Genesis 6 & 7 – Week Eight
In New York “Handyman David Bonola arrested in case of murdered Queens mother stabbed more than 55 times”. “Catholic diocese in New Jersey reaches $87.5M settlement with hundreds of sexual abuse victims” “Florida bride and caterer charged with lacing wedding food with cannabis” “Judge orders US Bureau of Prisons to find surgeon for transgender inmate’s gender-affirming surgery” “Third person arrested in connection with South Carolina mall shooting that left 15 people injured, police say” “Ohio doctor accused of overprescribing fentanyl to the dying found not guilty of murder” “6 people were shot — including 1 fatally — after an apparent fight at a birthday party in Indianapolis, police say”. And then hitting a bit closer to home in Grantville, Georgia, “Coroner arrives to crime scene to discover his family was killed” All of these recent headlines came from one sight, CNN.com, and there were plenty more like them. When I used the search function and typed in “good news”, the first headline that came up was “Russia Invades Ukraine”. When I typed in “happy news”, once again, Russia invading Ukraine was at the top of the list, but, thankfully, the second headline of “Queen Elizabeth celebrates 96th birthday in milestone jubilee year” promised something other than a horrible, sad, and tragic story.
I don’t know what’s sadder. The fact that the stories of crimes, murders, assaults, perversion, and pure evil are so plentiful or the fact that we’ve become accustomed to hearing them that it’s just considered normal.
This is our eighth week of studying Genesis. In these two months, we’ve been given insight as to the miraculous and intentional beginning of the heavens, the earth, our solar system, and everything that fills them. We’ve witnessed how God had a hands-on role in creating Adam, the first man, and literally breathed life into him. We’ve talked about the good times of Adam naming the animals, Eve being created to be Adam’s partner. We’ve talked about the bad times of Eve being deceived by the devil and Adam being disobedient to God and, as a result, allowing sin to penetrate the perfect world God had created for them. We’ve seen the first murder born out of jealousy, rage, and evil. We’ve watched as Cain was sent out to live away from the presence of God and how the lineage of his continued to populate the earth with sinfulness, wickedness, and disobedience. We read about God’s grace and His provision as Adam and Eve were given Seth and how the birth of Seth’s son, Enosh, caused men to call upon the Lord once again. At least, chapter 4 of Genesis leaves us with something encouraging. Genesis 5 is a selective version of the family tree from Adam all the way to Noah.
Here we are, approximately 1,500 years since life was first breathed into Adam.[i] Let’s take a look at what the world is looking like at this point.
Genesis 6:1 NIV “When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”
A few observations about these verses. There was apparently a population explosion. If you were to do some research on the world’s population at the time of Noah, you would find a range of estimations going from millions to billions. I read several articles that are bold enough to suggest that the population at the time of Noah was larger than it is today. I certainly don’t know how accurate that may be, but Scripture does inform us that mankind increased, multiplied, and became numerous. We’re told that daughters were born and that the “sons of God” saw that the daughters were beautiful and married them.
There are a few theories about the reference to “sons of God”. All of the theories have some credibility as well as some flaws, so I’ll share them with you with a disclaimer. I don’t know the truth.
The first school of thought is that sons of God are believed by some to be fallen angelic beings. This is derived from cross-referencing with other Scriptures. Job 1:6 in the NKJV reads “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.” That same verse in the NRSV reads “One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.” In the NIV, that verse reads, “One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them.”
Likewise in Job 38, the phrase “sons of God” and the term “angels” are both used in different translations. Verse 7 in the English Standard Version reads “when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” That same verse in the New Living Translation reads, “as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?”
The theory is “that these fallen angels possessed willing human males, and it was through these human surrogates that they married women and produced children that were likely demon-possessed themselves.”[ii]
Another theory is that “sons of God” referred to great and powerful rulers of the time. Not a lot of solid scriptural references on that theory except for an insinuation that comes later in verse 4.
The other popular theory is that “sons of God” is identifying the Godly offspring of Seth and that they were intermarrying with the ungodly offspring of Cain.
Who Scripture is specifically referring to, though, we don’t know. What we are sure of is that it doesn’t please God. Verse 3 of Genesis 6 tells us, “And the LORD said, “My Spirit will not remain with mankind forever, because they are corrupt. Their days will be 120 years.” (CSB)
That definite period of time that’s given is important. Some assumed that God states that He won’t let anyone live past 120 years of age. That’s not accurate because Abraham, who came way after, lived to be 175 years old. Jacob lived to be 147 years old. When God makes the declaration that “their days will be 120 years”, it is said at the time that Noah is clued in about the upcoming flood. The flood that occurs 120 years after this proclamation. Coincidence? I think not!
Another controversial topic comes in with the next few verses.
Let me read from a few translations.
Genesis 6:4 HCSB “The Nephilim were on the earth both in those days and afterward, when the sons of God came to the daughters of mankind, who bore children to them. They were the powerful men of old, the famous men.”
Genesis 6:4 NKJV “There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.”
Genesis 6:4 GNT “In those days, and even later, there were giants on the earth who were descendants of human women and the heavenly beings. They were the great heroes and famous men of long ago.”
Various translations use the word “giants” or “Nephilim”. The root word for Nephilim is “naphal” which means “to fall” or “fallen”.[iii] The word Nephilim not only means “giant”, but it also can refer to one who is a bully or a tyrant.[iv]
There are all sorts of ideas about this topic, but one thing is for sure. Giants existed before the flood as well as after the flood. Nephilim are referred to in Numbers when the twelve spies were sent to Canaan. Numbers 13:33 ESV “ And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” And, of course, the most famous of them all, Goliath, who lived approximately 1,200 years after the flood.
Genesis 6:4 NKJV “5 Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 7 So the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.”
Let’s do a quick recap. The people were obedient to God’s instructions to be fruitful and multiply because there are many people now. Certain men known as sons of God found the women beautiful and they married them. God set the timer for 120 years. We know there were giants or bullies or perhaps both. Although we have only theories and can’t say for certain exactly what is going on here, we do know this. God saw it all as wickedness. He knew that the thoughts that men had were a continuously running loop of evil. And it grieved Him.
But. But Noah. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.
Genesis 6:9 ESV “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.”
Warren W. Wiersbe said, “Noah’s righteousness didn’t come from his good works; his good works came because of his righteousness. Like Abraham, his righteousness was God’s gift in response to his personal faith.”[v]
Noah was righteous before God and he was blameless among others. He wasn’t sinless, obviously; however, he was considered to be a man of integrity and unblemished. The word blameless is the same word used to describe sacrificial animals.
The last part of verse 9 is the bow that ties up the whole package. Noah walked with God. Let me ask you a silly question. Is it possible to walk with someone and not have them walk with you? No! Noah walked with God and therefore, God walked with Noah. And as Scripture suggests, it was just the two of them.
As wickedness and evil prevailed and sexual depravity was the norm, Noah chose to walk with God. He chose to be the exception. He chose to be different. And as a result of that relationship, God lets him in on a little secret.
Genesis 6:13 HCSB “Then God said to Noah, “I have decided to put an end to every creature, for the earth is filled with wickedness because of them; therefore I am going to destroy them along with the earth.14 “Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it with pitch inside and outside. 15 This is how you are to make it:”
The original Hebrew word used for “ark” was “tebah” or “tebat” That word is only used twice in the Bible; in this circumstance and to describe the container that was used when Moses was placed in the water. God proceeds to tell Noah the specifics of this ark or boat. It’s to be made of gopher wood which to this day, no one really knows what gopher wood is. Some believe it was some type of cypress, but no one knows for sure. God tells Noah to cover the ark with pitch inside and out. The Hebrew word used for “pitch” was “kaphar” which means to “cover over”. That same word is used in other Scripture for the word “atonement”.
When it’s completed, the ark will be as long as one and a half football fields and will be three stories high with each story being fifteen feet. Windows, or openings all around the top. And only one door. Quite large, obviously. But here’s the thing. In fact, two things.
“Consider the fact that Noah and his generation more than likely had never seen rain before, yet God tells Noah to build a large seagoing vessel nowhere near a body of water.”[vi]
It would be like telling someone at the North Pole to build a huge tornado shelter. Tornadoes don’t occur there so what would be the point?
God tells Noah to prepare for something that he isn’t familiar with in a way that is foreign to him for a purpose he can’t possibly understand and Noah obeys.
Hebrews 11:7 GNT – 7 “It was faith that made Noah hear God’s warnings about things in the future that he could not see. He obeyed God and built a boat in which he and his family were saved. As a result, the world was condemned, and Noah received from God the righteousness that comes by faith.”
The movie Evan Almighty is a modern-day tale of the story of Noah. This family man, Evan, wakes up one day to building materials for the ark being delivered to his front yard by large trucks. We’re going to assume that Home Depot wasn’t bringing to Noah the gopher wood, tools, and tar for the project. Noah more than likely had to chop down the trees, saw them down to workable lengths and widths, sand them, and prepare them. For 120 years, Noah labored and sweated, his hands blistered and calloused, and his muscles ached. Weariness and tiredness had to have swept over him as he faced this massive project day in and day out. All the while, dodging the confused and amused looks of those around him, hearing the whispers that no doubt were being shared. But Noah continued in obedience to God. In fact, Scripture tells us that “in reverence prepared an ark” (Hebrews 11:7 NASB) even when there were no clouds in the sky.
Scripture never tells us that Noah warned anyone else about the flood. As a matter of fact, God was very specific that Noah was to build the ark for himself, his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives. God didn’t mention any plus ones. Certainly, people would have asked him directly what he was doing. I can’t help but wonder what his response was to that. God didn’t seem to imply that anyone and everyone was invited because that would have defeated His original purpose. How hard that would have been for Noah if he was not authorized to share the impending doom with his neighbors, and his other family members. 2 Peter 2:5 tells us that Noah was a preacher of righteousness. Noah not only worshipped God, he also worked for God all while he walked with God. Noah not only obeyed God; he obeyed God completely even though it probably made no sense whatsoever to him.
That’s the thing for us to commit to memory. If we ever find ourselves being asked by God to do something that doesn’t make sense, we need to obey and obey completely. Did you notice that Noah asked no questions? He didn’t ask for clarification or additional explanation. Genesis 6:22 HCSB “22 And Noah did this. He did everything that God had commanded him.”
Genesis 7:1 NKJV “Then the LORD said to Noah, “Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation.”
There’s a slight difference in the translations on this verse, but I particularly love this one. The Lord tells Noah to come into the ark which indicates that God is already in there. And Noah and his family do just that. Even when the ground is dry and there are no clouds in the sky, Noah obeys.
When you picture the animals entering the ark, how do you see it? We usually envision Noah calling forth and lining up two lions, two giraffes, two monkeys, two elephants, two zebras, and two little bluebirds flying just overhead as they all make their way onboard. That’s not entirely accurate if you look at the Scripture. In fact, “God would cause these creatures to come to Noah and Noah would take them into the ark. This included not only pairs of unclean animals who would be able to reproduce after the flood, but also seven pairs of clean animals, some of whom would be used for sacrifices.”[vii]
At this point, Noah is 600 years old. He and his wife, their three sons, and their wives set up residency upon the ark. Verse 16b of chapter 7 tells us, “Then the Lord sealed them inside.” Eight people total. And for one whole week, seven long days, the eight of them found themselves locked up in the ark, surrounded by a multitude of smelly animals, all the while peering out the windows at dry land and blue skies. I wouldn’t have blamed any of them for attempting to jump ship during those seven days. Noah had spent 120 years building what God had designed. He was fully invested. And Noah had the advantage of hearing from God directly. The other family members only had Noah’s word. Even still, that had to have been a long and anxious week for Noah and the others. Not a drop of rain. No plip. No plop. Nothing.
Do you ever find yourselves right where you’re sure God wants you to be for all of the right reasons, at just the right time, and yet, nothing’s happening? It’s natural to wonder, “Did I hear God right?” “Did I make an assumption?” when things don’t progress as we predict they should. But God gives us the extreme case of Noah and his family to use as an example. For people passing by, all during the years of construction and now, in the final days as Noah and his family are holed up with a vast menagerie of animals, Noah stays focused on the assignment given by God. He doesn’t let the criticisms, the skepticism, or the well-meaning advice of others sway him from his faith in God. Even when Noah and his family found themselves on a dusty boat settled on dry land, they trusted that the rain was coming. And it did.
For forty days and forty nights, it rained.
As God brought judgment upon those outside the ark, He had the waters lift Noah and his family to safety. The same waters that brought death to everyone else, provided life to those in God’s favor. Those who had been obedient to God’s instructions, those who had accepted His invitation to board this vessel that was covered in pitch or atonement, this boat that despite its hugeness and vastness had but simply one door, the occupants were saved.
They were on the ark for more than a year. For many days and nights, they would have heard the cries, the screams for help, the anguish, the panic of those trying to save themselves and their family members from the rising waters. They would have listened day by day as the cries subsided until all they heard were the waves lapping against the ark, knowing that they were surrounded by a watery grave.
Even though Noah and his family were saved from the flood, they weren’t entirely spared. They couldn’t have been. There must have been great sadness knowing the consequences that others faced because of their wickedness and sinfulness. Noah, being a righteous man before God, would not have found delight in the demise of those he knew. But Noah had faith in God and he trusted God’s judgment.
“If God does not judge, then He’s not just; if He’s not just, then He’s not perfect; if He’s not perfect, then He’s not God.”[viii]
That may be a hard pill for us to swallow when God’s judgment hits close to home, but would we want anything less than a perfect and just God?
Matthew 24:37 GNT “ The coming of the Son of Man will be like what happened in the time of Noah. 38 In the days before the flood people ate and drank, men and women married, up to the very day Noah went into the boat; 39 yet they did not realize what was happening until the flood came and swept them all away. That is how it will be when the Son of Man comes.”
If you’ve been saved, if you’ve accepted Jesus as your Savior and Lord, you’re already on the ark. You’ve gone through that one door, the only door (Jesus Christ!) you’ve been covered in His blood for atonement, and the door for your eternity is sealed. You’re safe. But all around you are headlines and stories of people who will one day be locked out, crying out for help. This time around, the ark is open to anyone and everyone. Do you care enough to share the news?
[v] Be Basic by Warren W. Wiersbe
[vii] Be Basic by Warren W. Wiersbe
[viii] Skip Heitzig