Today, we begin a four part study focusing on the life and times of Noah. Many people are familiar with the story of Noah and the Flood. God tells Noah to build an ark. He and His family work on this ark for 120 years. Noah preaches to the people who would come out to see what He was doing. God brings Noah the animals that were to be rescued. God shuts the door of the ark. The flood comes and wipes out the planet and all of humanity.
The question I have is, “What was so bad, that in God’s perfect wisdom, He decided the best course of action was to wipe out mankind from the face of the earth, except for Noah and his family?” Genesis 6:1-8 answers that question. Let’s take a look.
When mankind began to multiply on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of mankind were beautiful, and they took any they chose as wives for themselves. 3 And the Lord said, “My Spirit will not remain with mankind forever, because they are corrupt. Their days will be 120 years.” 4 The Nephilim were on the earth both in those days and afterward, when the sons of God came to the daughters of mankind, who bore children to them. They were the powerful men of old, the famous men. 5 When the Lord saw that human wickedness was widespread on the earth and that every inclination of the human mind was nothing but evil all the time, 6 the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and he was deeply grieved. 7 Then the Lord said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I created, off the face of the earth, together with the animals, creatures that crawl, and birds of the sky—for I regret that I made them.” 8 Noah, however, found favor with the Lord. (CSB)
We are going to break this down into four sections:
- God’s eyes saw great sin (we will spend most of our time here today)
- God’s heart feels great pain
- God’s love produces great patience
- God’s grace produces great hope
This is simply an introduction to these eight verses. If we were going through the book of Genesis I would spend 4-8 weeks just on these 8 verses. That’s how important they. It is packed. It is loaded with significant theology, doctrine, and truth. So put your theology seatbelts on and let’s take a quick ride through these verses.
God’s eyes saw great sin
Let’s start with God’s perspective. God’s eyes saw great sin. God sees two things happening: increasing deviance and increasing disobedience.
Increasing deviance (sons of God)
The first thing mentioned is increasing deviance. By definition deviance is abnormal sexual behavior. There is normal sinful sexual behavior and then there is abnormal sinful sexual behavior. We see this beginning in Genesis 6:1, “When mankind began to multiply on the earth and daughters were born to them.” This is referring to a population explosion. Back in Genesis 1, God told Adam and Eve to go and multiply (Gen. 1:28) – have babies and more babies. They began to have children and those children began to have children and on and on it went. By the time you get to Noah the earth is beginning to fill up with people everywhere.
But then something strange and horrible begins to happen. Verse 2 says, “The sons of God saw that the daughters of mankind were beautiful, and they took any they chose as wives for themselves” (CSB). This is a statement about the relationship and sexual activities between the “sons of God” and the “daughters of mankind.” It is notoriously difficult because we know what they were doing but we don’t know for certain who they were. However, the Bible gives us some clues to who these “sons of God” might be and it would explain why God did what He did at the level that He did it. What you are about to here is going to sound strange, but here me out and look closely at what the Bible says.
I believe this refers to fallen angels. Let me give you a Summary Description: The fallen angels view interprets this passage to teach that certain fallen angels (“sons of God”) took on the form of men, had relationships and intercourse with the “daughters of mankind” which resulted in giants called Nephilim. This horrible sin and rebellion against God was an attempt by Satan to contaminate mankind’s genepool to prevent the Messiah from being born and caused a world-wide generation of extreme wickedness that had never been seen before nor since resulting in God taking action of judgement against the entire planet. (For a more detailed description and explanation on this subject go to my article “Sons of God and Nephilim”)
One principle of interpretation is scripture-with-scripture. When a statement in the Bible is not clear the first thing you want to do is to see if the subject appears anywhere else in the Bible to help shed light on its meaning. In this case the exact phrase “sons of God” (bene elohim) appears three times (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7). A similar phrase (bar elohim) is used in Daniel 3:25 and another similar phrase (bene elim) is used twice in Psalms (Psalm 29:1; Psalm 89:6). All of them refer to some type of supernatural or divine being. Let’s take a look at them.
- Look carefully at Job 1:6, “One day the sons of God(bene elohim) came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them” (CSB). In this scene you have the LORD, Satan, and the sons of God. This is a meeting between spiritual and supernatural beings.
- Then Job 2:1 we see another similar meeting happening, “One day the sons of God(bene elohim) came again to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them to present himself before the Lord” (CSB). They are angelic or supernatural beings.
- In Job 38:1 God is talking to Job and says, “Who is this who obscures my counsel with ignorant words?3 Get ready to answer me like a man; when I question you, you will inform me. 4 Where were you when I established the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. 5 Who fixed its dimensions? Certainly you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? 6 What supports its foundations? Or who laid its cornerstone 7 while the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God[bene elohim] shouted for joy?” (CSB). These “sons of God” were present when God “laid [the] cornerstone” for the creation of the earth. They appear to be the angels who witnessed creation.
- In Daniel 3, King Nebuchadnezzar has thrown three men into a large fire pit because they would not worship his god. After they were placed in the fire Nebuchadnezzar counted four people in the fire and shouted, “Look! I see four men, not tied, walking around in the fire unharmed; and the fourth looks like a son of the gods (bar elohim)” (v.25, CSB). Bar elohim can also be translated divine being. A very similar Hebrew phrase referring to an angelic being.
- In Psalm 29:1 David begins his praise to God by saying, “Ascribe to the Lord, you heavenly beings (bene elim), ascribe to the Lordglory and strength” (CSB). This can also be translated as “sons of the gods.”
- Psalm 89 is another praise regarding how great God truly is and in verse 5 we read, “Lord, the heavens praise your wonders—your faithfulness also—in the assembly of the holy ones.6 For who in the skies can compare with the Lord? Who among the heavenly beings (bene elim) is like the Lord? 7 God is greatly feared in the council of the holy ones, more awe-inspiring than all who surround him” (CSB).
After examining these Old Testament passages, there seems to be no reasonable doubt that, in so far as the language itself is concerned, the intent of the writer in Genesis 6 was to convey the thought of angels (fallen angels, heavenly beings) in Genesis 6. In addition, Genesis 6 seems to be making a contrast between “the sons of God” and “the daughters of mankind” which makes more sense if “the sons of God” are not really “the sons of mankind.”
When you look at the New Testament you discover that in 1 Peter 3 when Jesus died on the cross He went and proclaimed His victory over sin, death, and Satan’s kingdom specifically to the fallen angels who were disobedient during the days of Noah (1 Peter 3:18-20). Then in 2 Peter 2 we are told that God took the fallen angels who sinned during the time of Noah and placed them “in chains of utter darkness to be kept for judgment” (2 Peter 2:4-6). Then in Jude 6 we are told about fallen angels who “did not keep their own position but abandoned their proper dwelling” and committed “sexual immorality and perversions” similar to those in Sodom and Gomorrah. These passages teach us that a select group of fallen angels rebelled and disobeyed God with a specific sin that resulted in certain fallen angels being locked up and placed in chains until a future judgment. According to these verses, the sin occurred during the time of Noah. What was that sin?
Now take a look at Genesis 6:4, “The Nephilim were on the earth both in those days and afterward, when the sons of God came to the daughters of mankind, who bore children to them. They were the powerful men of old, the famous men” (CSB). The word “Nephilim” means giants.
These Nephilim must have been impressive giants. In Numbers 13 some of the scouts looking at the future promise land returned with a negative report saying, “The land we passed through to explore is one that devours its inhabitants, and all the people we saw in it are men of great size. 33 We even saw the Nephilim there—the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim! To ourselves we seemed like grasshoppers, and we must have seemed the same to them” (vs. 32-33, CSB).
To put the Nephilim in perspective let’s consider Goliath. We are told in 1 Samuel 17:4, “Then a champion named Goliath, from Gath, came out from the Philistine camp. He was nine feet, nine inches tall” (CSB). He was huge. We are not told whether or not he was a Nephilim, but if he was we are looking at incredibly large and strong men. If he was not a Nephilim and the Nephilim were even bigger and stronger then you can see why the scouts in Numbers 13 came back with the report about appearing as grasshoppers compared to them.
When these “sons of God” had sex with these “daughters of mankind” they produced hybrid children – giants, freaks of nature called Nephilim. As a result they became famous for their mighty acts of power and strength. This union also produced a tidal wave of grotesque sin that swept through the planet. We are told that the “wickedness was widespread on the earth and that every inclination of the human mind was nothing but evil all the time” (v.5, CSB).
Before we move on, I need to answer an important question, “Why would these fallen angels commit this horrible act?” Was this simply an act of lust or something more sinister? We are not directly told, but we can deduct from Biblical evidence what the motive was behind this act. It is possible that this unholy union between fallen angels and humans was a satanic attempt by Lucifer to nullify the first promise of the Gospel in Genesis 3:15 which states: God says, “I will put hostility between you [Satan] and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel” (CSB). This was said by God to Satan who was in the form of a serpent regarding his involvement and punishment for the fall of mankind into sin (Rev. 12:9; 20:2). This is a prophetic statement about the coming Messiah who would “strike” the serpent’s head and destroy His kingdom. This Messiah would come through the humans. Eventually, that child was miraculously delivered to us through Mary and the virgin birth, and He was given the name Jesus because He would save His people from their sins. God would become 100% in the form of Jesus Christ who would become our substitute on the cross and die for our sins. It is extremely important that Jesus Christ be both all God and all human at the same time. During the days of Noah, Satan was trying to contaminate the genepool of humanity to where the Messiah had no chance to become 100% human. This was a sinister scheme to stop Jesus from ever arriving.
Throughout history the devil has tried to stop the birth of this Messiah. You see this in the Pharaoh’s ordering all the babies to be killed and Herod trying to kill the future King of the Jews by having all the boys executed that were two years old or younger. The devil has tried every means possible to stop the arrival of the Messiah. Could it be possible the Devil also tried to stop the Messiah’s arrival through contaminating the seed and offspring of the “daughters of mankind” in an attempt to block the genealogical possibility of a Messiah ever being born? I think so.
If the devil and his demons were successful in contaminating the offspring with this hideous sin between fallen angels and humans then we begin to see why God would need to destroy the entire human race with a flood except for Noah’s family (who could have possibly avoided this contamination, which made he and his family pure in the eyes of the Lord among his generations).
This may be the first time you have ever heard of this and now you want to know more and read up on it. Let me get you started. If you want to read more detail about this I have written a lengthy article called, “Sons of God and Nehphilim.” You can find this article at truthappliedjs.com. Go to categories, click on Genesis and look for the article. In the article I address how fallen angels could have sex with humans, a similar issue at Sodom and Gommorah, go into greater detail with other reference scriptures, and present other views and interpretations of Genesis 6.
Why would God bring a flood to the planet? Here is what we have so far, increased deviance started by the fallen angels in an attempt to contaminate mankind to stop the Messiah being born. This leads to increased disobedience among the human race. Genesis 6:5 says it this way, “When the Lord saw that human wickedness was widespread on the earth and that every inclination of the human mind was nothing but evil all the time…” (CSB). Here we are told the Lord saw two things.
- First, “the Lord saw that human wickedness was widespread on the earth.” God saw that the people He created gave into the fallen angels schemes and acts of wickedness between people were increasing. The word “wickedness” refers to “a mental disregard for justice, righteousness, truth, honor, virtue; evil in thought and life; depravity; sinfulness; criminality” (Bible Dictionary). The depravity and sinfulness of man could easily be seen in their actions and you could see it anywhere. Back in Genesis 1:28 mankind was to “multiply and fill the earth,” but according to Genesis 6:11, “the earth was filled with wickedness” and violence.
- Second, “the Lord saw… that every inclination of the human mind was nothing but evil all the time.” Not only was God seeing their actions, but He was also seeing their heart. He could see “every inclination of the human mind” and He saw that it “was nothing but evil all the time.”
When it’s all said and done, what you have here is the total depravity of mankind. The doctrine of the total depravity of mankind teaches us that the entire human race is affected by sin in every way possible. The way we think, feel, act, react and decide are all contaminated by sin and selfishness. Our mind, will, and emotions have all been poisoned by selfishness. This does not mean that every person will sin as much as they can, but they will sin and some will sin more than others.
Genesis 6 is not when mankind became totally depraved. They became totally depraved back in Genesis 3 when sin entered the human race with the Fall of Adam and Eve (Genes 3:1-7). Sin began its course through the human race producing normal sins (see Galatians 5:19-21). Genesis 6 takes these sins to another level. They had become “exceedingly wicked”, like the men of Sodom, except it was worldwide (Gen. 13:13, NASB).
Let’s evaluate the situation. Because of the Fall of Adam and Eve sin had spread to every human being. Fallen angels (demons) decided to use this to their advantage and took on the form of men to have unholy and ungodly relations with the “daugthers of mankind” in an attempt to prevent the birth of the Messiah. This produced the Nehphilim who were violent and helped to take wickedness and evil to new levels of horror and disgust.
God’s heart feels great pain
What is God’s response? What is His reaction? This brings us to Genesis 6:6-7 which says, “…the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and he was deeply grieved. 7 Then the Lord said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I created, off the face of the earth, together with the animals, creatures that crawl, and birds of the sky—for I regret that I made them” (CSB).
Verse 6 tells us that because of the extreme deviance and extreme disobedience “the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth.” You read that and you are thinking, “God wishes He had never made mankind. God made a mistake and if He could go back in time He wouldn’t make people.” Those thoughts challenge a few things about God. They challenge God’s omniscience: Does God really know everything, especially the future? It challenges His wisdom – Obviously God was not smart enough to see this coming? It also challenges God’s sovereignty – I guess God was powerful enough to stop this from happening? As a result, God “regretted that he had made man on the earth.”
However, it does not mean what you think it means. We are placing a human definition onto a word and applying it to God. According to 1 Samuel 15, “The Glory of Israel [God] will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret” (v.29, ESV). This tells me that God’s regretting is not like man’s regretting. There is a difference.
Some translations trying to capture the meaning of this will say “the Lord was sorry that he made mankind” (NASB) or “it repented the Lord that He had made” mankind (KJV). So, what you have here is some idea of regret, sorry, and repenting. However, according to 1 Samuel 15, “The Glory of Israel [God] will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret” (v.29, ESV). This tells me that God’s regretting is not like man’s regretting. There is a difference.
- Man’s regret focuses on the past, while God’s regret focuses on the future. Man regrets what He has done, God regrets what He must do. Man says, “I am sorry for what I have done and if I could go back and change things I would.” God says, “I am sorry for what you have done and if I could avoid what I’m about to do I would.” Man’s regret is about wishing what he should have done. God’s regret is wishing He didn’t have to do what He is about do because of the actions of someone else. Man says, “I regret what I did.” God says, “I regret what I am about to do.” God’s regret is not like man’s regret.
Let’s go back to Genesis 6:6, “The Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth” sounds like God wishes He had never created people because they are so horrible and high maintenance and are a burden to Him. When you study this word regret you discover His regret is not so much about His disappointment in the people, but about what He is going to have to do to these people He created and loves and wanted to save. It’s like the parent who loves their child, but is going to have to discipline them for what they did and the parent regrets having to discipline them… but for God this is a much more horrific and terrible circumstance.
- Man’s regret focuses on his sin, God’s regret focuses on His holiness. Man says, “I a sinner and I have sinned, I wish I could go back and make it right.” God says, “I am holy and perfect, and I am about to make it right.” Man says, “I did what I did because of sin.” God says, “I will do what I’m about do because of holiness.” God is holy, just, loving, forgiving, gracious, patient and merciful. Those aspects of God never conflict with one another. They are in perfect harmony expressed perfectly in every situation including the Flood. But because of the extreme deviance and extreme disobedience God’s justice and wrath must come to the fore front of His actions. What God is about to do to His creation is going to grieve Him greatly. He will not enjoy wiping mankind from the face of the earth. Even in His divine wisdom, He knew what mankind would do and He knew that He would have to do this and it grieves Him. His regret is not like our regret.
The reason God says in Genesis 6:7, “I will wipe mankind, whom I created, off the face of the earth, together with the animals, creatures that crawl, and birds of the sky” is because of mankind’s extreme unholiness and God’s perfect holiness. God’s grace will provide Noah, a preacher of righteousness. God’s grace will provide an Ark. God’s grace will allow the people to hear Noah preach for 120 years while he build the Ark. God’s grace will provide the patience during that time, but no one but Noah’s family will respond. God’s justice, holiness, and wrath will shut the door of the Ark. God’s justice, holiness, and wrath will start the Flood and wipe mankind, whom He created, off the face of the earth.
This is the same tension we see on the cross. We see both God’s grace and holiness and man’s sin and wickedness represented by Jesus on the cross and we see the same thing with Noah and the Flood.
God’s love produces great patience
I skipped verse 3 for a reason and now it’s time to go back to it. Genesis 6:3 says, And the Lord said, “My Spirit will not remain with mankind forever, because they are corrupt. Their days will be 120 years” (CSB). Here is where we get a glimpse of God’s patience and kindness.
The Lord’s statement, “My Spirit will not remain with mankind forever, because they are corrupt” tells us there is a limit to God’s patience. At some point God’s Spirit decides to leave mankind to its lostness. This reminds of Romans 1 where we are told about people who rejected and rebelled against God to the point that…
“God delivered them over in the desires of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served what has been created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God delivered them over to disgraceful passions. Their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 The men in the same way also left natural relations with women and were inflamed in their lust for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the appropriate penalty of their error. 28 And because they did not think it worthwhile to acknowledge God, God delivered them over to a corrupt mind so that they do what is not right. 29 They are filled with all unrighteousness, evil, greed, and wickedness. They are full of envy, murder, quarrels, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 senseless, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful. 32 Although they know God’s just sentence—that those who practice such things deserve to die—they not only do them, but even applaud others who practice them” (vs. 24-32, CSB).
God’s Spirit “not remaining with mankind” and “God delivering them over” is very similar in nature. God’s protective shield and restraint of sin is removed and sin has freedom to spread and grow without hindrance of any kind. Before His Spirit is removed and before God delivers people over to their sin, His Spirit is at work “[convicting] the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment” (John 16:8, CSB). This convicting should be understood as convincing. The Holy Spirit convinces people they are sinners, they need His righteousness, and a judgment is coming. However, even though they hear the truth and may be convinced of it at some level they reject it. At some point, when they have rejected long enough God delivers them over to sin and His Spirit no longer remains with them convincing them and convicting them.
The Lord then adds, “Their days will be 120 years.” God is saying the people had 120 years left before the Flood. This is how long it would take Noah to build the ark. During those 120 years God would wait patiently and provide the people with a preacher of righteousness calling them back to God (2 Peter 2:5). They would, of course, ignore his message. Peter said that “God patiently waited in the days of Noah while the ark was being prepared” (1 Peter 3:20, CSB). God warned and waited before He brought judgment upon the people. Later, Peter would also write, “The Lord does not delay his promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9, CSB). God warns before He judges. He delays His promised wrath. He longs for people to come to repentance.
God’s grace produces a great hope
Genesis 6:8, “Noah, however, found favor with the Lord” (CSB). It is a truth with God that the more sinful the times, the more definite the testimony. God always has His special person – a Moses, an Elijah, a Daniel, an Esther. Before the Flood He had Noah. In the middle of all this sin God’s “favor” could still be found. This word “favor” means grace. God decided to bless and use Noah. How did this “favor” upon Noah impact his life.
- Noah was a “righteous man.” This means he did what was right toward other people.
- Noah was “blameless among his contemporaries.” This means that those around him could not find fault in him. He did not participate in the wickedness that surrounded him.
- Noah “walked with God.” This means he had a close relationship with God. He honored God. He worshiped God. He lived for God. He talked to God.
Let me be clear here. Noah did not find favor with God because he was a righteous man, blameless among the people and had a walk with God. On the contrary, Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people and had a walk with God because God showed favor and grace upon his life. Noah did not earn God’s favor, rather God gave Noah His favor.
In Genesis 6 you see get a glimpse in the desperate attempts Satan will take to stop God, ruin His creation, and destroy mankind. He hates God and he hates God’s creation. You see spiritual warfare.
In Genesis 6 you see how far sin can take mankind. People can become extremely wicked and evil in action and attitude. He we are introduced into the total depravity of mankind and the doctrine of sin.
In Genesis 6 we see the character of God. We are forced to wrestle with God’s holiness, God’s wisdom, God, grace, God’s wrath, God’s judgment, God’s provision and God’s hope and mercy all at one time.
In Genesis 6 we see that even in the midst of great sin and great sorrow God will make a way and salvation will come.