The wickedness of men. — V.1. And it came to pass when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, v.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. The Cainites had long since forsaken the Lord and His worship and lived according to the lusts of their mind. But in the course of time this corruption spread also to the families of the pious, to the sons of God, to the believers, showing itself first of all in a laxity of morals. In fifteen centuries a most remarkable increase of the human family took place, and it became increasingly difficult to maintain the discipline which the Lord desired. The men belonging to the tribe of Seth permitted carnal considerations to influence them in the choice of their wives. The daughters of men, those that lived only for this world and made the enjoyment of all that this world offers their end and goal, very naturally made the development of mere physical beauty their aim. This beauty proved the snare which captivated the sons of God, the men from the generation of believers. They took wives to themselves of all that they chose, no longer as pious helpmates in a marriage in chastity and honor, but for the mere gratification of their sensual desires. Thus the corruption of the Cainites was brought into the Church of God before the Flood. V.3. And the Lord said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh; yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. The Spirit of the Lord had been present in the midst of men, in the Word which was preached to them. But this could not remain thus very much longer on account of the willful defection of men, on account of their deliberate erring. They refused to heed His warnings and reprimands, for they had turned to their carnal desires. So God concluded to give them a final one hundred and twenty years as respite. Noah, as the preacher of righteousness 2 Pet. 2, 5, was to lift up his voice once more, and if men would not listen to his words, the punishment should come upon them. V.4. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. The conditions before the Flood are further characterized. Wild, lawless men, tyrants there were on the earth in those days, offspring of marriages that did not meet with God’s approval, children of wild passion, men that defied order and authority and became mighty men, whose names were mentioned with bated breath as those of unparalleled champions and heroes. The whole earth was full of outrage and violence. Cp. Matt. 24, 38. 39. This is a picture of our own days, of the period immediately preceding the final Judgment, full of the most impressive warning for all that will heed the signs of the times.
God resolves to destroy man. — V.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. Noah’s preaching had little or no effect. Jehovah saw that in spite of all His efforts to win the hearts of men the wickedness of man in general was increasing. No dam was able to hold back the flood of evil: the entire human race persisted in its mad course toward destruction. Every thought that took form in the heart of every man was wicked all the day long; every one of them was an adept in every form of vice, and all the planning of their hearts was ever directed to that which challenged the righteousness of God. V.6. And it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart. The utter disgust of Jehovah over the conditions on earth is here expressed in the terms in use among men. So great was the universal wickedness that Jehovah repented of His having made man, who, by the impenitence and the hardness of his heart, was challenging Him to wreak His wrath upon the offenders. But, on the other hand, so great is the mercy of the Lord that the situation caused Him to feel deep grief and concern in His heart; He felt the pain of divine love because of the sin of men. But justice must reign and be carried out. V.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. The sentence of the Lord is comprehensive, referring to the entire sphere in which man is the head and chief. Man, whom He had created, He wanted to destroy utterly from the face of the earth. And the irrational beast that was created for man’s service is also included in his destruction: mammals and reptiles and birds together. Thus the immutable God did not change, neither in His essence nor in His counsels; but He was obliged to apply His punitive justice on account of the change in man which challenged His wisdom, holiness, and righteousness.
God chooses Noah. — V.8. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. “In these words there breaks forth from the dark cloud of wrath the mercy which gives security for the preservation and restoration of humanity.” (Keil.) God did not plan an absolute destruction of the entire human race, but only of those that deliberately persisted in their wickedness and would not accept the warning of His Spirit. V.9. These are the generations, the genealogy, of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations; and Noah walked with God. That is a summary of Noah’s history: he was a righteous man, upright and just before the eyes of the generations that passed before his eyes. Like Enoch, chap. 5, 22, he was in the most intimate relation with God, on terms of such confidence as to make his performing of the will of God self-evident. As Noah was the last of the patriarchs before the Flood, so he was the first of the line whose descendants after the Flood were the children of Israel, the chosen people of God. V.10. And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Cp. chap. 5, 32. V.11. The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. V.12. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. These statements complete the picture drawn in verses 1–4. Utterly corrupt was the earth before the face of God, like a rotten piece of meat whose very appearance is nauseating. It would have been impossible to hide the conditions from the Lord; He was compelled to intervene with His curse and punishment, because the earth was full of violence and open wickedness. The Lord was a witness of the growing, unspeakable corruption which finally included the entire human race, carnal-mindedness being the governing impulse of every man’s life. All that men had before them and wanted to keep before them was the gratification of their own fleshly desires. Their wickedness was openly perpetrated, and their moral judgment, their conscience, was submerged in their approbation of everything that was evil and corrupt. V.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. As the end of the time of respite approached, God saw that it was useless to extend this period. Its termination meant the end of the world which had reached the limit in wickedness and corruption and was bound for everlasting destruction. The Lord therefore announced that He would destroy men with the earth in the form which it then had, just as one of the consequences of the Flood has been that the earth and the fruits it produces no longer have the strength of the uncorrupted soil, neither does the life of men reach the length which was common with the patriarchs before the Flood. Thus the sentence of the Lord was passed, a word of warning also for our day and age. 1 Cor. 10, 11.
The command to build and equip the ark. — V.14. Make thee an ark of gopher-wood. Noah and his family alone were exempted from the general destruction. For his preservation he was to build an ark, or ship of refuge, not so much for purposes of navigation, but for the carrying of a very great load. Of gopher-wood the ark was to be built, which seems to have been a cypress-wood, very strong and able to withstand the influence of moisture very well. Rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. These compartments were not large rooms, but small cells, little cabins, intended for the housing of men and beasts. To make the vessel absolutely water-tight, all the seams, both inside and outside, were calked with pitch. V.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. Figuring a cubit at a foot and a half, the dimensions of the ark were 450 feet in length, 75 feet in width, and 45 feet in height. The cubic contents of the vessel thus exceeded 1,800,000 cubic feet, and afforded ample room for the purpose which the ark was to serve, being able, as has been demonstrated, to carry a cargo greater by one-third than any other form of like cubical content. V.16. A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above. The Hebrew text here indicates that an arrangement was made by which light and air could enter the ark, a light-opening, either under the ridge of the roof on one side, extending the entire length of the vessel a cubit in height, or in the upper deck, thus affording the opportunity for various light-openings in the interior. And the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof. This was the entrance which the Lord afterwards closed, opening it again only at the end of the Flood. With lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it. There were no individual openings for all these, but they were connected on the inside, probably by stairways, thus affording access to all the cells.
The announcement of the flood. — v.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 everything that is in the earth shall die. The announcement is very definite: I am bringing the deluge of waters upon (or over) the earth. That is the punishment which the Lord had had in mind all the while, and this is about to be realized in that universal flood. The result would be the destruction of all flesh in which is the breath of life, of all beings that breathe with lungs: all such beings would have to yield up their spirit. V.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. Through Noah and his sons the Lord intended to propagate the human race after the Flood, with a new beginning, on the basis of the covenant which He was now making with him. V.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. V.20. Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee to keep them alive. This was God’s provision against the total extermination of the animals with the breath of life. A pair of every kind, at the instigation of God, came to the ark and was admitted by Noah. This was true of the larger mammals as well as of the birds and reptiles: they all were to be kept alive in the midst of the general destruction. V.21. And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee and for them. The providence of God overlooked nothing that was necessary to keep Noah with his entire cargo of animals alive; an abundant supply of food was laid in. V.22. Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he. This was an evidence of Noah’s faith, Heb. 11, 7. For as yet there was nothing to be seen of the Flood, and he was undoubtedly subjected to every form of ridicule. The essence of faith is trust in the Word of God in spite of all the attempts of the enemies to heap scorn upon His promises.