When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them,2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose.3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.
5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. – Genesis 6:1-8
How do you learn the hard lessons of life? Are you a life-long learner in the school of hard knocks? Some of us must either repeatedly audit those classes, or give up trying (not a good choice). Or have you discovered a better way? You don’t have to learn only by your own mistakes. You can learn from the mistakes of others as well. That would be a good lesson to take to heart! There are plenty of opportunities for this kind of distance learning.
In the case of Noah there is a hidden lesson about God and his ways. Consider the situation leading up to his introduction here in Genesis 6, as well as the narratives following the flood. Times were so bad that God determined to wipe the earth clean, blotting out man from the face of the earth. But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. And God will save Noah and his family through Noah’s faithfulness and obedience.
Once God has saved those 8 people through Noah and the ark, the situation hardly improves. Noah gets drunk. His sons charitably cover his indiscretion. But Canaan is cursed. The folly of Babel will soon follow. Then Jacob’s deceit. Then brothers’ betrayal. Then famine…the story will unfold with many opportunities to learn from the mistakes of others.
But these are not the only lessons to be learned. For there is one major lesson being taught here. It’s the main point of the Bible.
We need a Savior. And Jesus is that Savior.
Noah found favor in the sight of the Lord. He was a righteous man; a man of faith. But even he faltered. Same for the Father of Faith: Abraham. The man after God’s own heart: David. The bellwether of Messiah’s appearing: John. All of these had their hours of darkness, doubt, and sin.
The Old Testament is a giant object lesson about what will not work. Something of that sentiment is conveyed in Philip Yancey’s Disappointment with God. His conclusion – which I believe is correct – is that God speaking directly to man (Adam and Eve), God speaking through the prophets, and God ruling through kings did not work. None of these things worked in the sense of setting up the rule and reign of God on earth – or even within the community of his Chosen Nation.
Noah was certainly a savior of the human race in his day. He was a standout of righteousness in a multitude of evil and ungodliness. He was faithful when all other men and women derided him as he built the ark. He was certainly not one given to the abuses of the Nephilim. And while we celebrate him here, and rejoice in God’s favor toward him, we must look through him to the Savior we need.
We have a Savior. He is Jesus, and he has saved us not just by carrying us through flood and storm. By his perfect righteousness, sacrificial death, glorious resurrection, and triumphant return he has saved us, forgiving our sins, and giving us eternal life.
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