In previous posts we have seen God’s supremacy, man’s accountability, God’s rights and judgements and the consequences of wrong-doing.
We saw first the actions of an individual and married couple. Then we saw evil invade a family. With the growth of human society we now come to see what happens when individuals live as they please.
Noah and the Ark
The days of Noah reveal some key observations about humanity and God’s dealings with us. Our reference is found in Genesis 6.
The chapter starts with description of two groups of people on the earth. There were the godly, known as the ‘sons of God’. Then there were the rest of humanity, living in their self-will, as Cain had done. The godly men, with God’s grace and destiny on their lives, became distracted with the natural issues of life. They raised children who were powerful and who became people of renown.
However, this whole course of events left very few righteous people on the face of the earth. People were preoccupied with their natural existence, not their place before God. Noah’s family line, however, remained faithful to God.
God decided to destroy the people of the earth and repopulate the earth through the godly man, Noah.
God’s description of the evil which prevailed at that time is worth noting. God could see the evil actions of the people, but God could also see what was going on in people’s hearts. The Bible informs us that God looks on the hearts of men.
“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.” Genesis 6:5
Notice that there was great wickedness in the earth. While we do not know what that wickedness was, we have already seen from Cain, and then again from his descendent, Lamech, that murder was committed. In Genesis 6:13 God uses the term “violence” to describe the actions of the people.
Notice also that the hearts of the people were preoccupied with nothing but evil, continually. Whether those evil imaginations became actions or not is not important. In a moral universe even the imaginations of the heart are moral issues. We saw previously that people are commanded to give honour to their parents and not to covet another man’s goods. These are attitudes of heart, which God will judge people for holding. So it is not only actions which are of consideration to God, but intentions, attitudes and thoughts of the heart.
In Genesis 4 we saw that the ground is impacted by man’s sinful actions. Psalm 106:38 tells us that the ground is polluted by murder. We can reflect back to Genesis 3 as well, where Adam’s sin brought a curse upon the ground (Genesis 3:17,18). So it should not surprise us that the evil of the people in Noah’s day caused the ground to again be affected.
“The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.” Genesis 6:11,12
Man’s actions have direct impact upon the land in which he lives. The physical, geographical space which man occupies is impacted by the morality of the people living there. That is why God could make the promise that if the people repented of their evil God would “heal their land”.
“If my people, which are called by my name, will humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2Chronicles 7:14
God sentenced the people of Noah’s day to capital punishment. They would all drown in a universal flood. Only Noah’s family would be spared.
The whole earth would be judged and punished. Everyone, except Noah’s family, was worthy of death and destruction. Noah’s ancestors all died before the day of the flood, since they were righteous and would not be judged with the wicked.
We see a similar concept of broad-based judgement when Sodom was destroyed many years later. We also see in the Bible the destruction of whole nations, such as Edom, when those nations broke God’s holy standards.
Because of God’s sovereignty and excellent supremacy over mankind, He is able to bring judgement on any scale. He can deal with the individual – as with Cain, the person and their generations – as with Adam and Eve, or the entire planet at one time.
In this chapter we also see that not all people are equal. Due to the invasion of sin into people’s lives and the subversion of people by the power of sin, there are different possibilities open to individuals, families and nations.
Noah found grace in God’s sight (Genesis 6:8). Therefore God blessed him and his family. Noah had three sons and three daughters-in-law. Noah, his wife, his sons and his daughters-in-law were the only 8 people spared from the global flood. Noah’s family was set apart from the rest.
This principle of privilege and blessing resting on people and their descendents based on the actions of the ancestor is one that people have resisted through human history. The French Enlightenment declared its devotion to ‘egality’, trying to throw off the positions of privilege which were enjoyed by some in their society. They despised the reality of inherited privilege. The same occurred in the Marxist revolutions. Yet we see from the early pages of human history that some people are set apart for blessing and others for curse.
Cain became a vagabond because of his murder. Noah became the source of hope for his children, because he found grace in the eyes of God. Today there are families and individuals which experience better or worse possibilities than others, based on their personal or inherited conditions.
This is a matter of divine prescription, outside the jurisdiction of man’s law. When God is on our side, no human law can be successful against us.
“No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; and every tongue that will rise against you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, says the LORD.” Isaiah 54:17
“What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31
“Let them curse, but you bless: when they arise, let them be ashamed; but let your servant rejoice.” Psalm 109:28
Chinese Link to Noah
There is an ancient Chinese account of Noah’s flood. Amazingly the Chinese glyph or character which is written for the word ‘boat’ includes the symbols for eight mouths or people. There were eight people on Noah’s ark, and in the Chinese character for boat (or ark) the idea of eight people is embodied. Interesting. To see one of the many links to this information go to: http://creationwiki.org/Chinese_characters_for_Noah%27s_ark
Following the flood of Noah’s day we have the first indication that God is placing the privilege and responsibility of judgement into human hands. Human law has its earliest manifestation at that time. So we will investigate that in the next post.