The Pastor's Class

When God Says Enough

Genesis 6: 1-22

Genesis 6:1-4

6 When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 3 Then the LORD said, “My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years.”

4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.

At the conclusion of the story of Cain and Abel in Chapter 4 the Genesis writer gives us the genealogy of Cain and Seth. This genealogy takes us all the way to the event of the great flood. How long was it between the garden of Eden and the event of the flood? No one knows for sure. As you read the genealogies you see where people lived a long period of time. Methuselah lived 969 years and was the oldest man to ever live. It appears that the time between Eden and the flood was sufficient for mankind to obey the first command of God; to be fruitful and fill the earth. The genealogies recorded in Genesis, though not complete, give us indication that there are many people on the earth at the time of the flood.

Say What?

Let me say, in case you haven't figured it out by now, there are some passages in the bible that are difficult to understand. Even we Preachers do not have all the answers. (The Preacher who has all the answers will always have a few of them wrong.) The first 4 verses of chapter 6 are difficult, if not impossible to understand. Rather than spend a lot of time debating the possibilities I will record for you a couple of the more popular theories.

Some have claimed this passage came from pagan mythology. They say the Hebrew writer adopted part of a story from another culture but did not adapt it to orthodox Old Testament theology. If so, it would be the only example of a pagan myth in the Bible. Also, read as a myth, the passage would be incompatible with the historical nature of biblical revelation.

Others think "sons of God" means "godly sons," and this is a reference to the godly line of Seth (4:26), in contrast to the rebellious descendants of Cain. However, we cannot know conclusively that these two families were distinguished so sharply or that they came to be known as "sons of God" and "daughters of men."

Some commentators contend "sons of God" refers to rulers who took advantage of their position to take any wives they wanted. While this is possible, we have no evidence that a monarchy had been established; and nowhere else in the Bible are kings considered to be sons of deities as in other religions.

Some have thought the "sons of God" were not human but angelic beings--fallen angels who cohabited with human women unnaturally. This was the common position of interpreters in the early church. "Sons of God" appears elsewhere in the Old Testament as a title for angels (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7), and two New Testament allusions to angels may refer to this incident (2 Pet. 2: 4-5; Jude 6-7). On the other hand, we cannot be certain these New Testament passages refer to Genesis 6. Also angels are not mentioned anywhere in this context. and god sent judgment on humans, not angels, as a result of this and other sins. Furthermore, no evidence exists that angels have the capacity for human reproduction, and Jesus' statement that angels do not marry seems to nullify this possibility (see Matt. 22:30; Mark 12: 25; Luke 20: 34-36).

-copied- "What's Life All About"

Despite all the uncertainty about the meaning of these verses there are some things that are evident. The numbers of people upon the earth were becoming rather large. As the numbers of people increased so did their disregard for the righteous standard of God. The people were leaving God out of the marriage process. It appears that the bonds of marriage were purely sexual.

We also see in this first passage that God has his limits. His Spirit will not always contend with men who live in disregard to God's righteousness.

Genesis 6: 5-8

5 The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. 6 The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. 7 So the LORD said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air—for I am grieved that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.

9 This is the account of Noah.

Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God. 10 Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.

The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.

1. What would it be like to live in a society where every thought upon the heart of mankind was evil continually?

There was a TV. game show years ago entitled "Who Do You Trust?" That would be a good question to ask today. Who can we trust? It seem like we treat everyone with at least a degree of suspicion. Every day we read where seemingly good upstanding people are doing depraved and despicable things. This is the way it was in the days of Noah. No one could be trusted. Everyone's heart was tuned to thoughts of Evil.

2. What was God's reaction to seeing the sinful state of mankind?

The King James Bible says that "it repented the Lord". Some have thought this to mean that God was sorry for making mankind as if He had made a mistake.

The NIV gives a good translation of that verse "The Lord was grieved and His heart was filled with pain."

There are a couple of things to note here. First, God is looking at the heart of people. The heart is where your desire resides. Regardless of what you do or say or how you act, God knows you from the inside out. You keep no secrets from Him. Secondly, God feels, He feels pain and grief, as well as love. God is never indifferent toward the activities of mankind.

3. What does verse 7 reveal about God?

This is a very harsh verse of scripture. Thus far we have been speaking of a God who is full of grandeur, power, love and compassion. Now, however, we see another side of God. He is a God of anger and Judgment. Some people look at this side of God and attempt to discredit Him. They chide, "How can a God of love do something like this?" It is precisely because He is a God of love that he does this. Love demands tolerance but love ultimately demands justice. God could have destroyed Adam and Eve the moment they sinned but he didn't. He could have destroyed mankind the moment Cain slew Abel but He didn't. He allowed generations to pass before He brought judgment. There comes a time when God releases unrepentant people to suffer the consequences of their sin. In other words, ultimately, we will reap what we sow.

It Is Unfair

In college one of my professors stated on the first day of the class that we should keep a daily journal. We should write a paragraph or so about our experiences in his class and on campus. This journal would count toward our final grade.

As the days and weeks passed by nothing else was ever said about the journal. About half way through the semester we were all convinced that he had forgotten what he had said at the beginning of the semester. The day before finals an uneasiness began to set in among the students. We began to whisper among ourselves; " he hasn't said a word about the journals, surely he has forgotten. He won't make us turn them in." By this time no one dared ask him about the journals.

On the day of finals he passed out the final exam with these instructions. " You have two hours to complete your exam. Please answer each question as fully and completely as possible. When you are finished with your exam please attach it to your journal and leave it on my desk as you exit. Good Luck."

Maybe you think this was some kind of cruel joke. It was no joke. Several people failed the course because they failed to heed the professor's instructions at the beginning of the semester. (Thankfully, I had a poorly written journal to turn in on that day.) I don't remember much of what I learned in that class but I do remember the lesson I learned on the last day of that semester.

Ultimately, God will hold every person accountable for his actions.

4. Why do you suppose Noah found favor in the eyes of God?

The scripture says that Noah was a righteous man and blameless among the people of his time and he walked with God.

When the scripture says that Noah was righteous it means that his heart was turned toward righteousness. Remember, God sees the hearts (desires) of people. When we become a Christian the thing that changes immediately is our desire. It usually takes some time before our actions fully reflect our desire but our desire is toward righteousness.

The scripture says that he was blameless among the people of his time. No he was not perfect. However, he lived his life in such a way that no one could find fault with him. In a time where everyone was engaged in evil. People spoke well of Noah.

In the New Testament, Jesus told his disciples that they were the light of the world. They should place their lamp or candle on a hill where it could be seen. One candle power may not seem like very much light. A candle lit in the middle of the day would not be noticed. However, a candle lit in the black of night will shine brightly. Noah was just one person, but he was one person in the midst of a wicked society.

Genesis 6: 11-22

11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. 13 So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. 14 So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. 15 This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. 16 Make a roof for it and finish the ark to within 18 inches of the top. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks. 17 I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. 19 You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. 20 Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. 21 You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.”

22 Noah did everything just as God commanded him.

The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.

5. What does the word corrupt mean?

It means to spoil, ruin, mar, or destroy. Anything good can be ruined, or destroyed. A small speck of rust will eventually destroy an automobile. That small act of disobedience in the garden of Eden has led to a world that is corrupt. Sin corrupts, every sin corrupts. There is no such thing as a harmless sin.

Not everything in the bible is intended to be taken literally. God states in verse 13 that He is going to put an end to all people as well as the earth. We interpret "all people" to mean all sinful people. His reference to destroying the earth means that many animals and much vegetation will be destroyed. The word destroy can be understood in much the same way as a sculptor might smooth out a piece of clay in order to start over again.

6. Why was God so specific in giving Noah instruction on how to build the ark?

The building of the ark in Noah's day would be roughly equivalent to one man building a space rocket today. The skills to build an ark were skills that no one man possessed. So God provided the know how and Noah provided the manpower. (By the way that is exactly the way God works today.) He will never ask you to accomplish something that you can do on your own.


7. God promised to establish a covenant with Noah. What is a covenant?

Refer back to lesson 7.

8. Verse 22 says that Noah was obedient. What must it have been like for Noah to have obeyed God in the midst of such a sinful society?

Many people believe that it had never rained upon the earth before the flood. (Gen. 2: 5-6). If this is true then Noah would have had no concept of a flood or what it might do. Noah simply had to take God at his word. The flood did not come for 120 years. For all that time Noah was obedient and believing the word of God. People around him must have thought he was crazy. He probably received much ridicule from others,yet he persevered.

God will fulfill all his promises. Noah's faithfulness allowed him and his family to be spared from the destruction of the flood.

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