Genesis 6:5 The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.
Things went downhill rather quickly after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. Their first-born son Cain murdered their second-born son Abel in the first religious persecution (Genesis 4:8). Then Lamech corrupted God’s pattern for marriage by introducing polygamy (Genesis 4:19). Before long, every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.
This is one of the clearest statements of human depravity in the Bible. And two chapters later we read that every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood (Genesis 8:21). We don’t have to teach our children how to be bad; it comes to them quite naturally.
I could tell about my own childhood sins (which were many and deadly) but I will tell on my friends instead. We lived near a lake where there were frogs, and to pass the time, we would catch them. Not content to let them go, however, my friends amused themselves by inventing ways to torture the frogs. I could list the ways they tortured them, but it’s more disturbing than it’s worth. Even in our youth we are more like Satan, morally, than we are like Jesus Christ.
The Bible’s first concern is not to give us a wonderful life, or to make the world a better place. It speaks to these, and other issues, but they are not the main point. The Bible’s main concern is sin, and what God has done to fix it through his Son Jesus Christ. Any other reading is a misinterpretation.
Genesis 6:6 The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.
Other translations say, his heart was filled with pain (NIRV), he was heartbroken (GW) and, it broke his heart (NLT). This is a little surprising because we do not expect an all-powerful God to be emotionally involved with his creatures—unless, of course, he is also a heavenly Father who suffers deeply whenever his children go astray.
A friend of mine grew up in a good and godly home, and we went to school together. He was normal in grade school, a little wild in middle school, but in high school he personified rebellion. He engaged in every form of destructive behavior until he finally disappeared. About a year later I saw his mother, and was surprised by her appearance. She looked ten years older. I shudder to think how often I broke my parents’ hearts, not to mention my heavenly Father’s heart.
Genesis 6:7 So the Lord said, I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created . . . for I regret that I have made them.
Human beings turned out so badly that God had second thoughts. God is an all-powerful supreme being, complete in himself. But he’s also a rejected Father with all the attending emotions. God is a real person, with real feelings, and our behavior affects his feelings. Sin is more than a violation of God’s law; it is a pain in God’s heart.
Genesis 6:9 Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.
The earth was filled with wickedness, but Noah was an exception. He chose to be in step with God and out of step with the world, rather than to be in step with the world and out of step with God. Noah did not care about the world’s approval nearly as much as God’s approval. Whether he had many friends or few, Noah would only have one best friend—the God who gave him life. So when God determined to judge the world with a flood, he commissioned Noah to build an ark, in which he and his family would be saved.
In fact, Noah was also a preacher (2 Peter 2:5). And when people came by to see the ark, he likely gave them a sermon. We do not have a transcript, but he probably told them to repent, since God doesn’t want anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). This went on day after day, week after week, and year after year. But apart from his family, Noah never won a single convert. Ministry can be hard sometimes.
Genesis 6:15 The ark is to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high.
Critics like to mock this story, but there are some interesting facts to support it. First, the ark was about four hundred fifty feet long, seventy-five feet wide, and forty-five feet high. Imagine a building one and a half times the size of a football field, and four and a half stories tall. It was a massive structure, but credible estimates show it was precisely the right size for the cargo.
Second, the ark was six times longer than it was wide. This is the same ratio used by modern ship builders because ships built to these proportions are extremely stable, and almost impossible to capsize. And as far as we know, the ark was the first of its kind. It was engineered by God, and the pattern is still used today.
Third, there are extra-biblical accounts supporting the story of a catastrophic flood. The two most famous are the Atra-Hasis Epic and the Gilgamesh Epic. Both were written prior to the biblical account, which suggests the story was passed down orally, from Noah and his family to later generations, until it was written down by Moses around 1445 BC. There are differences between the stories, but the biblical account is the most plausible one by far.
Genesis 7:13 On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark.
By this time the ark was fully loaded, and the rain was coming down. Of all the people on earth, only eight were saved (1 Peter 3:20). This is meant to shock us because we can barely imagine God only saving eight people. What about Aunt Edna, Uncle Roy and Cousin Pete? When it came to being saved, most people missed the boat. They still do. [S]mall is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it (Matthew 7:13-14), said Jesus.
While most people reject their need to be saved, believers sense the approaching judgment and take action. As Noah and his family got into the ark, we get into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ (John 5:24). We may experience ridicule, but we would rather be in Christ, than anywhere else without him.
Reflection and Review
Are people sinners by nature or by choice?
How does God feel about the wicked?
Why didn’t more people believe Noah?