But Noah Found Grace in the Eyes of the LORD

6: 5-8

DIG: Did the sons of God and the daughters of menget away with anything? What do you think God felt as He saw what His creation had become? Do you think His decision was justified? Why or why not? What did ADONAI mean when He said: I am grieved that I have made man?

REFLECT: Have you every grieved the heart of God? Have you every caused someone else to suffer? When you realized it, what did you do about it (see First John 1:8-10)? As far as the LORD is concerned, are you part of the problem or part of the solution?

The sons of God and the daughters of men were both judged by the LORD: First, let’s look at how ADONAI judged these fallen angels, or demons. The intermarriage of human women and demonic angels is the only reasonable explanation for the statements of Second Peter 2:4, Jude 6-7 and First Peter 3:20. Theirs was a particular, unique sin that is always in the context of the Flood. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses (Deuteronomy 19:15); therefore, let’s look at our three witnesses.

Our first witness is Second Peter. Kefa said: God did not spare the demonic angels when they sinned by marrying the daughters of men and producing the Nephilim, but sent them to hell (Second Peter 2:4a). The phrase, sent them to hell, is actually the translation of a single Greek word. The verb, used only here in the Renewed Covenant, is derived from Tartarus, which in Greek mythology identified a subterranean abyss that was even lower than Hades or hell. Tartarus came to refer to the abode of the most wicked spirits, where the worst rebels and criminals received the severest divine punishment. Much like Jesus used the term gehenna (the name for Jerusalem’s garbage dump, where fires burned continually) to illustrate the inextinguishable torments of eternal anguish, Peter used a familiar word from popular Greek thought to designate hell.100 There, the LORD put them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment. Because their sin was so severe, ADONAI placed them in chains to prevent them from committing such wickedness ever again (Second Peter 2:4b). Then Peter puts Noah in the context. The LORD did not spare the ancient world when He brought the Flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others (Second Peter 2:5). Then Peter puts Sodom and Gomorrah in the context in the very next verse when he wrote: ADONAI condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly (Second Peter 2:6).

Our second witness is Jude. He said: And these fallen angels did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home. Instead of staying in their own realm of authority given by the LORD, they went outside of it. These He has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day (Jude 6).

Then Jude makes an astonishing comparison. Just as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire (Jude 7 NKJ). The wicked people of Sodom and Gomorrah engaged in sins equally morally wrong as those of the demons. They, like the fallen angels, went after strange flesh. This indicates that they went outside of what was proper for them, and like the demons, they will have the same punishment (Revelation 20:10; Isaiah 30:33).

Our third witness is First Peter. Kefa tells us that between Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection, our Lord was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit. He was spiritually alive but physically dead. Sometime during those three days He went and preached to the spirits in prison (First Peter 3:18-19). With Messiah dead on the cross the demons may have been celebrating their seeming victory only to have the living Christ show up and make a triumphant announcement that He had conquered death. Rabbi Saul mentions the same thing when Christ descended into the low, earthly regions of Sheol (Ephesians 4:9). The TANAKH refers to the place of the dead as Sheol (Deuteronomy 32:22; Job 26:6; Psalm 16:10). One part of Sheol was a place of torment and agony, occupied by the unrighteous dead and by the demons who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built (First Peter 3:20a). Another part of Sheol was a place of contentment and rest, inhabited by the righteous dead who had put their faith in ADONAI. Abraham’s side (Luke 16:22) was a common name for Sheol at the time of the Messiah. They resided there until Yeshua had paid for their sins on the cross. Then after declaring victory over those very demons, the Lord of Life liberated the godly captives and led them to heaven when He ascended on high (Ephesians 4:8). Among those who went with Him were Adam, Eve, Abel, Seth, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah and all the righteous of the TANAKH before the cross, including those mentioned in the hall of faith in the book of Hebrews (see my commentary on Hebrews).

What confirms this interpretation is when Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, puts Noah in the context. The LORD proclaimed His triumph over Satan, sin, death and hell to the very worst of demons, who disobeyed ADONAI in the worst manner in the days of Noah before the Flood. The fallen angels’ long effort to demonize people, hinder the redemptive purpose of the LORD, and prevent the Seed of the woman (3:15) from crushing Satan’s head and sending the demons into the lake of fire (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 19:10, 20:10, 14-15) ultimately failed at the cross.101 So the fallen angels did not escape judgment, and neither would the wicked men and women on the earth.

Secondly, let’s look at how the LORD dealt with this great sin on the earth. ADONAI would hold the daughters of men just as accountable for their sin as God held Eve accountable for her sin. In the days before the Flood, sin had become pervasive. Its evil tentacles reached into every nook and cranny of a person’s life, and no one was ever free of its influence. The description here would be hard to match anywhere in Scripture. A state of anarchy and terror must have reigned. The LORD saw how great mankind’s wickedness on the earth had become. It was not merely that they entertained a somewhat sinful thought once in a while. On the contrary, their depravity was total; every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts and minds were only evil all the time (6:5).102

ADONAI was grieved that they had made man on the earth. Mankind had negated the LORD’s purpose in creation. ADONAI’S actions toward mankind changed when mankind’s actions toward the LORD changed. He responds one way to obedience and another way to disobedience. Although the demonic angels obviously contributed to the wickedness on the earth, people were ultimately responsible for their own sin. The soul who sins is the one who will die (Ezekiel 18:20). Demons can control only those who are in rebellion against ADONAI, or are so obsessed with doing evil that they are open to being controlled. And His heart was filled with pain (6:6). Obviously, all of this was very painful for God.

Then the LORD said: I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth – men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air – for I am grieved that I have made them (6:7). The solution for worldwide wickedness would be a worldwide Flood. The animals and the birds were merely innocent bystanders, but they were to be destroyed as well. The animals and birds had been created for man’s use, and since man was to be destroyed, there was no need for them. Notice no fish are mentioned here because the destruction is going to be by water. Yet this section ends with one glimmer of hope.

But Noah found grace in the eyes of ADONAI (6:8). This is the first mention of grace in the Bible. One righteous man stands in the way of human destruction. Here we do not have the judgment of the LORD but His grace. This was the way out of the devastation. We have grace in the context of judgment. Noah’s life was the one point of light shining bravely through the darkness that was about to engulf the world. When the whole world turned its back on ADONAI, he stood strong in the face of adversity. Though Noah was a righteous man (6:9), he and his family would survive the waters of the Flood not because of his goodness but because of God’s grace. Noah was merely a sinner saved by grace. And so it is with us today. We who are believers would do well to remind ourselves often that it is by grace that we have been saved, through faith – and this is not from ourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).103

 

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