And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. 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. Everything that is on the earth shall die. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.Genesis 6:13-18
If one is not careful in their study of Scripture, it can be very easy to overlook minor, but important details in the interpretation of the Word based on your personal usage of the English language and how your preferred translation of Scripture renders a passage. Genesis 6:13 is a passage that we must be very careful with in terms of our interpretation, but more specifically the translation of the verse as the rendering of the translation will impact its interpretation and can lead to a warped understanding of the nature of God and His sovereignty and right to judge His creation.
The verse begins very simply with “And God said to Noah”. This clearly establishes that God is speaking and Noah is the intended recipient of the message. In fact, Noah is the only intended recipient of the message of what God is planning to do. What is important to note here is that the word “said” is of the Hebrew type sequential imperfect. This means a couple of things: 1) it is meant to be understood in sequential context with the information provided prior in the text. 2) the sequential imperfect verb acts as a perfect verb in this construct in order to demonstrate a completed action that is either dependent upon or consequential to earlier expressed action.
The sequence begins in verse 11 with two sequential imperfect verbs: “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence.” Verse 12 continues the sequence with “And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.” The sequence is briefly interrupted by two perfect usages of the word “shakhat” which is translated as “corrupted”. This is important because this word will surface again late in verse 13.
The sequence picks back up at the beginning of verse 13 as God makes His observations clear and His judgement is passed. “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them.” If you recall the Creation Mandate, there were 5 specific imperatives given to Adam and Eve when they were created:
- Be fruitful
- Fill the earth
- Subdue the earth
- Have dominion over the rest of creation
What we see here is how the corruption of man through sin has led to violence and a corruption of the Creation Mandate. Mankind was fruitful and multiplied. However, sin was also fruitful and multiplied with mankind and filled the earth with violence. As such, the whole earth was subdued with violence as man sought dominion over not only the rest of creation, but over each other. As such, because of the wanton violence that consumed the whole earth and the corruption of the earth itself in natural disasters and agricultural anomalies of thorns and thistles, leading to toil and sweat as well as famine, disease, and death, God had to make a decision. With the global population of earth on a single continent of Pangaea approaching by some estimates nearly 4.5 billion (roughly half of today’s global population), you can imagine the state of the world with that many people at each other’s throats clamoring for power and dominion over one another.
The ESV rendering of the first part of God’s judgement reads “I have determined to make an end of all flesh.” Reading the text this way and interpreting with a human 21st century mindset paints the picture of God as a despotic, moody ruler who has somehow flipped out on His creation. However, a careful reading of the original Hebrew text provides a slightly different understanding. It paints the picture of a king on his throne who is called upon to judge a case that has been placed on the court docket: “The end of all flesh has come before Me.”
The stage is set. A case has been filed. Court is in session. A charge has been levied against humanity. The prosecution has pleaded for the end of all flesh. Interestingly, the plea is only for the end of all flesh, not all of creation itself including plant life – only the destruction of all animal and human life. While the word for “flesh” (“bashar”) can be used to speak to animals, there are relatively few instances where it is used as such in Scripture. The overwhelming majority of usages specifically point to the skin and physical body of humans.
Now because humanity has “corrupted their way on the earth” and “the earth is [now] filled with violence through them,” as the Righteous Judge, God must render a decision – a judgement upon the case and upon the defendant – humanity. The choices are simple: 1) show mercy and let man continue to live in corruption and permit the continued spread of violence across the world until mankind ultimately drives itself into extinction, or 2) end the violence by issuing a sentence of destruction against all of humanity for allowing the corruption of sin to reign over all of creation.
Interestingly, the Righteous Judge is also merciful and gracious. And Moses reminds the people of Israel of this simple statement over and over again throughout the Pentateuch. Here again, Moses points to the righteousness of God, but also to his mercy, grace, and faithfulness to His word.
“The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:6-7)
So God speaks to Noah, renders His judgement, but also gives Noah a command along with a summary of His judgement: “Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch…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. Everything that is on the earth shall die.” (Genesis 6:14,17)
Noah is to build a vehicle that is designed to protect him and his family from the judgement to come because Noah had found favor in God’s eyes. Noah lived in faithful relationship with God, the lone exception of the world. Yet because of Noah’s faithfulness God showed mercy to him and his children and all of their wives.
“But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.” (Genesis 6:18)
God Himself is faithful to His word. He promised Eve that humanity would live to crush the head of the serpent. Yet the situation was dire and God needed to step into Creation again and intervene to save humanity from itself. Was Noah perfect? No, but God did see him as righteous. “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.” (Hebrews 11:7)
The righteousness of God far exceeds our own righteousness. However, His measure of our righteousness is measured not by our actions or obedience, but rather by our faith in Him and our trust in His word to accomplish what He desires in our lives. Noah’s righteousness was credited to him by God due to his faith in Him. As such God demonstrated mercy, grace, and faithfulness to His word for mankind.
Ultimately God’s faithfulness to His word preserved the human race, leading to Jesus who “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. ” (Galatians 4:4-7)
And the days of Noah will come again when God’s final judgement will rain down. “For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” (Matthew 24:37-39) However, just as in the days of Noah, God provided an ark for His chosen to escape the coming judgement by His sovereign grace and faithfulness to His word in the form of Jesus.
The question for us to consider today is simply this: while the world around you continues to tear itself apart, are you placing your faith in the One righteous enough to overcome the world? Does God look upon your life with favor? Do you choose the intimate fellowship with your Creator over the unchecked corruption of the world? You’re either on the ark, or you’re not. You’re either a slave to sin or a redeemed, adopted son or daughter of the King. There is no middle ground to choose.
If you would like to begin this New Year walking in fellowship with our King, please reach out and I would love to have a conversation with you. Please reach out to us or you can speak with someone at https://needhim.org.