God wanted it to be to accomplish His purpose.