Sin, Grace and Consequence
Text: Genesis 6
Proposition: The Cause of the Flood was the sin in mankind that refused to recognize the grace of God and consequently brought judgment.
Introduction: What we are about to talk about over this week and the next is the single most catastrophic event in the historical record of the earth. If you were to take the plagues of Europe, the explosions of Pompey, the Katrina’s and the Mount St. Helen’s, the tsunami, earthquake, hurricane and tornado disasters of all recorded time and combine them all together in one event…this was greater in magnitude and destruction than all that combined by far. In short we have nothing, nothing that compares with the scale of this global Armageddon called the Flood. Let’s begin with that simple truth, this event will stagger your imagination not only in its scope, duration and end but also in its cause. As we begin to consider the Flood a typical approach of what caused it tends to want to deal with ecology, environment and random crisis. But if God is and is sovereign over all things what expectations does He have of mankind and in His perspective what would He be willing to do to achieve that. With that thought let’s read Genesis 6:1-7.
I. The Disaster of Sin.
What becomes evident is that the marriages described in these first three verses were not what was best. In fact it resulted in a downward spiral of godless faith and moral depravity. Who were “the sons of God” and the “the daughters of men”? Clearly this wasn’t the direction that Adam had been sent in as far as the command to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth and subdue it. We have several options:
1. The sons of God is a euphemism for angelic beings and the daughters of men refers to humanity and there is therefore a cross breeding of two orders. I’d reject this outright as the Scripture tells us that angelic beings are immortal and do not, cannot procreate.
2. The sons of God refer to some sort of extra-terrrestial beings, space men if you will. Again, this is too absurd in light of all else that Scripture doesn’t say regarding life on other planets. For now the focus is what is evident on earth.
3. The term “sons of God “ refers to those who came from the line of Seth, the godly men and women who it says in Genesis 4:24 were people who began to call upon the name of the Lord. The term “daughters of men” refers to the female descendents of Cain, a people that were as prolific as the line of Seth but were violent and godless in their beliefs and actions. This would seem to be the more plausible interpretation in the context of what has previously been written.
The disaster of sin is that these “sons of God” men chose for themselves on the basis of physical appearance only. It seemed right to them and throwing aside all that had been revealed to this point regarding the identity of God, the means by which they were to come to Him and thus the key to their own lives, they disregarded it to their own peril. The net effect was a compounding of sin that essentially spit in the face of God’s grace. The grace of God was not seen as a needed essential, it had no value and consequently there was no recognition of what scorning it would lead to. God reveals truth, He teaches it and demonstrates it, He invites us to agree with Him, He entreats us to turn, He pleads even, that we would stop heading towards death. Then, if we will not respond to His grace, He will withdraw from a foolish and hardened heart. That’s what verse three points to, “Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever for he is indeed flesh…”. The disaster of sin is that it is contemptuous of grace to the point that God will cease to strive, to pull against the fleshly nature of man that is at war with spiritual reality of man’s being. Galatians 5:16, 17 says, “I say then, ‘Walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit and these are contrary to one another so that you do not do the things that you wish.” The inference here is that the things you wish for are not always beneficial, they may harm you, even kill you. The disaster of sin is that it doesn’t see that, chooses against truth and brings great loss. The disaster of sin is that it tempts light to compromise, it reduces and removes the influence God intends for life. The disaster of sin is that it brings death. This was the cause of the Flood, a diminished presence of life and truth that left the world spiraling into godless anarchy. Listen to the indictment in verse 5, “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” It was not the collapse of climate that caused the Flood, it wasn’t tectonic plate shifting, volcanic upheaval or catastrophic deluge that caused the Flood, the greatest global crisis ever. It was the sin of mankind, unconstrained and un-confessed, that caused the greatest disaster known, globally and personally.
II. The Wonder of Grace.
There was this strange statement that God makes in verse 3, “…yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” Some have thought that this refers to a new assigned life span for mankind but I think the reference is to a window of grace, a time yet given to men to turn, to repent and be saved from the judgment to come. The 120 years I think refers to the time that it would take Noah to make the ark.(cf Gen. 5:32 and 7:6) For 120 years a visible wood structure would point people not only to impending judgment but also to the means by which they could be saved. That’s the wonder of grace, it pierces the darkest of circumstances and lays down a beam of light on which to walk to life. If you were to read verses 8 to 22 of Genesis 6 you’d see these expressions of God’s grace:
1. By grace God chose to use Noah and his family. By grace this would be the next core of genealogy for the history of humankind, it was a new beginning, a starting over, a being born again for mankind. God’s grace invites people to begin again.
2. By grace God brought an end to corruption. The Flood was in this sense very much an act of grace. God interrupted the chain of dysfunctional life and violence.
3. By grace God gave the design for the Ark. It had three decks, it’s dimensions were approximately 500 feet long, 85 feet wide and 50 feet high meaning a cumulative floor space of around 12000 square feet. This was no small engineering issue, it would have a huge cargo to carry, have to sustain incredible abuse from water and wind and have to be able to sustain the life of all it carried. You cannot help but see how the Ark was like Jesus Christ, how in Him mankind and creation would hope for deliverance from an even greater judgment than the Flood.
4. By grace God linked Himself to Noah with a covenant. As the pitch that covered the Ark would keep it from being water logged so the covenant of God covered these people. It was like God signing a binding contract between Himself and Noah that God would indeed fulfill all that He had promised. Again in Christ we too have been offered a binding contract from God. By faith we will be saved in Christ through the deluge of death to eternal life. That contract was signed in blood, the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross.
5. By grace God timed things perfectly. He sent the animals to Noah, animals of size and maturity that would fit in the ark and yet still ensure the survival of species. By grace He gave enough time for all to be built and then all to arrive. By grace He told Noah how this was going to end, and by grace God even closed the door to the Ark. (Genesis 7:16) God designed it, God revealed it, God placed it before them and then God sealed them in it. All this he did as an answer to the dilemma of sin in mankind. All that the Flood pictures, even the very cause of the Flood, points to God’s final provision for sin in Jesus Christ. All that the Flood pictures in terms of judgment pictures the soon coming judgment of God against a world that today rejects Him even as in the days of Noah. Today the invitation is to enter the Ark of Jesus Christ, to call on Him as Lord and Savior, for that is what a Savior does, He delivers us from death.