Focusing on Remembrance: Chiasm in the Flood

We all know the story of the Flood, right? What is the focus of that story, though? What is it that God would have us remember about the Flood? Is it the death of all those people? The judgment of God? The miracle of Noah?

The chiasm of the Flood gives us the answer to this question.

A: Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. -Genesis 6:11
B: And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them.” -Genesis 6:13
C: Then the LORD said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation.” – Genesis 7:1
D: In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. -Genesis 7:11
E: The flood continued forty days on the earth. The waters increased and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. -Genesis 7:17

But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. – Genesis 8:1

E': And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided. -Genesis 8:1
D': At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made and sent forth a raven. It went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth. -Genesis 8:6-7
C': Then God said to Noah, “Go out from the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. -Genesis 8:15-16
B': ….the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. -Genesis 8:21
A': And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. -Genesis 9:21

A second time, with just the themes rather than the verses:

A: Man’s broken covenant with God
B: God’s determination to destroy his creation
C: Command to enter the Ark
D: Beginning of the Flood
E: Rising flood waters

God Remembers Noah

E': Receding flood waters
D': Ending of the flood
C': Command to leave the Ark
B': God’s promise to never destroy by water again
A': God’s new covenant with man

So what is the center of the chiasm? God remembers Noah. But why should this be the central point of the entire story? Because God promised to save Noah through the flood, and the center of the chiasm shows God remembering, and preparing to keep, his promise.

The Flood, then, centers on the promise making and promise keeping character of God — as much of the rest of the Scriptures.

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