Genesis 6 is probably one of the saddest chapters in the entire Bible. Who would have thought that the question of Genesis 3 (“Did God really say?”) would end in this debacle? From disobedience and banishment (ch. 3) to murder (ch. 4) to arrogance (5:23-24) to this? Note the progression in the description of this era:
And the LORD said, “My Spirit will not remain with mankind forever, because they are corrupt. (6:3)
When the LORD saw that man’s wickedness was widespread on the earth and that every scheme his mind thought of was nothing but evil all the time. (6:5)
Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with wickedness. God saw how corrupt the earth was, for every creature had corrupted its way on the earth. (6:11-12)
Sadly, that human condition has not changed or improved in the many years since Genesis 6. No wonder that Paul in Romans 3, summarizes several passages in the OT:
There is no one righteous, not even one.There is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away; all alike have become useless. There is no one who does what is good, not even one. (Romans 3:10-12)
The human condition is so bad that we read of God’s reaction: regret that He had made man (humans).
the LORD regretted that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. (6:6)
Notice God’s regret is not because he made creation, but man (humans). Yet God will destroy all living creatures:
Then the LORD said, “I will wipe off from the face of the earth mankind, whom I created, together with the animals, creatures that crawl, and birds of the sky—for I regret that I made them.” (6:7)
If this were the end of the story it would be the most tragic end we could imagine. Yet, this is not the end of the story. Two specific statements show the impact of “But God…”
Noah, however, found favor in the sight of the LORD Noah was a righteous man, blameless among his contemporaries; Noah walked with God. (6:8-9)
(But) God remembered Noah, as well as all the wildlife and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. (8:1)
“God remembers” becomes a critical theme throughout the Old Testament and into the New Testament as well. When the sin of the world (and ourselves) seems overwhelming, we can take comfort in God remembering us. The Israelites discover this in Genesis 19:29, Exodus 2:23-24, 1 Samuel 1:19, and Psalm 105:42.
Sin can never overcome God’s mercy. Outward appearances might suggest that sin does win. But never with God, and never with God’s mercy. In the midst of the depravity, God’s mercy works in and through this one person. God provides a means of saving Noah and his family—through the ark. This saving action points ahead to an even greater saving action:
when God patiently waited in the days of Noah while an ark was being prepared. In it a few—that is, eight people,—were saved through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the pledge of a good conscience toward God) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 3:21-22)
Our comfort is that the God who saved in the flood is still the saving God in and through Baptism.
When Noah and his family are rescued, Noah’s first response is one of worship.
8:20 Then Noah built an altar to the LORD.
This raises an interesting question. When we face disaster, or more parallel, the relief from disaster, do we worship? As I look at the recent events in our own time, it seems that generally for the population, worship becomes center immediately after the disaster happens, but then fades away when rescues happen. For individual families, when rescue happens worship may indeed be the response.