Genesis 6

From bad to worse! These words are perhaps the best way to summarize the progress made by humanity after the Fall. Once sin had entered into the world, human beings quickly advanced backwards! They became increasingly preoccupied with finding new ways to sin and collectively moved in a direction that took them farther away from God and all the goodness that is found in Him. Instead of becoming more like God, as the serpent had promised Eve, human beings became more and more unlike God, or ungodly.

Sin had quickly made a mess of things after the Fall. When people get caught up in sin they often lose sight of two things. First, no one is exempt from the consequences of sin. Sin does not discriminate — it is an equal opportunity destroyer. Second, sin must be judged. God cannot look the other way when it comes to sin. Because He is holy He must judge sin and, by so doing, keep it in check.

Noah lived in what may have been the most corrupt and sinful period in human history. By the time Noah was born the earth had already been inundated by the floodwaters of sin. And, those waters continued to rise throughout the period that Noah and his family constructed the ark. Finally, God decided that he would flood the earth and start over with a clean slate — Noah and his family. God would save a remnant in order to repopulate the earth and begin anew.

The Context
Adam and Eve obeyed God’s command to multiply and fill the earth. The names of their descendants are recorded in Genesis 5. As the population of the earth increased, so did the wickedness of mankind. Adam and Eve’s son Cain was the first to commit a senseless act of violence but would not be the last to do so. Many others followed after him. The wicked and evil deeds of mankind became so widespread that God was sorry that He had made man. God was so grieved that He decided to wipe every living creature off the face of the earth and begin anew.

In the midst of all the wickedness that filled the earth, God noticed a man named Noah. Unlike his contemporaries, Noah was a righteous and blameless man. He sought to please God and to walk with Him. God told Noah of His plan to wipe all flesh from the face of the earth with the exception of him and his family. He told Noah to build an ark, the vessel that would preserve Noah and his family from the coming judgment. By faith, Noah and his family trusted God and spent the next 120-years constructing the ark. During that period, God gave the world ample opportunities to be saved. The world, however, refused Noah’s witness.

Once completing construction of what was the largest vessel of his time, Noah and his family had one week to load the ark. As part of His divine plan for beginning anew, God brought male and female of every living species to the ark. God would use Noah and his family to repopulate the earth and the animals to do the same. When Noah and his family were safely abroad the ark, God Himself shut the door. Once the door was shut it began to rain. The rains continued for the next forty days and forty nights and flooded the earth. As God had promised, only Noah and his family escaped the flood. All other living creatures perished.

6:1 When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them,

6:2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.

6:3 Then the LORD said, “My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years.”

6:4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days–and also afterward–when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

6:5 [what God saw] [note: underlined words describe the extent of humanity’s sin] The LORD saw [everything we do is in the sight of the Lord] how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become [sin left to itself gets worse and worse], and that every inclination [intent; imagination] of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.

6:6 [what God felt] The LORD was grieved [a basic meaning of the verb is “to breathe strongly” (literally, God breathed a heavy sigh because of the sinful choices of humanity)] that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.

6:7 [what God decided] So the LORD said, “I will wipe [to blot out or to erase by washing] mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air—for I am grieved that I have made them.”

6:8 But Noah [unlike sinful people around him; caught God’s attention because he was a righteous man in a wicked world; cf 2 Chron. 16:9a] found favor in the eyes of the LORD.

Note: What do you think it took for Noah to remain faithful to God when everyone around him was unfaithful?

6:9 This is the account of Noah. [note three important traits about Noah] [1] Noah was a righteous [Heb. saddiq which means to be continually righteous; right actions and right motives resulting from a right relationship with God] man, [2] blameless [Heb. word can also be rendered “whole” or “complete”; Noah was a man of integrity] among the people of his time, and [3] he walked [conduct or way of life] with [indicates a close, intimate relationship] God [Noah’s good life flowed out of a right relationship with God].

Note: What set Noah apart from the rest of humanity? What three traits stand out as people examine your character? Do others view you as a person who does right for the right reasons? Do others view you as a person of integrity? Do others view you as an individual who consistently walks with God?

6:10 Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.

6:11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence.

The single spark of Adam and Eve’s sin ignited a wildfire that soon raged out of control. As humans multiplied and filled the earth, their wickedness also increased, spread, and soon reached an intolerable level. People did not live in harmony but instead hurt and abused one another. As a result, the earth was corrupt and filled with violence — an indication of what happens when people no longer fear God or respect His commands.

Sin always strains relationships, promotes selfishness, separates people from each other, destroys what is good, and minimizes God’s influence. As a result of the growing sin of humanity, creation faced God’s certain judgment.

6:12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted [verb means “ruin” or “spoil”] their ways.

The corruption and violence that filled the earth was the legacy of people who thought of “nothing but evil all the time” (Gen. 6:5). What a difference sin had made in the world in such a short span of time. Sin had damaged everything that God had created and once declared good. However, neither “man’s wickedness” (Gen. 6:5) nor the corruption and violence that filled the earth escaped God’s notice.

Everything that human beings do, whether good or evil, is always done “in God’s sight” (Gen. 6:11). He pays attention to what we do (see Ps. 139:1-4). No one ever does anything behind God’s back and no one ever sins with impunity. God will ultimately “bring every act to judgment” (see Ecc. 12:14).

6:13 So God said to Noah [first mention of God speaking directly to Noah], “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence [refers to the severe treatment of others, often involving physical harm] because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.

Noah’s corrupt and violent society had presumed upon the patience of God. The time came, however, when God finally said, “Enough is enough!” Any society marked by corruption and violence is offensive to God and in danger of His judgment. As a result of the growing sin of humanity, creation faced God’s judgment.

God however, extended grace to Noah and his family. Noah was a man whose righteousness set him apart from the wickedness that characterized his contemporaries. He was neither sinless nor perfect but instead had qualities that found him favor with God. He was the first to know that God’s judgment was on its way, that God would put an end to all flesh.

6:14 So make yourself an ark [basic meaning is “box”] of cypress [or possibly pine; also translated “gopher”] wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch [used to make the vessel watertight] inside and out.

God instructed Noah to build an ark — essentially something that looked like a floating box. Noah was to construct the ark from gofer wood. While this type of wood remains a mystery, some scholars suggest the word refers to cypress wood, commonly used in ship building. Others think it refers to the shape of the wood rather than the type of wood. The important thing to keep in mind is that regardless of the type or shape of gofer wood, it was a material suitable for building a seaworthy vessel. Because the ark would house many animals, God told Noah to make rooms in the ark and then to make it waterproof by sealing it with pitch, a tar-like substance.

Note: What do you think was the biggest obstacle Noah faced in building the ark? What obstacles keep you from being more obedient to God?

6:15 This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high.

God gave Noah specific instructions regarding the length, width, and height of the ark. Noah followed God’s instructions to the inch. According to the dimensions, the ark was a boxy vessel designed for flotation instead of navigation. While the dimensions of the ark are not big compared to today’s ships, the size of this vessel was enormous by ancient standards. The ark would have been about half the length of a ship the size of the Titanic. The boxy design maximized the interior space and provided adequate room for Noah and his entire family and all of the animals with them.

6:16 Make a roof for it and finisH the ark to within 18 inches of the top. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks.

6:17 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.

The ark had lower, middle, and upper decks of compartments to house the animals as well as Noah and his family. The vessel was well-ventilated all the way around under the roof line — an important consideration because of all of the animals on board. This gap also allowed natural light to filter in to the upper deck.

A single door on the side was the only entrance and exit. When the rains finally came and Noah and his family were safely aboard the ark, God Himself shut the door (see Gen. 7:16). The ark is a type of Christ. Like the single door on the ark, Jesus referred to Himself as “the door of the sheep” (John 10:7) as well as the only way to the Father (see John 14:6). Just as God provided the ark to save Noah and his family, God has made provision for salvation through Jesus Christ for all who believe and take refuge in Him.

Noah and his family likely spent as many as 120 years building the ark (see Gen. 6:3). Throughout those years, Noah remained steadfast to the task because he had faith that what God had told him about the coming deluge was true (see Heb. 11:7). God had revealed to Noah that He would bring floodwaters that would destroy every living, breathing creature — including humans, animals, and birds. Apparently, creatures of the sea were excluded. This deluge was God’s judgment on evil that had completely saturated and corrupted the earth. When the floodwaters finally came, they confirmed Noah’s faith as well as His faithfulness to follow God’s instructions.

6:18 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.

Only Noah, his family, and the animals in the ark would be spared from the coming deluge. God would later bless Noah and his sons and tell them to “multiply and fill the earth “ (Gen. 9:1). The animals on the ark would also reproduce and fill the earth.

For the first time in human history, God established a covenant with a man. This is also the first time the word covenant is used in the Bible. A covenant is a solemn agreement between two parties in which each party is under obligation to perform his part. Covenants generally included conditions, benefits, and promises. God later revealed the details of this covenant after Noah and his family left the ark (see Gen. 8:20-9:17).

6:19 You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you.

6:20 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.

6:21 You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.”

6:22 Noah [willingly followed God’s call; no hint of reservation on his part to follow God’s instructions; referred to as “a preacher of righteousness” in 2 Peter 2:5 (cf. Lk. 17:26-27)] did [Noah’s faithfulness seen in what he did] everything [Noah was not selective in his obedience] just as God commanded him.

Note: In what area of your life is God testing your obedience? How are you responding to the test?

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