After the history of Adam in chapter 5, the Word of God takes us to the story of the increasing wickedness of man, Noah’s righteousness and the Great Flood.
Verses 1-12: Patriarchs, mighty and wicked
Man multiplies and finds beauty in the “daughters of men.” All women at this point should have been daughters of men save Eve, who was made by God, so the expression serves to say that men are finding favor with women and are multiplying. Last week we spoke of man’s long, yet declining lifespan. Verse 3 here reveals that God chooses to shorten the span of man’s life because “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever.” This seems to be an allusion to man as an individual, as to say that 900+ years is too long for God to abide with single individuals and that the judgment of any one man is complete after a life of 120 years.
Verse 4 makes an allusion to there being “giants on the earth in those days.” Whether or not we interpret this to mean men of physically large stature or not could be taken from the Hebrew word for giants, which means “fallen ones.” This, in turn, makes us consider, could these “giants” have been fallen angels, living among men? Or could they have been men of great spiritual stature instead, men of great fortitude and strength in the land, men whose faculties greatly exceed that of modern men? They are also described as “Sons of God” as opposed to being “sons of men.” It is difficult to say who exactly these men were or what prompts their mention. In any case, these men were certainly impressive and we most likely would notice a difference in them were we to meet one of them today as they Word describes them as “mighty men who were of old, men of renown.”
The passage continues on, explaining the sad state of man. Mankind has spiraled into a pattern of exceeding wickedness, where “every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” In verses 6 and 7, a very sad sentiment states that God grieves and seems to regret having made mankind and decides to destroy all men and beasts. But in verse 8, an antiquated version of salvation blooms in the person of Noah, who “found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” Noah’s righteousness is irregular in the wicked society in which he lives, yet God notices and chooses to bless him and his family.
Verses 13-22: The construction and contents of the ark
The remainder of this chapter lists the instructions God has for Noah to create and populate the ark. God tells Noah that He intends to destroy all flesh because the earth is filled with violence. Imagine the righteous and deep faith Noah must have possessed to pour so much time, effort and energy into creating this enormous structure. Following are the highlights of God’s instructions to Noah:
- Build an ark of gopherwood
- Incorporate rooms
- Cover it with pitch, or tar
- Dimension specifics
- Length: 300 cubits or 150 yards
- Width: 50 cubits or 25 yards
- Height: 30 cubits or 15 yards
- Incorporate a single window and a single door
- Incorporate lower, second and third decks
- Bring two of every living thing into the ark
- One male, one female
- Bring enough food for all living things on the ark to subsist
God then reveals that he is bringing the great flood through which all flesh shall die. But God makes a covenant with Noah, his wife, his sons and his sons’ wives. This covenant is that He will save them from the flood through the use of the ark. This covenant is a promise from God to these people, as a reward for their righteousness and as a result of His grace.
The single greatest lesson in this chapter is that Noah obeyed. He was already accounted for his righteousness, so Noah’s obedience is surely in line with his character. His “blind” obedience to God as the result of what seemed absurd to many is a great example to us. Even if, or especially when it seems illogical, strange or unwise to follow God’s guidance for our lives as Christians, it is still of the utmost importance that we follow Him. The fate of our eternal souls depend on it.