Lessons from the Flood

Genesis 6

Alan Lewis
Elon, North Carolina
December 2014

We have been 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.  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).  We will be looking at chapter 6 today.

This chapter is very controversial.  It raises all kinds of interesting questions.  How could God kill everyone on the planet?  Is that even fair to drown babies in a flood?  Why did He kill all of those animals?  What crime did they commit?  How could a loving God destroy the world?  Skeptics of the Bible hate this story. How did get all of those animals onto the ark?

How did they all fit on the ark? Where did all of the rain come from?  Who are the sons of God?  The identity of the sons of God involves some controversy. Who are these pre-Flood giants?[1] 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 6:4.  Who are the Nephilim?  Are they extra-terrestrials?  What are they?  Are there any Nephilim today?  Do any modern-day Nephilim exist today?  You are going to learn some advanced material today.  Much of this you will be hearing for the first time.  There are many pastors that do not know who the Nephilim are.  Many go to seminary and are not taught anything about the Nephilim.

Another question that comes from this chapter is, 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; God does (6:7).  How could God repent?  These are provocative questions.

Genesis 6, as we will see, is one of the wildest chapters in the whole Bible.  I am going to share with you some things you may not have heard before and probably will not believe, because it sounds too crazy to be true. There is some disturbing stuff in this chapter.  The depravity of man is disturbing.  It is disturbing to see how depraved people are.

It is disturbing, even today to read about some horrible atrocity that man has committed.  God’s response to that depravity may be disbursing to some.  What the sons of God so is also disturbing.  Here you have demons mating with humans producing a hybrid offspring (a demonic/human hybrid).

Today, I want to look at some lessons we learn from this chapter.  This chapter tells us some important things about God.  What do we learn about God from the Flood?

1) God is a personal being.

God is a person.  God is not a force, He is a real person.  This God had a relationship with Noah and with Enoch.  They walked with God.  God spoke to Noah (6:13).

This chapter does not describe a God who is not involved in this world.  It does not describe a God who created the world and walked away from it.  It describes a real person.  He has real emotions.  He can be grieved.  His heart was deeply troubled (6:6 NIV).  God is not just grieved when other people sin.  He is grieved when we sin.  That is why Ephesians 4:30 tells Christians, “Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit”.

The NIV reads, “The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth” (6:6).  Does this mean that God is not perfect?  Does it mean that God makes mistakes?  No.  If that was the case, he would not have saved Noah and then told Noah and his sons to reproduce and fill the earth if He did not want to have humans on the planet anymore.

God was not the one who made the mistake.  He was not the one who sinned.  He created man perfect.  Man was the one who sinned.  God knew in advance that this would take place but still had an emotional reaction to it because He is a real person.  This is just another way of saying that he will destroy humans on the earth.

One objection that skeptics have here is this: Why did God grieve over man’s wickedness that if He is omniscient and knew this would take place in the first place? Why grieve about something that you know would happen anyway. We all know that our parents and loved ones will die one day but we still grieve over it.  Even Jesus did this.  He wept when he came to Lazarus’ tomb.

2) God sees everything we do.

God is omniscient.  He sees everything that happens in the world.  Genesis 6:5 says, “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.” God saw all of the crime and atrocity that took place on the earth.

“Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence.  God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways.” (6:11-12).  God did not just see their actions, He saw their thoughts.  He saw what they were thinking (6:5).

Even when we think that some people may get away with what they do, God sees it all.  You can hide things from men but not from God.  God saw everything on the earth.  He saw Noah’s righteous deeds and he saw everyone else’s wicked deeds.  Proverbs 15:3 says, “The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”  Proverbs 5:21 says, “Your ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all your paths.”

3) God is patient with sinners.

Many have the wrong impression about God from this chapter.  They think that God is all judgment.  When they look at God in this chapter, they see a sadistic being with a short temper who likes to torture his creatures.  He overreacts and kills everyone, killing 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” (6:3).  That gave Noah time to build the ark.  He needed that time.

It took a long time to build the ark.  It was a big project.  It took over a hundred years for Noah to build it.  It also gave man time to repent.  God gave man one hundred and twenty years to repent.  This showed patience on God’s part.  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.  We will see this later in Genesis.  The Jews could not take over the land of Canaan for four hundred years because “the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet full” (15:16).  He is long suffering today. Psalm 103:8 says, The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.”

James says “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (1:19 NIV).  We have a tendency to do the exact opposite.  We are quick to speak and slow to listen.  That is why we often have our foot in our mouth.  We often speak before we think.  Some of us also have a temper.  We are quick to get angry.

God is long suffering today.  People commit some of the most horrific crimes and no bolt of lightning strikes them.  Sinners think that because God is long suffering, they can escape God’s judgment.  They confuse long suffering with tolerance.  There is a limit to God’s patience.  Before the Flood, the limit was one hundred and twenty years.

4) God judges man’s sin.

God says, “I am going to put an end to all people…the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.  (6:13) He says, “I am going to bring flood waters 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” (6:17).  Is this fair?  Yes.  God created the world and He has the right to destroy it but He does not destroy it 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.  The gods of the creation myths were created in man’s image, rather than man created in God’s image.  According to Genesis, God sent the flood, because of sin (6:5).

God judged the world before the flood and He will one day judge our world.  He will not judge it was a flood but he will judge it.  Acts 17:31 says that there is coming a day when Jesus will judge the world with justice.  Isaiah 24:1 says, “The Lord is going to completely destroy everything on earth. He will twist its surface. He’ll scatter those who live on it” (NIRV).

I want to spend some time on this point and ask this question.  What was God so upset with?  Why was he so angry?  Why did he send the Flood?  We have wickedness in our day.  We have a holocaust, genocide, the beheading of children, suicide bombers and people flying planes into buildings.

Isn’t the day we live in worse than the day before the Flood?  I believe the days of Noah were worse than our day.  How do we know this?  There was only one righteous man left on the planet.  That doesn’t describe the world in which we live today.

5) God is able to save sinners from His wrath.

God is able to save people from his wrath.  Noah was delivered from the wrath of God.  He was protected from it.  The ark protected him.  Why was Noah delivered from the Flood?  Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord (6:8).  That is the first time that the word grace is found in the Bible.  God chose Him.  That is why He was saved.  That is why we are saved as well.  God chose us before the foundation of the world.  He not only chose him, He made a covenant with him (6:18)

Now the Bible says that Noah was righteous and blameless in his generation and he walked with God (6:9) but he was not perfect.  We will see that at the end of the Flood.  Noah was a sinner as well.  God could have destroyed him with the rest of the planet.  He didn’t have to save him but Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

God spoke to Him and revealed to him how to escape the Flood.  He did not reveal this to anyone else, only to Noah.  He gave Noah some very specific directions.  He told Noah the precise dimensions of the ark.  God gave Noah the blueprints to the ark.

He told him how long it was to be, how wide it was to be and how tall it was to be.  Noah didn’t design it himself. He gave Noah what kind of wood to use – gopher wood (6:14).  No one knows what kind of wood that was but it was apparently some type of hard wood.

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.  Noah did exactly, as he was commanded.  Noah didn’t try to be creative and build it a different way.  He built the ark exactly the way God instructed him to do.  It became the most important building project in history, as someone suggested.

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.  Why did God send the Flood?  Why did He flood the world?  There are two reasons.

Why God Flooded the World

1. The Sin of Man

The first reason for the Flood was the sin of man.  We see this in Genesis 6:5: “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.”  That is without question the strongest statement on total depravity and human wickedness in the entire Bible.  It tells us three things about sin.

First, sin is pervasive.  It was not limited to actions but included thoughts.  Man is sinful to the core.  Second, sin is universal.  It involved not a few people or even most people but all people.  Genesis 6:12 says, “ALL FLESH had corrupted their way on the earth”.  Third, sin is continuous.  Sin before the Flood was not occasional.  “Every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil ALL THE TIME.”

This is 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 (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 (6:11, 13). We are told that two times in the chapter.  The earth is said to be “full of violence” (6:11) and “filled with violence” (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.”

2. The Sin 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 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.  Galatians says that “we are all sons of God by faith in Christ” (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 (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 is that this 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.

a) They were not angels.

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

b) 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 (6:15 KJV).  That would be four hundred and fifty feet tall.  It 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).

c) They were strong.

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

d) 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.

Jude 6-7 says, “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.”

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]


[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] Many believe that the only sin committed in Genesis 6:1-2 was the sin of mixed marriages.  A common view is that the sons of God refers to people, not angels.  Many believe that it refers to Sethites who married Cainites.  However, this view has multiple problems.

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 seem to 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 Lessons from the Flood

  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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