When Satan entered the garden and the corruption of sin took hold of Adam and Eve, death and corruption enveloped the whole of God’s good creation. Even so, this did not mark an instant victory of Satan, but rather under the sovereign plan of God, a stage was set for a marvelous display of God’s power and grace. Satan was bound by the time and space created by God. He planted a seed of sin and death, but it would take time and space to grow…and grow it did.
If you have in any way endeavored to grow a garden or any other crop, you have first hand experience with the characteristics of weeds in relation to the beans, corn, and tomatoes. If wet weather or busyness prevents your spending some time rooting out the weeds, it does not take long before those little weeds have taken over the space making it difficult to even find the row of seedlings. Not only are your plants difficult to find, the roots have so intertwined with the seedling roots, that uprooting the weeds leaves your plants looking rather bedraggled. It is the nature of weeds to be much more aggressive than cultivated plants. They grow much faster and are better able to withstand insects, drought, and even poor soil. It seems as though the weeds are in their native turf, and the plants are helpless visitors and pilgrims.
This was not always so. The curse upon the ground which now seems to favor every plant that is useless to man has become a picture of the spiritual growing conditions for man: the wicked naturally thrive, and the children of God are weak, helpless, and out-of-place pilgrims in this world. Selfish natural man greedily dives into all the wonders and powers in the creation that were created by God, and were good, and for man to search out and use. God created man with a passion to serve and glorify Him, but that passion has turned to selfishness and fuels his growth in wickedness. His wickedness grows like the weeds grow—they start small, multiply, stand even with the godly for awhile, but unchecked, they quickly overcome and completely smother the garden plants. God tends his garden, but he also uses the weeds to reveal beautiful attributes about himself that we would otherwise never see.
You will notice from the timeline above that the church at this time was getting very close to the time of the flood. They days when the church seemed to flourish have come and gone. The weeds now tower over the plants, and it requires some searching to even discover that the garden once contained neat rows of plants. This, of course was not due to the neglect of God. He demands fruit from his people, but he does not need that fruit for his happiness or life (Psalm 50). His purpose is to reveal himself to his people in Christ (Col. 1:27). By the fourteenth century of his-story, it is becoming increasingly clear that the church does not save herself. The power of Satan was clearly manifest.
The growth of wickedness is a frightening thing. David cries out in Psalm 3:1 “Lord, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me.” A mathematical look at such growth reveals an exponential curve. We see this phenomenon in unchecked population graphs. If we were able to measure the volume or weight of a weed, we would see its beginnings to have a slow steady increase; but it reaches a point where the volume makes a steep increase. Some weeds can reach the status of a small tree before the frost of winter cuts them down. Noah could see the trend, and was able to walk calmly before God only by faith.
Genesis 6 describes the characteristics of this growth and identifies one of the powerful contributing factors of this growth in the relationships and marriage of the church with the wicked (v. 2). We have already discussed the concept of giants in an earlier article. In a spiritual sense, the wicked now towered over the godly. It had reached the point where it was as though there was no end in sight. “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (v. 5). Soon the church would be reduced to one family among the millions, and God would begin to reveal to Noah the wondrous plan of his power and salvation through the flood of waters.
As we noticed in the last article, God reveals a parallel between the world that then was, and the world in which we live today. God will again come in judgment, this time as Christ coming to bring his church into the new heavens and the new earth. Jesus explained these things to his disciples in Luke 17. “And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man” (Luk. 17:26). We are living in the days when wickedness is growing exponentially. God describes the power of wickedness and evil in terms of a great and terrible beast in Revelation. So great becomes the power of wicked man, that even the preaching of the gospel will be silenced (Revelation 11:7). Even so, we like Noah walk by faith. We hold fast to our Lord and Savior and cling to his promises. We wait patiently for the full revelation of his power and salvation. We go about our life in peace showing forth fruits of thankfulness. Each day we are able to sing:
“I laid me down and slept,
I waked, Because the Lord sustains;
Tho’ many thousands compass me,
Unmoved my soul remains.”
Psalter number 5.