Deliverance Through Judgment
- The Pre-deluvian Conditions Genesis 6:1-8
These verses relate the amazing truth concerning the total depravity of man and the rapid development of sin during the first sixteen hundred and fifty years. Contrary to the notion contained in the common grace theory that God restrains sin in the unregenerate, this passage demonstrates the truth that sin develops organically and with such rapidity that the entire world became ripe for judgment just a little over seven hundred years after Adam died. Various reasons for this rapid development are given here and may serve as salient points for discussion.
In verses 1 and 2 mention is made of the multiplication of men on the earth and the fact that there were mixed marriages between the “sons of God and daughters of men”. This multiplication of men was not sinful but was in accord with the command of God but, men being sinners, their numerical increase gave occasion for wider and more varied sin. Ten sinners perpetrate more sin than one, etc. Is it always true that the larger any organization of wicked men becomes, the more corrupt it also is? Take, for example, labor unions today! What about the time when the whole world will be united under anti-Christ, the man of sin?
These same verses speak of the intermarriage of the “sons of God and the daughters of men.” This is the second contributing factor in the rapid development of sin. It has reference to the intermarriage of the church and world, a reality that does not contribute to the moral and spiritual elevation of the world but rather results in the degeneration of the church. The “sons of God” represent the children of Seth who chose to marry the “daughters of men”, i.e., the children of Cain. They did so because they saw that the latter were “fair.” Lenski says, “of pretty faces and shapely forms.” Losing sight of basic distinctions, disregarding moral virtues in the selection of wife or husband are certain evidences of an advanced degeneracy.
To be rejected for obvious reasons are the views based on heathen legend and mythology that claims that the contrast between “sons of God” and daughters of men” demands that the former be divine and the latter human. Procksch simply offers the superscription, “The Marriage with Angels,” for this section. Meek translates, “the gods noticed that the daughters of men were attractive: so they married those whom they liked best.” Lcnski replies: “Such an approach introduces the mythological element as well as polytheism into the Scriptures and makes the Bible a record of strange and fantastic tales and contradicts the passage of Matt. 22:30: ‘For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are as angels in heaven.’ For the expression used here (vs 2) ‘they took to themselves wives,’ is a standing expression for marital union. This verse does not refer to adulterous irregularities but to permanent union.”
The third factor contributing to the rapid development of sin is the “contending of the Spirit of God with man” (vs. 3) This is not to be understood as though God was striving with man to restrain him, to check his sinning and even to convert him. It is no common grace struggle in which God loses and man wins. Rather, to strive means “to testify against, to judge and to condemn.” This God, by His Spirit, did in and through the prophets such as Enoch, Seth and Noah. But this would not continue forever. It would come to an end. This testimony had an effect upon the wicked. It hardened them in their iniquity. It was to them a savor of death unto death. Through this testimony of the Spirit their sin became the greater and it brought them closer to the final judgment.
In close connection with this must be mentioned the pre-deluvian persecutions. Though not specifically mentioned, this was the reaction of the wicked world to the “striving of the Spirit of God.” (Cf. Jude 14-16) Consider in this connection the murder of Abel by Cain, Lamech and his boasts (Gen. 4:23), Enoch’s translation. This also explains why the church numbered only eight souls at the time of the flood.
Finally, sin developed rapidly because “there were giants in those days in the earth.” (vs. 4) These were “mighty men, men of renown.” These were great men in more than one sense of the word. Physically and intellectually giants. Men of great worldly achievement. Think of Jabel, Jubal, Tubal-Cain. These were giants in industry, art, culture, etc. The Hebrew here has “Nephilim.” One meaning of this verb is to “fall upon, to attack.” This verb could readily yield this noun in the sense of “attackers, robbers, bandits.” So, you have the thought: the descendants of the godly patriarchs abandoned their spiritual heritage, God was moved to determine their destitution, and there were also violent attackers and robbers abroad in those days. Luther describes them as “tyrants.” They received a reputation the world over by their violence, but a reputation better deserving of the term notoriety. The world in those days, as now, did not esteem godly men highly. Only the wicked had a name.
Three things arrest our attention at the close of this passage. First, there is the statement of vs. 5 describing the totality of the depravity of the nature of man. This cannot be taken as applying only to the men of that day. This is descriptive of man as fallen in Adam. He is incapable of doing any good and inclined to all evil. “Every imagination of the thought of his heart is only evil continually.” Discuss this truth of depravity in relation to the claims of the common grace theory in this regard! Also, confer with the Confessions on this matter!
Secondly, mention is made here of “God’s repentance” and His determination to destroy man and beast from the earth. The repentance of God does not involve a change in God for He is immutable. See Jer. 26:19, Duet. 32:36, Ps. 106:45, etc. and then discuss the meaning of this repentance.
Thirdly, the contrast: “But Noah found grace.” We notice that Noah did not “earn” this grace. Neither was Noah “perfect” and this being the reason God favored Him. But he “found grace.” God had chosen him to comfort His people and through him the church was to be delivered out of the hands of its enemies. This is the sovereign purpose of God’s grace.
- Preparations for the Flood (Ch. 6:9-22)
Verses 9-14 describe the actual pre- deluvian conditions in the world. On the one hand, there was Noah and his three sons. Noah was “a just man and perfect in his generations.” This is not moral perfection but denotes that principally he lived in the fear of God with his children and held before them the precepts of the Lord which he himself honored. Noah was completely justified before God. This justification is of grace. The expression connotes a life of true faith and sincere consecration. In contrast to Noah was the rest of humanity which had corrupted its way upon the earth, (vs. 12) The earth was corrupt and filled with violence, (vs. 11) These verses describe the form of moral corruption prevalent in the earth. The Hebrew “Chamas” (violence) means “high handed dealings, violation of all right.” Men did as they pleased, despising God’s law and corrupting all human relations. All this God saw. Indeed, the earth was in so short a time ready to be judged.
In considering the instruction given to Noah concerning the building of the ark (vs. 14-22), it must be noted that in the minutest detail these instructions are of the Lord. This applies later to the building of the temple which plan was also wholly of God. Of significance, this is because these things point to the plan of salvation which in its origin, detail and execution is of God alone. In the heart of man such a plan could not arise. Who could see the wisdom
and purpose of building such an ark upon an earth where it had never as much as rained? To carry out this plan would occasion only the mockery, reproach and ridicule of evil men. This Noah experienced as he “did according to all that God commanded him,” preaching righteousness, condemning the world and built an ark to the saving of his house.
To be noticed in these instructions God gave to Noah is that God not only gave detail concerning the actual construction of the ark but also made detailed provision for the preservation of those to be saved in the ark. (vss. 19-21) God not only saves His people but He preserves them in the way of that salvation to the very end.
Concerning the plan of the ark we quote from Rev. H. Veldman: “The entire plan is of the Lord. This is true of the ark. All the details relative to this strange ship are given Noah by the Lord. A cubit is approximately one and a half feet. What is meant by gopher wood cannot be stated exactly. A probable explanation is that such a boat was made of interwoven willow branches and palm leaves with a coating of bitumen (asphalt) outside, used today on the rivers and canals of Mesopotamia. The ark had three stories, with a window in the upper story. Verses 16 does not mean that this “window” (light in Hebrew) would be only a cubit square, but within a cubit of the edge of the roof; this “window” refers to a space for light, and in which the window, or lattice for opening and shutting could be fixed; we do not know the detailed arrangement.”
Verse 22 emphasizes Noah’s obedience. Obedience is the crown and chief evidence of faith. Consider what James writes about this obedience or working of faith. (James 2:18 (f.) In obedience of faith Noah walked with God and all things were made ready for the impending judgment and the deliverance of the church.