Earth’s Greatest Catastrophe
March 9th, 1988 @ 7:30 PM
EARTH’S GREATEST CATASTROPHE
Dr. W. A. Criswell
3-09-88 7:30 p.m.
And once again, welcome the throngs of you who share this hour on radio. This is the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and I am the pastor delivering the message entitled Earth’s Greatest Catastrophe, or The First Rain. Our background text is Genesis 7, verse 4. God said to Noah and to his family, “For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth, forty days and forty nights shall it rain; and every living creature that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth” [Genesis 7:4].
One of those living creatures who lived before the Flood was the dinosaur. The word “dinosaur” is created out of two Greek words: deinos, which means “fearful,” or “terrible,” or “monstrous,” and sauros, which means “lizard.” So a deinosauros, or a dinosaur, is a fearful and a terrible monstrous lizard. One of the most interesting things that you will read in the Bible, Job remembered them and he described them.
For example, in the fortieth chapter of Job, beginning at verse 15, he says, “Behold now behemoth” [Job 40:15]. We have no idea what a behemoth is. That’s a Hebrew word. We have never seen one. That is a dinosaur who lived before the Flood, and Job remembers them:
Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox.
His strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly.
He moveth his tail like a cedar.
If you’ve ever seen those giant dinosaurs, “He moveth his tail like a cedar; the sinews of his stones are wrapped together,” those vast, enormous back bones. “His bones are as strong as pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron” [Job 40:17-18]. Have you been in any of those museums and have seen the skeletons of those dinosaurs?
He is the chief of the ways of God: He that made him can make his sword to approach . . .
Surely the mountains bring him forth food, where all the beasts of the field play.
He lieth under the shady trees, in the covert of the reed, and the fens.
The shady trees cover him with their shadow; the willows of the brook encompass him about.
Behold, he drinketh up a river
An enormous ravenous capacity for water:
he drinketh up a river . . . he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan up into his mouth.
That’s Job’s description of a dinosaur on the land. Then he describes in the next chapter one that lived in the swamp, 41:4, “Canst thou draw out leviathan?” [Job 41:1]. There’s another Hebrew word. We don’t know what a leviathan is. We just spelled it out in English, a “leviathan.” He’s a leviathan. That’s one of those dinosaurs who lived in the swamps. “Can you draw out leviathan with a hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down?” [Job 41:1]. Verse 14, “Who could open the doors of his face? His teeth are terrible round about. His scales are his pride, shut up together as with a close seal” [Job 41:14-15]. Nineteen, “Out of his mouth go burning lamps, and sparks of fire leap out [Job 41:19]. Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, as out of a seething pot or caldron” [Job 41:20]. Some of those dinosaurs could blow fire out of their mouths: “His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth” [Job 41:21]. Twenty-seven:
He esteemeth iron as straw, and brass as rotten wood.
The arrow cannot make him flee: sling stones are turned with him into stubble.
Darts are counted as stubble; he laugheth at the shaking of a spear.
Clothed with great scales, impervious. An arrow or a spear would be bent as a straw.
Sharp stones are under him; he spreadeth sharp pointed things upon the mire . . .
Upon the earth there is not his like, who is made without fear.
Those are words that describe the dinosaurs that once roamed the earth. All over the earth, every continent of the earth, you’ll find their skeletons and their tracks. They are of all sizes and they are all kinds and shapes. For example, Tyrannosaurus rex, one of the biggest of the dinosaurs, weighed ninety tons—180,000 pounds. He was 140 feet long. He was half a block long. And he was 100 feet tall. It’s almost unimaginable or unthinkable with us today of such vast living creatures.
All right, for us: the evolutionist says that these Dinosaurae, these dinosaurs, lived seventy million years ago. That’s what they say, the evolutionists, but over there in the Paluxy River at Glen Rose, Texas, there are tracks in limestone rock of three-toed dinosaurs and human beings, fleeing together to higher ground. At the same time that the evolutionist says these dinosaurs died out and lived seventy million years ago, well, while they’re saying that, in those limestone rocks over there in Glen Rose are imprints in the stone of three-toed dinosaurs and human beings, all of them fleeing together to higher ground.
What amounts, may I point out, is that there is in everything that we discover a pulling down of the chronological column. The evolutionist says all of these things were evolving millions, and millions, and millions, and millions of years, but everything we discover pulls down that chronological column by the same millions and millions of years. For example, near London, Texas, an artifact was found in the Ordovician stratum. That’s the second stratum in the Paleozoic period that the evolutionist says is dated five hundred million years ago, one-half billion years ago. But in that, in that Ordovician stratum there has been found an iron hammer, clearly man-made. Do you think a man made that one-half billion years ago? Even the evolutionist couldn’t stomach such a thought as that.
The whole column of life in this earth, everything we know about it is being pulled down, and down, and down—less, and less, and less, and less, and less years. The reason the evolutionist has to have millions and millions and millions of years is to find some kind of an explanation for the far-out things that he says.
Now, let’s go. What destroyed these dinosaurs? They were everywhere. They were on every continent. What destroyed them? The answer is, they were destroyed in the Flood [Genesis 6:5-7, 17, 7:19-23]. Let’s look at the pre-Flood world conditions. There was a canopy over this earth, over the whole earth. There was a canopy over the earth. And underneath that canopy this whole earth was a tropical lush paradise—at the poles, at the Arctic and Antarctic, and in between.
Greenland; I’ve flown over Greenland several times. It is buried in solid ice. Greenland was a tropical paradise. The whole earth was a tropical paradise. There was a canopy over the earth. For example, in Prudhoe Bay up there in northern Alaska, where they drill for oil in northern Alaska, 1,900 feet down, up there in the Arctic Circle they came against ancient tropical forests, palm trees, ferns, heavy foliage. And a like thing is seen in the Antarctic. Whether it’s at the Arctic or at the Antarctic, beneath the ice there are remnants and remains of tropical forest.
The whole world, all of it, the whole planet, was a tropical forest, a paradise of beautiful vegetation, foliage. The atmosphere at that time under that canopy had far less radiation. There were fewer somatic hereditary mutations. Everything favored larger, stronger, longer-lived creatures. Vast amounts of food were abundant. Everywhere there was food for the great giant creatures to eat. Frozen mammoths in Siberia have their stomachs full of tropical plants. There were herds of these animals in the now frozen Arctic and Antarctic regions.
All Europe is a vast fossil burial ground, graveyard. In the peat bogs of New York there are 217 mammoth carcasses found. All died suddenly—all of them. All of those vast creatures died suddenly. Whether it be in the Antarctic or in the Arctic, they are there encased in ice. I have read where they have fed from the flesh of some of these tremendous animals up there in Siberia. They were destroyed suddenly. How were they destroyed suddenly? What happened?
What happened was this. God punctured that canopy that surrounded the earth, and the waters of the firmament came down [Genesis 7:11]. The vast thermal blanket of water vapor fell down upon the earth. A worldwide Deluge that can never be repeated occurred in that indescribable catastrophe. It cannot rain forty days and forty nights upon this earth today because there’s not that much vapor water in the sky. It was only possible because of that vast canopy of water above the earth.
It had never rained before the Flood, never. May I read to you Genesis chapter 2, verses 4 to 6? Listen, Genesis 2, verses 4 to 6:
These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,
And every plant of the field before it was in the earth and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth.
But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the earth.
God plainly says it had never rained upon the earth—never! [Genesis 2:5]. The earth was watered by the dew that was distilled from above and the mist that came up from below [Genesis 2:5-6]. They had never seen it rain. It had never rained upon the earth. It was watered, I repeat, by the distillation of the vapor above that came down in the form of dew and by the mist that rose up from the lush tropical earth from beneath. They had never seen it rain.
And when the Lord God said to Noah, “Yet forty days and it will rain upon the earth” [Genesis 7:4], they had no idea of such a judgment. They had never seen such a phenomenon. Not only that, but there was no rainbow. They had never seen a rainbow. In the ninth chapter of Genesis beginning at verse 12:
And God said, This is the token of the covenant that I make between [Me and] you and every living creature . . .
I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of the covenant between Me and earth . . .
I will remember My covenant . . .
And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it and remember My covenant.
They had never seen a rainbow. And that rainbow was set there by the Lord God in the clouds after the canopy was punctured and after the deluge fell down from the sky. Then God put a rainbow as a sign of the covenant He would never destroy the world again by a flood. When that canopy was punctured and it fell down on the earth, there was this catastrophic change. The original creation was lush and idyllic. Trees were huge and creatures were enormous. Men lived vast periods of time. Genesis 6:4 says there were giants in the earth in those days.
Let me give you an example of that. I came across an example of a woman, the skeleton of a woman who was over seven feet tall. And over there in Glen Rose there is the imprint of a man’s foot. One of our fellow creatures today—a man—put his foot in the imprint. And the man today who put his foot down is six feet, four inches tall. And when he put his foot down in the limestone footprint, there were four inches beyond his heel. Whoever that was that made that imprint in the limestone rock in Glen Rose had a foot that was four inches longer than this six-foot-four-inch man who was there sizing it up.
When the canopy above was punctured by the Lord God [Genesis 7:11], the mutation rate speeded up. Size and strength of animal life declined, and many species ceased to exist. And what happened to man was, he turned into something else. “There were giants in the earth in those days” [Genesis 6:4], and what happened to his life?
Noah lived 950 years [Genesis 9:29]. Salah lived 433 years [Genesis 11:13-14]. Terah, the father of Abraham, lived 205 years [Genesis 11:32]. Abraham lived 175 years [Genesis 25:7]. Moses lived 120 years [Deuteronomy 34:7]. And Psalm 90:10 says, “For the years of the man are threescore and ten.” How many is that? Threescore and ten, how many is that? “The days of his years are seventy years; and if by reason of strength, they be fourscore—80 years—yet is their strength labor and sorrow: for it is soon cut off, and we fly away” [Psalm 90:10].
That’s what happened when the canopy that made this earth a lush paradise fell down [Genesis 7:11], and the radiation of the sun and the mutation rate and all of the other things that came with it. Our lifetime declined from 950 years in Noah [Genesis 9:29], to about 70 years for the average lifetime today.
Now, may I speak in conclusion of that massive catastrophe that happened in the Flood? Giants [Genesis 6:4], gave way to ordinary men such as we are today. Animals could no longer find vast amounts of food. For example, a modern elephant: a modern elephant eats about three hundred pounds of hay a day and drinks about thirty gallons of water a day. But carcasses of mammoths are found in areas where rainfall is less than in the Sahara desert! These mammoths and dinosaurs and mastodons all died together in the Flood [Genesis 6:5-7, 17, 7:19-23]. And if an elephant today eats three hundred founds of hay and drinks thirty gallons of water, think of how much food there had to be in order to feed a dinosaur a hundred feet tall! That’s about twice as tall as this auditorium ceiling here. A half a block long, 180,000 pounds, and these skeletons are found in deserts like the Sahara. Think of the lush tropical vegetation it took to feed them.
When that canopy was punctured [Genesis 7:11], the oxygen supply diminished. And the sudden freeze at both poles overwhelmingly turned from tropical to frigid. And those animals froze just like that. Ultraviolet rays from the sun vastly increased. The protection of the canopy was taken away. These mastodons did not die out seventy million years ago per these evolutionists, but a great catastrophe destroyed them. In the Flood the dinosaurs and human beings died together, fleeing to higher ground [Genesis 7:19-23].
One of the most dramatic things that can be seen over there at Glen Rose is the imprint of a human hand—some man fell down fleeing. And all the imprints of the dinosaurs and the human beings are moving together, seeking to escape the terrible disaster, striving for higher ground [Genesis 7:19-23]. But there was no refuge, according to the Word of God. Noah had 120 years to get ready. God said to him, “A hundred and twenty years and I will destroy this earth by the Flood” [Genesis 6:3]. He had 120 years.
Well, if there were higher ground to save him, why didn’t he move? Had 120 years in which to do it, why didn’t he move to higher ground? Because there was no such thing! The Flood covered the highest mountains in the earth. The Bible says that the ark rested on Mt. Ararat [Genesis 8:4], and Mt. Ararat is over seventeen thousand feet high. When that canopy fell, it covered the whole earth with a deluge that is indescribable and unrefutable [Genesis 7:11-23].
May I say one word before we close? The human race was not nomadic or primitive, but highly sophisticated and has been from the beginning. We have fallen. We have not evolved upward through millions and millions and millions and millions and millions of years. There is no record of that, absolutely none. And it certainly denies the Word of God. From the beginning we have been, as a human race, highly sophisticated. In Genesis 4, verses 17, 20, 21, and 22, from the beginning men were building great cities, and they had ironsmiths and they had all kinds of musical instruments [Genesis 4:17, 20, 21, 22]. But the judgment of God came upon sinful men.
You have a good example of that same judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah [Genesis 19:24-29]. And you have that same judgment of God upon Israel in 586 BC [Jeremiah 39:1-10, 52:4-30; 2 Chronicles 36:17-21] and in 70 [AD]. And when I went through Germany right after the Second World War, I could not believe the indescribable, extensive, vast destruction that had been rained upon Germany in that awesome judgment from heaven.
There is no such thing as a people not facing the inevitable judgments of God when they forget Him. I don’t care what anybody says: syphilis, and gonorrhea, and herpes, and AIDS is a judgment of Almighty God. God judged Sodom, and He is judging this earth today; He does not change [Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8].
And when I think and recall the awesomeness of the destruction that I saw in those cities of Germany right after the Second World War, I think of the cities of America. Could it be that God punctures the canopy of His grace and mercy and love above us, and that out of the sky falls and rains fire and judgment and devastation and destruction from God’s omnipotent hands, falling down upon our cities and upon our people?
“We think, pastor, that’s far-out. That’s beyond any possibility.”
It is as near as the detonation of the first atomic bomb. It is that close. And we stand on the brink of it every day we live. And our hope and our salvation lies in the mercies of God. You remember what Kipling said?
If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that hold not Thee in awe,
Such boasting as the Gentiles use,
Or lesser breeds without the law—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
[from “Recessional,” Rudyard Kipling]
Now we’re going to sing us a song. And while we sing it, somebody you, give his heart and love to the Lord Jesus, a family you coming into the fellowship of our dear church, answering a call of the Spirit of God in your heart; while we sing this hymn, “Showers,” not of judgment, but “of Blessing”—while we sing the hymn, if the Lord bid you here to be with us, to go with us to heaven, to pilgrimage with us in this earth in which God hath cast our life and lot in time, you come and stand by me. Welcome, while all of us stand and sing.
EARTH’S GREATEST CATASTROPHE
1. Job, after the flood, remembers them
2. Once roamed the earth before the flood
II. Flood destroyed the dinosaurs
1. Pre-flood canopy over earth – tropical climate worldwide
2. Water above firmament came down as rain forty days and nights
III. Massive catastrophe of the flood