The Days of Noah

Genesis 6

Alan Lewis
Elon, North Carolina
December 2014

We have been studying the first eleven chapters of Genesis.  So far, we have looked at two main topics.  We looked at the topic of CREATION and we looked at the FALL.  Today, we come to a third topic, the topic of the FLOOD.  This is not just a children’s story, it actually happened.  It was the greatest catastrophe in history.

God wiped out the whole human race with a year-long mountain covering flood of water.  He completely destroyed the entire race, with the exception of one family. Genesis spends three chapters dealing with the Flood (Genesis 6-8).

Today, we want to look at the world before the Flood, the pre-Flood world, the antediluvian world.  What was it like?  You might be surprised.  It was a strange world.  The atmosphere was different.  The geography was different.  There was only one race on the planet speaking only one language.  We know that from Genesis 11.

People lived longer than they do today.  Some lived eight or nine hundred years.  Most of us cannot make it to one hundred today.  It was also a world inhabited by giants.

It was a developed society.  There were musical instruments.  There was writing.  Genesis 5 speaks of “the book of the generations of Adam” (Genesis 5:1 KJV, ESV).  They had some technology (metal tools).

People who lived before the Flood were not primitive cavemen.  Lamech’s kids were extremely creative.  One invented musical instruments (Genesis 4:21).  Jubal invented two different kinds of instruments – stringed instruments (harp) and woodwind instruments (flute).  Tubal-Cain made tools out of iron and bronze (Genesis 4:22).

Pre-Flood civilizations were technologically advanced.  There were iron tools before the Flood.  There were musical instruments before the Flood.  Not everything that came from the Cainites was bad.  They produced some good tools.  The Cainites were good with technology but they were also extremely wicked.  Technologically, they were advanced.  Morally, they were primitive.

In some ways, this world was different from the world in which we live and in some ways it was very similar.  It was a world known for its wickedness.  Jesus said, “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37 KJV)

Today, we will be looking at Genesis 6. It is a strange chapter. It is a difficult chapter. It is one of the wildest chapters in the Bible.

Interesting Questions

This chapter raises all kinds of hard questions.  How could God kill everyone on the planet?  Is it even fair to drown babies in a flood? Why did He kill all those animals? What crime did they commit?  How could a loving God destroy the world?  Skeptics of the Bible hate this story. This chapter raises many more questions.

How did Noah get all the animals onto the ark? How did they all fit on the ark? Where did all of the rain come from?  How can God repent?  God repents in this chapter, at least in the KJV.  That is something that man usually does.  Man does not repent in this chapter but God does (Genesis 6:7).  How could God repent?

Who are the sons of God?  The identity of the sons of God involves some controversy. Who are these pre-Flood giants?[1] Who are the Nephilim?  Where did they come from?  It is strange to picture a time when giants roamed the earth.

Many do not translate the word.  Many versions just give us the Hebrew word nephilim (NIV, ESV, NASB) in Genesis 6:4.  Who are the Nephilim?  What are they?  Are they extra-terrestrials?  Are there any Nephilim today?

Do any modern-day Nephilim exist today?  Many sermons on Genesis 6 do not say anything about the Nephilim.  Many go to seminary and are not taught anything about the Nephilim.  This is a disturbing chapter.

The Sin of Man

Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence (Genesis 6:11 NIV)

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” (Genesis 6:5 NIV).

The world in which we live today is wicked.  We have a holocaust, genocide, the beheading of children, suicide bombers and people flying planes into buildings. We see soldiers intentionally targeting innocent women and children, bombing hospitals and pregnant women.

It may be hard to believe but Genesis 6 describes something even worse.  It describes a world in which EVERY inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was ONLY evil ALL THE TIME.  It describes a world full of violence, high crime, sexual deviance and demonic activity. It is one of the darkest chapters in the Bible.

It describes a world with MORE demonic activity than we see in our world today.  This chapter not only describes the sin of people but the sins of angels.  It describes demons mating with humans producing a demon seed, a hybrid offspring (a demonic/human hybrid).

It describes a world so wicked that there were no righteous people in it, except for one, Noah and his family.  Today, we have godly people all over the world in every country and in every race but in Noah’s day, he was the only one.

Genesis 6:5 is one of the strongest statements on total depravity and human wickedness in the entire Bible.  It is probably also a little hyperbole.  It does not mean that every second of every hour of every day, everyone on the planet did evil and nothing but evil and that everyone was as bad as they possibly could be all of the time.

The point is that mankind at this point was so wicked and so depraved that the only solution was total annihilation.

Genesis 6:5 is the exact opposite of Genesis 1:31. Before God looked at the earth and saw that everything was not only good, it was very good.  Now God looks at the earth and everything is evil all of the time.

Two sins are mentioned in the pre-Flood world.  The first was SEXUAL LUST Genesis 6:2).  Notice what they did.  Watch the two verbs.  Genesis 6 says that these sons of God SAW these beautiful women and TOOK any that they wanted as their wives.” The women did not seem to have much say in the matter.

The second was VIOLENCE (Genesis 6:11, 13). We are told that two times in the chapter.  The earth is said to be “full of violence” (Genesis 6:11) and “filled with violence” (Genesis 6:13). The Hebrew word for “violence” is hamas (the name of a Muslim terrorist organization).

Proverbs 13:2 says “the unfaithful have an appetite for violence” (NIV). They love violence. They crave violence.  Our entertainment industry glorifies violence. There is Hamas in our world and there was hamas before the flood.

Proverbs 6:16-17 says, “There are six things the Lord HATES, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil.

The Sin of Angels

In this chapter, we not only see the sins of people but of angels.  Genesis 6:1-2 says, “When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose” (NIV).

We know who the daughters of man are.  They are human daughters.  Who are “the sons of God”?  We often read this as Christians and think that this must just be talking about people.  The NT describes believers as children of God or sons of God.

Paul says that “we are all sons of God by faith in Christ” (Galatians 3:26).  I John 3:1 says, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!”

John 1:12 says, “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”  There is only one problem.  Those passages were written in Greek.  Genesis 6 was written in Hebrew.

The Hebrew words for “sons of God” (bene elohim) are used five times in the OT.  It is used two times in Genesis (6:2, 4) and three times in Job (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7). It is NEVER used of people.[3] Every other time in the OT that this phrase is used it ALWAYS refers to angels.

The ancient Jewish view holds that bene elohim refers to fallen angels who married human women.[4] In fact, the Greek translation of the OT written in the third century BC translated bene elohim as άγγελος.

The children that were born from this relationship were called nephilim in Hebrew.  They were the result of this union of demons and human women.  The result was a race of giants.

Why did the demons do this?  They wanted to ruin the human race to prevent the birth of the Messiah.  Their goal was to genetically alter the human race.  This was the unpardonable sin before the Flood.  That sin combined with human wickedness led to the Flood.

Who Exactly Were the Nephilim?

We are able to deduce four things about the Nephilim from Genesis 6.

1) They were not angels.

They were the children of the “sons of God and the daughters of men.”

2) They were tall.

They are called giants (6:4 KJV, LXX, Vulgate). In I Enoch 7:3 these giants were said to be three hundred cubits tall, the same size as the ark (Genesis 6:15 KJV).

That would be four hundred and fifty feet tall.  I Enoch is obviously an exaggeration.  The point is that these Nephilim were huge.  They were not just basketball players (who are only about seven feet tall).

3) They were strong.

Apparently, these Nephilim could fight.  They were famous warriors.  They are called mighty men.  They were famous in the antediluvian world.

4) They were all destroyed in the Flood.

Some of the spies thought they saw some descendants of the Nephilim who lived before the Flood (Numbers 13:33) but they were all destroyed.  Giants are not limited to the Nephilim.

This interpretation of the sons of God seems too crazy to believe but the NT actually confirms it.

II Peter 2:4-5 tells us that some angels committed a sin during the time of Noah.  It doesn’t say what the sin was but it does say that it was so bad that God locked them up and threw them in chains of darkness.  That cannot be talking about the original fall of Satan because those angels who sinned were not locked up.

They run around as demons causing trouble today but this group of demons was so wicked that God locked them up. Jude mentions a similar group of angels that committed a sin and was locked up in chains of darkness and he tells us what sin they committed.  It was something like the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah.

And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.” (Jude 6-7)

Here, Jude makes a parallel between the sin of the angels and the sin of the Sodomites.  Apparently both were sexual in nature.  Both groups tried to transgress their God-appointed boundaries.

Jude 7 begins with the words “in the same way”.  The men of Sodom wanted to have sex with angels in Genesis 19 (the two visitors to Lot’s house).  The angels in Genesis 6 wanted to have sex with humans in Genesis 6. In both cases, it was an unnatural sin.

There are many objections to this view.  They say that it is IMPOSSIBLE for a number of reasons.  Angels in the Bible do not have physical bodies.  Since they do not have bodies, they do not have DNA.

They are spirits and as Jesus said, “a spirit does not have flesh and bones” (Luke 24:39).  They are sexless.  Since they are immaterial spirits, they cannot marry.  They cannot have sex and they cannot reproduce.  All of this is true but they can materialize human bodies.  They can also possess people.[5]

One Godly Man

In this dark chapter, there is one tiny ray of hope.  It is Noah.  We are told something amazing in this chapter.  Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God (Genesis 6:9 NIV).

We think it is impossible today to live a holy life in our modern world.  We face too many temptations every day.  In the midst of the most wicked atmosphere in history, Noah walked with God.  No matter how wicked the world is, we can still live righteous lives.  In fact the darker it is, the more the light shines brighter.

When no one else on the planet was doing it, Noah walked with God.  When it was unpopular, Noah walked with God.  Noah wasn’t perfect. The KJV is a little misleading here.  It says, “Noah was a just man and PERFECT in his generations” (Genesis 6:9 KJV) but this is better translated blameless.

We will see that at the end of the Flood.  Noah is drunk and naked.  He wasn’t perfect but he was righteous, and he lived a righteous life in the midst of unimaginable wickedness.

In Genesis 6, we see three things.  We see the DEPRAVITY of man (every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time). We have looked at this.

In this chapter, we see the JUDGMENT of God.  God says, “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.” (Genesis 6:7 NIV)

Is that fair?  Yes. God created the world and He has the right to destroy it but we need to notice two things here.  One, God He does not destroy the earth arbitrarily. He does it because the earth is completely wicked and deserves judgment.  This is very different from the account of the Flood in the creation myths.

In the Babylonian account, the gods sent a flood because people were making too much noise on earth and the gods couldn’t sleep.  The gods in the creation myths are glorified humans.  In the creation myths, the gods were created in man’s image, rather than man created in God’s image.  Genesis presents a very different picture.

Two, God did not destroy the earth immediately.  Skeptics see God as a sadistic being with a short temper who likes to torture his creatures.  They see a God who overreacts and kills everyone, not only people but innocent animals who did not do anything wrong[2].  That is not at all what is going on in this chapter.

In this chapter, God does NOT look down from heaven and see the wickedness of man and say, “That is it.  I am going to wipe everyone out right now”.  That is what I would have done, if I were God. Instead, God says, “The world is totally screwed up.  I am going to give it one hundred and twenty years” (Genesis 6:3).

I Peter 3:19 says, “to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built” (NIV).

The Bible teaches that God is SLOW TO ANGER.  He is not quick to get angry and we should not be quick to get angry.  Psalm 103:8 says, “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.

In this chapter, we also see the GRACE of God.  Noah found GRACE in the eyes of the LORD (Genesis 6:8 KJV).

While everyone else on the planet found divine condemnation and judgment, we are told that “Noah found GRACE in the eyes of the LORD.”  What does that mean?  What does it mean to find grace in this context?

The rest of the planet found judgment for their sins.  Noah found grace.  He was still a sinner but he found grace.  It was grace that saved his life.  Noah was saved by grace.  God did not give Noah what he deserved.  He received grace.

That is the first time that the word grace is found in the Bible.  Grace is not just found in the NT, it is found in the OT.  Noah was not only preserved physically, he was also given a special prophecy.  He did not reveal this to anyone else, only to Noah. God told him in advance exactly what He was going to do.  He learned it by direct revelation.

Even though Noah was the recipient of grace, he was still given some commands but those commands were for his own good.  Those commands saved his life.  The same is true of us today.  We are saved by grace but that does not mean that we can do whatever we want.

God told Noah to do some things.  The whole planet was in danger.  Imminent death was approaching.  God told him exactly what he needed to do to escape the Flood.  He told him to build an ark and he told him how to do it but God did not build it for him. Noah had to build it.

He told Noah the precise dimensions of the ark.  He told him what kind of wood to use (gopher wood).  No one knows what kind of wood that was but it was apparently some type of hard wood.

God gave Noah the blueprints to the ark.  He did not have to come up with those on his own.  Noah didn’t design it himself.  God told him how long it was to be, how wide it was to be and how tall it was to be.  He told him what animals were to be brought on the ark and how many.

He told him how to seal it against leaks in order to waterproof it (6:14).  He told him what he was to put in the ark.  The chapter ends with the words, Noah did EVERYTHING just as God commanded him (Genesis 6:22 NIV)

Noah didn’t try to be creative and build it a different way.  He did not try to improvise.  He built the ark EXACTLY the way God instructed him to do.  It became the most important building project in history.

Noah was motivated by faith but he was also motivated by fear.  By FAITH Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent FEAR constructed an ark for the saving of his household (Hebrews 11:7 ESV).

If he did not do it exactly what God told him to do, he would have died along with everyone else.  None of us would be here today, if Noah didn’t build the ark. The seven billion people in the world today would not be here either.

[1] Genesis 6:4 KJV

[2] Animals are affected by the sin of man (Romans 8:22).

[3] People can be called “sons of God” even in the OT.  Psalm 82:6 speaks of “sons of the Most High” and Hosea 1:10 speaks of “sons of the living God” but the wording used in Genesis 6 is only used of angels.

[4] I Enoch 6-7; Jubilees 5:1-2; Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews

[5] A common view is that the sons of God refers to people, not angels and that the only sin committed in Genesis 6:1-2 was the sin of mixed marriages (the marriage of Sethites to wicked Cainites).

This view holds that mixed marriages caused the destruction of the world.  Of course, mixed marriages (the marriage of a believer and unbeliever) is never good.  Believers are not to be yoked together with unbelievers but that is NOT what Genesis 6 is talking about.  That is clear for a number of reasons.

First, the phrase “sons of God” is NEVER used of men in the OT.

Second, mixed marriages do not result in the birth of giants.

Third, the punishment does not fit the crime.  Universal annihilation seems a little harsh just for mixed marriages, especially since this was not something that God had forbidden yet.

Four, even if sons of God are used of people, nowhere in the Bible does the phrase “sons of God” mean Sethite and nowhere does the phrase “daughters of men” mean Cainite.  Genesis 6 says that the sons of God married the daughters of men.  It does NOT say that the sons of Seth married the daughters of Cain.

Five, this mixed marriage only goes one way.  Seth’s son’s marry Cain’s daughters whoever they chose.  It does not say that Cain’s sons married any of Seth’s daughters.  If it is a sin of mixed marriage, why is only one way?  Were all of Seth’s daughters ugly?

One Response to The Days of Noah

  1. Yahweh flooded the Earth because he was angry at his creations, the humans, for furthering themselves from him. The worldly destruction was a power move made by the Protagonist to show he could easily rid the Earth of evil. Alan Lewis, author of the article, “Lessons from the Flood,” believes that while Yahweh wanted to diminish the sin of man, he wanted to show that he could easily do so. Lewis states, “The point is that mankind at this point was so wicked and so depraved that the only solution was total annihilation.” The Hebrew Yahweh needed to show he was the sovereign Lord-with-capital-L. The Hebrew people keep this story as a reminder of how much they are truly at Yahweh’s mercy.

    The story of Noah’s ark is also one of forgiveness and redemption. If Yahweh truly wanted to destroy evil for good, he would have let Noah and his family perish with the others. God even acknowledges that man is born evil; therefore, he will never flood the Earth again due to the nature of man. Yahweh has forgiven mankind and is allowing them to continue, just with a clean slate. Bill Jahns, author of the article “Lessons From the Flood of Noah,” believes the flood narrative has been passed down through the ages due to its lesson of faith. He claims that Noah preached for up to 120 years before the flood, trying to convince others to repent. Noah build an ark because he believed his Yahweh, our Protagonist, told him to. In the end, it was Noah and his family (and all the critters) that were saved due to their faith in Yahweh. The Hebrew people keep this story as a reminder of the Protagonist’s love for those who are faithful to him.

    Building off this lesson of faith, Rabbi Dr. Norman Soloman, author of the article “The Torah’s Version of the Flood Story,” believes the flood narrative is one of compassion. Genesis 7:16 states, “And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him. And the Lord shut him in” (ESV). Since Noah followed the orders of the Protagonist, the Protagonist decided to shut the doors himself, letting Noah know he was safe. Yahweh blesses Noah and his family with the covenant that he would never flood the Earth again and that every animal would be available to Noah and his family.

    It’s easy to get lost in the question of was Noah’s feat even possible, yet we must look past that towards the main reason of the flood narrative: that the Hebrew people saw it as a story of significance. Compare it to one of Aesop’s fables, if you will. There is a lesson to learn within all the cubic-metres and unclean animals. Yahweh wanted to show that he was a powerful yet loving creator.

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