Genesis 6:1-8 – here we see the Nephilim who were on earth, while the sons of God mated with the daughters of man. Who are these sons of God? Job 1:6 implies that they are angels, like Satan. These angels have followed after the pattern of the first Deceiver and Murderer, and went against God’s will by choosing to “go into” these daughters of men.
Jude 5-7 seems to explain this in some detail:
“Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day — 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire (“other flesh” in the ESV footnote), served as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.”
This verse reveals two things – the participation of the Son of God in saving people out of the land of Egypt and ‘other flesh’.
(1) The problem here is that people tend to imply that the faith of the Israelites in Jesus was vague here. That, ‘technically’, it is Christ who saved them, though they had no idea. I am not denying that there were plenty who failed to see the Angel of the Lord as the son of God, but that should not be a sweeping statement for all Israelites. Indeed, how is Jude capable of understanding the Angel as God’s son, except by understanding that this same Angel keeps on referring to himself as the Lord who brought them out of Egypt, the Second Person of the Trinity? Some scholars have had trouble understanding the different usages of “Lord” in the Pentateuch as to doubt the singular authorship of the 5 books, but I provide a simpler explanation. The different usages of “Lord” is because there are indeed two Lords mentioned – the Father, and the Son who brought the people out of Egypt.
(2) Secondly, is the issue of the “unnatural desire”, or “other flesh”. Here we see the term ‘sexual immorality’ coupled with ‘unnatural desire’. Surely, sexual immorality IS a type of unnatural desire? Why is Jude making himself redundant? It is because he is not referring to the same thing. The verses in Jude, in context, refer the ‘unnatural desire’, the ‘other flesh’ (or strange flesh as some translate it), refers to angelic flesh. The context of Sodom and Gomorrah sees men desiring to have sex with the guests of Lot – the angels. This tradition of course hails from the Noahic period, when women and angels mated and the Nephilim were the result of such mating. Even more so does it prophesy to the truth that the Son of God would not mate with any human on earth, but value his singleness for one bride alone – not because the bride is attractive as the angels saw it and succumb to their lustful desires, but because the Son loves the bride unconditionally and according to the time and plan of God the Father.
From v. 6-8, we see the LORD pained and sorry to have created men on earth, as the men have chosen to go freely against his will. We must remember that although God is sovereign, he is still easily pained by our actions, by our sins.
His decision to blot out all men/animals/creeping things and bird of heaven is very interesting. Why did he omit the sea creatures, which he had also made? Why did his punishment have to be in the form of a global flood, and not fire? Because Noah and the family is the church. Before we move on to that, Noah had found ‘favour’ in the eyes of God, so let’s look at this first.
Favour of Noah
Now it is important not to read this as if Noah was particularly pious, as some Muslims have read this (much the same way they read Enoch). Hebrews 11:7 –
“By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.”
This is the same faith as faith in Christ alone. That, in itself, was sufficient to find favour in the eyes of God. This is extremely important, that throughout Scripture, though there are periods in which it refers to personal ‘righteousness’, and imputed ‘righteousness’, most of the time it refers to the latter than the former if God is pleased with the ‘righteous’ person. It is most likely because that person has faith in Christ.
A few things to note:
1. Why the sea creatures were not punished
Genesis 6:17 –
“For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven”.
and again, Genesis 7:15 –
“They went into the ark with Noah, two and two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life.”
As I have previously noted, God has surprisingly left out the sea creatures. Why? Because the sea creatures, as I have stated in my post on Genesis Day 2 and 5, are symbolic of the lost men without the ‘breath of life’, the Spirit, dwelling inside of them. Genesis 6:17 seems to imply that all flesh on earth, save the fish, have the breath of life to sustain them. Yet, our role as Christians is to be fishers of men, and to bring the fish out onto the dry land and to give them a new Spirit and new physical body to remain alive on the dry land.
However, we mustn’t look at the picture of the sea creatures by themselves, for the gospel picture isn’t going to function by looking at the sea creatures here in the Noahic flood. We must merge the pieces of the puzzle together to see the gospel in entirety. By itself, it would be hard to understand why God DIDN’T punish the fish, if the fish is allegedly the representation of lost and unsaved men.
2. The creation of the ark and its symbolism
God is extremely precise – much the same way he was with the creation of the garden of God which houses the tree of life, again here we see God describing a ‘tabernacle’ in which the church of Christ would dwell throughout the prophetic global punishment, which though it is a global flood will become a global fire in the future. 2 Peter 3:3-7:
“…that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and the earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly”.
This is quite important. Enoch, being the great-grandfather of Noah, had prophesied to the second coming, of the tens of thousands of God’s angels coming to destroy all entities which have no faith in the Promised Seed. Noah, undoubtedly, had inherited his teachings (albeit not necessarily directly from Enoch, but very possibly from the very fact of being Enoch’s descendant, explaining his and his family’s faith in the Lord). Enoch knew quite well of the second coming – and Noah knew that this flood is NOT the second coming. Indeed, he must have known that Enoch was not referring to the global flood when all things on earth was destroyed, but Enoch was speaking of a period in the future when the hosts of heaven would come to destroy the ungodly. This flood was merely a foretaste, and Noah was still awaiting the true global punishment of the ungodly.
The detail or the ark here is of course similar to when the Tabernacle instructions were given in the latter chapters of Exodus. This, however, is the first time God asked man to create something under God’s instruction – the tabernacle being the second time. What is the importance of this ark? Couldn’t God have just asked Noah, in his own wisdom, to create an ark without God’s instructions? Or does God want us to see something extremely important, suggested through the details of the pairs of earthly creatures, male and female? Why 7 pairs of clean animals? And why a pair of animals that are unclean? 7 pairs of the birds of heaven to keep their offspring alive? God isn’t haphazard. This isn’t a ‘random’ salvation – he is trying to tell us something through Moses in this message.
To begin with, let’s see what the apostle Peter observed. 1 Peter 3:20-22 –
“…because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.”
From here, it seems to maintain one truth – that the preparation of the ark needed to be complete before the flood, the global punishment. Peter here intimates that Jesus is what the ark, in itself, prophesied to – that the global flood judgment is a prophecy to the global fiery punishment in Christ’s second coming.
3. The clean and unclean animals
Some have said that there is contradiction in the language here concerning the animals, but it appears that Genesis 6:19-22 is focusing on the procreation of the animals in the ark (hence the male/female pairing), whereas Genesis 7:2-3 is focusing on the sacrificial aspects of the clean vs. unclean animals (and the number 7 should represent the perfection of God’s sovereignty over the Noahic flood affair). This is most interesting, for the Mosaic law has not been given. How did Abel know of sacrificing animals to God? As I have already mentioned, Abel knew because his father, Adam, understood the significance of the animal skins, that life had to be taken for another’s life. Furthermore, they did not eat meat – this is most odd then for Abel to provide an animal sacrifice (for most people provide the best of what they consume/eat to their gods, much like the sacrificial systems to the gods of the Orient). Here, again, God has provided not only animals, but CLEAN animals for Noah to sacrifice. This is all seemingly anachronistic, but it appears that Noah knew more about Christ and the sacrifices than we assume him to know, given the downside of some parts of the theology of progressive revelation.
Let’s sum up the bits above.
(1) The ark = Christ
(2) Noah and family = the (believing) church
(3) Flood = global punishment
(4) Sea creatures = unsaved men without the Spirit
(5) The birds and the creatures on earth = also saved in Christ
So, what we have is the full gospel-image portrayed. Noah, who, with the 7 clean animals sacrificed to God, had in faith understood that there is going to be an even bigger believing church against a growing opposition of the ungodly as according to his great-grandfather’s teachings. He understood the flood as merely prophetic of the global punishment by the hosts of heaven, and that the birds and creatures on earth, like men, will also be saved unto heaven. Only the fish in the sea will be unsaved, for they represent the unsaved men on earth; whereas, the birds and creatures on earth, we can safely assume, already have the Spirit of life in them. Yet, what is most amazing is that man is given the privilege of ‘choice’ (mind you, NOT FREE WILL, for I am no Arminian as some may assume by my constant bantering on ‘choice’ in previous posts), that we choose to deny or accept the Spirit of life, either to remain in the ark/Christ, or the remain in the sea/punishment.
Here, we see again the prophetic work of the Spirit. Chapter 8v.1 states that “God made a ‘wind’ blow over the earth, and the waters subsided”. Many times, ‘wind’, the ruach of God, refers to the Spirit. This again occurred when God made a wind blow through the Red Sea. Here, it is by the Spirit that the waters of punishment subside and that the waters abate and the dry land is seen. This is the same message preached on Genesis day 3 and 6 – the dry land after the waters of punishment. For there will be no uncontrollable sea, but a river and stream of life in new Creation, much to the similarities of the rivers in Eden.
Yet, is this it? Can God be pleased with Noah and his family, as if everything is restored? I don’t think God intended for everything to be restored in this way. After the flood, there has been no more (known) instances of angels mating with women. But sin still persists. The picture is immediately grim. The world has immediately, again, fallen into sin. Surely the gospel shown in this flood still shows something yet to occur – and that the event in itself should not be given the attention it does NOT deserve. It wasn’t an awesome act of God compared to the true work of Christ. Even the parting of the Red Sea had been given non-proportional attention! All these things, all these acts of God, all these prophecies, look forward to the true work of Jesus Christ on the cross. The Cross, indeed, is the center of what creation looks at, is the very meaning of the covenant with God re-affirms with Noah in Genesis 9, to which I will turn to in the next post.