Sin, Judgement, and an Ark
Scripture: Genesis 6:1–22
Sin, Judgment, and an ArkGenesis 6:1-22
Sunday, April 7, 2013
Pastor Randy Smith
We all know of him, but what comes to mind when you think of the biblical figure by the name of Noah? If we have grown up in the church, we probably envision an ark that can be painted on a wall with a few well-known animals with disproportionate heads sticking out of the windows. And often somewhere represented on the mural is an old man with a long white beard. Noah's Ark - a cute story for children's coloring books, but can it have any application for adults in this fast-paced, technological, God-rejecting age in which we dwell? Furthermore, are we to really believe that a man named Noah lived, and moreover, was there was a worldwide flood in which only he and his family survived?
Today we will see what the Scriptures have to say about Noah as we consider the three topics that are addressed in Genesis chapter 6 - sin, judgment and an Ark - also our three points for today's sermon.
THE WAY IT WAS THEN…
1. The Reality of Sin (verses 1-6, 11-12)
Let's begin with the first point, "The Reality of Sin." Not a pleasant subject, but we need to begin there to appreciate the greatness of God. You see, we always need to first understand who we are in light of who God is.
For instance, when I fly I have always traveled coach. That's not an easy prospect for a guy that is 6'4" and weighs 230 pounds! I can barely fit in the seat and the worst thing I would imagine is if the flight attendant required me to wear my backpack while I was traveling. I would be miserable. However, if I later found out that it was not my backpack, but rather a parachute because the plane was about to crash, I would be very thankful for my situation. I would gladly embrace the parachute. It would mean my physical salvation.
Likewise, if we believe God is lucky to have us or we are basically good people or God is not serious about holiness, we will not have any need for His means of spiritual salvation whether it is physically through means of an ark back then or spiritually through a Person named Jesus Christ today. We will reject it. Moreover, we will feel uncomfortable over the mere suggestion of it.
So if you ever wondered about God assessment of humanity, the only assessment that matters, we need to look no further than Genesis 6.
The chapter starts off in verse 2 by identifying two groups of people living in the land. You see it there? "The sons of God" and the "daughters of men." These people cohabitate and many scholars propose produce the "Nephilim" that are spoken of in verse 4 who obviously perished in the flood. Books have been written as to the interpretation of this situation. Without going into great detail, here is what we can be relatively confident of.
First, there are two commonly held interpretations of identifying these two groups. The "sons of God" are considered to be angelic beings, namely demons in physical form or demon possessed people who have relations with beautiful human women in an effort, like Satan himself (as we already saw in chapter 3) to thwart God's plan. The other interpretation would asset that the "sons of God" were godly men, most likely in the line of Seth, who compromised their faith and took for themselves pagan women ("the daughters of men") as wives, most likely in the line of Cain. Similar to today, professing Christians more concerned with the outward features of their potential spouse than the person's heart and devotion to the Lord.
And the second point we can definitely all agree upon, regardless of our interpretation of the first point, is the reality that sin was ramped in the world. I believe that is our Lord's primary point of this section and that is an extremely important point to remember as we move into the flood and the ark. We will not embrace the flood narrative if we fail to first embrace the sin narrative.
So, before we get beyond this point, allow me to elaborate it and support it from the passage. Look with me at 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."
I'd like to say it was a happy ending after Adam and Eve fell for the temptation in the Garden. We know that was not the case. Sin entered and it is here to stay. There was marital disharmony - chapter 3. Murder among family members - chapter 4. Societal dysfunction - chapter 4. And a whole lot of death - chapter 5. This continued for 1,600 years until the time of Noah - amazing for all that time there was nothing praiseworthy to discuss! The world was a mess and the world was a mess because people were a mess. In verse 5 the Lord said the "wickedness of man" was "great." And it's not the outward actions of the people that the Lord merely has in mind. The verse starts off by saying "the Lord saw" with His penetrating eyes of omniscience. Unlike us, God has the ability (as it says in the verse) to see the "heart" and it is the heart that our Lord ultimately judges. And what was in man's heart according to verse 5? Hearts that had "evil…intent[s]…continually!"
If you need more evidence, the predicament is repeated in verses 11 and 12. "Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence. God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth." Violence. Corruption - the word is mentioned three times for emphasis. The command was to be "fruitful and multiply" (Gen. 1:28) to fill the earth as image bearers of the living God. All man did back then was fill the earth with violence. God "saw" all he made (Gen. 1:31) and said it was "very good." Now God saw all He made (Gen. 6:11) and said it was very "corrupt."
This narrative comes to us from God's perspective. Soon it will shift to Noah's perspective, but before we move on, we need to see this situation as God sees this situation. He created people in His mage (Gen. 1:26-27) for the primary intent of appreciating His holiness, imitating His holiness and reflecting His holiness to the world. What does God do when those whom He created for His glory are no longer functioning for that intended purpose? How should a holy God respond to evil actions that intentionally seek to violate His Word?
We see two responses from God that oftentimes as humans we find incompatible. Judgment will come. We will get to that in moment. In His holiness, God must execute justice upon sin. He would be a lousy Judge of the world if He didn't. But way we also see according to verse 6 is grief. "The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart."
This is not saying that God has changed His mind (Num. 23:19; 1 Sam. 15:29). This is just saying that though God exists outside of time and is perfect in all His actions and has an ultimate purpose that will always stand, yet the responses of man; whether for good or bad always bring a response to His heart. And when we turn our backs on Him, His heart is broken. It is grieved. What an incredible and personal God we serve!
Consider a judge. What does he do when he is forced to decide a case where a young man violently kills another individual in cold-blooded murder? We all know the result of those actions would incur a lengthy jail sentence, possibly even the death penalty. But let's pretend the young man was the judge's son. Would he be more grieved in his heart over the actions? I think so! But should the fact that the young man was his son affect in any way the sentence he determines? It shouldn't! Grief and judgment show him to be a good judge with a sensitive heart. That's God and that comes in us because we are made in His image.
2. The Revelation of Judgment (verses 7, 13, 17)
Let's move to the second point, "The Revelation of Judgment." It is an unmistakable theological truth clearly revealed from cover to cover in the Bible: God must punish every sin. There will be a final day of judgment. There is a place called hell for those who persist in disobedience. Yet what we oftentimes do is dismiss the concept of an eternal place of judgment and then dismiss the concept of justice because of a "Santa Claus" theology or a "God doesn't care" theology because it appears that people are on a regular basis are rejecting God and getting away with their sinful choices. Let's remember that just because God's justice is delayed does not mean that God's justice is ignored! Because of our sin, we deserve to be struck dead on the spot, but all the more evidence of a God who is patient with sinners and longsuffering until they embrace Him. There will be an end-time judgment of all sin, but we do see times in biblical history when God's forbearance runs dry (and I'd say 1,600 is a lot of forbearance) and judgment is executed. And that is exactly what we see in in this account. Let's remember that all sinners die as a result of the curse. There are just times when God speeds up the process a little.
Verse 7 reads, "The 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.'" In speaking to Noah, God said in verse 13, "The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth [not a local flood; cf. 2 Pet. 3:6]." And then again in verse 17, "Behold, I, even I am bringing the flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life, from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall perish."
So God is patient with the world for 1,600 years. Then as we just saw, He saves Noah and explains to Noah what would transpire. So how long was it between Noah's calling and warning about the flood and the actual flood itself? I believe according to verse 3 that it was 120 years. So did God warn the people for these 120 years? Yes, it was through the preaching of Noah. In the New Testament, 2 Peter 2:5, we read, "[God] did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly." Did you hear that? I believe for 120 years, Noah was a "preacher of righteousness." For 120 years he told the people to repent and for all of that time all this preacher had was seven family members in his church! What do the church growth gurus do with that? Imagine his church directory? For 120 years it consisted of one page with four families all sharing the same last name! Noah preached God's righteousness. He warned of upcoming destruction. And people rejected God's message. I'd say God was very patient!
3. The Remedy of an Ark (verses 8-10, 14-16, 18-22)
So the flood is coming and the warnings were consistent, but God in His mercy, as He always does, provides a remedy. In this case it was called, "an ark," our third point.
Look with me at verse 8. In the midst of the wickedness, we read that "Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD." So why did Noah find favor in the eyes of the LORD? Most would say because he was more righteous that everybody? Perhaps he was, but there is no indication of that in the biblical text. We'll read about his righteousness soon, but all of that occurs after he found God's favor!
I believe this is a clear example of grace - specifically, God's sovereign grace in the life of a believer. Even if Noah lived a moral life that exceeded all the wicked sinners of his day, He was still a sinner and he deserved the same judgment as all the others. We may look at it from a human perspective and conclude that so-called moral people deserve grace, but anything deserved cannot be called grace and from God's perspective, Noah fell into the same depraved category as the rest of the world! Furthermore, often the works-driven moral people (like the Pharisees) are more depraved because they are found trusting in their own righteousness. Oftentimes God will call the worst so you know who got the job done! You heard my story from last week. I was not looking for God as a college student on Bourbon Street at Mardi Gras. It was rather that God found me. He gets all the glory. We take credit for nothing. Undeserved favor. That is the essence of grace.
And then when God does get ahold of our hearts, there is evidence of His power seen in daily transformation of a life that now seeks to live for His glory. That is why we read a verse later that "Noah was a righteousness man" (Eze. 14:14, 20) and Noah was "blameless in his time" and "Noah walked with God."
In verse 10 we learn that Noah had three sons: "Shem, Ham and Japheth." Here is a side note for the dads. How did these guys come to live a holy life? Well, obviously God's favor, but even with God's favor, that does not negate human responsibility. Two keys right from our passage. Ready dads? One, live and preach righteousness to your kids like Noah did. And number two, keep them busy in good things away from the daily six hours on the X-Box and umpteen hours in front of You-Tube videos. For 120 years he was probably dragging these guys out of bed to help build the ark!
The specific command is given to Noah in verses 14-16: "Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with rooms, and shall cover it inside and out with pitch. This is how you shall make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits [450 feet long - that is 1and a half football fields!], its breadth fifty cubits [75 feet wide], and its height thirty cubits [45 feet tall]. 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." The boat was definitely not built for speed. It was built for stability to survive a worldwide cataclysmic flood as a rescue capsule.
According to verse 18, on the boat will be his wife, his sons and their wives. Verse 19, Noah was also commanded to take a male and female of every living animal on the boat. How did Noah gather all of them? Verse 20 says they "will come to you." We've seen animals migrate with exact precision. How did they all fit in the ark? A boat this size would have been 1.4 million cubic feet. It could have housed 522 modern railroad cars that have been estimated to be enough to hold 125,000 sheep. Considering many of the animals were smaller than sheep and many larger ones (like the dinosaurs) could have been babies, this would not have been a problem as people with too much time on their hands have calculated. Verse 21, they were also told to pack along some food.
Most significantly is verse 22, "Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did." People who receive God's grace always give evidence by their obedience (Eph. 2:8-10). Noah was righteous in his heart and it was outwardly seen his righteous actions. God gave him a command and He fulfilled it! He took God at His word when God said, "Do this!" Let's remember my friends, Noah lived in the desert. He never experienced a flood, much less rain! He persevered in his labor for 120 years building a boat. There is no indication that money and supplies rained down from heaven. He searched high and low for the necessary materials and no doubt made tremendous sacrifices in time and finances along the way. And possibly worst of all was the ridicule. Imagine his teenage sons and the attacks they took at the Jr. High lunch table. What did his neighbors think when he was building a boat the size of the Queen Mary in his backyard! Yet Noah kept building in obedience regardless of the coast and Noah kept preaching righteousness to a godless population that not only rejected his message, but probably thought the guys was out of his mind! What obedience! What incredible faith! The New Testament writer gives Noah a place in the Hall of Faith: "By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith" (Heb. 11:7).
THE WAY IT IS NOW…
Briefly, before we go to the Lord's Table, how does all of this apply to us today? Romans 15:4, "For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope."
1. The Reality of Sin
Are the people today holier than the people back then? Are there more people now seeking God? I don't think so. We are just as depraved and we will be right up to our Lord's Second Coming. It is simply a world living without God being number one in their lives. In talking about His return our Lord, Jesus Christ (giving affirmation of the historical person of Noah), said, "For the coming of the Son of Man 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 all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be" (Mt. 24:37-39).
2. The Revelation of Judgment
We get outraged when someone offends us; however, our offenses against God are much worse. So we cry for justice when we are offended, but look down upon God when He executes a perfect and righteous justice on His offenders.
There will be a final future judgment on the world. The Bible promises it. However this time it will not be by water (Gen. 9:15), but by fire (2 Pet. 3:10-12). Judgment for sin is coming, but you have an opportunity as long as you have breath for mercy.
3. The Remedy of an Ark
As God provided a remedy from His wrath in the ark, you can find that same salvation from His wrath in the One foreshadowed by the ark, Jesus Christ. Jesus took sin upon Himself at the cross and was punished for it in the sinner's place. John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish [in God's judgment - almost flood-like language], but have eternal life."
1 Peter 3:20 recalls the disobedience of Noah's day "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." Through Jesus, the One that came forth from the genealogy of Noah (Lk. 3:36), we can again be rescued safely from the judgment of God. In Christ, nothing will ever be able to sink us!
And if you are in Christ Jesus, is there evidence in your life that you, like Noah, have received God's grace and are walking with God? Are you blameless and are you faithfully persevering in spiritual service unto Him, despite the ridicule, lack of encouragement and physical strain?