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Genesis 6-7

What truths can we learn from the story of Noah?

Sermon Notes + Quotes:



Genesis 6:1-7, Jim Thomas

We study through books of the Bible here at The Village Chapel, and it’s my great joy and privilege to be leading us through Genesis, chapters 6 and 7. We’re calling our study of Genesis “In the Beginning.” We’ve made the argument that all the beginnings that have begun, began with a Beginner, and that is how we’ve begun our study of Genesis, which means “Beginnings.” God, the original Beginner, the Designer, the Creator, if you will, of everything that exists, has made all of this for His own glory and enjoyment; including humankind which He made in His image. And this is all mind blowing and game changing as we think about “What does it mean to be a human person and where did everything come from?” All of those gigantic questions that we have in life.

However, as we’ve moved through the first few chapters, we’ve also seen that human beings, created in the image of God, began turning their backs on their Creator, God. We saw that in Genesis, chapter three. Pastor Tommy led us through that passage. They were attempting to control their own lives, to be the ones with the first and the last word and all the words in between, the ones who could “be like God”. And that’s very much the case all the way down through the history of humanity. That’s been our problem, wanting to not let God be God but to become our own gods.

And so, after sin has entered the world, we’ve begun to see the sort of snowballing effect of the consequences of sin in the world. And throughout our own time, and here in our own culture and even in the church itself, we have seen the consequences of sin. And so, sadly and far too often, we’ve seen these so-called celebrity pastors or ministers who have turned their backs on the Gospel and have fallen to moral decline, often violating and doing irreparable harm to others, who should have been able to trust them. And we see how this displeases the Lord, how this discourages His people, and discourages others in the watching world from coming to believe, from coming to faith, from thinking that they can trust this God of the Bible.

We keep turning back over and over and over again to the wise warnings of Scripture, which we’ll do today as we look at chapter 6 and chapter 7, as well as to God’s wisdom that overflows from God’s Word, so that we don’t stray from walking in His paths of righteousness. We’ll read just a little bit about that. But it leads to another big question. If there is no avoiding spiritual erosion, is there any hope at all for finding redemption? And the Bible is the story of God and God’s redemptive plan that runs throughout human history, all the way back to the beginning there in Genesis chapter 3, verse 15, it talks a little bit about that, foreshadowing the fact that through the seed of the woman, God’s redeemer will come, and God’s redemption will be on offer to us.

Let’s look then at Genesis 6 and 7. Don’t be daunted by the fact that there’s a little bit of text here. There is, but you’re familiar with the story and because of that, I think it’ll go quickly. “Now, it came about when men began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. Then the Lord said, ‘My Spirit shall not strive with man forever; because he also is flesh; nevertheless, his days shall be 120 years.’ The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came into the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renowned.”

And so, I already hear your questions. Who are these sons of God, daughters of men, the mighty men, the men of renowned and the Nephilim that are all mentioned here in Genesis chapter 6? Well, we have some disagreement here. We have some room for people to drive in a couple different lanes in terms of their interpretation of these phrases. A predominant one has been the lineage approach, where some people would say the sons of God are those who descended from Seth. The daughters of men are those who descended from Cain.

The second major view would be that the sons of God is a reference to some angelic figures, and that does comport with some other cases in the Old Testament where the phrase “sons of God” is a reference to some angelic beings. But these particular sons of God, angelic beings, are those who have stepped outside of the bounds that God may have set for them in their operation here in the earthly realm. That is, they’ve intermarried with some of the daughters of men and that becomes problematic. And, of course, this entire chapter continues to show the unfolding problems that humankind has with their consequences for their sin.

The New Testament seems to agree with that particular view. We find in 1 Peter 3:19 and 20 for instance,

“In which he also went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is eight persons, were brought safely through the water.”

1 Peter 3:19-20

And so here, Apostle Peter is clearly identifying a time period that we are reading about here in Genesis, chapter 6, and clearly identifying the fact that there are some “spirits,” presumably angelic figures, who were disobedient at the time when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah. So that’s an interesting New Testament reference back to this.

Also in Jude verse 6,

“The angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode. He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day.”

Jude 6

And so here we see there are angels that didn’t keep into their own domain, they strayed outside. Again, the idea would be strayed outside the boundaries that God had set for their behavior. So, this could be a reference indeed to what happens here in Genesis chapter 6. But I got to tell you, I don’t think our answers can be hard and fast here. It’s not the primary intent of the passage for us to understand this.

And as far as the Nephilim are concerned, the word means “fallen ones.” They’re mentioned again, though in Numbers chapter 13, which throws another wrench in the discussion, because Numbers 13 is about the time when the children of Israel had been set free from slavery in Egypt and they’re beginning their wandering through the wilderness. They send spies into the promised land and those spies come back and say, in verse 33 of Numbers 13,

“There also we saw the Nephilim, the sons of Anak were part of the Nephilim, and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”

Numbers 13:33

The Nephilim appeared to be a group of larger human beings, perhaps giants if you will. It may be possible that Goliath and his kin were descendants of the Nephilim, if they were indeed giants, and somehow connected to the mating of angels and human females implied here in Genesis chapter 6, then that could be what happens later as well. It might happen a second time after Noah because after the flood all of humanity is wiped out, including all of those in Genesis 6:1-4, except for Noah and his family.

Bottom line, I don’t think we can know with certainty very much about these strange mentions here. I expect any literature that is telling the story from so many thousands of years ago and crossing all of that time gap, all of the cultural gaps, I expect that I’m going to read some things that I can’t explain, that sound a little strange to me and that surprise me a bit. We are separated from these events by thousands of years, hundreds of generations, huge cultural gaps. Like I said, no wonder we can’t explain it all.

What can we learn from Genesis 6:1-4? I think Derek Kidner summarized it well.

“The point of this cryptic passage, whichever way we take it, is that a new stage has been reached in the progress of evil, with God’s bounds overstepped in yet another realm… More important than the detail of this episode is its indication that man is beyond self-help, whether the Seth-ites have betrayed their calling or demonic powers have gained a stranglehold.”

Derek Kidner

So, the decline of humanity and what God did about it continues to be the theme. You’ll see that as the rest of our passage for today describes.

All right, so let me pick up there in verse 5, “Then 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.” That’s pretty absolute. That’s pretty comprehensive, isn’t it? “The Lord was sorry,” or grieved would probably be a better way of saying that. “The Lord was grieved that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.” And here we have several anthropomorphisms, and we’ll read those throughout, of course. I think that the Scriptures use those not because God doesn’t have a heart, not because God doesn’t have emotions or exhibit or express emotions. He does. He expresses delight as well as here. We read that He’s grieved in His heart over what’s happening here. But the anthropomorphisms are for our sake, so that we might understand a little bit more. And of course, we’re made in the image of God, so we would expect to find some of the same things that we experience in His heart as well.

Verse 7, “The Lord said, ‘I will blot out man whom I’ve created from the face of the land, from man to animals, to creeping things to birds of the sky, for I’m sorry that I have made them.’ But…” Verse 8 is such a refreshing verse. “Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” And by the way, that word favor could be translated grace. It’s the first time the word grace shows up in our Bibles. And for us, with our New Testament knowledge and understanding, and our understanding of God’s grace on offer through Christ; this is just a celebration moment. I mean, verse 8 could just be flooding our hearts with great hope that the Lord who is gracious set His favor on Noah.

In the eyes of the Lord, that’s where we find grace. And I want you to know that you and I, we find favor or grace in the eyes of the Lord. Why? Because when He looks at those of us who belong to Jesus, what He sees is the righteousness of Christ. And that is just such good news, isn’t it? In spite of the fact that Noah’s got this wicked world that’s just always evil, continually every action, every deed, every thought, and yet here is favor or grace from God.

Verse 9. “These are the records of the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God.” Three beautiful things are said here about Noah. He wasn’t a sinless man, but certainly to say that he was righteous, that his heart leaned in the direction of righteousness, and in the direction of righteousness as God defines righteousness, because he walked with God we are told here. Verse 10, “Noah became the father of three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence.” Verse 11 and verse 5 work together. If you put those side by side, what you begin to see is the capacity for depravity in humankind and how the consequences of sin are just snowballing.

Now verse 11 tells us at the end that the world is being filled with violence. I think it’s much greater than we might be able to imagine here in our relative safety in western civilization, but there are many people in our world, in our own day and time that would understand what it means for their world to be filled with violence. And they might identify with that quite a bit more. “God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth.” Verse 13, “Then God said to Noah, ‘The end of all flesh has come before Me; and the earth is filled with violence.'” And that’s the second time that’s been said. And when God says something once in the Scriptures, then He says it twice, boy, you really ought to pay attention. He really means it.

“’The earth is filled with violence because of them;’ [meaning humanity] ‘and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth.” This is just so heart-wrenching, saddening, and yet merciful, that judgment would come when the world is so filled with violence, when the world is just run amok with evil. “’Make for yourself [God says to Noah] an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with rooms, and shall cover it inside and out with pitch. [like tar] This is how you shall make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its breath fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. You shall make a window for the ark, and finish it to a cubit from the top; and set the door of the ark in the side of it; you shall make it with lower, second, and third decks’”. So here, it’s about 450, could be as much as 500 feet long; 75 feet wide, 45 feet high roughly, with three decks and thousands of square feet. Pretty big.

“Behold, I, even I am bringing the flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh and which is the breath of life, from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall perish. But I will establish My covenant with you.” By the way that verse begins, right after saying He’s going to destroy the whole earth, for Him to say “But I will establish My covenant with you” is again God taking the initiative. Let’s look at that. I always ask the question; how does God reveal Himself in any passage we’re reading? And here He reveals Himself as a covenant-making, covenant-keeping God. Here He is making the covenant. We’ll see later that He keeps the covenant. But this is beautiful and powerful about the God of the Bible. I mean, when you think about how wicked the world had become, in some ways you can kind of imagine how God would’ve been completely within the bounds of fairness to simply destroy everything and everybody. But no, He’s going to preserve a remnant in Noah and his family.

“’I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall enter the ark – you and your sons and your wife, and your son’s wives with you. And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they will be male and female.” The idea there is that He wants them to be able to procreate again, to be able to multiply and refill the earth again and that’s what’s necessary. “Of the birds after their kind, of the animals, after their kind, of every creeping thing of the ground after its kind, two of every kind shall come to you to keep them alive. And as for you, take for yourself some of all food which is edible, and gather it to yourself; and it shall be for food for you and for them.”

This is a great way to end chapter 6. “Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him; so he did.” And that’s a great way to end a chapter like that. And to add to his resume, again. Wouldn’t you love it if people would say, “Thus Jim Thomas did according to all that God had commanded him, so he did.” I know that can’t be said, but I’m in awe of it here. In this particular case, with these particular orders, and this particular mission that’s given to Noah, the summary statement from our author of Genesis is that he obeyed what God told him to do in this particular instance.

Chapter 7 goes like this, “Then the Lord said to Noah, ‘Enter the ark, you and all your household, for you alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this time.” So, there’s a uniqueness about their faith and it reminds us, as we studied last week, that Enoch, who walked with God, was able to do that even in the midst of a culture that walked against God, that walked away from God, that rebelled against God. Enoch still like a salmon swimming upstream or like anybody swimming against the flow and of the tide of culture. Here it is possible for us to not only be believers, but to be faithful to the God who’s been so faithful to us.

So, “Noah, enter the ark, you and all your household. For you alone I’ve seen to be righteous before me in this time.” Verse 2, “You shall take with you every clean animal by sevens, a male and his female.” In other words, seven pairs would be the idea there. “And of the animals that are not clean two, a male and his female; also the birds of the sky by sevens, male and female, to keep offspring alive on the face of all the earth. For after seven more days, I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights; and I will blot out from the face of the land every living thing that I have made.”

Verse 5, “Noah did according to all that the Lord had commanded him.” This is really amazing. You remember that we were told in the last chapter that Noah was 500 years old when he had his three sons. And so, we’re about to find out that Noah, verse 6, was 600 years old when the flood of water came upon the earth. Now that’s pretty old, and I realize that we talked about this a little bit in our previous study, that the earth itself was pure, the air was pure, the water was pure, the genetic pool of humanity was much more pure than it is now. And so, you can kind of understand why they might have lived quite a bit longer than us.

Some of the other ancient, near-Eastern literature actually claim that some of their royalty lived in the thousands of years. And so, we have here something that isn’t without precedent. There are other sources of literature that are making claims like this as well. But I was thinking about that and just thinking about how I’m not one tenth, maybe, of 600 at this particular point. I know I couldn’t build a small rowboat, much less this particular size of an ark and corral, all of those and take care of all of those animals and all that sort of thing. So just crazy amazing to think about Noah being 600 years old when the flood of water came. I mean, here’s a guy that had his midlife crisis at 450, and here’s a guy that is so amazing with his loyalty and his faithfulness to God for all of these years.

Verse 7, “Noah and his sons and his wife and his son’s wives with him entered the ark because of the water of the flood. Of clean animals and animals that are not clean and birds and everything that creeps on the ground, there went into the ark to Noah by twos, male and female, as God had commanded Noah. It came about after the seven days, that the water of the flood came upon the earth. In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the flood gates of the sky were open. The rain fell upon the earth for forty days and forty nights.”

Some of you may have seen the movie, I think it was 2014, that Russell Crowe was in called Noah. The way that the rain started falling but then also up from the ground burst all of these fountains of water as well and the water just came on so fast. And while that movie is not completely true to Scripture and depicts a lot of stuff that isn’t in Scripture, there’s nothing here in the Scripture about people charging the ark and trying to bang on the sides of the ark and get in. There’s nothing in here about Tubal Cane being on board the boat, any of that sort of thing. But if you just read what’s here and you think about the God who created everything out of nothing, Genesis 1:1, “The heavens and the earth, he created everything out of nothing.” All of this is nothing to a God that can create everything out of nothing. This is a minor miracle in terms of God’s power and God’s ability to direct his creation.

But notice the specificity of verse 11: “600th year of Noah’s life. The second month on the 17th day of the month,” I mean I’m almost waiting for him to say “At 7:00 PM” or something like that…waiting for the time of day. It’s so specific here. Again, you don’t find that in the kinds of literature that gets designated as just fantasy or just fable or myth. There is some real serious detail here.

“The rain fell upon the earth for forty days and forty nights. On the same day Noah and Shem and Ham and Japeth, the sons of Noah, Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them, entered the ark, they and every beast after its kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth after its kind, and every bird after its kind, all sorts of birds. So they went into the ark to Noah by twos of all flesh in which was the breath of life.  Those that entered, male and female of all flesh, entered as God had commanded him; and the Lord closed it behind him.”

I’m so glad it’s God that closed the door there. I would’ve thought about that too. How do you get a big door like that closed when you’re just one man? I mean, just so many of these details and so much of God’s initiative are on display here. The Lord closed the door behind them. “Then the flood came upon the earth for forty days, and the water increased and lifted up the ark, so that it rose above the earth.” Just a few more verses here. Verse 18: “The water prevailed and increased greatly upon the earth and the ark floated on the surface of the water and the water prevailed more and more upon the earth so that all the high mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered. The water prevailed fifteen cubits higher, and the mountains were covered.”

A cubit is anywhere from 18 inches to 25 inches depending on which ancient cubit we’re talking about. The Hebrews had a standard of measure that seems to be in more on the lower end of that. The Egyptians though had a longer since for what a cubit was, it seemed to be a little bit longer. “The water prevailed for fifteen cubits, [I’ll call it 20 feet if you will] higher, and the mountains were covered. All flesh that moved on the earth perished, birds and cattle and beasts and every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth, and all mankind; of all that was on the dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breadth of the spirit of life, died. Thus He [God] blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things to birds of the sky, and they were blotted out from the earth; only Noah was left, together with those that were with him in the ark. The water prevailed upon the earth one hundred and fifty days.”

We’ll stop there in terms of reading the text, but there’s so much for us to learn here. And as well as we finish the story next week, there’s so much for us here. What we see here is nothing less than what we might call in our own day and time, wickedness gone viral in an antediluvian kind of way if there was such a thing as viral, okay? No internet, no social media. Not required. Wickedness was spreading intensively and extensively. Back in my Sunday school days, we used to sing a song called Deep and Wide, and that’s what we mean. Sin was spreading deep intensively and wide extensively.

Wickedness. Look at verse 5, “…wickedness of man was great on the earth…every intent…only evil continually.” Oh man, employing the most comprehensive, absolute and emphatic combination of terms. Humanity’s depravity and their capacity for depravity is described here. It’s unconscionable, it’s indescribable in many ways. It’s unfathomable how wicked the world had become. Something had to be done. Human beings, created in the image of God, had turned their backs on God. They were running away from their creator God, attempting to find fulfillment apart from God on their own terms, in their own way, rejecting God’s design for themselves, deciding they wanted to be their own little g “god” in pursuit of unrivaled power and unbridled pleasure.

I don’t know if that sounds familiar to you, but it does to me, in some ways. I’m not just talking about them; I’m talking about what I see in my own heart sometimes as well. And maybe if we’re all honest and humble enough to admit it, what we might see in our own hearts as well. Yes, other world religions have large scale flood accounts. That’s true. Ancient Babylon. There’s one in Australia, Asia, Europe, even in American Indian account, but that doesn’t affect the veracity of the biblical account. In comparison, if one takes a close look at the other deluge accounts, while there are some expected similarities, there are also some striking differences.

The biblical account tells the backstory of the spiritual degradation of humanity through wickedness and sin followed by God’s righteous judgment. If someone comes to the conclusion the evidence for a global flood is insufficient, that doesn’t mean they can’t be a Christian. The Genesis record remains complete in its relative sense to the frame of reference of the narrator and the world in which they live. From Noah’s perspective, the whole world, the entire horizon as far as the eye could see was covered with water. Does that mean the rest of the earth wasn’t covered with water? No, it doesn’t mean that. I’m simply saying that that’s not the essential issue here. What Noah is conveying and handing down to his descendants is the story that humanity had a capacity for depravity that was so wicked that God wiped out as far as the eye could see, the entire known world, and that he did it out of a righteous judgment, and a merciful righteous judgment at that, because humanity was reckless and ruining itself.

Speaking of the issue of the size of the ark, is it possible that all those animals could fit onto that? Again, assuming an 18-inch cubit, the ark could contain really 1.5 million cubic feet. That’s quite a bit. It would displace approximately 24,000 tons. The space approximates over 500 railroad cars and could contain 125,000 sheep or that equivalent. Since it has been estimated that there were about 18,000 species, most of those would be smaller than a sheep. The space doesn’t seem to be a real problem. Some scholars suggest a 25-inch cubit might have been involved, like I had said before with the Egyptian cubit. Remember Moses was raised and trained and educated in Egypt. He’s the likely author here. He might have been thinking in terms of that cubit instead. And that would probably triple the capacity of the Hebrew cubit as far as the way the volume of the ship and the interior of the ship would be.

If you’re a person who likes to chase some of that stuff around, there’s tons of stuff on the internet. There are some great books by people like Derek Kidner, John Walton, Henry Morris, and Hugh Ross. Chuck Missler is another guy that loves to dive into all that stuff. You can look at, you can look at the Gospel Coalition and do some searches. William Lane Craig would be another great one to look at. But I’m a Bible-believing Christian. My presupposition is that God’s Word is true. However, that doesn’t mean I understand the way I ought to interpret every little passage. And so, I’m on an ongoing basis learning things. The Bible is chiefly concerned with the relationship between God and humanity and the storyline, the meta narrative, the overarching storyline of the Bible is not “Well, how much water? How many drops? How long did it take for the water to drain?” It’s not that. “What kind of tree was it?” That’s not the overall concern of the Bible. The overall concern of the Bible is God being in pursuit of a people He can call His own.

And my friend, He’s in pursuit of you and He has been in pursuit of me. I’m so glad that He found me and that He opened my eyes to see Him in His pursuit, His great love for me. Well, what do we see here? As we begin to unpack this story, I want to just throw out four things. Okay, one: humanity’s capacity for depravity. I’ve talked about it before, so you know the phrase, but let it sink in. Some Bible teachers compare today’s world to the world of Noah’s time in at least for ways. I’ll put them up on the screen. For a population explosion. Yes, indeed, there are plenty of people in the world right now. In some cases, far too many than the nation they live in can actually care for or supply resources for.

Secondly, the unbridled pursuit of distortion of sexual passion and desire. We see that in those first four verses especially and the following as well. There was just violence and mayhem and chaos everywhere. Thirdly, an obsession with darkness and evil. In our time, yes. No time that I can think of where people are more interested in the occult, in magic, in the dark arts and all of that sort. And fourthly, the pervasiveness of violence. We saw that over and over again mentioned here in Genesis 6 and 7. But did you notice how many times it just underscored the wickedness of humanity, the evil, the corruption and the violence? And so, the depravity of humankind is another one of these longitudinal themes that runs throughout the entire course of Scripture just as does the sovereignty of God.

And here we have, in verse 8, the grace of God. I’m so glad to see that Noah found favor, or grace, in the eyes of the Lord, because I want you to know something: the Lord is watching you. He’s watching over me. His eyes are just filled with grace for you and grace for me. He’s just longing for each and every one of us to turn from our wickedness and turn to Him in faith and hope and trust, believing and trusting in Christ Jesus as our Savior. But these longitudinal themes run throughout the Scripture, God’s sovereignty, human depravity, all that sort of thing. For instance, with the capacity for depravity, we see it later in the Old Testament in Jeremiah 17:9,

“The heart of man is more deceitful than all else. It is desperately sick. How can I understand it or who can understand it?”

Jeremiah 17:9

The prophet there expressing exasperation for “Why do we keep doing that which we don’t want to do and why do we not do that which we should do?” as to borrow a little bit from the Apostle Paul, who in Romans 3:23 sums it up this way,

“All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

Romans 3:23

Now, if you’re not a sinner today as you listen to this, if you’re not a sinner, you don’t need salvation, you don’t need redemption. But if you are a sinner, and I got news for you, regardless of what you may think about yourself, regardless of what I might choose to think about myself; we are all sinners. That’s what the Apostle Paul is saying. That’s what Jeremiah was saying back then as well. The heart of humanity is not one that you can just, in a Disney world sort of way, “Just trust your heart.” The heart of man is deceitful.

My heart often wants things that aren’t good for me. Why do you think we have so many addiction programs throughout the world? Why do you think so many people are trapped in bondage and enslaved in sort of a delusional way of thinking about reality, about themselves? We pump that out all the time, don’t we? We train up our kids to think that they can be anything they want to be. I know there’s a sort of perhaps a good intent there, but I don’t think we do anybody any favors when we sort of give them a Pollyanna view of who they are and a rose-colored glasses view of who they are. Well, I’ve got to hurry.

Here we are and we’ve got to understand our capacity for depravity. I love the way Eugene Peterson talks about the Scriptures.

“No literature is more realistic and honest in facing harsh facts of life than the Bible.”

Eugene Peterson

And folks, I’m smiling a little bit when I read that quote. I’m smiling when I read Romans 3. The reason is because when you get to the place where you finally admit it, when you finally bow before His majesty, acknowledging your sin, there’s great joy in repentance. Why? Because we know His response to us. We know what it’s going to be. Because in the New Testament, His response was, He came on the run with redemption in His hand. And so why wouldn’t you want to turn to Him? Why wouldn’t this be repentance that’s joy-based instead of fear-based? We know His response already because of the finished work of Christ.

Secondly, the possibility of holiness. So, we’ve got humanity’s capacity for depravity, but we’ve got the possibility of holiness. Noah, what was called righteous, he was said to have walked with God. Noah and Enoch are the only two in the entire Bible that are said to walk with God. And so here he learns something from what I guess is his… If that genealogy in the previous chapter is literal, if each name represents a generation and there weren’t some names left out, then Noah is related to Enoch in a big way. He’s probably what? His great, great grandson, something like that. And so here it is. He’s kind of been handed down this spiritual heritage. Enoch has passed that along. The stories of Enoch fascinated Noah; I would bet. And I wonder what are we passing along to the next generation? What are you passing along if you have kids? What are you passing along to them spiritually? That it matters that you walk with God or that it doesn’t matter if you walk with God?

This is such a critical time right now. I think everybody needs to take stock of that. What are we passing along? But it is possible. Here’s the good news. It is possible, you see, to live a life where you’re walking with God in the middle of this kind of culture.

Thirdly, the righteous judgment of God. We see that here. I want to ask, even as I put that up on the screen, the righteous judgment of God. You might push back on that. Here’s just the Old Testament wrathful God. What’s He doing? And read the book of Revelation, pouring out His wrath and all those bowls and all that sort of thing. And I just want you to understand something. The wrath of God is nothing capricious. It’s not a grumpy God that woke up on the wrong side of the bed and just decided to destroy the world. No, this is God’s settled opposition against all that is evil in this world.

If we bristle at God’s righteous judgment and His wrath against evil, I would suggest to you that we don’t really love justice. We don’t really have any understanding for how dark our capacity for depravity is. And so, passages like this are really critical, really important, to push us back to those big questions about God’s holiness and God’s settled opposition to all evil. And see, that’s good news to me and to you if we love justice, if we want the world set to rights, if we want God to eradicate evil one day. Not only “out there” evil, but “in here” evil. If we really want Him to do that, what we’re saying is that we agree with God about what is evil and what is wicked and what needs to be done away with.

If we don’t agree with God about that, we might take it easy on ourselves. And now we’ll see, we’re doing what these people on the earth and Noah’s time did. We’re taking the reins. We’re saying, “God, you don’t be God. I’m going to be God. I want to be the one who has the last word.” And so how far back do you have to go to see all this kind? Not very far. Not very far at all. See what happened with the slave trade in the 18th and 19th century? Yeah, that’s not too far back, is it? Even closer, did you see what happened in Darfur in the 20th century? Do you understand what it means that there are close to 30 million people caught up in human trafficking, right now? Do you understand how dark that is?

We see it here in our own culture. But until we see it in the mirror, ladies and gentlemen, until I see it right there in my own face, in my own heart; I don’t really understand the gravity of my capacity for depravity. We are missing a healthy fear of the Lord and we need to get back to that. Dan Zink was a professor of Covenant Theological Seminary where a lot of us on staff graduated from. He said this once,

“The modern church is missing a good healthy fear of God. Fear is only part of a relationship with God. And I’m not proposing that we forget the love of God. However, fear seems to be the part that we most easily forget, and maybe that is why Scripture mentions it so often.”

Dr. Dan Zink

I couldn’t agree with him more. There’s a couple of new books that have been written on this subject, the fear of the Lord. It’s the beginning of wisdom, the book of Proverbs tells us. It’s the beginning of knowledge. It’s the beginning of understanding that fear of the Lord is a good thing. But we need not have an unhealthy fear of anything else if we have a healthy fear of the Lord.

When Kim and I were on the road for those 20 years as musicians, we used to listen to the Bible teachings on cassette tapes by a guy named Steve Brown, who’s still one of my favorite Bible teachers. He says,

“If you’ve never stood before God and been afraid, then you’ve probably never stood before the real God.”

Steve Brown, What Was I Thinking?

I love the title of his book too: What was I thinking? That’s one of those things I just constantly ask myself. But who sets the boundaries for right and wrong in this world, in your world, in your heart, in your life? Who determines what is good or evil? Is that up to the individual? That’s the way they thought in the days of Noah. Or is there a moral law giver who takes on this role and takes it seriously? How we answer these questions really becomes important to our own view of self and to our view of our role in the world.

I throw up onto the screen, for your consideration, four things. God alone has the right to define good and evil, right and wrong. God’s judgment against sin is righteous. And God is gracious to anyone who’s willing to repent from their sin. God’s patience with our sin and rebellion is not infinite. We see this here in the story of Genesis chapter 6, 7, 8 and 9.

So fourthly and finally, I want to get to the great news as we finish this up, the hope of God’s grace. There it was in verse 8, right? First mention of grace in the Bible. Noah found favor in the sight, or in the eyes, of the Lord in spite of the pervasiveness of human depravity. In spite of the fact that God determined that He was going to judge all of humanity except for those eight that were on board, that were sinners still. Yet God was preserving a remnant, a remnant that had faith that had been handed down to them, and one man in particular who was the leader of his family and was walking with God. Is that not important to us today? It should be.

What did Jesus have to say about this passage? I love the way Jesus viewed the Old Testament. It’s awesome. I mean, sometime do a study. How did Jesus view the Old Testament? How did He view this story? The story of Noah? Watch this from Matthew 24:37-39.

“The coming of the Son of Man [that’s when He returns again to wrap up human history] will be just like the days of Noah. For 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, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.”

Matthew 24:37-39

And the idea is that we sometimes don’t understand because we don’t want to understand.

Our hearts are set against God, and God allows us to do that with our hearts. Our hearts are hard. And so, we don’t see. We don’t have eyes to see or ears to hear as Jesus would put it. Raymond Brown in his commentary on the book of Hebrew says,

“Noah is a splendid example of the attentive believer, eager to hear what God is saying, ready to do what God commands.”

Raymond Brown, The Message of Hebrews

And that’s true about Noah, but I want you to know something: Noah is not the ultimate hero of this storyline. God is. You see, Noah without God, and Noah without an ark designed by God, would be Noah lost in the flood. But God intervened.

And you see years later, one of the descendants of Noah; His name is Jesus, is actually the greater Noah. I’ll go so far as to say He is the greater ark, as well. He will carry us to and bring to us the salvation of God. He is God’s design, you see, for our redemption and salvation from the wickedness that is in this world, and that so often takes root in our own hearts. Only Jesus can carry us through the wrath of God’s righteous judgment to a new beginning. Who wouldn’t want that?

Tim Keller sums up for us the last little bit that I want to say on this passage, “These Gospel narratives,” the Gospel is foreshadowed here in Genesis folks, so all the way back to chapter 3,  but

“These Gospel narratives…”

Keller’s talking about the New Testament and the storyline of Jesus,

“…are telling you not what you should do, but what God has done. The birth of the Son of God into the world is a gospel, good news, an announcement. You don’t save yourself. God has come to save you.”

Tim Keller

All right, so He sent better than an ark and better than Noah in the person and work of Jesus. Noah climbed onto a wooden ark. Jesus climbed onto a wooden cross. Noah saved a few. Jesus is offering salvation to you, to me, to many, many, many, and He will bring many sons and daughters to glory. Who wouldn’t want that?

(Edited for Reading)

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