A Verse by Verse Study of Genesis 6:1-22
The Bible is full of passages telling us to trust in God – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 – NIV)
Trust requires a specific mindset (the decision to believe in, or have faith in, someone or something) and a specific action (a demonstration of that trust).
One of the greatest examples of this is in Genesis 6: the Story of Noah.
Trusting God in all circumstances is not easy, especially when you do not understand what God is up to. A world-wide flood was unimaginable, but Noah trusted God and obeyed God’s commands no matter how strange or terrifying they seemed.
Angels and Humans
Genesis 6:1-4 tells us that the people began to multiply quickly because of their long lifespans. Because they lived for hundreds of years, and aged much more slowly, they could have many children and their children could have many children.
But it also tells us of the problem of ungodly marriages between the sons of God and women (called the daughters of men in the New King James Version).
Many people believe that the sons of God were from the line of Seth – God’s chosen line – while the daughters of men were from the line of Cain, and that these verses describe intermarriage between the godly and ungodly. This is something that God clearly prohibits (2 Corinthians 6:24).
But this view fails to explain why God decided to wipe out the earth’s population, and why this passage describes unusual offspring – they produced giant beings with what seemed like supernatural strength (they became heroes and famous warriors). Believers marrying unbelievers does not seem to adequately explain what is going on here.
A better explanation – though harder for us to imagine – is that the sons of God were either demons (angels that rebelled against God) or demon-possessed men, and the women were simply human women.
The phrase ‘sons of God’ occurs multiple times in the book of Job and refers to angelic creatures (Job 1:6, 2:1, and 38:7) and the Septuagint (the ancient Greek translations of the Scriptures) translated ‘sons of God’ as angels.
Jude 6 also tells us that the angels did not ‘keep their proper domain but left their own habitation,’ and Jude 7 tells us that the angels had ‘given themselves over to sexual immorality’.
The Wickedness of Man
Genesis 6:5-7 tells us that God saw man’s wickedness. It tells us that ‘everything they thought and imagined was consistently and totally evil’ (NLT). But notice God’s reaction to this: verse 6 tells us that this broke God’s heart – it grieved him.
Grief is a love word. You can only grieve someone you love. God did not take pleasure in wiping out the human race. Ezekiel 18 tells us that God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked. He is only pleased when they turn from their wickedness. God loves to forgive and is always searching for a reason to hope. A reason to give man a second chance.
Here in Genesis 6, God waited until every last inclination in man’s heart was evil. He gave them time to repent. In fact, Genesis 6:3 tells us that that he gave them 120 years to repent!
Hope in One Man
Yet, God did find hope in one man – Noah. Genesis 6:8 says that ‘Noah found favor with the Lord.’
Genesis 6:9 tells us the two reasons why Noah found favor with God.
1. Noah was a righteous man. The passage says, ‘the only blameless person living on earth’ and,
2. Noah walked closely with God – he had a relationship with God built on trust.
Does this verse mean that Noah was perfectly holy and sinless? No, not at all. We know from Romans 3:23, that ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,’ (NIV).
Hebrews 11 explains how God found Noah to be blameless. Noah was found to be righteous by faith. It was not his impeccable character or his self-control that made him righteous and blameless, but by having faith, or trust, in God.
Noah trusted God and obeyed him, even when he was the last man on earth who did so. When every single thought of every single man was evil, Noah continued to trust and obey God. That did not mean he was perfect. I’m sure he messed up at times, but he repented and continued to fix his eyes on God.
A Choice: Judgment or Salvation
God patiently waited for mankind to repent. He waited until every last person had become completely wicked except one, before deciding to exact his judgment. But even though God must judge the sinner, he provides a way out – an escape plan, salvation.
Genesis 6:11-12 tells us again how God observed that the entire world had become corrupt. It appears God took another survey, hoping to find a reason not to destroy the earth and the people he created. It truly grieved God to destroy it.
In Genesis 6:13,God tells Noah about his plan to end all life on earth and he gives Noah very detailed plans for how they will be saved in verses 14-16.
And Genesis 6:17 tells us how God planned to exact his judgment. A world-wide flood was not something Noah would have been able to imagine. I’m sure the people around him thought he was insane, when he built a huge ship the size of a football field and started loading every animal on it.
It probably didn’t make much sense to Noah either. Imagine how he must have felt about God’s announcement. But he trusted God and his trust and obedience saved him and his family.
In Genesis 6:18 God makes a covenant with Noah. And because of Noah’s trust and obedience, God’s covenant extended to Noah’s entire family.
The Covenant (a binding agreement with God) was this: salvation and a right relationship with God if they continue to trust and obey him.
Trust, or faith, is always the basis for God’s covenants with us. The ark is often used as a typology to represent salvation through Jesus. The ark bore the judgement of the flood waters and torrential rain, but Noah and his family were covered by the ark, safe inside – untouched.
Genesis 6:22 simply says, ‘Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.’
Trusting God in Difficult Times
When we go through difficult times, trusting God is sometimes the last thing on our minds. Sometimes it feels like we can’t trust God, because we can’t understand how he could allow bad things to happen. We might feel like we are being punished, or we think God is too far away. Trusting God in these times might feel too risky.
But if we take a closer look at how God has revealed himself to us through this account, we see that:
1. God is Loving
A God who grieves over our sin, and who wants to forgive us and provide a way of salvation, is God who loves us.
John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ (NIV)
2. God is Patient
When the entire world was becoming evil, he still gave them 120 years to turn things around. Imagine how much more patient he must be for those who trust in him.
2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.’ (NLT)
3. God is Merciful and Graceous
Although this account presents Noah as a great hero, both righteous and blameless, we know that no one lived a blameless life other than Jesus. But through God’s mercy and grace, he counted Noah as righteous and blameless because Noah trusted in him.
Ephesians 2:8-9 says, ‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.’ (NIV)
4. God’s Commands are Clear
God gave clear instructions for Noah to follow. Knowing what God wants for us – his will – is never confusing or ambiguous.
2 Corinthians 14:33 says, “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace,”(ESV)
God Keeps His Promises
God made a covenant – a promise – with Noah and God always keeps his promises. If you followed the study in Romans, you could see how God has continued to keep his promise to his chosen people, even though the people of Israel had rejected their Messiah.
Psalms 145:13 says, ‘The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.’ (NIV)
This is a God We Can Trust
By simply trusting in him, God provided a way of salvation for Noah and his family. They were not perfect, but God considered them blameless and righteous in his sight.
When we choose to trust God, the only one truly worthy of our trust, we don’t need to worry about the outcomes. Trusting in God will lead us to the right outcome – God’s purpose and plan – whether we can understand or see what that plan is.
We can also learn from Noah’s account, that the alternative – not trusting in God – is extremely dangerous. It only leads to destruction and ruin.
Trusting God Even When Life Hurts by Jerry Bridges. When we begin to understand the scope of God’s sovereign power, we will begin to understand and acknowledge his loving control. The more we come to know him better, the more we will learn to trust in him completely.