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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

May 20, 2015

Genesis 6:9-22

  1. Quick recap. Genesis 6 begins by naming two opposing groups: “the sons of God” and “the daughters of men.” It is no coincidence that Genesis 4-5 also describes two groups, the descendants of Cain and Adam/Seth. In 4:1-24, we find that Cainites lacked positive spiritual attributes. They were earthly, selfish, sensual, and an authority unto themselves. Sethites, however, had qualities of consecration, devotion, communion, service, and righteousness toward God (4:25). Knowing this context, we can identify Sethites as “the sons of God.” They were His chosen people in the pre-flood era. The Cainites, however, had separated themselves from God. Sadly, this passage teaches that the descendants of Seth intermarried with the descendants of Cain. Through these spiritually mixed marriages, Sethites failed to remain pure and true to their mission. They jeopardized God’s plan of salvation (3:15), leaving Noah the only righteous one among them (6:9). God preserved the Messianic line by sending a great flood to save Noah and his family, and to judge unrepentant souls (1 Pet 3:20). The world became so wicked that believing men began marrying unbelieving women. The Hebrew literally reads, “saw…good…took.” Their sin repeats the pattern (“saw…good…took”) of the original sin in 3:6. They are driven by lust, not spiritual discernment.

    1. On a side, but important, note. The concern to marry well is an important theme that is repeated throughout Genesis (24:1-4; 28:1; cf. 19:14; 26:34-35; 27:46). When you look at the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch, there are numerous warnings given by Moses against intermarriage of believers and unbelievers (see esp. Gen 26 and 34). What is the command of God concerning marriage, throughout Scripture, to those who are called by His name? To marry only in the faith. Moses warned the Israelites not to marry the idolatrous inhabitants of the land, because, Exodus 34:16. In Ezra 9, Ezra is livid with rage when he’s told that the people of Israel have intermarried with pagan women. The apostle Paul warned the Corinthian widows, 1 Corinthians 7:39, to marry only in the Lord. Do not, he said, be yoked together with unbelievers. Why? Because, 2 Corinthians 6:14 says, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?”

  2. Verses 9-10. We are told that Noah was a godly man; in the midst of a corrupt society, Noah stood out, stood alone, as a man of God. He was “blameless among his contemporaries,” a man like Enoch, who, “walked with God” (6:9). This is not to say that Noah was a perfect man, a man that God spared because he was without any sin. Noah was a sinner, whose deliverance was a matter of divine grace, rather than of human merit: But Noah found favor in the sight of the Lord (Genesis 6:8). It was God’s grace that saved Noah. And he, like all the saints – Old Testament or New – was saved by faith (Hebrews 11:5-7). We learn four important things about Noah.

    1. First, Noah was a “righteous man.” The word translated “righteous” connotes “conformity to the standard.” In the case of Noah, he conformed to the standard set by God. He was able to do so because God granted him grace. This reminds us that God’s grace always comes before anything. It’s easy to think that God loves us for what we are intrinsically, for what we have done, or can become. But God does not love us because of that, nor is He gracious to us because of that. On the contrary, He loves us solely because He loves us. He is gracious to us only because He is (cf. Deut 7:7-8). This is a crucial truth for us to understand. We do not earn God’s grace or favor (Eph 2:8-9); He bestows it upon us for His own good pleasure (Eph 1:4-6). Not only was Noah a righteous man but 2 Peter 2:5 tells us that he was also a “preacher of righteousness.” Noah preached righteousness in the same way that his great-grandfather Enoch had done before him (Jude 1:14-15). The reason he could do this is that he himself was righteous. The reason that we do not have more preaching of righteousness in our day is that those who profess Christ are often not living righteous lives.

    2. Second, Noah was “blameless.” The word “blameless” involves the idea of completeness. Noah conformed to the standard set by God and his life was “complete,” with no essential quality missing. The modifying phrase “in his time” indicates all the more clearly that Noah’s righteousness and blamelessness stood out against his contemporaries’ sinfulness. Noah was not only righteous in the sight of God; he also had a credible reputation among the people of his day. They could not pin a single wrong action on him. He was blameless.

    3. Third, Noah “walked with God.” This means he had daily, step-by-step fellowship with God. He had God as his companion as he walked through life. This type of imitate fellowship does not happen by osmosis; it must be cultivated. It takes work to be godly. Is your walk with God vibrant?

    4. Lastly, Noah walked with God before his family. Noah’s godliness was the godliness of a man who was involved in ordinary life. He did not withdraw from society. Real godliness is not like that. Noah was out and about in God’s world. He provided for his family. The linking of the names of his sons with his faithful life surely indicates that Noah influenced his family in spiritual matters. Apparently, Noah instructed his family to believe in God…and they did! More often than not, when a husband and father exert spiritual leadership in the home, the entire family responds and follows his lead. It is interesting to note, however, that Noah’s only converts were his wife, his sons, and their wives (6:18). Apparently, not a single person outside his family paid the slightest attention to what he had to say. He preached for the better part of 120 years and won no converts other than his own family. Nevertheless, by God’s grace, Noah won those that mattered most.

  3. Verses 11-12. Three times in 6:11-12 we are told how “corrupt” the earth had become. The word for “violence” is used of robbery, taking wives by force, and murder. The entire social fabric had disintegrated and human life was no longer sacred or respected (see Isa 59:6-8). The two words “corrupt” and “violence” (Ps 14:1-3) give us respectively the character and expression of the sin, the cause, and the effect. The corruption has led to violence, for badness always leads to cruelty in one form or another. A life that is wrong with God necessarily becomes wrong with its fellows. It is critical to recognize that Noah lived in terrible days. The world around him was degraded and depraved; yet Noah lived an above reproach life. When all the people around him were immersing themselves in evil and earning the wrath and judgment of God, Noah set his heart to follow the path found in the person and character of God. He stood his ground and remained uninfluenced by all that was happening around him. If Noah was, so can you. God has given us everything “pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Pet 1:3).

  4. Verses 13. For the second time in three verses, the Lord mentions the “violence” of mankind (see 6:11; cf. 49:5). He then tells Noah that He is about to “destroy” these violent people “with the earth.” This section demonstrates that the earth and nature suffer because of human sin (cf. 3:17-19; 4:12; Rom 8:20-21).

  5. Verses 14-16. The ark probably was shaped like a shallow rectangular box topped with a roof, with an 18 inch space under the roof, interrupted only by roof supports, so light could get into the vessel from every side. This design uses space very efficiently. The ark would have been very stable in the water. Noah had more than enough work to keep him occupied for a 100 years. A question that is asked is: How could Noah’s ark hold between one-half billion to over a billion species of animals? First, the modern concept of “species” is not the same as a “kind” in the Bible. There are probably only several hundred different “kinds” of land animals that would have to be taken into the ark. The sea animals stayed in the sea, and many species could have survived in egg form. Second, Noah could have taken younger varieties of some larger animals. Third, as I have already said, the ark was not small; it was a huge structure—the size of the biggest modern cruise ship. Furthermore, it had three stories (6:16), which tripled its space to a total of over 1.5 million cubic feet! Given all these factors, there was plenty of room for all the animals, food for the trip, and the eight humans aboard.

  6. Verses 17-18. This verse places significant emphasis on the personal role of God in the ensuing storm. The phrase “I, even I” reminds us that God is responsible for natural disasters. Ultimately, He is the sovereign Controller of the universe. Therefore, we can trust in Him and what He brings into our lives and the lives of others. Yet, in the midst of the flood’s promise, there is good news. In 6:18, God says to Noah, “But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.” This is the first occurrence of the word “covenant” (berith) in the Old Testament. Here, in the midst of judgment, the Lord stooped down to meet the needs of His servant (Ps 40:1; 113:6).

  7. Verses 19-20. Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did” (6:19-22). Apparently, all of the animals would “come to” Noah voluntarily (6:20). It would seem that he would not have to hunt them down or look for them in remote places. Their natural instinct for self-preservation, energized by a special act of God, would bring them unerringly to Noah’s ark. The key to understanding biblical narratives is what is repeated in the context. In 6:22, Moses records this very important statement: “Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did.” In chapter 7, he then repeats this phrase three more times (7:5, 9, 16). This informs us that God must be obeyed in all His instructions if His people expect to enjoy the fruit of life and blessing (e.g., Deut 26:16-19; 28:1-14).

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