Genesis 6:1-9 God can use the righteous to reverse the tide of sin in the nations
Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, 2 that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty 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 men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.
5 Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 7 The Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. These are the records of the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God. 10 Noah became the father of three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
Ten generations after Adam sees the earth infested with rampant evil and mindless oppressions. God is grieved at man’s corruption and He resolves to destroy the earth by flood. God surveys the earth for a man who is righteous so that He may preserve him for His salvation plan. In today’s devotion, we learn that the righteous can be at peace during times of turmoil and unrest. And God is able to use what little influence the righteous have to do His perfect work.
Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”
Mankind continues to multiply on the face of the the land as God has mandated, “be fruitful and multiply.” Even as mankind multiplied, their corruption expresses itself in lust and oppression of the weak. The sons of God refer to superior men such as kings or heads of tribes who marry whomever they desire and take great numbers of them into their harems. Such practices are prevalent among rulers of corrupt societies like the Pharaoh of Egypt who takes to bed whom he will (Genesis 12:10-20). It is not uncommon for these rulers to pervert their mandate of justice by unconscionable abuses of power. Their offsprings are Nephilim-heroes who are characterised by physical might and political dominance: Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. These rulers are demon possessed, their depraved psyches and deathly grip is evident in every aspects of social life portending an eventual cataclysmic intervention from heaven.
Mankind has since degenerated beyond recognition; he no longer carries the divine image that he is imprinted with. My Spirit denotes the life-giving power of God through which every man is dependent upon. “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever” implies a spiritual deprivation resulting in the devastation of all life forms by a seismic flood. This is followed by a reduction of the human lifespan on earth. By limiting his lifespan by almost 7 fold, he curtails his destructive influence upon the earth. As the scheme of 120 years as maximum lifespan is gradually implemented, the recorded ages decline steadily with Joseph living till 110, and Moses (120), and Joshua (110).
Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
“The Lord saw” describes His prudence in giving consideration to the state of affairs that had long been in existence before He arrives at the decision. “The wickedness of man” is supplemented with an explicit analysis of man’s nature and psyche: every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. This suggests a rampant oppression of the helpless, where the desires of every man is for himself. This vivid description of the profound corruption of the human psyche mirrors humanity’s existential condition as we approach the end of days:
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; … 6 For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 2 Timothy 3:1-7.
The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.
“Sorry” , “regret” or “repent” describes a change in attitude which (in the case of God) leads Him to act differently. In biblical history, God some times regret the good things He has done for the people (see 1 Samuel 15:11, Jeremiah 18:10) and in other times, He repents of some destruction He has carried out (see Exodus 32:12, 14; 2 Samuel 24:16). Here, He regrets to have ever created man on earth. God’s “regret” is seen in the light of His “grieve”, His bitter indignation against sin. God’s change in attitude towards mankind is expressed in His decision to reverse the “good” that He has created: I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals… “I will blot out” is used of erasing names from records and wiping plates. We can always count on God to revisit and reconsider His original plans to bless or to destroy according to man’s response. God says to the people by the words of Jeremiah, “and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.” Jeremiah 18:10. God’s destruction of the earth by flood portends the coming second judgment of the earth by fire (see 2 Peter 3:5-7).
But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.
A seemingly catastrophic end to humanity is tinged with a glimmer of hope when the man Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord. “To find favour” is used when someone in authority helps someone who is undeserving and without status. One such other example is Moses (Exodus 33:17). It is important to note that Noah catches God’s attention not because he is without sin, but because the thoughts and intents of his heart is continually virtuous. Noah, unlike his compatriots and the rest of mankind takes no pleasure in self-centred enrichment, oppression of the weak or in humanistic endeavours. Although he by himself cannot stop the tide of sin, he continues to set himself apart from the world’s culture resolving only to raise his family in the ways of God.
The righteous can be at peace even during times of great unrest and turmoil.
He who is righteous catches the eye of God and finds favour with Him. And God will protect him and his family during times of turmoil and unrest. However, there are martyrs who give of their lives refusing to yield to darkness. Nevertheless, God promises to keep the righteous safe so that they may accomplish His will in life or in death. Therefore, as the Lord is the refuge of the righteous, they can be at peace no matter what the circumstances may be. The Psalmist says,
Offer the sacrifices of righteousness,
And trust in the Lord…
In peace I will both lie down and sleep,
For You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.. Psalms 4:5,8
The bible promises that all disasters, financial crisis and plagues will not come near the righteous unless by His special directive. Therefore, having understood God’s continual protection over the righteous, we no longer need to worry about anything in life. But to give thanks for all things and to fully invest our energy into the work of the kingdom.
Who are the righteous?
Do the righteous refer to churchgoers? Or to those who call Jesus Lord? Man may profess with his mouth, but it is God who judges and determines who He deems as righteous in His sight. The apostle Paul says concerning the righteous,
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.” Romans 1:17
The above can be rephrased as: the righteousness of God is granted to those who live progressing from one level of faith to the next (faith to faith). Faith, is to believe in God by living according to His commands. In the book of Romans, Paul listed four stations of faith in logical and chronological order. Each station forms the foundation and prerequisite for the subsequent stations leading to faith in Christ and eternal life. With each progressive revelation of God, His love becomes more real and tangible drawing man to Himself.
The first and elementary station of faith: For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. Romans 1:20. To recognise the existence of the supreme God in creation and to live in accordance to one’s conscience. This applies to those who have yet to encounter God or to receive the knowledge of Christ. As creation itself attests to the attributes of God’s holiness, justice and love, the righteous will live by his conscience to please the unnamed God. Such is the righteousness of Noah, an elementary faith that saves him and his family from destruction.
The second station of faith: For it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be made righteous. Romans 2:13. God reaches out to man and entrusts him with the Law. The Law represents the manner of living that befits the righteous. Though imperfect as he is, God recognises him as righteous who endeavours to live according to the Law. Such is the kind of faith that saves Moses.
The third station of faith: But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction. Romans 3:21-22. To have faith in Jesus is to acknowledge Him as Lord and receive His gift of righteousness. Here, God calls those who are repentant and ratifies a covenant with them by forgiveness of sin and release them from the bondage of retributions and curses.
The fourth station of faith: For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. Romans 8:14. The righteous live by the Spirit’s guidance as befitting the sons of God. The righteous have their desires regenerated by the Spirit to walk in love and to do His will. Here, the Law disappears into the background as they walk by the inner virtues of the Spirit. They begin to put on His virtues and conform to the likeness of Christ. This faith enables all who loves God to accomplish the impossible and to fulfil their divine call.
The first station of faith forms the foundation for the second. The second station forms the foundation for the third and so on and so forth. Before a person receives the free gift of salvation and enter God’s kingdom, he must first endeavour to live by what he understands as right and what is wrong with his conscience bearing witness. Some churchgoers though having full knowledge of the effectual work of the cross in forgiving sins, do not obey the promptings of their conscience. Hence, their motivations in life remain predominantly fleshly and self-centred. Their primary purpose in approaching God is to obtain salvation and eternal blessings. They have no interest in understanding the word or to walk according to His commands. Such suppose the mere declaration of Jesus’ name will result in salvation, eternal life and blessings. Having said, the righteous though imperfect in many ways, are those who are guided by the Spirit doing God’s will from the heart. Noah, despite being imperfect, but because he endeavoured to do what is right to the best of his ability, is considered righteous in God’s sight. As God has made a covenant of salvation with us, let us endeavour to follow Jesus as our model to the best of our ability. God will never leave us or forsake us because of our weaknesses but will strengthen us with His Spirit.
God can use the righteous to reverse the tide of sin and lawlessness.
The persistent wickedness of man grieves God, causing Him to withdraw His Spirit from their midst. When the Spirit who restrains the progressive hardening of sin is withdrawn, rampant violence ensues accelerating the destruction of mankind. Nevertheless, God does not remove His Spirit from the righteous and is looking for men and women whom He can use to turn the tide of sin and lawlessness. Noah is one such person that God uses to preserve the lineage of the righteous through which Christ will be incarnated as Saviour of the world. Noah, by his own efforts seems futile in restraining the tide of sin, but with God’s help, the righteous wields unimaginable influence. Behind the incarnation of Christ are countless righteous men and women who for the sake of man’s salvation refuse to give in even for a moment to the tide of evil.
Even though our efforts may seem inconsequential against the tide of injustice, dishonesty, and greed at the work place and social circle, God can still use us to reverse the tide of sin if we stay courageous and faithful to the course. The righteous are subject to daily pressures and battles to conform to the ways of world, but we must not yield to it even for a moment. For we are in the world, but not of the world. Nelson Mandela in conquering fear, holds on to his course establishing justice and equality for all. When he is put into prison, he becomes an inspiration to countless activists bringing much needed reformation to the nation of South Africa. Jesus says to His followers,
Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. Matthew 10:16
Therefore, the righteous must never fear or give up speaking the truth, but be salt and light to the world. In so doing, we can touch lives and leave an enduring legacy of men and women dedicated to bringing salvation to the world.
How should the righteous conduct themselves?
- The righteous must not participate in gossips and conversations that do not edify.
- The righteous must not yield to the culture of materialistic pursuits, fleshly pleasures, but keep our focus on the kingdom.
- The righteous must not be drowned by the busyness of work but understand what the will of God is.
- The righteous must remain thankful despite being marginalised and bypassed for promotions and financial rewards.
- The righteous must love their enemies by helping them when they are in need.
- The righteous must make time and resources to help and lift up the poor.
Dear Lord, thank you for preparing my heart to receive your gift of righteousness through Christ Jesus. As I endeavour to bear witness of God’s righteousness, fill me with your Spirit and help me to become salt and light of the world. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.