One of the problems of a local flood is that it doesn’t seem to have an adequate argument in reply to how the Genesis Flood is treated in the New Testament. One can understand an argument that all mankind or all the animals and birds may be understood in terms less than universal, just like all in Matthew 3:5 couldn’t mean every last person in Judea. The Bible often uses superlative terms as a literary exaggeration, and is meant to be taken as a metaphor—something like what we would say today when we wish to express the importance of an upcoming event, namely: “Everyone is going to be there!” Certainly every last person in the neighborhood, city, work location, school or to whatever the context of our statement refers, is not going to be there. Most or many will be there, but not all.
Although such an argument can be understood—not necessarily agreed upon—but it is possible that the use of the word “all” in Genesis 7:19 could mean many, several or a significant amount within a local context—if all we had in the Bible that described the Noahic Flood was that single verse and nothing more. The problem is that we have much more to consider, and I believe the rest of the evidence precludes the local flood argument and shows it was, indeed, universal. For example, Jesus refers to the Genesis Flood in his Olivet prophecy:
But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. (Matthew 24:37-39 KJV)
Jesus drew a comparison of the universal judgment coming upon the world at his second coming with the judgment of God concerning the Genesis Flood. For the comparison to be a true one, both would need to have something in common with the other, and that point would be the point of emphasis. It would seem that the point of similarity would be their universality. After all, Jesus is not simply the judge over a local community, but over the whole world, which seems to be the point Jesus is making in Matthew 24. Another consideration would be the method of judgment, and this is shown Luke 17:28-30 where he describes God’s judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah, which was judgment by fire.
This last point, judgment by fire, is addressed by Peter in his second epistle as he addressed the problem of people wondering where the promise of Jesus’ coming was:
Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. (2Peter 3:3-7 KJV—emphasis mine)
Notice that Peter speaks of two events. First, “by the word of God the heavens were of old and the earth standing out of the water and in the water” (a reference to creation), and secondly, “Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished” (a reference to the Genesis Flood). The world that stood “out of water and in water” perished. The implication is global—as global as creation was, so was the Genesis Flood. Moreover, Peter shows that the time of Christ’s coming would also represent a global judgment—but this time by fire. One doesn’t get the sense of anything being local here. Both Peter and Jesus are speaking in terms of universality.