Why Did God Send the Flood?

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Excerpt The Biblical account of the great flood of Noah’s day opens with an enigmatic passage, Genesis 6: 1-4. The record of Noah, it seems, could easily have omitted them, going directly from the end of chapter five to 6: 5 without losing any essential information pertaining to the flood. The flow of the Genesis narrative seems to be interrupted by these verses... Continue reading

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This article was first published in the February 2006 ABR Electronic Newsletter.

The Biblical account of the great flood of Noah’s day opens with an enigmatic passage, Genesis 6: 1-4. The record of Noah, it seems, could easily have omitted them, going directly from the end of chapter five to 6: 5 without losing any essential information pertaining to the flood. One writer, dealing with these verses called them an “erratic boulder” since they are “standing apart to some extent from their context”. (Newman p. 14) The flow of the Genesis narrative seems to be interrupted by these verses.

So why did God inspire Moses to include these verses? Other questions also come to mind. God had, for many hundreds of years, continued the punishment meted out to Adam. We read in chapter five repeatedly the phrase, “and he died”. Why was not the ordinary death of human beings sufficient punishment for sin? What was the factor that required the simultaneous deaths of all mankind save Noah and his family?

There seems to be a deeper and more compelling reason for the flood than the sinfulness of man. These four verses, I believe, along with other Scriptures, give us a fuller picture of the reason God sent the flood to cover the earth.

The Sons of God and the Daughters of Men

There are differing views as to the identification of these “sons of God” mentioned in verses 2 and 4. Robert C. Newman surveyed the various ideas proposed and accepted by ancient Jewish exegetes, ancient Christian interpreters and the authors of the New Testament. He documented the fact that in the pre-Christian era, Jews accepted the view that the “sons of God” were supernatural beings. The New Testament writers also accepted that view. It is only in relatively recent times that a non-supernatural identification of these “sons of God” has found wide acceptance. (Robert C. Newman, The Ancient Exegesis of Genesis 6: 2, 4. Grace Theological Journal, 5, 1, 1984 p 13 - 36.)

This expression, “sons of God” is used several times in the Old Testament. It appears in the opening of the oldest book of the Bible, Job 1: 6 and 2:1. There it is used of angels, both holy and fallen, since Satan was among them. In Job 38:7, the “sons of God” are the angels who rejoiced at the creation of the earth.

In the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, as well as in the Dead Sea scrolls, Deuteronomy 32: 43 reads, “Shout joyfully, O heavens, with Him and worship Him, O Sons of God.” Here, these sons of God are angels.

In all but one passage of the Old Testament the term is used of angels. Only in Hosea 1:10 is the phrase, “sons of God” used of men. But the men in the Hosea passage are those in a covenant relationship with God. This expression is never used of humans in rebellion against God.

Now, in Genesis 6 the term cannot mean humans since those of whom it speaks are certainly not in a covenant relationship with God. Noah and his family were the only righteous men on earth. Genesis 6: 9, 18 and 7:1.

The New Testament passages concerning this event

The pertinent passages in the New Testament are 1 Peter 3: 19 - 20, 2 Peter 2: 4 and Jude 6 - 7.

The 1 Peter passage speaks of Jesus, being put to death in the flesh, but made alive by the Spirit, “by Whom also He preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient when once the Divine long suffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared...” (NKJV)

The 2 Peter passage reads, “For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah...” (NKJV)

The Jude passage states:

And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. (NKJV)

The context of these passages is the Flood; actually the 120 years the ark was being prepared “in the days of Noah”. Since Christ announced the doom of those in chains of darkness awaiting their judgment, the identification of them as disobedient angels who did not keep their proper abode is certain.

The only possibility of placing that angelic disobedience in the context of the Flood is Genesis 6:1 -4.

Objection

An objection to this view is based on Matthew 22:30, “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like the angels in heaven.”

Can angels have sexual relations with humans? We need only look at Lot’s experience in Sodom to answer that question. The men of Sodom clearly intended just that with the two angels who came to rescue Lot and his family (Genesis 19:5 ff.). Obviously the angels in heaven do not have such relations. But the angels in these New Testament passages did not “keep their proper domain, but left their own abode”. They certainly were not in heaven.

Jude 7 is quite explicit. These angels sinned “in like manner” as the men of Sodom and Gomorrah in sexual immorality by going after “strange (heteros) flesh. This heteros flesh is “another of a different kind”. Wuest’s translation of Jude 6 and 7 is especially clear. He writes:

And angels who did not carefully keep inviolate their original position of pre-eminent dignity but abandoned once for all their own private dwelling place, with a view to the judgment of the great day, in everlasting bonds under darkness He has placed under careful guard. Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them, in like manner to these [the angels of verse 6], having given themselves over with a complete abandon to fornication, and having gone after a different kind of flesh [from their own, cohabiting with beings of a different nature], are being set forth as an exhibit, undergoing the punishment of everlasting fire. (Kenneth S. Wuest The New Testament, An Expanded Translation Erdmans Publishing Company, 1961 p 581.)

Conclusion

In context, the passage before us gives a plausible reason why God would eradicate almost all of humanity. Its position in the opening verses of the Flood account serves as an introduction to the greatest destruction of human life in history. Satanic influx, the “seed” of Satan, entered the human race by the action of those fallen angels. Only “Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations”, (Genesis 6:9). The word “generations” is the Hebrew word, toledah. Usually it is used in Genesis to mean “family history”. However its primary meaning is “descent” or “family lineage”.

Noah was free of sinful angelic seed. His family line was perfect. Thus only he, his sons and their wives were exempt from the annihilation which came to all other humans. Satan tried at various times to prevent the “bruising of his head” by the seed of the woman, Genesis 3:15. He tried in Egypt by causing all the male babies to be drowned. He tried as the Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land through the agency of Balak and Balaam. He tried by means of Haman to extinguish the Jews. He tried at the birth of Jesus through Herod’s slaughter of the young boys of Bethlehem. He tried by tempting Jesus in the wilderness.

Satan did everything he could to keep mankind from being saved by the blood of the Lamb. If he couldn’t kill Him outright, if he couldn’t stop the Jewish nation from producing the Messiah, he would try to prevent the atonement by causing Him to sin. Our Savior had to be sinless in order to be the propitiation for our sins.

And, I believe, the Genesis 6:1-4 passage relates one of Satan’s early attempts. He wanted to infect the whole human race with Satanic seed so there could be no possibility of a sinless substitute who could make atonement for the sins of all mankind.

The proclamation Jesus made to those very angels who had infected the human race was to the effect that God had defeated Satan’s scheme and He, Himself, Incarnate God and Holy Man, was proof of that!

God spared Noah. He prevented the plague from continuing through human procreation by eliminating all those who either carried it or had the potential to do so, by means of the Flood. And by doing so continued the line God intended to use in bringing His Son into the world to be our Savior.

Thank God for the Flood! He, by it, was working to bring us salvation!

Austin Robbins is secretary of the Missions Committee of Fellowship Bible Church and also an adult Sunday School Teacher at FBC. He is a retired dentist and former ABR Board member, and now resides in New Jersey.

Recommended Resources for Further Study

     
The Genesis
Record

100 Reasons to
Trust OT History

Paradise to Prison


 

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Comments Comment RSS

3/21/2009 5:17 AM #

In Genesis 6:4 it plainly states that there were nephilim on the earth before the sons of God came into the daughters of adamim and also after. Now if the sons of God produced the nephilim but there were already nephilim, where do you suppose they came from? The words, Sons of God are also used in reference to more than just angels too. The letters of 2nd peter and Jude both are making reference to the book of Enoch and to those people who were obviously familiar with and were speaking about that book. They use the word 'IF" which is neither a denial nor a conformation but were statements useds to get their point across to people who were ignorant of God's laws and were entertaining themselves. They were taking about things from the bible and turning them into Greek mythological stories for their entertainment and not their correction. They said "IF" God did not spare angels neither will He spare you. The book of Enoch is obviously an ignorant interpretation of Genesis 6. It is always the work of evil men who would rather make out that evil came from heaven instead of right down here of this earth. The devil and his angels are only evil human beings. They are so attached to this earth and therefore wish to push the blame some where else. If they would only accept that evil was our own doing then they would have to repent but instead these religious bigots go around using the devil to justify their murders and robberies and at the same time to indoctrinate people into their form of bigotry. They don't have to worry about God punishments of others, because God will deal with them face to face unless they repent.

Also in Genesis 6 God makes it clear that He is angry with man and not with angels and the flood was the result of mans evil, but the one man that repented was Noah and for his sakes God decided to start all over.

Tommy - 3/21/2009 5:17:03 AM

7/27/2009 11:33 AM #

It seems that god was repented that he killed man and all flesh off the earth, because of the evil thoughts of our hearts continually.  I concur with Gods decesion to kill us (Mankind), because if you view man today he is in the same state of affairs (evil thoughts of the heart continually).  only those who (are not spiritually dead) will ecape his wrath to come.  And the spiritual life that they have is only through Jesus, the holy spirit and God the father.  I still believe that if God were to pour out his wrath on us (mankind) today we deserve it.  because we are all unworthy.  And I am therefore, after all, a son of god, created in his spiritual image.  I am not a super natural being.  If we say we have no sin, we lie and the truth is not in us.  there is not one of us that is worthy to escape the wrath of God.

james - 7/27/2009 11:33:48 AM

10/27/2009 6:46 PM #

Tommy,

I am Dr. Robbins' grandson and I emailed him your question.  I am in Iraq right now so you'll have to forgive me for the time delay.  Currently, he is busy writing on another project but he did give a brief answer.

Lieutenant Chris Robbins, US Navy

Dr. Robbins writes:

"...I can't write a reply to the internet question right away.  I will just say this:  

The Greek language uses two different ways of saying "if".  One means what our usual term "if" means, that is " perhaps".  The other gives the sense of "since".  In the passage quoted by that writer the second meaning is used;  the passage really should have been translated "Since the Lord did not spare angels..."
  
I'll go into more detail when I have time. "

Chris - 10/27/2009 6:46:22 PM

10/12/2010 11:30 AM #

I thoroughly enjoyed the thought-out reasoning of this article and hope that someone might be able to help me with a question.  Genesis 6:4 seems to indicate that Nephilim existed on the earth in those days and after, and Numbers 13:33 seems to support this argument (using the same word for the sons of Anak that Moses used in Genesis 6).  Doesn't this make the argument, then, that the flood did not eradicate the Satanic seed on earth?  Did the fallen angels seduce daughters of men again after the flood, or did Noah's family carry that giant gene afterall (perhaps through one of his daughters-in-law)?  Or am I missing something?

Chrystal - 10/12/2010 11:30:59 AM

10/13/2010 10:13 AM #

Dear Chrystal,

Thanks for contacting us and for your question.

I believe David Livingston's article, "Who Were the Sons of God in Genesis 6?" might help you. It is on his website here: http://www.ancientdays.net/sonsofgod.htm

We also published this article in our magazine, Bible and Spade Spring 2006, found here: www.biblearchaeology.org/.../product.aspx?id=87

I hope this information is helpful to you!

Blessings,

Henry

ABR - 10/13/2010 10:13:35 AM

3/11/2011 10:08 PM #

They were the “sons of God”, and they were not the sons of angels, neither was they the sons of men. Why?

Because "Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?”

Since men can be referred to as gods (when they are not) in the Bible, why can’t men be referred to as the sons of God?

Genesis 6:4 states that those giants were “mighty men..........men of renown.” If they were the begotten sons of angels, how come they were not mighty angels……….angels of renown? Jesus is God because He is the only begotten son of God, even though He was born physically by a women into this world..

God sent the flood to destroy man because “his heart was only evil continually”, not because he was partly angel and partly man. Even if there is a being, who was partly angel and partly man (I am not sure if there is such a being), but loves, obeys and confesses his sins to God, I am sure that God will die for him so that he may have eternal life.  

In the Garden of Eden, Satan deceived the woman because he knows the man (a son of God), will fall with her. When men began to multiply on the face of the earth, the “sons of God”, those men who “call unto the name of the Lord”, corrupted themselves by marrying the daughters of men (the heathen women) and like Adam, they fall together with their wives.

I believe that of all the “sons of God” and there were not many of them, only Noah (like unto his fathers), married a daughter of God and thus was “perfect in his generations”.

chinkwai - 3/11/2011 10:08:28 PM

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