Here is, I. The date of this great event; this is carefully recorded, for the greater certainty of the story.
1. It was in the 600th year of Noah’s life, which, by computation, appears to be 1656 years from the creation. The years of the old world are reckoned, not by the reigns of the giants, but the lives of the patriarchs; saints are of more account with God than princes. The righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance. Noah was now a very old man, even as men’s years went then. Note, (1.) The longer we live in this world the more we see of the miseries and calamities of it; it is therefore spoken of as the privilege of those that die young that their eyes shall not see the evil which is coming, 2 Kgs. 22:20. (2.) Sometimes God exercises his old servants with extraordinary trials of obedient patience. The oldest of Christ’s soldiers must not promise themselves a discharge from their warfare till death discharge them. Still they must gird on their harness, and not boast as though they had put it off. As the year of the deluge is recorded, so,
2. We are told that it was in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, which is reckoned to be about the beginning of November; so that Noah had had a harvest just before, from which to victual his ark.
II. The second causes that concurred to this deluge. Observe,
1. In the self-same day that Noah was fixed in the ark, the inundation began. Note, (1.) Desolating judgments come not till God has provided for the security of his own people; see Gen. 19:22; I can do nothing till thou be come thither: and we find (Rev. 7:3) that the winds are held till the servants of God are sealed. (2.) When good men are removed judgments are not far off; for they are taken away from the evil to come, Isa. 57:1. When they are called into the chambers, hidden in the grave, hidden in heaven, then God is coming out of his place to punish, Isa. 26:20, 21.
2. See what was done on that day, that fatal day to the world of the ungodly. (1.) The fountains of the great deep were broken up. Perhaps there needed no new creation of waters; what were already made to be, in the common course of providence, blessings to the earth, were now, by an extraordinary act of divine power, made the ruin of it. God has laid up the deep in storehouses (Ps. 33:7), and now he broke up those stores. As our bodies have in themselves those humours which, when God pleases, become the seeds and springs of mortal diseases, so the earth had in it bowels those waters which, at God’s command, sprang up and flooded it. God had, in the creation, set bars and doors to the waters of the sea, that they might not return to cover the earth (Ps. 104:9; Job 38:9-11); and now he only removed those ancient land-marks, mounds, and fences, and the waters of the sea returned to cover the earth, as they had done at first, Gen. 1:9. Note, All the creatures are ready to fight against sinful man, and any of them is able to be the instrument of his ruin, if God do but take off the restraints by which they are held in during the day of God’s patience. (2.) The windows of heaven were opened, and the waters which were above the firmament were poured out upon the world; those treasures which God has reserved against the time of trouble, the day of battle and war, Job 38:22, 23. The rain, which ordinarily descends in drops, then came down in streams, or spouts, as they call them in the Indies, where clouds have been often known to burst, as they express it there, when the rain descends in a much more violent torrent than we have ever seen in the greatest shower. We read (Job 26:8) that God binds up the waters in his thick clouds, and the cloud is not rent under them; but now the bond was loosed, the cloud was rent, and such rains descended as were never known before nor since, in such abundance and of such continuance: the thick cloud was not, as ordinarily it is, wearied with waterings (Job 37:11), that is, soon spent and exhausted; but still the clouds returned after the rain, and the divine power brought in fresh recruits. It rained, without intermission or abatement, forty days and forty nights (Gen. 7:12), and that upon the whole earth at once, not, as sometimes, upon one city and not upon another. God made the world in six days, but he was forty days in destroying it; for he is slow to anger: but, though the destruction came slowly and gradually, yet it came effectually.
3. Now learn from this, (1.) That all the creatures are at God’s disposal, and that he makes what use he pleases of them, whether for correction, or for his land, or for mercy, as Elihu speaks of the rain, Job 37:12, 13. (2.) That God often makes that which should be for our welfare to become a trap, Ps. 69:22. That which usually is a comfort and benefit to us becomes, when God pleases, a scourge and a plague to us. Nothing is more needful nor useful than water, both the springs of the earth and the showers of heaven; and yet now nothing was more hurtful, nothing more destructive: every creature is to us what God makes it. (3.) That it is impossible to escape the righteous judgments of God when they come against sinners with commission; for God can arm both heaven and earth against them; see Job 20:27. God can surround men with the messengers of his wrath, so that, if they look upwards, it is with horror and amazement, if they look to the earth, behold, trouble and darkness, Isa. 8:21, 22. Who then is able to stand before God, when he is angry? (4.) In this destruction of the old world by water God gave a specimen of the final destruction of the world that now is by fire. We find the apostle setting the one of these over against the other, 2 Pet. 3:6, 7. As there are waters under the earth, so Aetna, Vesuvius, and other volcanoes, proclaim to the world that there are subterraneous fires too; and fire often falls from heaven, many desolations are made by lightning; so that, when the time predetermined comes, between these two fires the earth and all the works therein shall be burnt up, as the flood was brought upon the old world out of the fountains of the great deep and through the windows of heaven.