14 Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.
15 And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits.
16 A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it.
19 And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female.
22 Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.
God did not simply tell Noah to “build an ark.” God laid out for Noah a very specific plan for it, describing the dimensions, the placement of windows and doors, and that it should be divided into three stories. This was, therefore, a joint effort between God and Noah, and each of them was essential for its completion. God was the architect and Noah was the constructor. Without God there would have been no plan to follow and without Noah there would have been no execution of that plan.
Of course sometimes God is more explicit in His directions and sometimes He leaves the finer details up to us. But in either case, all of us were meant to work in collaboration with Him. The natural reaction to hearing a story like Noah’s is to wish that God had a plan like that for us, to be given a great calling, and to have a work to do in partnership with God, Himself.
And according to Paul (1 Corinthians 12), that is exactly what God wants for us, too! We are all meant to be a part of the plan.
8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.
9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.
17 And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.
18 But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee.
There was mass evil in the world, so universal and so extreme that God was set on washing the slate clean. But in all this crowd of corruption, God did not lose sight of one who was innocent.
The story of Noah is a very encouraging example of how God is perfectly aware of the individual, and the great lengths to which He will go to save that one. As humans we often struggle to be so individually conscious. We have limits of time and space, which is why our laws are usually applied universally, targeted towards the average, but ill-fitting to all manner of individual edge cases. God, though, can raise a flood over the entire world and still hold a single boat safe in the palm of His hand.
11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.
12 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.
13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.
In these verses we get a little insight as to what was wrong with humanity at this point: they were filled with violence. Flesh had corrupted itself to the point of destroying itself! What a strange and horrifying phenomenon this is in humanity: that we reach the point of self destruction.
We do this on an individual basis, when we intentionally do the very things that we know will cause us harm, sometimes to the most extreme degree of taking our own life! We also destroy ourselves on a global basis, with the genocide of entire societies and the threat of mutually assured destruction.
These behaviors are the final and great insanity! What other form of life is there that intentionally destroys itself? In fact, as I’ve awoken to the state of my own soul, I’ve spent far less time praying to be saved from others, and far more praying to be saved from myself!
5 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
6 And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
7 And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
There have been many that struggle with the notion of a loving God who has destroyed swaths of humanity. For whatever reason, this has never been much of a concern for me. I have a sense that God made my life and He has the divine right to extinguish it at any time. I’m honestly okay with that, and by extension I’m willing to surrender the fate of all mankind into His hands as well. That doesn’t mean I know why He does all the things that He does, but I’m okay with it. I’ve already seen Him extend immense mercy to me that I wasn’t deserving of, so I’m not afraid that He is being unfair or cruel to my brothers or sisters either.
I will say, though, that the Old Testament seems to represent a fundamentally different time from the one we live in today. I get the sense that things took a drastic shift after Jesus came and performed the atoning sacrifice, providing a space between sin and consequence, a place that mercy could be more freely applied. I do believe that God has always been a loving God, that He is unchanging, but that the systems in between Him and us do change.
1 And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,
2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
There has been some debate as to what is meant by “sons of God” and “daughters of men.” Proposed theories are as extreme as “sons of God” meaning fallen angels, that coupled with human women (daughters of men) to produce a race of demigod giants. Which, if true, holds many unsettling implications.
I personally find far more believable, and far more fitting in the context of the previous two chapters, the theory that the “sons of God” refers to the male Sethites, or those who believe in God and followed His precepts. Meanwhile the “daughters of men” would refer to the female Cainites, or those who had rejected God.
And this interpretation would also align today’s verses with a common theme in the bible: how intimacy with the things of the world turns mankind from God. It is seen in Adam receiving the fruit from Eve, in the Israelites chasing after false gods of the heathen, and in the Jews being so caught up with their embellished law that they could not recognize the Savior when he stood before them.