Summary: God’s judgment by flood calls all to humble repentance and humble dependence.
Many web sites explain, “All I Really Need to Know, I Learned from Noah’s Ark.” They contain wisdom like:
Plan ahead – it was not raining when Noah started.
1. Stay fit – when you are 600 years old someone might ask you to do something really big.
2. For safety’s sake, travel in pairs.
3. The woodpeckers inside are a larger threat than the storm outside.
4. Remember, amateurs built the ark; professionals built the Titanic.
5.Don’t miss the boat.
This morning we continue in Genesis, where many critical issues we face begin. I’m reading the first eight verses of chapter six: the beginning of judgment.
[Read Genesis 6.1-8. Pray.]
For her birthday, Rebekah asked that we repaint her room. Last week, she and I went to Sherwin-Williams to look at wallpaper borders and color schemes, and we soon found that no wallpaper collection is complete without a Noah’s ark theme: that cute little boat, barely wide enough for a few rabbits and chickens, and with the neck of the giraffe sticking out.
The silliness of the image started us talking about what would happen if the wallpaper had a real picture of Noah’s ark. You would see Noah and his family, tears mixed with the rain flooding down their cheeks as terrifying horrors unfold. Their homes and lands are destroyed, while animals and people drown by the billions. And those close enough to the ark beat on the door and plead for rescue. It is gruesome – no wonder we cleaned it up before pasting it to baby’s nursery! But wallpaper borders are not the only place judgment gets sanitized.
Gerald Mann does not believe in an eternal hell. He pastored a church in Texas which started in 1980 with 60 people, but grew to over ten thousand before he retired from preaching. Mann says, “We try to bring people to church who don’t like church. I know three things people want when they come to church: they want help, they want hope, they want home. How could a loving God make hell permanent? I know that doesn’t set well with some people – they want to smell some singed hair and some burning flesh.”
In the midst of his error, Gerald Mann fingers a good point. As fallen people, we find balance difficult. Some, of course, like Mann, reject eternal consequences for rebellion. Others, however, seem to relish it; not with godly grief over sin, but with gloating. Presumption and pride can combine to make us too glad at the destruction of the wicked.
We do well to remember Romans 11.22: “Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.” Paul prohibits either extreme. God’s kindness does not exclude judgment so as to make him harmless; but neither does his severity exclude mercy so as to make him harsh. Neither harmless nor harsh, but kind and severe, as seen perfectly in the cross, where love and justice flow mingled down.
These twin truths of kindness and severity first shine in the dark days of Noah. Mann is correct; people do want help, hope, and a home. We also want to escape the hell which is the just judgment due sin. The Bible calls the destruction of the world by water a sign, a type, a warning of a more terrible judgment to come, and Peter explains how these events reveal both kindness and severity.
2Peter 2.4-10a: “For if God… did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly;… then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.”
We dare not deny God’s wrath, even if doing so might grow the church. Instead, with sorrow over sin, we examine our own souls, while the promise of entering still stands, lest any fail to reach it, because we refused to accept the good news with faith. Please notice six truths about the kindness of severity of God revealed in his judgment during Noah’s days.
1. We Must Believe That Pride and Worldliness Will Be Judged (Genesis 6.1-4)
Bible scholars argue over the meaning of these verses. The least plausible answer seems to be that the “sons of God” were powerful, pagan kings who forced women into their harems. Although possibly supported by extra-Biblical texts, it seems an unlikely meaning for Moses.
Another idea is that the “sons of God” were fallen angels who possessed men’s bodies so that they could have relations with the “daughters of men.” This produced what A. W. Pink, called these beings “a race of monstrosities” people with super-human qualities, maybe even the “gods” of Greek and Roman mythology. Many in the early church held this opinion, as well as James Boice, and my mentor, Michael Ross.