Last year Noah, supposedly an epic film inspired by the Biblical story of Noah, turned the spotlight, though not particularly brightly, on events recorded in the Bible. Like Exodus that followed it months later, the movie deviated from the historical account—understandable since most atheists such as the film maker don’t look at the Bible as history and would have a hard time showing God as the Bible reveals Him.
I didn’t see the movie, but I saw trailers and clips. One of the more memorable had a mob of people clamoring to get on board the ark, only to have Noah hold them off
at gun point under threat of violence.
Interesting since the small amount of information we have about the pre-flood world mentions violence as one cause for God’s judgment. Of course there was the whole Sons-of-God-copulating-with-the-daughters-of-men issue. Nobody really understands what that was all about, of course. Some scholars insist the “sons of God” refer to angels, but then there’s not a good explanation why God would judge Mankind for what angels were clearly responsible for.
Be that as it may, we can put down as fact that something immoral, of a sexual nature, was taking place. My theory, which I may have shared in this space before, is that Adam and Eve had children before they sinned. These would have been “sons of God” in the sense that they didn’t have a sin nature. Daughters of men would have been born in Adam’s likeness, with a sin nature.
But that’s a theory.
The bottom line is that humankind didn’t just sin occasionally:
the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Gen. 6:5)
A few verses down, God references their violence:
Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence. (v 11)
We don’t have details here, but we know that Cain killed his brother—2nd degree murder, or premeditated murder, we don’t know for sure. Either way, God didn’t respond with capital punishment. Instead he protected Cain from those who might want to kill him by branding him with a special mark. This was not a curse as some have suggested or a mark he passed on to his descendents as others have said.
There’s no indication it was anything more than a way people could identify Cain as a man under God’s protection. God’s promise was that if anyone killed Cain, they’d pay sevenfold.
Perhaps the people of the day took this to be a license to kill. We know in fact that one of Cain’s descendents, Lamech, also committed murder. In fact he confessed to two murders:
For I have killed a man for wounding me;
And a boy for striking me (4:23b)
Lamech then claimed the right of seventy-sevenfold retribution against anyone who would seek to kill him.
One more thing Lamech is famous for: he’s also the first recorded bigamist.
Apparently he was a trend-setter because few men from that point on until the first century were monogamous.
So here are the facts: God said to Adam and Eve, be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. Their descendents were killing each other.
God established marriage as a one man-one woman union that made them one flesh. Adam and Eve’s descendents were partnering inappropriately—in the wrong way (multiple partners), with the wrong people (sons of God with daughters of men).
So apparently humankind was 0 for 2—they failed to obey the only two commandments God had given them. And things were only getting worse:
God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth.
Then God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth.
As we know from Romans, humankind’s corruption affected the rest of creation.
The point I want to make here is that God judged Lamech and his sons and their sons, not because they were good people and God just had a temper tantrum. He judged them because they were mass murderers and rapists and adulterers and bigamists. They rejected God’s right to rule their lives in the simplest, most basic aspects.
Noah alone was righteous.
And still, after God passed judgment, after He gave Noah the command to build the ark, it took a hundred years to get it finished.
Yes, these were the days when humans still lived long lives. Scripture intimates in a number of places that humans didn’t lose their faculties as they aged at the same rate we do today. So at 75, for example, Sarai, Abram’s wife, is still referred to as very beautiful.
But to the point, God didn’t strike down all the corrupt of the earth in a fit of anger. And Noah wasn’t off in some corner happily preparing his escape from the coming judgment while other “good people” were unaware of the coming catastrophe.
Scripture refers to Noah as “a preacher of righteousness,” suggesting that he was splitting his time between building the ark and telling everyone else about God, His expectations, and His righteous judgment.
The people who died in the flood were “ungodly” according to 2 Peter. They’re listed along with the angels God judged and the infamous cities of Sodom and Gomorrah which God also judged and destroyed.
God does not whack innocent people like some gangland kingpin who’s having a bad day and wants to take it out on whoever is in his way.
God is a righteous judge.
He’s sovereign, but He’s good; his judgments are pure and right, every one of them.
I’m convinced we don’t have to fret over the people who died in the flood. God says He takes no delight in the death of the wicked, and yet He carries out the judgment against them. I have no doubt that he made the right call. Am I happy many people died? Of course not. But God knew each one of those people by name. I’m confident He wanted more than I ever could, for them to do an about face so that He didn’t have to carry out the judgment upon them.
How do I know this? Because of the prophets and the ways God worked to spare Israel and Judah—the extent He went to in the effort to induce His people to turn back to Him. And ultimately, the fact that He Himself went to a cross to die in my place.
Would a God who loves that much, have done less to win and woo the pre-flood people? It’s not consistent with His character to think He was uncaring in His judgment. But His judgment is a fact and a warning to us that God’s patience is long-suffering but not endless. There is a day of judgment for our world that is also coming.
Would that people today will learn the lesson the pre-flood people failed to grasp.