Yesterday I had a great time with some friends of mine talking about various the different difficult topics we read in the Bible, and it became a good time of remembering the gospel for each of us as forgiven, children of God.
The largest passage in question was Genesis 6, where it says, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, ‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.’ But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (vv. 5-8).
The question we wrestled with is what the sin was that so greatly grieved God. Was it simply the day-to-day sinfulness of all people that finally caused God to create us? Or was it something more? Something we don’t understand about the passage right before this when there are giants on the earth, and the ‘Sons of God’ are sleeping with the ‘Daughters of Man’?
To be fair, I don’t think that anyone has more information about what exactly was going on before the flood than is stated, so any conversation is speculative. All we know for sure is that “every intention of the thoughts of (man’s) heart was only evil continually.”
In my opinion, the definition of ‘evil’ here should simply mean that they were living lives turned away from God as intended by the great commandment: “you shall love your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” This is commanded of humans repeatedly in scripture. In fact, it was a dishonoring of God as God by eating the fruit of the tree in the Garden of Eden that caused the fall of man (Genesis 3).
I also believe that the definition of ‘evil’ as living turned away from God is what kept Noah in God’s favor as He decided to put it all to an end. Verse 9 of Genesis 6 says, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation.” And I believe that this is only due to the next phrase in the verse, “Noah walked with God.”
Isn’t that what we are told of every “righteous” person in scripture? Abraham kept denying his wife so his life wasn’t taken, but he was proclaimed righteous because he believed God in faith and followed as He led (Romans 4:3, Hebrews 11:8-9) Moses was a murderer and coward who refused to face the consequences of his action by hiding in the wilderness, but when God called Him, Moses obeyed God in faith and became the deliverer of his people (Hebrews 11:23-28). David slept with his friend’s wife, then killed his friend to cover the sin, but his faith in the Lord led him to be called a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:13-14; Acts 13:22).
The same is true for all of us. According to the bible, every person on the planet is either completely unrighteous and deserving of God’s punishment (Romans 3:10; 6:23) or forgiven and made righteous by their faith in God (Ephesians 2:8-9).
We know in the New Testament, this faith in God’s forgiveness is fulfilled in the punishment of Jesus Christ, but for most of the world, that fact has not been realized or accepted and they are still living out their continual evilness of heart.
The reality we must come to realize, though, is that even though God offers forgiveness in Christ to all who will believe, that invitation does come with an expiration date. 2 peter 3:8-10 says, “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you,not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.”
The wickedness of man on the earth will eventually lead to action in Heaven. God will once again tell Jesus the time is right, and will send Him in to conquer and judge the world for their wickedness, and those not found in Christ will face God’s wrath for their sin – this time not with water, but with fire (Genesis 9:11, 2 Peter 3:7).
Luke 17:26 says, “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man.” In the days of Noah, people were completely evil; only Noah was a friend of God. When the final day of Judgement comes, the question is, which one will describe you.