The Expository Files

Causes Of The Flood

Genesis 6:1-8

When you begin to read the Bible and you start in the beginning with Genesis, you learn that God created the heavens and the earth and God made man in his own image. God put man in the garden and gave him a suitable companion. They were blessed by God and enjoyed life without shame before the choice to sin. This peaceful existence was enjoyed by Adam and Eve until they disobeyed God, resulting in their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Children were born to Adam and Eve, but Cain killed Abel. Genesis chapter five is a written account of Adam's line, from Seth through Noah. And you will notice, in Genesis chapter five, over a dozen men are listed, but only of one man is it said, "he walked with God." His name was Enoch.

Then you come to a time (Genesis 6), when evil on the earth was so widespread; when sin became so popular, it became the common way of life. God was watching. He "was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart," (Gen. 6:6)

A deluge of water was sent by God, to destroy and cleanse the earth. Only Noah and his immediate family remained after the event, to make a new start. Why did this happen? What causes are documented in the Scriptures? I will not try to address every form of sin that prevailed in the pre-flood era, but want to highlight three causes, apparent in Gen. 6:1-8.

"Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose. And the LORD said, 'My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.' There were giants 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. Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the LORD said, 'I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.' But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD." (Genesis 6:1-8)

(1) Marriage Without Maturity
How were marriages commonly entered into in the pre-flood era? Men saw beautiful women and took them for themselves. Jesus referred to this when He said: "They ate, they drank, they married wives; they were given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all." (Luke 17:27).

I do not believe the Bible recommends what people call "love at first sight." I know, there are stories people tell that have great sentimental and romantic appeal. "When I first saw Matilda, I knew she would be my wife." Likewise, I understand, it may happen that two people begin a relationship based on nothing but visual attraction. But then they apply themselves to the relationship; it endures and thrives. But good marriages do not mature and find permanence because of physical attraction! "Love at first sight" is not the Biblical ideal for beginning a marriage. To be captivated by physical beauty and charm makes good songs and movies, but can never be the strength or bond of a true marriage.

What should a man look for? "...Let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible ornament of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God," (1 Pet. 3:4). Beauty, academic accomplishment, wealth, talent, social charm or popularity - all combined do not compare to character. (The next time you read the text in Prov. 31, consider that the text gives no hint or implication of what this woman looked like, only her good heart and responsible behavior.)

This doesn't mean that good women are ugly! The recommendation of Scripture is not - that you must ignore physical beauty. But it must be put in perspective, secondary to character. The highest kind of beauty is "the hidden person of the heart." (See also, Prov. 12:26).

One expression of the sinfulness of man that led to the great flood was the seeking of mates based on carnal and sensual motive.

(2) Popularity Without Piety
The ruling men of the time were "heroes of old, men of renown." Unlike Enoch, who walked with God (Gen. 5:22,24) and Noah who responded obediently to the grace of God (Gen. 6:8-22), these men were driven by self-exaltation, ambition to dominate and conquer; to be known and praised by all men. They were willing to form unholy alliances, use carnal violence, shun God and His moral order and seek to make a name for themselves.

After the flood, the same evil was apparent. Men came together and reasoned: "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves...," (Gen. 11:4). "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud. He who heeds the word wisely will find good, and whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he," (Prov. 16:18-20).

When we seek our own popularity, that self-exaltation puts us on threatening spiritual ground. It is displeasing to the Lord, injurious to others, morally destructive and often counter-productive to promote yourself. Inordinate pride sets us in the direction of extreme rebellion against God. Paul wrote of "the son of perdition" who would oppose and exalt himself above all that is called God (2 Thess. 2:4).

To avoid this evil (personal pride, haughty spirit), follow Christ, who said, "I am gentle and lowly in heart," (Matt. 11:29). And, "let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus . . . Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem another better than himself," (Phil. 2:5,3). Pride without piety will cause a flood of awful consequence in your life.

(3) Thinking Without Truth
"The Lord saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time."

This is not about occasional evil thoughts, immediately rejected. Look at what God saw. "...That every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil, all the time." Here is a significant statement: Only evil, all the time! Letting your mind fall under evil influence; becoming absorbed by evil; thinking, dreaming, talking and living evil - that's the essence of this form of sin.

One of the other vivid descriptions of human evil in the Bible is found in Isaiah 59. The chapter begins with the well-known affirmation, that sin separates us from God. Through the rest of the chapter, there are specific definitions of sin: Dishonesty, Violence, Oppression, Revolt. But in the middle of this chapter, there is this statement in verse 7: "Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity." The sin they do, finds its original power in the sin they think about. Minds not governed by the truth of God, but filled with thoughts of iniquity - cause a flood of horrible outcome. Jesus said "from within" come the common evils in human behavior (Mark 7:20-23).

To avoid this, "keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life," (Prov. 4:23). It is my responsibility to protect my mind, by using the truth of God to protect myself against the assaults of the devil.

What happened that was so bad, God sent that great flood? Marital choices without mature consideration of character; the seeking of personal popularity, but without any pious influence, and the exercise of the human mind, absent the government of divine truth. These things are just as destructive today. But Jesus gave His life, so we wouldn't have to live destructive, disobedient lives. Like Noah, we can find that grace, act on it and be saved.

"By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith," (Heb. 11:7).

By Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 9.8; August 2002