A Dismal Picture

Genesis 6

The account of Noah is a frightening story that should shake us into a sober awareness of the truth that sin brings judgment, wrath, and death. This part of the story begins with the pain, regret, and heartache of the generous God that leads to destruction. Some do not believe that the account of Noah is to be taken literally, but Jesus spoke of Noah in Matthew 24:37-38. So think of the story without cartoon giraffes poking their heads out of a cartoon ark and see the disturbing and comforting truth behind the events that took place. 


The effects of sin cannot be understated, and Genesis six shows the degradation of humankind as sin leads to corruption unfathomable. One manifestation was the selfish, casual, profane practices regarding marriage. The identification of the “sons of God” can be problematic. Interpretations vary from angels to kings. God has three types of sons: created (angels), adopted (Christians), and his only begotten son Jesus. I lean toward the understanding that the “sons of God” mentioned are descendants of Seth. The Sethites married indiscriminately when they married the daughters of men, which would include women from the line of Cain who did not share the spiritual values. The reasons for their marriages was superficial based only on physical appearance because they were fair and their marriages seemed to be without limits. They married outside of the way God ordained the covenant, and this might have included polygamy. Another degeneration is seen in the violence associated with the Nephilim. The word Nephilim comes from the Hebrew root meaning “to fall upon.” Some wonder if the Nephilim were angels that maintained a physical union with women. However, Jesus' comments in Luke 20:34-35 would seem to negate this idea. The Nephilim were most likely bullies who were physically imposing in stature. The violence taking place is emphasized by the narrator in verse eleven. 


One of the most devastating things found in scripture occurs in this story. The Bible tells us that God was filled with regret and grief over his image bearers. God is not some distant spectator that leaves his creation to struggle and do whatever it wishes without any repercussions. God is personal, imminent, and intimately aware of all that takes place in the universe. The hearts that led to ongoing wickedness are an affront and injurious to God. God's rebellious, stubborn people continue in their willful disobedience, and it leads to their death. The picture presented is bleak and dark. Things were so corrupt that God resolved to destroy humanity which is a terrifying thought. The powerful and magnificent God that spoke the universe into existence would pour out his wrath on his creation. If all his creative activity is good, how absolute and complete is his destruction? 


God's mercy and grace are truly on display in the midst of the corruption and violence that caused God pain and grief. Scripture makes mention of a man named Noah who found favor. Now we must not misplace our admiration. The point is not that Noah was good, but that God is gracious. God was just and right to destroy everything with the breath of life in it. The merciful God shows favor and gives Noah a little project– build an ark in a land that doesn't get rain. Building an ark is no small project, and Noah is no spring chicken. God gives specific instructions concerning the ark and faith is demonstrated through Noah's obedience as he builds the ark that will be his salvation. 


God reveals to Noah the means that he will use to destroy the earth. He will flood the earth and destroy all flesh with the breath of life in it. He will establish a covenant with Noah, and he will save a remnant. Male and female animals will be gathered and kept alive. Food will be collected and stored to provide for the ark's occupants during the flood. Noah will be saved by God from God. 

Things To Consider:  

  • Judgment is not a popular subject, but why does God have the right to judge?
  • Why does God have to act in wrath toward sin?
  • Why is sin so offensive to God?
  • Why does Noah find favor in God's eyes?
  • Why do you think God was so particular with Noah about the ark?
  • Why does God establish covenants?
  • Why does obedience matter?
  • What is the relationship between faith and obedience?