Welcome back to our investigation of the prospect of rain showers on the earth before the Great Flood. When last we looked, the only thing we knew for certain from an examination of the Scriptures is that it hadn’t rained before man, that rain isn’t mentioned again in the Bible until the flood, and that God had provided other means (rivers) to water the Garden of Eden beyond the mist described in Genesis 2.
The next and perhaps most essential argument in favor of a pre-flood rain occurs as a result of the fall of man. Prior to this, it is clear God’s intention was to provide a comfortable life for man in paradise, which began with his placement there as recorded in Genesis 2:15: “Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” The Lord went on to give him the freedom to eat of every tree of the garden, except one, of course, and provided him with a suitable companion. In fact, the whole of Chapter 2 speaks of a beneficent Creator whose pleasure it was to give a life of peace and prosperity to those He had created—in a utopia made expressly for them.
Contrast this to the Lord’s demeanor toward Adam when the first couple are caught in their disobedience, documented in Genesis 3:17:
“Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground …”
Can there be any doubt about what is taking place here? In His anger, God has signaled an end to man’s paradisiacal lifestyle, a decision He later solidifies when He forever drives Adam and Eve from the garden at the end of Chapter 3.
Now consider this. Man had just been sentenced to a life of hardship. It is, therefore, difficult to picture Adam sweating profusely from his face were he surrounded by a cooling mist or vapor. More likely, after man was expelled from the garden, he worked the land under the sun and counted on the early and latter rains provided by God, as remains the case today. So in this context, the curse is the catalyst for the beginning of rain on the earth. It’s the theory that makes the most sense. And it is supported by centuries of recorded history of man’s adversity battling the land after the fall.
In Genesis 4, we learn that Abel was a keeper of sheep and Cain a tiller of the ground, occupations no doubt shared by their descendants. A thousand years later, Lamech referenced the garden curse when he named his son in Genesis 5:29. “And he called his name Noah, saying, ‘This one will comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord has cursed.’” In fact, we know that agriculture was the primary occupation and means for survival during Biblical times. It’s hard to imagine either of these pursuits, the raising of livestock or the cultivating of the land, being successful without the complementary life sustaining benefits of sunshine on the one hand, and intermittent periods of rain on the other. Ask any farmer today if he thinks the tilling of the soil isn’t as grueling as it was six thousand years ago.
And then we have Noah himself, who didn’t seem ignorant of rain when God told him about it in Genesis 7:4-5. “For after seven more days I will cause it to rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and I will destroy from the face of the earth all living things that I have made. And Noah did according to all that the Lord commanded him.”
Yes, but what about the rainbow? Some have sought to rely on the fact that since no rainbows are reported before the flood, there must not have been any rain. They base this on what scientists tell us causes rainbows, raindrops refracting sunlight. But this theory completely discounts the omnipotence of God, Who tells us He set His rainbow in the cloud as a promise not to ever again destroy the earth by flood. So important was this promise, that nine verses of Scripture are dedicated to the subject, with the Lord stressing the significance of the rainbow covenant three times in those nine verses (Genesis 9:9-17). Given this emphasis, it seems reasonable to deduce this was a precedent setting first instance of the rainbow, not rain, on the earth, and that every other instance since then is meant to be a reminder of that covenant.
So what are we to infer? I suspect that at the end of the age, we’ll find Noah sitting in heaven with a big grin on his face like the cat that swallowed the canary as we all gather around waiting for the answer. But until then, I believe the Bible gives us enough information to draw our own conclusion. The Scriptures are clear that at the creation of the earth a mist did indeed cover the land, and that’s all. But later, and certainly after the fall, and for the next 1650-plus years until the flood, rain would have been required to sustain those plants and herbs the Lord had cursed man to cultivate in the sweat of his brow. Elementary, Watson. And that’s just one Christian cop’s view.
What do you think?