The Times of Noah
In our last lesson we reviewed the millennium between Adam and Noah.
- There is the end of Adam's record of his own generation in chapter 5:1 and the beginning of Noah's record in 5:2.
- Noah summarizes Adam's life and death and then links together the ten patriarchs through whom the original promise of God was carried from generation to generation. We reviewed these looking at their ages and lives.
- The Bible does not focus on social development or history per se, it traces the promise of God to save man, from Adam to Jesus.
Now we go from a "wide shot" of the seed of promise over a span of 1000 years, to a close up view of one man through whom that promise was preserved during the worst calamity the earth has or will ever suffer until the end of time.
37For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. 38For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.
– Matthew 24:37-39
There are many people who believe that Jesus is God and that His word is contained in the New Testament, however, they doubt the historicity of the global flood, relegating it to mythology.
However, Matthew records that Jesus not only referred to the flood as an accurate historical fact but urged His disciples to study it in order to be prepared for His own return in the future.
I was not there, do not have pictures of the event but I do have one eye-witness, Noah, and his word confirmed by Jesus, the Son of God. This is enough to convince me that when we speak of Noah and the flood we are talking about an accurate account of a historical event.
1Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, 2that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. 3Then the Lord said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years." 4The Nephilim were 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 6:1-4
This is a controversial passage that can be interpreted in several ways:
- 1. Angels took women as wives and produced children – seeds of Satan. The term sons of God always referred to angels in the Old Testament and was translated this way in the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Torah), by Josephus and by early Christian writers (Jude 6).
- The descendants of Seth (who was a righteous man) began to marry the descendants of Cain. These unions between believers and unbelievers produced wicked offspring.
- Demonic forces possessed the descendants of Cain and they took women and produced equally possessed children who were powerfully wicked.
Whichever interpretation you use you end up with the same result.
- Powerful and wicked beings began to inhabit the earth and raise the level of evil and violence to intolerable levels (NEPHILIM = GIANTS).
- These verses are given to explain how these people came to be.
- These people were lionized by the ungodly in songs and fables later on.
- God declares that there will be a judgment on man in 120 years.
5Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.
- Genesis 6:5-6
Noah summarizes the condition of the world which is complete anarchy. Wickedness was everywhere. People's thinking and plans were always evil.
God does not repent of sin but rather He changes His attitude. His attitude of love and mercy towards a race that may be imperfect but attempting to serve Him changes to one of judgment and righteous indignation when that race devolves into complete wickedness and rebelliousness. God must meet the demands of both His love and His holiness.
Different passages throughout the Bible give us a more detailed view of the condition of the antediluvian world that led to its destruction:
- Preoccupation with physical appetites (materialism) – Luke 17:26-27
- Satanic activity in the physical realm – Genesis 6:2
- General unbelief – Hebrews 11:7
- Ungodly behavior – Jude 14-15
- Widespread violence – Genesis 6:11-13
Without God in his world, man begins a descent into materialism and wickedness that ultimately destroys him. Before this could happen, God would intervene in order to save and preserve the seed of promise.
7The Lord said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them."
This intention is articulated here in verse seven and the extent of God's judgment is expressed: all would perish (except the marine life).
8But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.
This is the final verse in Noah's record and account. He only writes of himself that he found God's grace and for this reason was spared the judgment.
In other places we learn several things about Noah:
- In four places (Genesis 6:22; 7:5; 7:9; 7:16) it is said that Noah did everything God had required of him. He was an obedient person.
- He had only one wife – Genesis 7:13
- He was a preacher – II Peter 2:5. No one was converted by his preaching (at least 120 years) except 3 of his sons who came into the ark with him.
- He was a man of faith who withstood the pressure of society and discouragement of a failed ministry but continued to do God's will – Hebrews 11:7
- He was a master builder because he constructed this great structure and it survived the flood.
- After the flood he was the first to offer sacrifice and begin anew the line of those who called upon God; he also became a farmer (Genesis 9:20).
- He planted a vineyard and got drunk on the wine – Genesis 9:24.
- He was considered a righteous man by God, just and perfect, and one who walked with God – Genesis 6:9.
That does not mean he was without error or imperfection. It means that his heart was turned to God and God offered this man His grace, and because of this grace and mercy Noah was considered fully acceptable before God.
This is the first time the idea of grace is mentioned in the Bible and demonstrated in a person. Acceptability through performance: he was not perfect, he did not succeed in his ministry. Acceptability through faith. Faith expressed through perseverance and desire to obey: he withstood the pressure to deny God and responded to Him in obedience.
9These are the records of the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God. 10Noah became the father of three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
These begin the account of the sons of Noah and thus start by tying their record to the previous one and introducing themselves.
11Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence. 12God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth.13Then God said to Noah, "The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth.
There is another summary statement about the condition of the world. Previously, Noah preached about the conditions and now his sons are recounting how the situation had not changed despite the preaching.
There is also a mention that the earth would be destroyed along with all men. The point is that some people say that there may have been a local flood in the area that was mythologized into the great worldwide flood but the Bible says the entire earth was covered and this statement is confirmed by New Testament writers as well (II Peter 3:6).
The problem is easily settled with the thought that if God can create the universe, it is a small matter to cover one single planet with water.
Noah completes his testimony by linking together the ten patriarchs from Adam to himself. He describes the state of the world as it has been dominated by wicked people somehow produced through Satan's influence. He refers to himself only as one who finds grace in God's eyes, nothing about his work or perseverance. He notes that God establishes a specific period of time when He will pass judgment.
His sons pick up the narrative and confirm that the world has ignored the warning and they begin to describe the results of God's judgment.
1. Perseverance, not perfection
God knows we cannot be perfect, without fault or never sin. He does not ask us to accomplish the impossible. He does look for us to offer what we can do. What is humanly possible despite our weaknesses, and that is to believe and to persevere in that belief.
Noah persevered in his belief and that perseverance was expressed as cooperation with God to do His will. Some are discouraged if they do not have a "perfect score" all the time. It has to be perfect or nothing. God wants us to remain in the game, whether we are ahead on points or behind. In return for this perseverance He rewards us by considering us perfect in His eyes, even if we have not achieved this in reality. Jesus accomplished perfection on our behalf. Today, our objective is to be faithful to Christ.
2. We do not have 120 years.
God was extremely kind to these people. He actually told them when the judgment would be: 120 years. Imagine knowing that the judgment would be in exactly 120 years from today. I believe this was a testimony to their wickedness that God had to clearly reveal the oncoming judgment and this to no avail.
We, on the other hand, do not know when the judgment is coming. It could be today or in 120 years or in 120 centuries. The only thing we know for sure is that we do not know when Jesus will judge us. We need to be ready at all times and make sure that each day we are persevering in the faith, not allowing our imperfections or the pressure and disbelief in the world to discourage us.
3. God can punish us now
We often take refuge in the idea that the only punishment God can deliver will be the judgment at the end of the world. God is sovereign, and whenever mankind descends into great wickedness, he is still able to punish and discipline in real time.
- Read Matthew 24:37-39. Other than the purpose of Jesus making this statement about His return, what else could be significant about this passage?
- What are some facts about Noah as recorded in Genesis 5?
- What was the impact of the "Sons of God" marrying the daughters of man?
- Review the following scriptures, compare them with Genesis 6:5-6 and discuss the implications of these for us:
- Read Genesis 6:22, 7:5, 7:9; 7:16 and use only one word to describe Noah and the implication of these words for us.
- How can you use this lesson to grow spiritually and help others come into a relationship with Jesus?