The Story So Far
God created mankind for friendship with him and fulfillment on earth. Sin tainted the patterns he’d established, but God gave a promise that Eve’s offspring would crush the serpent, Satan. Cain failed, and destroyed Abel. Through Seth a new, less tainted line entered the world, and now the story fast-forwards to Noah, the one righteous man left on the earth.
The Multiplication of Sin
The original mandate God had given mankind was to multiply, to fill the earth, and to govern nature. As Genesis progresses, we will see this mandate corrupted by sin. In Genesis 6, humanity begins to multiply, but the result is now harmful because their spread increases the spread of depravity on the earth.
Genesis 6 begins with a rather mysterious account of the “sons of God,” also called nephilim, or ‘fallen ones,’ marrying the daughters of men, and begetting mighty men of renown. There are debates about who the nephilim were; perhaps they were fallen angels given the opportunity to take bodily form on earth. In any case, it is clear that the multiplication of mankind and the passage of time were leading mainly to more pervasive and extreme expressions of sin in the world.
The Holiness of God
Another major pattern we see continued in Genesis 6 is the holiness of God. God is entirely pure, and the sin of mankind was a continual rebellion against him. Just as Adam and Eve began the process by sinning in the Garden of Eden, their offspring continued in the pattern of rebellion against God’s authority, trusting their own judgment of good and evil over God’s and rejecting his friendship and leadership. God sees the violence and corruption of the earth and decides to wipe it clean in judgment.
An interesting element to note is that God is not merely angry about human sin – he is grieved by it as well. The people God has created bring about a great sadness for him, and the Bible tells us God became sorry he had created mankind.
The Mercy of God
The sin of man multiplies. In opposition to this stands the holiness of God, which leads him to judge man. However, another critical pattern is demonstrated again in Genesis 6. The Bible continuously portrays God as a God of great mercy and kindness. A god who was holy but not merciful would not hesitate to destroy the world that had fallen into corruption, and wipe out humanity with it. The God of the Bible, however, shows kindness by choosing a man to preserve humanity and the animal world despite the coming judgment.
So we find Noah, a righteous man from the line of Seth, warned of the flood God is going to send in judgment of the earth, and instructed to construct an ark. By now the original idea of the battle against Satan has shifted – this will not be a quick victory or a clean reversal – but now there is a new hope for humanity. Noah will save the righteous and the wicked will be swept away. The earth will have a new beginning and humanity another chance. In the upcoming Bible studies we’ll study the results.