Genesis 6-8 may be summarized in two sentences: God was so grieved by the wickedness of mankind that His holiness activated His justice, and He destroyed the world with a universal flood. But, in His great mercy, He also saved some by grace.
Chapter 6 begins with an unclear description of sinful intermarriages, which resulted in even greater wickedness upon the earth. As we read through the entire account of Noah’s flood, there are four biblical truths we are compelled to embrace. Let me encourage you to study these chapters this week using this simple outline. You may also want to listen to the sermon, which is linked at the end of this post.
Man, left to himself, only multiplies evil and is, therefore, worthy of divine judgment (6:5-7). This is a horrible paragraph. It is a description of where the total depravity of man leads. Do you remember what happened at the end of Genesis 3?
- Even after Adam and Eve defiantly rebelled against God’s authority, God took the initiative to give them grace.
- Instead of killing them on the spot, He killed an animal in their place and clothed their shame with its hide.
- Then, in judgment, He cast them out of the Garden of Eden. But this, too, was grace. For He stationed angels with flaming swords to guard the path to the Tree of Life, so that they could not eat of it and forever be separated from God.
And so it is, again, in the days of Noah. But where there is great wickedness, there is greater grace.
Salvation is initiated and accomplished by God’s grace, and comes through judgment (6:8-22). Genesis 6:8 tells us that God, in grace, moved toward Noah. Verses 9-13 describe the generations of Noah, and then verse 14 to the end provide detailed instructions concerning the ark Noah is to build. God’s provision of the ark flows purely from grace, and maintains the human existence required to fulfill His promise of the seed of the woman who will one day crush the serpent’s head.
Righteousness is received through faith, which results in obedience (7:1-24). The relationship Noah had with God, because of grace, resulted in a life of practical righteousness. This is demonstrated throughout Chapter 7. The writer of the New Testament book of Hebrews says Noah did all this by faith. Noah had never seen rain before. He had no previous flood experience. He simply took God at His word, and acted in accordance with it, as Hebrews 11:7 testifies: 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.
God remembers those whom He redeems, and keeps the promises He makes to them (8:1-9:17). Chapter 8 begins with beautiful, comforting words. “God remembered Noah.” In the midst of His great judgment upon mankind, God remembered the promise He had made. Included is the promise to never again destroy the earth with a universal flood. Psalm 104:5-8 beautifully describes the boundaries God placed upon the oceans, to ensure His promise will be kept. After the flood, God raised the mountains taller than they were before, and lowered the ocean floor further. This established its boundary.
He set the earth on its foundations,
so that it should never be moved.
You covered it with the deep as with a garment;
the waters stood above the mountains.
At your rebuke they fled;
at the sound of your thunder they took to flight.
The mountains rose, the valleys sank down
to the place that you appointed for them.
You set a boundary that they may not pass,
so that they might not again cover the earth.
How does the account of Noah serve us today?
It serves as a warning: Though not by water, God will again judge the whole earth. Read 2 Peter 3:1-13.
It serves as an example: Though all men are worthy of judgment, God saves some by grace through faith. Read 1 Peter 3:18-22.
By grace through faith, God saved Noah’s family, thus preserving human existence by the lineage of Adam, through whom He would send the Second Adam, Jesus Christ our Savior.
[Here’s the link to the sermon Some through the Flood.]