Sermon Text: Genesis 6-9
Foundation #4 – God will not allow the corruption of the wicked to overflow His plan of redemption.
In 1953, Martians invaded planet earth and wiped out a large portion of the population. In 1959, a nuclear war wipes out the majority of mankind leaving only a few, who are soon to perish from the radiation clouds. In 1979, a worldwide famine results in a dystopian world run by rival gangs. In 1996, a virus wipes out the human population. In 1997, two volcanoes cause chaos. In 1998, planet earth was twice saved from the total ruin asteroids would have caused. In 2004, global climate change results in a deep freeze killing off most of the northern hemisphere. And in 2012, the Mayans turn out to be right as the world as we know it comes to an end and only those who escape in giant “arks” survive.
What is it about cataclysmic events that so captures out minds? One possibility is that there is psychological relief in playing out our worst fears in stories. But another possibility is that there remains within the collective human psyche memories of a day when the earth really was destroyed by a cataclysmic flood. The likelihood of this is actually quite high as we find flood epics lodged in various cultures around the world. Not only that, but the idea of a flood is buried deep in the linguistic lines of varied cultures. For example, in kanji the word for “boat” is composed of 3 distinct shapes, the one on the left being a bi-level structure, and the 2 on the right being the number eight over the symbol for mouth: boat = 8 mouths to feed.
Of course, the narrative of Noah and the worldwide flood has been the subject of scathing criticism by many, and I do not plan on addressing these criticisms today. I plan on making the biblical case and then you can follow up as you see fit. In today’s sermon, I’m going to try to explain the text before us and then as we get toward the end I will introduce the foundational truth which we are addressing.
In Defense of God
One way of misreading the Old Testament is to see God as a spiteful and petty deity who snuffs out those with whom He is displeased in a somewhat arbitrary fashion. When it comes to the narrative before us today, nothing could be further from the truth. The Bible makes it quite clear that God has allowed mankind to exercise some level of autonomy for several generations, and mankind has only used that autonomy to progressively delve deeper into depravity.
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
We see God attempting to limit the extent of the damage sinful man could cause His creation in verse 3, where man’s days upon the earth are limited to 120 years. But the final nail in the coffin is when the group of people known as the “sons of God” marry with the “daughters of men” and produce offspring who are mighty men of renown, and yet wicked. For a full explanation of this text, watch the video below:
The only way to read this narrative in a truthful manner is to understand it primarily as a story of salvation. It is true that mankind is worthy of punishment, but through these early days of our ancestors God showed a remarkable amount of restraint in His dealings with them. He does not act until the very future of humanity is put at risk, and even then He preserved Life. To this day, God continues to show a remarkable amount of restraint so that many will experience His salvation:
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.2 Peter 3:9
The choice of Noah, while an act of Grace, is consistent with the dichotomous family tree of Adam and Eve that split into the line of Seth and the line of Cain. Noah is described as a righteous man, perfect in his generations, and we ought to take that at face value without feeling the need to perform too many hermeneutical acrobatics around the concept of Total Depravity. In saving Noah and his family, God preserved the human race from absolute corruption – that is, a corruption from which even Redemption could not Redeem.
As we endure afflictions as believers, we must keep in mind that God often has us “in the fire” for a purpose and that our deliverance may simultaneously occur with the judgment of the wicked. God allows His children to experience suffering and persecution at the hand of unbelievers, sometimes to the point of death. When this happens, we need to remember that God would not leave us in the midst of persecution unless our salvation were already secured. But because our salvation is secure, God allows us to share in the sufferings of Christ as a testimony to the lost.