When the descendants of men multiplied on the face of the earth, evil was in every intent of their hearts. Despite the prevalence of wickedness and violence, Noah was just and perfect in his generations. Before the LORD brought the floodwaters to destroy all flesh, He instructed Noah to build an ark for himself, his family and the animals. The passage teaches us about God’s punishment on the wicked and God’s preservation of the one who found favor in His eyes and His creation.
Did You Know...?
- “For he is indeed flesh” (6:3): A possible alternate reading of this phrase in Hebrew is “By reason of their going astray, he is flesh.”
- Giants (6:4): In Hebrew, this word also means fallers, rebels, or apostates. [ref]
- Gopherwood (6:14) is a kind of resinous wood, like fir or pine. [ref]
- Cubit (6:15) in Hebrew means the “mother of the arm” or the fore-arm. It is originated from the Latin cubitus, the lower arm. An ordinary cubit equals to 20.24 inches while the original cubit is 21.888 inches. [ref] Thus, the size of Noah’s ark in an ordinary cubit measurement would equal to be around 506 feet in length, 84 feet in width and 50.6 feet in height. We can picture the size of Noah’s ark as a construction a bit larger than a three-story-building in height and an NFL-football field in length and width.
Who are the sons of God?Hide Answer
According to some theologians, there are three prevailing views concerning the sons of God. First, it refers to the religious descendants of Seth instead of the worldly descendants of Cain. Second, it refers to nobility of the status of the descendants of Adam. Third, it refers to the fallen angels who impregnated the daughters of Adam. [ref]
The Scriptures tell us that the term ‘sons of God’ means having the image and likeness of God. Just as Adam resembled God, his descendants, including that of Cain and Seth, also resembled him—having the traits of Adam’s Creator, God (Gen 5:3). Moreover, the term ‘sons of God’ also refers to God’s children or God’s creation. The gospel of Luke confirms that Adam and his descendants are considered as the sons of God (Lk 3:38).
Therefore, the term ‘sons of God’ refers to men in general. The ‘sons of God’ and ‘daughters of men’ are the descendants of men who began to multiply on the face of the earth (Gen 6:1), including the descendants of Cain and of Seth.
What were the criteria of the sons of God in choosing their spouses?Hide Answer
The sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful. Then they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose (Gen 6:2).
What should be our criteria for choosing our spouses?(The answer is empty)Hide Answer
List the teachings from the Scriptures concerning marriage, their meanings and their relationship to our spiritual lives. See Mal 2:11; Ezra 10:2; Deut 7:3-4; Num 25:1-4; Judg 3:5-7;
1 Kgs 11:1-11 and 2 Cor 6:14.Hide Answer
By taking pagan wives, the children of God profaned the LORD’s holiness, became unfaithful to Him and were influenced to serve other gods (Mal 2:11; Ezra 10:2; Num 25:1-4; Judg 3:5-7). The LORD rebuked the Judahites for being husbands to the daughters of foreign gods. Through the union of marriage, the LORD seeks godly offspring (Mal 2:15). Moreover, Ezra confessed that marrying pagan wives caused the children of Israel to be unfaithful, because they would be mixed with the uncleanness and impurity of their daily habits (Ezra 9:11-14) including their spouses’ influence to make them forget their God whom they had served since the time of their forefathers. Furthermore, the example of King Solomon warned us how the intermarriage with foreign women would turn away our hearts after their gods and cause us to be unloyal to the Lord our God (1 Kgs 11:2-4).
As God’s people, marrying an ungodly spouse will cause us to intermingle with his or her worldly and impure life-styles and views, making us unfaithful to the LORD. Just as the Israelites’ faith and belief were influenced by their spouses, our own faith and belief will be affected and shaped through our spouses’ persuasion. Indeed, the apostle Paul warned us with a similar warning that by being unequally yoked with unbelievers, it is as if we are having fellowship with righteousness and lawlessness, and having communion with light and darkness (2 Cor 6:14-16).
What irony do you see in Genesis 6:3-4?Hide Answer
In those days the descendants of men were mighty, renown and of old. But the Spirit of God would not strive with them (ESV: “[God’s] Spirit shall not abide in man forever”). They were but flesh and their age would be limited to one hundred and twenty years only. In the eyes of the world, the descendants of men were powerful and famous, yet in the eyes of the LORD, they were but wicked and evil. It is ironic that even with their fame and power they could not change the limit of lifespan that God had placed on man.
Why would God’s Spirit not strive with man forever?Hide Answer
God’s Spirit would not strive with man forever, because man was indeed flesh (Gen 6:3). God said such an expression after the sons of God saw the daughters of men were beautiful and “they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose” (Gen 6:2).
How is the word “flesh” in the Scriptures used in different ways? See also Gen 2:21; Isa 40:6; Gen 8:17, 41:2, 3; Ex 12:8; Lev 13:18; Ecc 12:12 and Psa 78:39.Hide Answer
The “flesh” in the Scriptures is used in different ways. It can refer to flesh as a substance (Gen 2:21, 41:2, 3; Lev 13:3), mankind or livestocks (Isa 40:6; Joel 2:28; Gen 9:16), animals (Gen 6:19, 8:17), meat or food (Ex 12:8, 16:3;
1 Sam 2:13), body of a man (Lev 13:18; Ecc 12:12) and man’s frailty (Gen 6:3; Psa 78:39).
Explain what God was saying in Genesis 6:3. See also Isa 31:3; Ps 78:39, Ezek 16:26;
1 Jn 3:24; Jn 16:13 and Eph 4:27-31.Hide Answer
In Genesis 6:3 the LORD says, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” First, the phrase “for he is indeed flesh” describes that man’s physical nature is but flesh. According to the prophet Isaiah, flesh will perish at the end (Isa 31:3) and according to the psalmist, the flesh is like a breath that passes away and does not come again (Psa 78:39). Man is indeed flesh means he is physically weak, frail and limited in life-span due to the absence of God’s Spirit in him.
Second, such a phrase also reveals man’s fleshly nature. The prophet Ezekiel likened the unfaithful Israelites as ones who committed harlotry with the Egyptians, their “very fleshly neighbors” (Ezek 16:26). The fleshly neighbors increased Israel’s act of harlotry and lewd behavior in front of the LORD. In other words, the fleshly acts cause the Israelites to transgress before God and to provoke His anger. In Hebrew, Genesis 6:3 may be translated as “My Spirit will not rule in man forever. By reason of their going astray, he is flesh.” Here, fleshly nature is indicated by man going astray or committing sins before the LORD, and therefore, causing God’s Spirit not to strive with man forever.
The word “strive” in Hebrew can be translated as “govern” or “vindicate.” In other words, the Spirit of God guides men’s life. Once the Lord Jesus said that when the Spirit of Truth has come, He will guide men into all truth (Jn 16:13). The Spirit of God guides men to live according to His words and will. The apostle Paul writes that when men do not put away their fleshly nature, the Holy Spirit of God will be grieved (Eph 4:27-31). In short, grieving the Holy Spirit of God means men have abandoned the guidance of the LORD and have decided to follow their own fleshly and sinful desires, instead of the governance of God.
In Genesis 6:5, what two aspects did the LORD see?Hide Answer
From Genesis 6:5, we learn that the Lord not only saw men’s outward deeds but also every intent of the thoughts in men’s hearts. Similar to what the author of
1 Samuel has written concerning God, “the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Sam 16:7).
What can we learn from the phrase “then the Lord saw”?Hide Answer
The phrase “then the LORD saw” teaches us not to pay attention only to our outward deeds or to how others see what we do. Rather, we should be careful with our inward thoughts. We should constantly remind ourselves that even though man cannot see our thoughts and the intent of our hearts, we should keep them pure and blameless before God, who is able to look at the heart, even the very intent of our thoughts.
Why did the Lord grieve in His heart?Hide Answer
The Lord grieved in His heart because not only were men’s wickedness great in the earth but also every intent of the thoughts of men’s hearts was only evil continually (Gen 6:5). In the beginning, the Lord created man in His image and likeness (Gen 1:26, 27). But men’s choice to be ruled by sin and its desires, to continue in wickedness instead of reflecting God’s image and likeness, grieved the Lord’s heart.
In what ways do our actions cause the Lord’s heart to grieve?Hide Answer
According to the apostle Paul, we grieve the Holy Spirit of God when we, the ones who were redeemed by God, go back to our former conduct, which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts (Eph 4:22, 30). In other words, we ought to be renewed in the spirit of our mind by putting on a new man of righteousness and holiness (Eph 4:23-24).
What lesson can we learn from God’s decision to destroy those whom He had created from the face of the earth?Hide Answer
The apostle Peter warns us that God did not spare the ancient world but brought the flood on the world of the ungodly (2 Pet 2:5). Likewise, today the Lord will execute His judgment against us.
2 Peter 2:9, 10 states that the Lord will reserve the unjust, those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, under punishment for the day of judgment. Moreover, God’s destruction of the ancient world serves as a reminder for us today that “the heavens and the earth which are now preserved…are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (2 Pet 3:6, 7). Thus, not only will the Lord punish those who walk in sinful lusts but He will also destroy the earth with “fervent heat” to burn up both the earth and the works that are in it (2 Pet 3:10).
What contrast do you see between Genesis 6:5 and 6:8?Hide Answer
When God looked upon the earth, indeed He saw that the earth was corrupt, filled with violence and great wickedness. But Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations and he found grace in the eyes of the Lord (Gen 6:8-12).
In the following passages, how did these different individuals find grace in the LORD’s eyes? Gen 18:3, 19:19; Ex 33, 16, 17 and 34:9.Hide Answer
The Scriptures give examples of how the LORD rewards those who had “found grace in His eyes” as follows:
1) Abraham beseeched the LORD that if he had found favor in His sight, then let the LORD not pass on by him (Gen 18:3),
2) Lot said that he had found favor in the LORD’s sight, therefore his life was saved by God’s mercy (Gen 19:19),
3) Moses prayed to the LORD that if he had found grace in His sight, then let the LORD show him His way that he may know Him (Ex 33:13),
4) Moses said to the LORD that he and His people would know they had found grace in His sight through His abidance (Ex 33:16),
5) The LORD told Moses that he had found grace in His sight and He knows him by name (Ex 33:17),
6) Moses pleaded with the LORD that if he had found grace in His sight, then let the LORD pardon the Israelites’ iniquity and their sin, and take them as His inheritance (Ex 34:9).
What do the following verses teach us about the ways to live justly and perfectly? See Prov 13:5; Psa 37:30, 21; Isa 26:7; Psa 119:80; Prov 15:28;
2 Sam 22:24; Job 17:9; Mal 3:18 and 1 Chr 28:9.Hide Answer
The Scriptures tell us several ways about how we should live justly and perfectly:
- By guarding our speech. The prophet Amos warns us to speak uprightly (Amos 5:10) and the Psalmist adds that we should speak truth from our hearts (Psa 15:2). There are several advices from the Scriptures on how we should guard our speech in our daily lives. For instance, not only should we hate lying (Prov 13:5) we should also bring forth wisdom from our mouth (Psa 37:30; Prov 10:31). Acceptable things should come out from our mouth instead of perverse words (Prov 10:32).
- By guarding our conduct. The Scriptures emphasize that it is important for a just man to do what is lawful and right (Ezek 18:5), walk in uprightness and in his integrity (Psa 15:2; Isa 26:7; Prov 20:7). For example, we do what is right by showing mercy (ESV: generosity) to others (Psa 37:21), by considering the cause of the poor (Prov 29:7), and by not sparing (ESV: holding back) what we have for others (Prov 21:26).
- By guarding our heart. The Psalmist reminds us that not only should we behave wisely but we should also have a perfect heart—a blameless heart which regards the LORD’s statutes (Psa 101:2, 119:80). Moreover, the writer of Proverbs writes that the heart of the righteous studies how to answer instead of pouring forth evil from his mouth (Prov 15:28).
- By keeping away from iniquity. In his songs of praise, David writes that to be perfect or blameless, one must keep away from one’s iniquity (2 Sam 22:24; Psa 18:23). In other words, one must direct his way aright, hold on to his way and should not turn from one’s righteousness (Prov 11:5; Ezek 3:20, 18:24, 26, 33:18). Apart from holding on to the way of righteousness, we should choose our friends carefully. The writer of Proverbs advises us that wicked friends will lead us astray (Prov 12:26) and most likely cause us to fall into iniquity. Furthermore, keeping away from iniquity includes rebuking others who practice iniquity (Psa 141:5).
Share the challenges you have faced for being “just and perfect” among the people around you today.Hide Answer
The challenges we face might vary from ridicule to violence. For example, as a just and blameless man, Job was ridiculed and mocked by his friends (Job 12:4). The psalmists also shares that the wicked would plot against the just, even drawing sword to slay those who were of upright conduct (Ps 37:12-14).
What was the content of the covenant which God intended to establish with Noah? See Gen 9:11.Hide Answer
In Genesis 9:11, God establishes His covenant with Noah and says, “Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
What were the commandments and instructions to Noah following God’s promise of a covenant and what was Noah’s reaction to them?Hide Answer
In establishing His covenant with Noah, God also gave commandments and instructions as follows:
1) Everything that was on earth should die, but Noah and his family were to be preserved by God (Gen 6:17, 18),
2) Noah and his family should go into the ark, specifically built according to God’s command, to be saved from the floodwaters (Gen 6:18),
3) Noah should bring the animals into the ark, feed them and keep them alive while they stayed in the ark (Gen 6:19-21).
In receiving the establishment of God’s covenant, Noah also had responsibilities that he must fulfill in receiving God’s established covenant–building the ark, bringing his family and the animals into the ark, and keeping them alive while inside the ark.
List the examples from the Scriptures of people with whom God established His covenant.Hide Answer
1) God established His covenant with Noah (Gen 6:18),
2) God established His covenant with the descendants after Noah (Gen 9:8-11),
3) God established His covenant with Abram (Gen 17:7),
4) God established His covenant with Isaac (Gen 17:19, 21),
5) God established His covenant with the Israelites (Lev 26:9; Deut 8:18; Ezek 16:60, 62).
What was the purpose of the floodwaters?
What were God’s specific instructions for Noah to make the ark?Hide Answer
God gave Noah specific instructions to make the ark:
1) The material was to be made from gopherwood (Gen 6:14),
2) The rooms were to be constructed, for Noah, his family, the animals, food storage (Gen 6:14, 18, 20, 21, 7:13, 8:16, 18;
1 Pet 3:20),
3) The ark was to be covered inside and outside with pitch (Gen 6:14),
4) The length, width and height of the ark were to be made in an exact measurement: three-hundred, fifty and thirty cubits (Gen 6:15),
5) The ark was to have a window, to be constructed a cubit from above (Gen 6:16),
6) The door was to be made in the ark’s side (Gen 6:16),
7) The ark was to have a lower, second and third decks (Gen 6:16).
How did Noah react to God’s instructions in making the ark?Hide Answer
Genesis 6:22 says, “Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did.” Noah did not question, falter, or deviate from God’s command. He did exactly what he was being told.
How do we react to God’s words and instructions that seem burdensome and impossible to be done?(The answer is empty)Hide Answer
In your opinion, what pressures would Noah have possibly faced in doing God’s command to build the ark? a. From the people around him; b. From himself;Hide Answer
a. From the people around him:
The people who saw Noah building such a huge ship for no apparent reason probably ridiculed or even despised him and his family.
b. From himself:
Building such a huge ship would have certainly required a large number of gopherwood and other supporting materials. In doing so, Noah would have had to sacrifice his own finance, strength, and time to finish the project.