Teaching Children About the Flood

Today as I watch my 14-month-old tell the dog “no” (one of few words she expresses all too well) I can’t help but chuckle and cringe. It’s humorous to see her correct the dog and even more so to see him roll his eyes at her rambling. However, I wonder if that is how she views our relationship. Naturally, I only correct her when she is doing something wrong, but for a 1-year-old that’s roughly every eight minutes.

As a parent I am quickly realizing that my greatest responsibility is helping her develop a platform on which she will build her entire worldview. I know that foundation needs to be biblical truths, but how does that unfold? God is the same today, yesterday, and forever, but when is she ready for the God that justly wiped out the world? Is the rainbow the lesson from the flood? Two by two? Noah’s obedience? Where does the God who created man from the dust intersect with the God who said its time to start over? More importantly, how do I explain all this to her?

So what’s the answer? I’m sure I will give you a different answer in five years, and that’s perhaps the grace of God in sanctifying parenting. The blessing is that God is good. The responsibility of all Christians—especially parents— is to present the uncut, unedited, biblical truth about God’s story of redemption. We must share the message of God in its entirety, even when it’s hard. That is my charge with my daughter. I want to try and teach her who God is without short-changing Him. For me, it seems the important thing is to reveal as much of who God is as she can understand at each age. I desperately want her to know, love, and understand Him!

So when looking to teach her the story of the Noah and the flood there are three important lessons in my mind that any child needs to understand.

  1. First, that God can do no wrong.
    Psalm 135:6 states very simply, “Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.” The very nature of who He is means that what He does is always right. With that truth, it is not necessary to fully understand every decision He has made throughout history, only that it was the perfect decision because He is perfect. Noah could not have imagined what the future would hold, but He trusted in the One who is perfect in every way.
  2. Second, we see that God and sinful people cannot be in communion together.
    Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. (Genesis 6:11-13 ESV)

    God’s judgment of the earth was not unjust. By Genesis 5, sin had spread so rapidly that God was grieved over the world’s corruption. The same creation He declared “good” in Genesis 1 had spiraled so far that God could no longer forbear in his justice! He is a Holy God who must execute His justice. This is part of the beauty of the gospel of Christ, as Paul tells us, that because of Jesus’ atoning death, God is “both just and the justifier” of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26)
  3. Finally, He loves us.
    His decisions are always rooted in his gracious love toward his people, all for the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1:5-6). For some it may be difficult to understand that tough choices are frequently motivated by love. Although God was ready to destroy man completely because of our continuous evil in actions and thoughts, He found favor with Noah, a man of faith. God’s message has always been the same: have faith in my promise so that we might be in communion because I love you! Hebrews 11 makes this clear.

    By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. (Hebrews 11:7 ESV)

    Noah’s righteousness came by faith. It was not based on his works; it was based on God’s loving promise. We are reminded of this promise every time we see a rainbow in the sky—God is just; man is sinful; yet God has provided salvation by faith in the Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Noah’s story points forward to this, as we see both divine judgment and divine mercy based on God’s promise.

    While it can still be hard to understand why so many had to die in the flood, we must be sure to shift our focus to the promise at the end of the pain: the rainbow. God’s plan and purpose for us was—and always is—one of redemption.

I know that one day my daughter and unborn son may ask why God would do something so horrible to mankind. While we may never fully understand, I can confidently answer that His ways are always rooted deep in love. If He didn’t love us, there would have never been a rainbow and He would have never sent His beloved Son to die for our sins. Christians, we must strive to live our lives in a way that is pleasing to God, and we must always remember that on the cross, God’s divine justice and His divine mercy met in such a glorious display of grace, which is our only hope of redemption! Praised be His name!

Melissa Henson