GENESIS - CHAPTER 6
A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
Copyright 2000 James Melough
6:1. “And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,”
6:2. “That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.”
These two verses have generated a great deal of controversy as to the identity of these “sons of God.” One line of interpretation sees in them men of the godly line, while another sees them as fallen angels; and in the debate sight has been lost of what is more important - by these marriages the human race was being increasingly corrupted.
Since it is not the purpose of these studies to fuel the fires of controversy, but rather to help the reader make an informed decision for himself, a few facts are presented for consideration.
In Cain’s murder of Abel we have a demonstration of Satan’s attempt to destroy the godly line through which the promised “Seed” must come, and in chapters four and five we have traced the extension of the two “seeds”, the Cainites being the spiritual seed of the serpent, and the Sethites the spiritual seed of the woman. Genesis chapter six, read in this context, then, seems to be the record of Satan’s continued attempt to eliminate the possibility of the birth of the promised “Seed,” by corrupting the godly line.
As to whether the sons of God were men or angels, the Lord Himself indicated in Mt 22:30 that angels are sexless creatures, and this would preclude the possibility of their contracting marriages, “For in the resurrection they (men) neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like the angels of God in heaven.”
Some have construed the words “in heaven” as the limitation of a sexless state to unfallen angels only. Adherents to this view affirm that fallen angels cohabited with “the daughters of men.” This requires us to believe that in their fallen state these angels became sexually endowed, which is not only a very unlikely hypothesis, but is without Scriptural warrant, and leaves unanswered the question of why they have not continued to contract marriages.
There is another point to consider in connection with fallen angels. In Jude 6, it is written, “And the angels who kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, He hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the Judgment of the great day.” Proponents of the view mentioned above affirm that these are the angels who married “the daughters of men” and that this imprisonment is their punishment. This necessitates the belief that there have been two angelic rebellions, one at the time of Lucifer’s rebellion, and another which consisted of leaving “their own habitation” to marry women: a view again, without Scriptural warrant. (If the imprisonment related to the angels who had joined in Lucifer’s rebellion, they could not have left that prison, hence the necessity of a second angelic rebellion.)
Another point overlooked by proponents of this view is the statement made in verse four, “There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bore children to them, the same became mighty men who were of old, men of renown.
The Scriptural statement is simply, “there were giants in the earth in those days,” and it is an arbitrary decision to conclude that they were the result of marriages between women and fallen angels, particularly in view of the Scriptural statement that it was “after that” that these mixed marriages occurred. The declaration of Scripture is not that the children of such marriages were giants, but that they were, “mighty men ... of renown.”
Furthermore, the word which has been translated giants is nephilim meaning fallen ones: fellers, and would make, not the fathers, but the children the fallen ones.
Moreover, nephilim is the same word found in Numbers 13:33 to describe the huge men observed by the spies who had been sent into Canaan by Moses, yet there is nothing to indicate that they were anything more than men of gigantic stature. Sound exegesis would require that if the giants of Genesis 6 were the children of women and fallen angels, then the same must be true of those mentioned in Numbers 13. This would require us to believe that such marriages occurred after the flood, for the only survivors of that judgment were Noah and his family. Scripture furnishes no basis for such a conclusion.
All things considered therefore, the more acceptable view would seem to be that which takes these “sons of God” to be men of the godly line who married women of the ungodly line of Cain.
6:3. “And the Lord said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.”
It would seem that it was this corruption of the godly line that provoked God’s anger to the point where He determined to reduce man’s life span to one hundred and twenty years. The longevity of the antediluvians, together with the statement, “My Spirit shall not always strive with man...” is testimony to God’s patience: in spite of abounding wickedness He had graciously prolonged human life to almost a thousand years, giving ample time for repentance.
The reduced life-span does not indicate a diminution of the divine patience: it reveals simply that having demonstrated for man’s information, that longevity did not produce repentance, God would reduce human life to one hundred and twenty years.
The lesson conveyed is a solemn one, and unfortunately, one little recognized today. The Holy Spirit has an indispensable part in man’s salvation. It is He Who must convict men of sin before they can be saved, and that brings up a matter which we may as well discuss here: man’s free will in regard to salvation.
There are some men, who in spite of the Spirit’s striving, are convicted of sin but not saved. With others, the Spirit never strives, with the result that they are never convicted and consequently never saved. Does this mean then that man really has no choice in regard to salvation, that God saves only whom He pleases? Scripture itself is the contradiction of this philosophy. God is longsuffering ... not willing that any should perish” (2 Pe 3:9).
John 3:15,16,17,18,36 are only a few of many Scriptures teaching that man is free to choose whether he will accept God’s gift of eternal life.
How then do we explain that though the conviction of the Holy Spirit is essential to salvation, there are some whom He never convicts, and others, who though convicted, are never saved?
The answer lies in God’s foreknowledge and also in His sovereignty. By His foreknowledge He knows who will and who will not accept salvation, and in His sovereignty He chooses, in regard to those who will not be saved, to cause His Spirit to strive with some of them, but not with others. As to why He makes this sovereign choice, we do not know, and speculation is useless. One thing, however, is clear: those convicted, but not converted will have a greater measure of eternal punishment, “Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, with which he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of Grace?” (Heb l0:29).
This third verse of Genesis chapter six teaches also that while God has given man a free will in regard to accepting or rejecting eternal life, He reserves to His own choice the time given in which man may make that choice.
Up to this point God had chosen to make the span of human life almost a thousand years, but now He reduces it to approximately one hundred and twenty. One thing seems clear, however, in regard to both those life spans: the time in which to repent was less than the whole life span. Cain, for example, lived many years apparently after passing beyond hope of salvation. Nor is there any reason to believe that any of the Cainites ever accepted salvation.
The sons mentioned in the genealogy of the godly line we have seen to represent the new life, and it is instructive to note that all were born while the fathers were relatively young. Experience shows that this is the pattern in regard to conversion. Most of those who accept Jesus Christ as Savior do so comparatively early in life. The lesson surely is obvious. It is folly to stifle the conviction of the Holy Spirit with the intention of being saved at a later date, for God warns, “My Spirit shall not always strive with man.” Once His striving ceases, salvation is impossible. God warns further, “I have heard thee in a time accepted and in the day of salvation have I helped thee; behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Co 6:2).
6:4. “There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bore children to them, the same became mighty men who were of old, men of renown.”
Since this verse has been discussed in connection with verse 2, further comment is unnecessary, except to reiterate that it is less important to establish the exact identity of the sons of God than it is to learn that these marriages seem to have been Satan’s attempt to corrupt the godly line and thus prevent the birth of the promised “Seed”.
In this connection it is significant to note that at a later date he sought the destruction of Israel, the nation from which the “Seed” was to come, by having Balaam and Balak entice them into marriages with the Moabites, Numbers chapter 25. Those marriages resulted in God’s sending the plague upon Israel, “And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand” (Nu 25:9).
6:5. “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.”
Many of these rebels had been privileged to receive the knowledge of God directly from the lips of Adam, yet in spite of that knowledge “the wickedness of man was great....” The parallel between that day and the present is declared in the New Testament, “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be, for ... they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until ... Noah entered into the ark, and (they) knew not until the flood came, and took them all away” (Mt 24:37-39). “... the long- suffering of God waited in the days of Noah” (1 Pe 3:20). “God ... spared not the old world, but saved Noah ... bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly” (2 Pe 2:4,5). “By faith Noah ... warned of God ... moved with fear, prepared an ark to the salvation of his house; by which he condemned the world” (Heb 11:7).
6:6. “And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.”
6:7. “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.”
As that generation ignored the testimony of the first Adam, and perished, so also has this present generation ignored the warning of the last Adam. It, too, will perish. As that generation was wicked, so also is this generation, and as God visited wickedness with judgment then, so will He do again. This wicked generation will also perish.
Adam died before judgment came. The guilt of this present generation is compounded by the death of the last Adam. He has died that men might not have to suffer judgment, and their rejection of that sacrifice aggravates their offense, “Of how much sorer punishment ... shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God?” (Heb 10:29).
The explanation of “repent,” as used here, cannot be better expressed than in the words of the Scofield Bible notes, “When applied to God, the word is used phenomenally ... God seems to change His mind. The phenomena are such as, in the case of man, would indicate a change of mind.”
Repentance is connected with human weakness. God, being omniscient, has no need to repent or change His mind.
The wickedness of the antediluvians, like the fall of Adam, was foreknown by God in the eternal ages preceding man’s creation. It was not surprise and disappointment that grieved God: it was that man would use his freedom of choice to bring upon himself destruction. But if man is to be the creature who will enjoy eternal fellowship with his Creator, he must be allowed freedom of choice. God’s grief stems from some men’s choice not to fit themselves for that fellowship.
That this destruction was not all-embracing is clear. God saved eight souls as well as representatives of all other living creatures. As far as the animals were concerned God’s choice was sovereign: He chose which He would save, but man was different: he had been given ample warning and he was given a choice, either to accept God’s remedy or His wrath. The few who accepted His invitation to save themselves, compared with the many who refused, demonstrate the Scriptural principle annunciated by the Lord that few are saved, “Strait (narrow) is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Mt 7:14).
6:8. “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.”
The meaning of grace is perhaps best understood when viewed in its relationship to mercy, which it excels. Mercy is the withholding of deserved punishment, but grace is the giving of undeserved reward or blessing.
It is not to be inferred that Noah was arbitrarily chosen to become the recipient of blessing, for verse nine reveals that he was different from the men of his generation. Where they chose to walk in rebellion against God, he was obedient, which is all God requires of any man.
6:9. “These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.”
Much is revealed about Noah in this verse. Generations here means births, and the plural declares more than one. Like all men, he had a natural birth that fitted him to live on earth, but like the few who are saved, he had also had a spiritual birth that fitted him for heaven, and without which man cannot enter heaven, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (Jn 3:3).
It was that experience of being “born again” by placing his trust in God that gave Noah grace in God’s sight. His being a just man simply means that he was right or righteous, and he became right with God in the only way any man can become right in God’s sight - he believed God.
A saving faith in God goes beyond belief in His existence. As to belief in His existence we read in James 2:19, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble,” but the devils tremble in anticipation of judgment, for they cannot be saved.
The faith that justifies is the faith that believes and obeys. Noah believed God as to the coming judgment, and that belief led him to prepare the Ark and enter it at God’s command, and in God’s time. This is the pattern of saving faith. It causes a man to believe in future judgment, and it leads him to enter “the Ark” Jesus Christ, in God’s time, which is NOW.
As to his being perfect, this means, not that he was perfect in the sense of being sinless, but that he was upright or sincere. Perfect also means literally whole or complete. No man is whole or complete until he has received God’s gift of eternal life by believing in Christ as his Savior.
“... and Noah walked with God.” As has been noticed in connection with Enoch, who also walked with God, this implies God’s control of the life, for He will not walk with the disobedient, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3).
6:10. “And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.”
The spiritual lesson conveyed by Noah’s begetting these three sons is that he was fruitful. An obedient life and spiritual fruitfulness always go together.
6:11. “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.”
The earth, corrupted and filled with violence, stands in stark contrast with the life of Noah, and is typical of the contrast between the life of the natural (earthy) man and the life of the born-again (spiritual) man. Noah, imperfect by the natural birth which linked him with fallen Adam, had been made perfect (whole) by the spiritual birth which linked him with the last Adam (Christ). The rest of humanity, not having had that second birth, could produce nothing except corruption and violence, and such was the extent of their wickedness that it filled the earth.
The prophetic aspect of this section becomes apparent when it is recognized that an earth, which has fitted itself again for judgment, is similarly filled with violence.
6:12. “And God looked upon the earth, and, behold it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.”
While the term “all flesh” certainly includes the animal creation, it obviously applies in a special sense to man in his natural state without spiritual life. As God looked down upon humanity He beheld everywhere that which was the evidence of man’s fallen, spiritually dead state: there was corruption and violence. Time having been given in which to repent and be born again, and that grace having been spurned, it only remained, then, for God to bury out of His sight the corrupt carcass of a humanity “dead in trespasses and in sins.” Just as a rotting carcass, unburied, befouls and corrupts the earth on which it lies, and contaminates the air, so did the corrupt humanity of Noah’s day. It must be buried.
Water is the element used to portray the word of God, which believed, cleanses man from sin and gives him spiritual life. There is strange irony and propriety therefore, in God’s choice of that very element to be now the means of man’s destruction. That choice reminds us that, as it was literally in regard to the corrupt humanity in Noah’s day, so will it be in regard to the soul and spirit of the unrepentant at the final terrible judgment. That which water symbolizes, the Word, will be that by which sinners will be judged and condemned, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (Jn 12:48).
6:13. “And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.”
The man who walked with God became also the recipient of the divine councils. Nor is this an isolated instance. Abraham was a man who also walked with God, and in regard to the impending destruction of Sodom, God said, “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?” (Ge 18:17).
Those who walk with God are taken into His confidence, and it is worth noting that what produces the obedient walk produces also the enlightened understanding. The Word, searched for instruction as to the manner of life, will yield the additional treasure of enlightenment as to God’s plans.
As God shared with Abraham the knowledge of His intention to destroy Sodom, so does He here share with Noah His intention to destroy the earth. And it is not without significance that in both instances it resulted in intercession for those who deserved only judgment. Abraham interceded for Sodom, and Noah’s intercession for the wicked antediluvians consisted of a faithful preaching that warned them of coming judgment.
Like Noah and Abraham, we too, have been taken into God’s confidence. Judgment is about to engulf the globe. It is not only our privilege, it is our responsibility to intercede and warn.
6:14. “Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.”
Noah’s having to make the ark teaches us that man’s will is an essential factor in salvation. God was willing to save the obedient from judgment. He instructed Noah as to how he could save himself, but it was left to Noah to make the decision to avail himself of God’s remedy. It is the same in regard to the salvation of sinners today. God has revealed that judgment is coming, and as the antediluvians were warned by Noah, so are men today warned, not only by God’s word, but also by those who faithfully preach the Gospel. But as Noah must choose whether to build and enter the ark, so must each sinner choose whether to believe the Gospel and put his trust in Christ. Noah was not compelled to enter the ark, nor are men compelled to believe in Christ. By an act of his own free will man chooses eternal life or eternal punishment.
His having to make the ark teaches, not salvation by works, but rather the reality of Noah’s faith. First he believed God’s word concerning the coming judgment, and the evidence of his belief was that he built the ark. This is the OT annunciation of the truth explicitly stated in James 2:l4-26, “Faith without works is dead.” Good works alone will save no one, but a professed faith that produces no good works is equally worthless, “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith” (Heb ll:7). Genuine salvation produces righteous living.
In this same connection it is instructive to note that while believers are clothed with Christ’s righteousness, there is the equally clear declaration of Scripture that they will also wear a garment woven of their own righteous deeds, “To her (the Church) was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousnesses (plural) of saints” (Re 19:8).
The ark was to be of gopher wood (cedar, cypress or fir), and it is generally accepted as a type of Christ. Wood, in Scripture, is used symbolically to represent man in the body. The Ark as a type of Christ points to the Lord’s humanity. It was as man that He went to Calvary on man’s behalf and endured the flood waters of God’s judgment. That overwhelming waters are symbolic of judgment is clear from such Scriptures as Ps 69 and 88.
“Rooms shalt thou make.” The word translated “rooms” is literally “nests,” and conveys the idea, not only of security, but of peace. It is beautifully descriptive of the refuge the believer finds in Christ.
Pitch is the translation of the Hebrew word Kaphar, literally “to cover,” and it is also translated as “atonement,” literally “covering.” As that which shut out the judgmental waters and secured the safety of everything inside the Ark by acting as a covering, the pitch very fittingly portrays Christ’s work of making atonement, covering man’s sin with His own shed blood, and covering or sheltering man from judgment.
The pitch was applied inside as well as out, and the spiritual truth conveyed is that the pitch outside met God’s eye, while that inside met the eye of the Ark’s occupants. Speaking as it does of the atonement made through Christ’s shed blood, it portrays the result of that work manward and Godward. To God it testifies to the satisfaction of every claim of violated justice; to man it conveys the same assurance, and gives him peace.
“... without shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb 9:22). Man is redeemed only, “with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Pe 1:19). “The blood of Jesus Christ ... cleanseth us from all sin” (l John 1:7).
The Ark is a picture of Christ, and the pitch is a picture of His blood. The Ark without pitch would have afforded no safety, nor would a Christ whose blood had not been shed. He who will not be saved by trusting in a crucified Christ will not be saved at all.
6:15. “And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: the length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits.”
As later with the Tabernacle, so now with the Ark: no detail of its construction was left to man’s imagination. The Ark which was to be the only place of refuge, is a picture of the refuge God has provided for men, in Christ. So far as the method of that salvation is concerned, man has no part in it. This is the truth
God would teach in that He, and not man, decided upon the details of the Ark’s dimensions and construction. Those details neither required nor permitted departure from the divine blueprint. It is the same with salvation. Anything, even one small detail, added or subtracted makes it, “a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Pr 14:12).
There is only one way to be saved, only one place of refuge, to be entered in God’s time: that way and that place are Christ, “I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (Jn 14:6).
These divinely given dimensions also furnish a lesson. In the symbolic language of Scripture, length is associated with duration of life, and breadth with the character or quality of the life. Since the Ark is a type of Christ, the length of it, then, points to something associated with the length of His life. The 300 cubits of length factorize to 22 X 3 x 52. (For details of the significance of Biblical numbers see notes at the end of chapter 1). Two is the number of witness or testimony; three, of resurrection; and five of responsibility. Since two is raised to the second power it speaks of a two-fold witness - before God and man. The testimony of His life was that He had come to lay it down for man’s sin, but that He would take it up again in resurrection, of which three is the number. Five, the number of responsibility, is also raised to the second power, conveying the lesson that His whole life bore witness to responsibility fully met both as Representative of God and man.
While the factors supply details, the whole number 300 emphasizes resurrection. His whole life was lived in the light of resurrection. The practical lesson is that our lives should be lived in that same light. We who are believers shall stand before Him at the Bema to render an account of the life lived on earth. Those who are unbelievers will appear before Him for judgment a thousand years later at the great white throne, and having rejected His salvation while they were on earth, will be banished to the eternal torment of the lake of fire.
Remorse will augment that punishment. Those who enter the lake of fire will do so, not for sins committed, but for failure to enter God’s refuge in which every sin would have been forgiven.
The fifty cubits of the Ark’s width speak of the character of Christ’s life. Fifty factorizes to 2 X 52, and here the emphasis is upon responsibility (5). The character of His life was that it witnessed (2) to a twofold responsibility fully met. As the Representative of God He displayed divine perfection. As the Representative of man He displayed human perfection, but the responsibility He had willingly assumed could not be discharged until He had paid the price for man’s failure. The full discharge of that willingly assumed responsibility took place at Calvary when He presented His own perfect life in place of man’s, which unfulfilled responsibility had rendered forfeit. Those who live, because of unfulfilled responsibility perfectly atoned for in His death, now have the responsibility to live as becomes those whose lives have been redeemed at such cost.
As length speaks of duration; and breadth, of quality of the life, height would seem to speak of the life as viewed by God; and depth, of the life as viewed by man. The height of 30 cubits therefore, would point to the character of Christ’s life in God’s estimation. The value of that estimation is measured in the 30 cubits which speak primarily of resurrection, since 30 is 3 multiplied by 10.
The measure of God’s approval of Christ’s life was His resurrection. The measure of God’s approval of a man’s life is resurrection to eternal life when the Lord returns. The final measure of God’s disapproval is for man to be raised at the resurrection of damnation for the judgment that will result in his being consigned, body, soul and spirit to die the second death, that is, to enter the eternal torment of the lake of fire.
Thirty factorizes to 2 X 3 X 5 which translates simply into the truth that resurrection (3) to eternal life is the witness (2) to responsibility (5) completely fulfilled.
6:16. “A window shalt thou make to the Ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the Ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it.”
There are differing opinions as to the nature of this window. Some regard it as a one and-a-half foot space for air and light, between the sides and the roof, extending the full length of the Ark. Others take it to be a skylight of some unknown transparent material set in the roof. Still others take the cubit to be the height of the peak of the roof, thus giving enough pitch to run off the water.
The uncertainty as to these details in no way obscures the spiritual truth being presented. As it was in the Ark of the Tabernacle, where every detail spoke of Christ, so is it in this Ark. The details speak of Him.
Whatever its exact location may have been, the basic thought connected with a window is light. It speaks of Him Who is Light, and Who, in becoming man, brought to men the “light of the knowledge of the glory of God” (2 Co 4:6). The window teaches us that not only was the Ark a place of refuge for those inside it, but it was also a place of light. This is the experience of every man who is “in Christ.” He is eternally secure, and in addition, has spiritual light as well as life.
In his natural state man is in darkness. He cannot understand the Scriptures, “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Co 2:14). He must therefore, walk in darkness, for only the believer can say, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Ps 119:105).
Contention over such details as the dimensions or exact location of the door, tends only to obscure what is important - the spiritual truth God would teach us by what details He has supplied. The only information needed here to bring us God’s message is that there was a door, and it was in the side of the Ark.
Not only does the Ark as a whole present Christ, but every part of it performs the same service, for this door is but the symbol of Him Who said, “I am the door...” (Jn 10:9). Furthermore, there was only one door, which is the typical declaration of His uniqueness as the only Door by which man can enter heaven.
Its being in the side of the Ark is also significant. It was through that opening in its side that the occupants passed into the place of refuge and rest. The side of Christ, the true Ark, opened by the spear of the Roman soldier, provided the blood which alone can cleanse sin and give men access to heaven.
“with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it.” Whatever other significance may attach to these three stories, in the rooms or nests of which redeemed creation found refuge, one thought presents itself: through Christ’s redemptive work, the believer enjoys the redemption of all the three parts of his being. That redemption includes his body (the lower part); his soul (the second part); his Spirit (the third part).
6:17. “And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and everything that is in the earth shall die.”
The words “even I” serve to emphasize that this which God is about to do is something strange, not in relation to what will be done, but in relation to the One who will do it. Up to this point God has been gracious and patient, but now His patience is exhausted. The time has come for Him to execute judgment, and with Him, judgment is always the last resort. In regard to His judgment upon Israel, which had spurned every gracious overture, we read in Isaiah 28:21, “For the Lord shall rise up.... He shall be wroth ... that He may do His work, His strange work; and bring to pass His act, His strange act.”
The element of judgment is to be overwhelming waters. The antediluvian world was to suffer the same fate as the pre-Adamic, and for the same reason - rebellion against the Creator. There is a strange paradox in God’s choice of this element, for it is the one which is inseparable from life, and it is used frequently as a type of the Word, which alone can give and sustain spiritual life. In John chapter 4, which records the Lord’s conversation with the Samaritan woman, He declared, “... whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” That, which under grace is the symbol of life, becomes, under judgment, the symbol of death, “If any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him; the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (Jn 12:47,48).
It is significant, too, that the Psalmist employs the same figurative language to describe the sufferings endured by Christ when He stood as man’s Substitute and bore his judgment. Ps 69:1,2, “Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto My soul.... I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow Me.” See also verses 14,15 of this same Psalm, and Psalm 88:6,7,16,17. Jonah chapter two conveys the same message, for the prophet’s experience in the belly of the fish is but an adumbration of the Lord’s sufferings.
The universal extent of the ruin introduced by Adam’s disobedience is indicated in the words, “... all flesh, wherein is the breath of life ... everything that is in the earth shall die.” But if the ruin is universal so also is the remedy. The death of Christ does more than redeem men’s souls: it brings redemption to the whole ruined creation, “For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God ... because the creature (creation) itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption ... for we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they ... we ourselves groan ... waiting for ... the redemption of our body” (Ro 8:19-23).
Man’s superiority is emphasized in that he has had committed to him the well-being of all created things. As head of creation, Adam brought everything else into a state of condemnation and death when he transgressed the Creator’s commandment. The Lord Jesus Christ, the last Adam, as Head of the new creation, brings redemption and life to that creation.
Man’s superiority over every other creature is further emphasized in that they, without choice, must suffer the consequences of his sin, “For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly” (Ro 8:20). Without choice, they will also share in the millennial blessings of Christ’s redemptive work. How great, then, will be the eternal punishment of the man, who having the right of choice, elects to refuse redemption!
The appalling catastrophe that overwhelmed the godless antediluvians may provide a glimpse of what that eternal punishment will be like.
6:18. “But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the Ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee.”
While all others had chosen to turn “everyone to his own way,” Noah had chosen to “walk with God,” which, as we have seen, implies obedience. Now that obedience is to have its reward. The obedient man will be saved from the judgment that engulfs the remainder of rebel humanity. It should be noticed, however, that his salvation was not independent of his will: he was free to choose whether he would enter the Ark.
Since this covenant (agreement) is a miniature of the covenant by which salvation is offered to all men, an examination of its terms will be instructive. One thing is obvious: Noah had no part in it except to appropriate its benefits. It was an act of pure grace on God’s part to make those benefits available. So is it in regard to the salvation of a man’s soul. Everything has been provided by God, and man’s part is to make the choice to accept or reject that provision.
“... thou shalt come into the Ark.” This is a command which Noah must obey in order to be saved. The Ark is a symbol of Christ, and as Noah’s safety lay in entering, man’s safety lies in entering into Christ. Noah was commanded, “thou shalt come into the Ark.” Sinful man is commanded, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Ac 16:31).
Two lessons are conveyed in God’s inclusion of Noah’s wife, sons and daughters-in-law in the command to enter the Ark. His grace embraces even those of whom it is not said that they “walked with God.” He would have all men to be saved.
These seven members of Noah’s family, however, were different from the other antediluvians. All had heard Noah’s preaching, all had watched the construction of the Ark, but these had been directly under the godly influence of Noah, and it cannot be doubted that that influence played an important part in their decision to enter the safety of the Ark. The lesson surely is plain. Believers are responsible to live before the unsaved, and particularly those who are of their own families, in such a manner as will not hinder their coming to Christ.
6:19. “And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the Ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female.”
What God is saying in this verse goes far beyond the simple statement that all creatures were to enter the Ark in pairs. As is clear from the previous verse, this requirement applied also to the persons, and it is emphasized that each two or pair was to consist of a male and a female.
The spiritual significance of this, of course, is that the female represents the expression of the new spiritual life. (Since this has been discussed in detail in our study Genesis chapter two, further elaboration here is unnecessary). The truth conveyed by this detail is that which cannot be overemphasized. Man in his natural unregenerate state will never enter heaven. Everything in the Ark, sheltered thereby from judgment, testified to the truth that everyone who would escape divine judgment must have what the female represents - the expression of a new life, a new nature, obtained through faith in Jesus Christ.
“... to keep them alive” would simply emphasize the truth that as those in the Ark were not only saved from the flood, but had their lives perpetuated to endless generations in their descendants, so all who are in Christ are safe from judgment, and have eternal life.
6:20. “Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after its kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive.”
“... shall come unto thee ...” underscores the fact that safety was linked with coming unto Noah. It is the symbolic declaration of the truth that no one will be saved apart from coming to Christ, He Himself declaring, “I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (Jn 14:6).
The unusual order here of fowls first, followed by cattle, and then by creeping things, may be to direct attention to spiritual truth regarding the salvation of man in all three parts of his being. As the three divisions of the earth’s animal creation were saved in the Ark, so is man in Christ saved in body, soul and spirit - the fowls (creatures of the air) representing the spirit; the cattle representing the soul; and the creeping things, the body.
6:21. “And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them.”
The importance of food is apparent from even a casual reading of Scripture. The very first commandment given to Adam was related to food. It was in connection with food that man was tempted. Part of the divine punishment was that the production of man’s food would thereafter be connected with sweat and toil. A diminished yield of food resulted from Cain’s rebellion. Immediately after the flood God added flesh to man’s diet, Ge 9:3. In connection with the Passover lamb, God’s instructions were no less specific in regard to the preparation of its body for food than they were in connection with the application of its blood. The unleavened bread, the manna, etc., were all the subject of God’s instruction to His people.
The reason for the divine concern relative to man’s food is understood when it is recognized that in Scripture what man eats literally is symbolic of what he eats spiritually. The natural man loathes the manna, but lusts for Egypt’s leeks, onions, garlic.... The prodigal, away from the father’s house, “would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat.” Restored, he feasted on fatted calf.
It is clear, then, why God not only furnished the Ark for safety, but was equally careful to provide for the sustenance of the redeemed life within it. The new life that begins when a man finds safety in Christ must be nourished, not with Egypt’s “leeks and onions,” but first with the “sincere milk of the Word” (1 Pe 2:2), and then with the “manna” and the “fine wheat” of the written Word, which is itself the presentation of Him Who is the Living Word.
6:22. “Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.”
This verse records Noah’s implicit obedience. All that God commanded him to do he did. It declares, in fact, not only the character of Noah’s life, but what must characterize the life of all who would be similarly blessed. It was disobedience that first brought man under judgment, and it is obedience, believing on the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, that removes him from under judgment and places him under blessing.
That principle never ceases to operate even in the life of a believer. Disobedience and blessing are never found together. Disobedience is connected with darkness, as blessing is with light, and they can no more exist together spiritually than physically. He who would be blessed must be obedient; and not selectively, but in all that God has commanded.