Genesis 6 – Man’s Wickedness; God Calls Noah
A. The wickedness of man in the days of Noah.
1. (1-2) Intermarriage between the sons of God and the daughters of men.
Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.
a. When men began to multiply on the face of the earth: During these days of rapid population expansion (especially because of long lifespans in the pre-flood world), there was a problem with ungodly intermarriage between the sons of God and the daughters of men.
b. The sons of God saw the daughters of men: Many have believed the sons of God were those from the line of Seth, and the daughters of men were from the line of Cain, and this describes an intermarriage between the godly and the ungodly, something God specifically prohibits (Deuteronomy 7:1-4, 2 Corinthians 6:14).
i. But this approach leaves many unanswered questions: Why did this make God angry enough to wipe out almost all the earth’s population? Why was there something unusual about the offspring of these unions (Genesis 6:4)? The idea that these were believers marrying unbelievers doesn’t seem to fit the record of the text.
c. The sons of God saw the daughters of men: It is more accurate to see the sons of God as either demons (angels in rebellion against God) or uniquely demon-possessed men, and the daughters of men as human women.
i. The phrase sons of God clearly refers to angelic creatures when it is used the three other times in the Old Testament (Job 1:6, 2:1, and 38:7). The translators of the Septuagint translated sons of God as angels. Those ancient translators clearly thought sons of God referred to angelic beings, not to people descended from Seth.
ii. Jude 6 tells us of the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own habitation. Jude goes on (Jude 7) to tell us they sinned in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh. Here in Genesis 6, as in Sodom and Gomorrah, there was an unnatural sexual union.
iii. It is useless to speculate on the nature of this union. Whether it was brought about by something like demon possession, or whether these angelic beings had power permanently to assume the form of men is not revealed. But we should understand the occult is filled with sexual associations with the demonic, and there are those today who actively pursue such associations.
iv. Jude 6 also makes it clear what God did with these wicked angels. They are reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day for not keeping their proper place. Their sinful pursuit of freedom has put them in bondage.
v. 1 Peter 3:19-20 tells us Jesus went to these disobedient spirits in their prison and proclaimed His victory on the cross over them.
vi. An objection offered to this understanding is found in Matthew 22:30, where Jesus said angels neither marry nor are given in marriage; but Jesus never said angels were sexless, and He was also speaking about faithful angelic beings (angels of God in heaven), not rebellious ones.
vii. From the book of 1 Enoch, which is not inspired scripture, but may still contain some accurate accounts: “And it came to pass that the children of men had multiplied that in those days were born unto them beautiful and comely daughters. And the angels, the children of heaven, saw and lusted after them, and said to one another: ‘Come, let us choose us wives from among the children of men and beget us children… ’ [They] took unto themselves wives, and each chose for himself one, and they began to go unto them and to defile themselves with them, and they taught them charms and enchantments… And they became pregnant, and they bare great giants… And there arose much godlessness, and they committed fornication, and they were led astray, and became corrupt in all their ways.”
d. And they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose: We can deduce why Satan sent his angels to intermarry (either directly or indirectly) with human women. Satan tried to pollute the genetic pool of mankind with a satanic corruption, to put something like a genetic virus to make the human race unfit for bringing forth the Seed of the woman – the Messiah – promised in Genesis 3:15.
i. “The Savior could not be born of a demon-possessed mother. So if Satan could succeed in infecting the entire race, the deliverer could not come.” (Boice)
ii. And Satan almost succeeded. The race was so polluted that God found it necessary to start again with Noah and his sons, and to imprison the demons that did this so they could never do this again.
2. (3-4) God’s response to this great wickedness.
And the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” 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.
a. My Spirit shall not strive with man forever: God did not allow the human race to stay in this rebellious place forever. This means there is a point of no return in our rejection of God. God will not woo us forever; there is a point where He will say “no more.”
i. All the more reason for us to say today is the day we will respond to Jesus instead of waiting for another day. We have no promise God will draw us some other day.
b. Yet his days will be one hundred and twenty years: This is not the outside lifespan of man but the time left until the judgment of the flood. The flood happened 120 years after this announcement.
c. Giants on the earth in those days: This refers to the unnatural offspring of the union between the sons of God and the daughters of men, though there were people of unusual size on the earth both before and after the flood (and also afterward). These ones before the flood were unique because of the demonic element of their parentage. They were the mighty men of old, men of renown.
3. (5-8) The great wickedness of man in Noah’s day.
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. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 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.” But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
a. Every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually: This says a lot. It means there was no aspect of man’s nature not corrupted by sin.
i. “A more emphatic statement of the wickedness of the human heart is hardly conceivable.” (Vriezen, quoted in Kidner)
ii. Jesus said, as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be (Matthew 24:37). In other words, the conditions of the world before the coming of Jesus will be like the conditions of the world before the flood:
· Exploding population (Genesis 6:1).
· Sexual perversion (Genesis 6:2).
· Demonic activity (Genesis 6:2).
· Constant evil in the heart of man (Genesis 6:5).
· Widespread corruption and violence (Genesis 6:11).
b. The LORD was sorry that He had made man… He was grieved in His heart: God’s sorrow at man, and the grief in His heart are striking. This does not mean that creation was out of control, nor does it mean that God hoped for something better but was unable to achieve it. God knew all along that this was how things would turn out, but our text clearly tells us that as God sees His plan for the ages unfold, it affects Him. God is not unfeeling in the face of human sin and rebellion.
c. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD: While God commanded all the earth to be cleansed of this pollution, He found one man with whom to begin again: Noah, who found grace in the eyes of the LORD. Noah didn’t earn grace; he found it. No one earns grace, but we can all find it.
i. It was true then, and it is true today: But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more (Romans 5:20).
B. God calls Noah to build the Ark.
1. (9-10) Noah and his sons.
This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God. And Noah begot three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
a. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations: This description of Noah – unique to him – not only refers to the righteous life of Noah, but also to the fact he was yet uncorrupted by Satan’s attempt to sow something like a virus among the genetic pool of mankind. We could translate perfect in his generations as, “Noah was pure in his genetic profile.”
i. “Did Noah live a perfect life? No, speaking popularly, and as the Scripture often speaks, we may say that Noah’s character was a righteous one. There must have been flaws in it; and, certainly, after this time, there was one great sad flaw, of which it is not necessary now to speak more particularly, still, God regarded him as righteous.” (Spurgeon)
ii. Spurgeon pointed out that we can know that Noah had the righteousness that is of faith because as soon as the floodwaters had dried up and he left the ark, he offered sacrifices (Genesis 8:20).
b. Noah begot three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth: Noah’s three sons will figure into the account in a significant way. God will use them as a foundation for the rest of the human race.
2. (11-13) The corruption of the earth and the grace of God.
The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. And God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth.
a. The earth also was corrupt… and the earth was filled with violence: Because of the corruption and violence on the earth, and the extent of the corruption, God told Noah that He would judge the wicked along with the earth.
b. I will destroy them with the earth: Some wonder if this is too harsh a judgment, or if this shows God to be cruel or a monster. However, since the fall in Genesis 3, every human being has a death sentence. The timing and method of that death are completely in the hands of God.
i. “On what grounds would God be told that He can bring death to millions of people at the end of a ‘normal’ lifespan, but that He may not do it in any other way?” (Barnhouse)
ii. In addition, it points to a deep and serious problem in the world at that time, something far beyond the problem of believers marrying those who do not believe.
c. And God said to Noah: God told all of this to Noah with the intention of saving Noah and his family. In the midst of such corruption and judgment, there is also grace. Instead of wiping out the entire race, God preserved a remnant.
3. (14-16) God tells Noah to build an ark.
“Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch. And this is how you shall make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. You shall make a window for the ark, and you shall finish it to a cubit from above; and set the door of the ark in its side. You shall make it with lower, second, and third decks.”
a. Make yourself: This means this was Noah’s project. He was not to simply contract it out to someone else.
b. This is how you shall make it: The ark was as long as a 30-story building is high (about 450 feet or 150 meters), and it was about 75 feet (25 meters) wide and 45 feet (15 meters) high. What is described is not really a boat, but a well-ventilated barge meant only to float and not to sail anywhere. After all, an ark is a chest, not a ship; this refers to the shoebox shape of the vessel.
i. The ark, roughly the shape of a shoebox, was plenty large enough (about the size of the Titanic), and had a cubit-wide opening (18 inches, one-half meter) all the way around the top.
ii. It was not until 1858 that a boat bigger than the ark was built. The ark was certainly big enough to do the job. If the ark carried two of every family of animals, there were around 700 pairs of animals; but if the ark carried two of every species of animals, there were around 35,000 pairs of animals.
iii. The average size of a land animal is smaller than a sheep. The ark could carry 136,560 sheep in half of its capacity, leaving plenty of room for people, food, water, and whatever other provisions were needed.
c. You shall make it: God had not yet told Noah why he must build an ark. At this point, all Noah knew was that God will judge the earth, and he was supposed to build a big barge. Since it had not rained yet on the earth, it is reasonable to suppose Noah didn’t know what God was meant yet.
d. You shall make it: And Noah did make it. Beyond the Bible, there is rich historical evidence for the reality of Noah’s Ark.
i. In 275 b.c., Berosus, a Babylonian historian, wrote: “But of this ship that grounded in Armenia some part still remains in the mountains… and some get pitch from the ship by scraping it off.”
ii. Around a.d. 75, Josephus said the locals collected relics from the ark and showed them off to this very day. He also said all the ancient historians he knew of wrote about the ark.
iii. In a.d. 180, Theophilus of Antioch wrote: “the remains [of the ark] are to this day to be seen… in the mountains.”
iv. An elderly Armenian man in America said that as a boy, he visited the ark with his father and three atheistic scientists in 1856. Their goal was to disprove the ark’s existence, but they found it and became so enraged they tried to destroy it, but could not because it was too big and had petrified. In 1918 one of the atheistic scientists (an Englishman) admitted on his deathbed the whole story was true.
iv. In 1876 a distinguished British statesman and author, Viscount James Bryce, climbed Ararat and reported finding a four-foot long piece of hand-tooled timber at an altitude of more than 13,000 feet (4,300 meters).
vi. Six Turkish soldiers claimed to see the ark in 1916.
vii. In the early part of this century, a Russian aviator named Vladimire Rokovitsky claimed the discovery of Noah’s ark. He was stationed in southern Russia near the Turkish border and Mount Ararat. As he tested a plane he and his co-pilot flew over Ararat and discovered on the edge of a glacier what he described as a boat the size of a battleship. He said it was partially submerged in a lake, and he could see there was an opening for a door nearly 20 feet (7 meters) square, but the door was missing. Rokovitsky told his commanding officer and an expedition was dispatched to find the ark and photograph it. The report was forwarded to the Czar, who was soon overthrown and the photos and the report perished.
viii. In 1936 a young British archaeologist named Hardwicke Knight hiked across Ararat and discovered interlocking hand-tooled timbers at a height of 14,000 feet (4,600 meters).
ix. During World War II two pilots saw and photographed something they believed was the ark on Mount Ararat.
x. There have been many more recent attempts to find and document the ark, but they have been hindered by politics and surrounded by controversy.
e. Cover it inside and outside with pitch: The pitch worked to waterproof the wood. God told Noah to cover it with pitch inside and outside, which makes it possible that the ark was preserved for a long time. It is possible God still has a purpose for the ark, to use it to remind the world of a past judgment shortly before a future judgment.
i. Peter, in 2 Peter 3:1-7, relates the future judgment to the judgment of the flood saying, unbelievers willfully forget… the world that then existed perished being flooded with water. Perhaps, before Jesus returns, God will make it even more necessary for people to willfully forget these things.
ii. Because of this mention of pitch (a petroleum product) in what most people think is the Middle East, it is said that John D. Rockefeller looked for (and found) oil in that region based on this verse.
4. (17-21) Why the ark must be built and what Noah must do.
“And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die. But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark—you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. And of every living thing of all flesh you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. Of the birds after their kind, of animals after their kind, and of every creeping thing of the earth after its kind, two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive. And you shall take for yourself of all food that is eaten, and you shall gather it to yourself; and it shall be food for you and for them.”
a. Everything that is on the earth shall die: We can only wonder what Noah felt when he heard this remarkable announcement from God. God called Noah to an essential role in the greatest judgment – and greatest salvation – the world had seen.
b. But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark: Despite the dramatic judgment coming, God will make a covenant with Noah, and he and his family will be saved. God will also use Noah to save a remnant of each animal so the earth could be populated with people and animals after the flood.
c. Take for yourself of all food that is eaten, and you shall gather it to yourself: God also commanded Noah to take all the food he could. There must be a lot of food for Noah and all the animals.
5. (22) Noah’s obedience.
Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did.
a. Thus Noah did: When given this staggering job to do, Noah did it. We don’t hear of him complaining or rebelling; he simply obeyed.
i. The words, so he did cover an awful lot of material and years; yet Noah did not shrink from what God told him to do.
b. According to all that God commanded him, so he did: The Bible presents Noah as a great hero of God. He was an outstanding example of righteousness (Ezekiel 14:14), a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5), and Noah condemned the world by offering salvation in the ark that the whole world rejected (Hebrews 11:7).
i. Noah was a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5), yet in his 120-year ministry, it seems that no one was saved.
ii. “The work of building the ark was laborious, costly, tedious, dangerous, and seemingly foolish and ridiculous; especially when all things continued in the same posture and safety for so many scores of years together; whereby Noah, without doubt, was all that while the song of the drunkards, and the sport of the wits of that age. So it is not strange that this is mentioned as an heroic act of faith.” (Poole)
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission