The Corruption of Men and the Decree of God - Page 2 of 2 (series: Lessons on Genesis)
by John Lowe
Christ, as God, had by His Spirit inspired Enoch, Noah, and perhaps other prophets, to preach repentance to that generation—“if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others” (2 Pe. 2.5). God is longsuffering and He put up with them, waiting to be gracious, notwithstanding their rebellions; but the Lord, on this occasion, declared, “My spirit shall not always strive with man.” But in spite of His warning and that of their own consciences, He would finally leave them to be hardened by sin and ripened for destruction.(Mal. 3.6). Instead, it means that God was sorrowful. There are four more words in this passage that should be emphasized, and maybe you ought to hi-lite them in your Bible. “The wickedness of man was GREAT.” “EVERY imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only EVIL.” Only evil—that is all it was—and it was that way “CONTINUALLY.” These four words reveal the condition of the human family that was in the world at that time.
Humanity has a tremendous capacity. Man is fearfully and wonderfully made—that is a great truth many have lost sight of. The idea that man came from some protoplasm in a giant, cosmic garbage can or seaweed is utterly preposterous. It is the opinion of some scientists that evolution will be repudiated, and when it happens some people are going to look ridiculous. Evolution is nothing more than a theory as far as science is concerned and there is nothing conclusive about it. It is a philosophy and like any philosophy, it can be accepted or rejected.
What we have in verse 4, as I see it is this: Genesis is a book of Genealogies—it is a book of two family lines. The “sons of God” are the godly line who have come down from Adam through Seth, and the “daughters of men” belong to the line of Cain. What is happening here is an intermingling and intermarriage of these two lines, until finally the entire line is totally corrupted (well, not totally; there is one exception). That is the picture that is presented to us here.
5 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
God’s words concerning the human race are filled with sadness. People’s “wickedness” was “great,”and “every imagination (better, “plan”)” of their hearts was “only evil” continually—“every indication of his heart was evil from childhood” (Gen. 6.21). God had designed man—“the LORD God formed the man” (Ge. 2.7)—but man had taken that capacity for good that God had given him and produced only evil. It would be hard to find a stronger statement in the Bible about the sin of mankind. This verse gives insight into Jesus’ explanation that “in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage…” (Matt. 24.38)—seemingly a harmless statement until its context is studied. God was forgotten or openly defied by men who were “corrupt” and “full of violence”—“Now the earth was CORRUPT in God's sight and was FULL OF VIOLENCE. 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” (Ge. 6.11, 13).
The wordplays in verses 5-8 are striking. God “repented” that He had made man because the sin of man had “filled” Him “with pain.” God’s purposes and plans had failed to produce the precious fruit that had been anticipated, because sinful man had prevented their full fruition. The words “repented,” “pain,” and “filled” go back to chapters 3 and 5. Lamech longed for comfort from the painful toil under the curse (Ge. 5.29). Now God “repented” (“was grieved”) that He had made man because human sin pained Him (v. 6). This is why pain was brought into the world (according to some expositors)—God was “grieved” by sin. But now God, rather than comforting man, “repented” for making him. This gave an ironic twist to Lamech’s words. God decided to destroy them all. “Repented” does not suggest that God changed His mind, because He is “changeless”—"I the LORD do not change”
Observe the connection of these verses (5-8) with those that come before (1-4): the oppressors were mighty men and men of renown. God saw that the wickedness of man was great. The wickedness of a people must be truly great when there are notorious sinners who are men of renown among them. Things are bad when evil men are not only honored for their wickedness, and the vilest men exalted; wickedness is great, when great men are wicked. Their wickedness was great, abundant, and was committed in all places by all sorts of people. This was sin which was itself gross, heinous and infuriating; and was committed daringly, and in defiance of Heaven: nor was any attempt made to restrain or punish it by those who had the power to do so. There was no good to be found among them.
Even though swift judgment would fall because God’s Spirit would not always shield (“shield” may be better than “contend with,” verse 6.3). During this time Noah was “a preacher of righteousness”—“if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others” (2 Pe. 2.5). Although God was “grieved” by man’s sin, thank God He did not destroy everyone.
God is about to alter His visible procedure for dealing with man, from being merciful and longsuffering to show Himself to be a God of judgment; and since that impious race had filled up its measure of iniquity, he was about to release a terrible display of His justice—“When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong” (Eccl. 8.11). Noah was a recipient of God’s grace and therefore was spared the judgment (in contrast with those who aspired to immorality). In the time of Moses, Israel would know they were chosen by God and that they should live righteously. As God’s people they would meet the Nephilim, the Anakites—“We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim) (Num. 13.33)—and the Rephaites—“And the territory of Og king of Bashan, one of the last of the Rephaites, who reigned in Ashtaroth and Edrei” (Josh. 12.4)—when they entered the Promised Land. But Israel should not fear them as demigods. God would judge the corrupt world for its idolatry and fornication. And in the latter day the wicked will suddenly be swept away by judgment when God will establish His theocratic kingdom of blessing—“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” (Matt. 24.36-39).
Through it all, God’s love shown clearly, even when the rumblings of God’s judgment began to threaten the people of the earth. What an awful state of things, when only one man or one family of piety and virtue was all that remained among the professed sons of God. Only one man out of all the countless of multitudes then on the earth was fit to receive God’s grace. “But Noah found grace (favor, approval) in the eyes of the LORD.” The word “GRACE” means “acceptance” or “favor” or “approval” at least, and probably has a richer meaning. It was love and mercy in action. God, by extending mercy to Noah, signified that there was new life or new hope for mankind in the days ahead.