Summary: The flood
October 10, 2010
I was tempted to begin this message with a story about a do-over. You know, a story about how I started out to do something but messed it up and had to do it over. God created the world, Adam and Eve messed it up, and God had to do it over.
But that’s not the case.
God is sovereign over both people and events and nothing in history has been outside His control. He didn’t need a do-over or a clean slate, so that wasn’t the reason for the flood.
Besides, if the flood was a do-over, it didn’t work very well did it? Noah was still a sinful son of Adam and, well, just look at the world today. If the flood was a do-over, I’d say it’s about time for another one.
But the flood wasn’t a do-over; its purpose can be summarized in two juxtaposed words: “judgment” and “grace.”
On the one hand we’ve got the whole world which is bent on evil. God judges them all at once by sending a great flood. But on the other hand we see His grace on the only man (and his family) who walked with Him.
In fact, this is touched on by Jesus:
And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: 27they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all (Luke 17:26-27, NASB).
The first judgment is likened to the second judgment.
Though Noah preached to the people (II Pt. 2:5), they wouldn’t listen and remained disobedient (I Pt. 3:20). They had ears that couldn’t hear and eyes that couldn’t see so they were judged in their sin (Mt. 24:39).
But it’s interesting that there aren’t many details of the judgment. All we really know is that the flood came and no one but Noah and seven of his family members survived. There aren’t any graphic details about drowning or suffering; they’re just gone.
This is important because while this is a story of judgment, it’s perhaps more a story of grace. Scripture goes into great detail about the one man who was saved, and his story will be the main focus of this message.
Now 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).
There’s a lot of debate over these verses; some say that the sons of God are demons and some that they’re Seth’s children. Some say the daughters of men are just that, and others say that they’re Cain’s children. Some say the Nephilim are the mixture of Seth’s and Cain’s children and others say that they’re half-breed demons with unnatural size and ability.
While it makes for interesting study, I don’t think it really matters. If God had wanted us to know the exact nature of the Nephilim He would have told us. The main point seems to be that men all over the earth are full of evil because of the fall. Their identity isn’t as important as their actions:
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. 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."
Some understand this verse to say that God changed His mind: “He was sorry.” Yet we know that God is unchangeable: “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent; has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19).
The only conclusion then is that either (a) the Bible contradicted itself or (b) it needs more study. I don’t think it’s inappropriate to say that these verses show us God’s attitude towards man before executing judgment on them. He wasn’t surprised by man’s wickedness so that He had to change His plans, but He was grieved. That’s why this story isn’t a do-over story; it’s a story about how God judged the wicked men because their sin grieved Him.