Think of someone you know who has stood up for God despite the pressure from those around them. Give thanks for and pray for that person.
Wickedness in the world
6 When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, ‘My Spirit will not contend with humans for ever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.’
4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days – and also afterwards – when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.
5 The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. 6 The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. 7 So the Lord said, ‘I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created – and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground – for I regret that I have made them.’ 8 But Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord.
Noah and the flood
9 This is the account of Noah and his family.
Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. 10 Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.
11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. 13 So God said to Noah, ‘I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. 14 So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. 15 This is how you are to build it: the ark is to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high. 16 Make a roof for it, leaving below the roof an opening one cubit high all around. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks. 17 I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark – you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. 19 You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. 20 Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. 21 You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.’
22 Noah did everything just as God commanded him.
First there is some strange business between the sons of God and daughters of men. Maybe semi-angelic offspring, not exactly reproducing according to their kinds. Whatever Genesis 6:1–4 is about precisely (and it has always been an obscure passage, even in ancient times), it seems to trigger God’s recognition of the wickedness of the whole world (v 5).
The situation is so serious that God wishes he had not made humankind, all except for the righteous Noah, apparently (vs 6–8). He decides to send a flood. The extent of God’s decision to undo his creative work is extraordinary, and is based on God seeing that the human heart was continually evil and wicked (v 5). It is as if the flood is God’s decision to repay destruction for destructiveness, although we will see soon that it does not end that way.
Meanwhile Noah faithfully builds an ark, for reasons he could not really understand. The idea that faithfulness sometimes means obedience to commands that do not always make sense is one important strand of the biblical story. The commands make sense to God. Sometimes our job is simply to follow them.
Are there situations in your life where you wonder if God is asking you to say ‘no’ to sin or the evil in the world? Pray for the courage to take a stand for God.
Deeper Bible study
‘The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind.’1
God regrets creating humans and, given their level of depravity, violence and wickedness and the continual nature of it (v 5), he considers that the only solution is to wipe them out. In fact, he intends to destroy all living creatures (v 7). BUT Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord (v 8). God cannot quite do it – not while there is one righteous man on earth. When chapter 5 retells the story of the creation of humans, it misses out Cain (Abel is also excluded, but Seth is seen as replacing him). By Chapter 6, however, wickedness cannot be airbrushed out by omitting one man; instead, only one man is righteous – Noah – and a complete restart is needed.
After his second assertion that he will destroy everything that has breath, God tells Noah that he will establish a covenant with him (v 18). This is the first covenant in the Bible. Covenants are binding and often hard to keep (marriage is the covenant with which we are most familiar), but they provide security for a relationship that may stretch the limits. Does God make a covenant with Noah to bind himself? He will destroy the world but will put in place a promise that prevents him from doing so again, however evil the world gets. At the moment, we do not hear what the covenant is, but Noah’s salvation seems to be the first step.
It is the stuff of horror stories. Someone keeps a sample of the poison/pollutant/alien and you know that, because not everything has been destroyed, the problem will, at some point, emerge again. We know that restarting from Noah is not going to work and restarting with Abraham will not work. There is only one solution for sin – the cross.
‘On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, / The emblem of suffering and shame, / … where the dearest and best / For a world of lost sinners was slain.’2
1Jer 17:9,10, NASB 2 George Bennard, 1873 – 1958
Bible in a year
Read the Bible in a year: Genesis 26,27; Acts 10
Pray for Scripture Union
Local mission partner Engage in Woking asks us to pray that more volunteers will come and help with the schools work they do, to help with assemblies, youth work and new opportunities and activities as they move into the new year.