Cain's murder of his brother Abel was only the beginning of wickedness in the world. People found an increasing number of ways to disobey God and to hurt one another. Unhappily God realized that there was only one thing he could do, wipe them out and start over.
The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the LORD said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth - men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air - for I am grieved that I have made them." (Genesis 6:5-7)
But there was one man who found favor with God: Noah. He was a righteous man, and God decided to spare his life. He told Noah that he had decided to send a flood to cover the whole world, but that he should build a boat to save his life, that of his family, and a selection of creatures of the world. Noah was 600 years old when this happened, so make sure you stay fit! You never know when God might ask you to do something really big!
With the help of this three sons, Shem, Ham and Japtheth, Noah began to build an enormous boat called an ark. When the ark was finished, God sent two of every kind of animal and bird - one male and one female - into the ark. After the last of the animals were on board, Noah and his family got on too, and God closed the door behind them. Then, God turned on the taps.
In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, on the seventeenth day of the second month-on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.
By the end of the six weeks of rain, every living creature outside the ark was destroyed, and the only living life on the planet was what resided inside the ark. When the waters had receded, God told Noah to come out of the ark and bring with him his family and the entire zoo they had lived with. Grateful for saving his life, Noah offered God a thanksgiving sacrifice.
Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. (Genesis 8:20)
Moved, God made a promise that never again would be destroy all living things, wicked though they were. And to assure man that he hadn't forgotten the promise, God put a sign in the sky: the rainbow. The was the first covenant that God made with man.