As a child, I used to love visiting our local zoo, which was about forty miles away in Clifton, Bristol, Dad used to take us there, and the yearly Sunday School Outing was often to Bristol Zoo as well. My favourite exhibit in the zoo was the Monkey Temple, it looked like something out of Indiana Jones. It was a reproduction in concrete of a eastern temple and had dozens of small monkeys swarming over it and swinging from man-made vines, they just fascinated me. I loved to ride on Rosie the Indian elephant and Sultan the camel, who would take you around part of the zoom, led by a keeper. I got me wondering, which zoo animal would you just love to be the keeper for, or which would be you least want to look after? May be Noah and his family had their favourites as well, but they needed to be able to look after them all, they were all God's creatures and they had been entrusted to Noah's family.
Read Genesis 5:28 – 9:17.
In the passage Genesis 6:1-5 we encounter people, men, who are called,'The Sons of God', here is a passage that has long been puzzled over, who were these sons of God who took the daughters of man as their wives? [Genesis 6:2]. Some Bible scholars tell us that they were fallen angels, however this requires them to be sexual beings, which angels, fallen or not, angels are not sexual beings. From what we read in Matthew 22:30 we can accept that they are gender neutral, so could not have produced children as it says in Genesis 6:4. However if they were angels they could have escaped the flood as God designated it was against man, and angels are spiritual beings. Other experts maintain that the sons of God could have been the direct descendants of Adam's son Seth the so called godly line from the man who founded the Semitic race. Did the true followers of Jehovah become so corrupt by the time of the flood?
Yet another alternative is that under Hebrew interpretation the Sons of God could have been simple the princes and rulers who governed the people and led them in their faith, an interpretation that is not well known. This solution that these Sons of God are actually demon possessed rulers is perhaps closer to the truth. Way back (1962) Meredith Kline proposed this explanation to the Westminster Theological Journal that the sons of God were tyrannical “divine” kings like those we know from historical times in the ancient Near East. We have seen this is several Eastern European and Middle Eastern countries whose Emperor or ruler declared himself to be a god.
We also find the name Nephilim, so who were the Nephilim? The word is an Anglicised form of a Hebrew word that holds the same sounds, the translators of the Septuagint here used the word for 'giants' (nepilin). We encounter the Nephilim again in Numbers 13:33 where it says they are the 'Sons of Anak' and Strong's Dictionary describes him as a Canaanite giant, his name actually means 'neck' or 'necklace' the context suggests he was someone who uses a garotte. Whether they were physical giants or because of a reputation, the remark in the verse about grasshoppers suggests the former. Other translations of the verse call them the 'large sized Canaanites', or 'heroes of old'. Which may mean they are of legendary stature. However the literal meaning of 'Nephilim' is revealing in that in Hebrew it means a 'bully or tyrant', which supports our definition for the 'Sons of god'.
This verse prompts the question, how does the state of the much smaller world then, compare with things today. Things must have been very bad indeed for our God to completely destroy all air-breathing life, especially when we compare it with His destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah later after the flood. In the passage Genesis 19:4-13 we get some hint as to why the destruction happened. Lot seems to have had male-looking guests, angels in fact, who God had sent to check on what was going on in the two cities, they lodged in his house, and many of the residents surrounded Lot's house and demanded that the visitors be turned over to them for the purpose of having 'relations' [v5]. Note also the word, 'know' is used in this verse and in the usual Biblical sense. Lot even offered his virgin daughters to placate the men, but they are only interested in the men [Genesis 19:8], although this seems rather extreme, it may have been a test of their interests. In response to their wickedness, God strikes the invading homosexuals blind [Genesis 19:4-13]. Yale historian John Boswell offers four possible reasons for the destruction of Sodom in relation to this incident:
“1)The Sodomites were destroyed for the general wickedness which had prompted the Lord to send angels to the city to investigate in the first place;
2) the city was destroyed because the people of Sodom had tried to rape the angels; 3) the city was destroyed because the men of Sodom had tried to engage in homosexual intercourse with the angels...;
4) the city was destroyed for inhospitable treatment of visitors sent from the Lord.”
These must have been the combined sins that angered God especially the attempted rape of His messengers. In Leviticus 18:22 the book of the law says that homosexuality is an abomination to God, God only uses this word to refer to homosexuality, He singles it out:
The Lord actually informed Abraham that “
“Then the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave,” [Genesis” 18:20].
One of the greatest issues today is surrounding homosexuality, but there are also issues with adultery (Leviticus 8:20], child sacrifice [Leviticus 18:21] in the laws that allow abortion to birth and bestiality [Leviticus 18:23] which I have been told is rife in the world of pornography. Can you imagine how angry God is with today's society? Before the flood, we are told that wickedness was great right across the Earth, that every thought and intension was evil continually [Genesis 6:5]. We are also told that violence was great across the world [Genesis 6:11]. It is not the unavoidable violence that happens between humans and countries in warfare, God Himself instigated enough of these, but the malicious, oppressive violence that anyone would recognize as sinful, like the gun culture in the US or the knife crime in the UK. It has been suggested that this type of violence comes from the ease and affluence of modern and pre-modern lifestyle, where new and more exciting pastimes needed to be discovered as distractions, with little or no thought of God or His commands. Indeed Jesus Himself gives us a warning in Matthew 24:37-39, using the time of Noah before the flood as an example, of how life was continuing right to the point when the rain started. In the Bible, as it is today, water, along with fire, is always as a symbol for cleansing, so the flood was a means of cleansing the Earth from sin. Sin in the world must have been very great indeed to cause God to destroy all air breathing life by water. When we study the story of the flood we can see that it is a picture of of the future judgement that the Lord will send upon the Earth, so conditions will similar here, today, than they were in pre-flood times.
The first parallel we encounter is that God cleansed the world, but He kept the old evil and fallen Earth, when the world is destroyed next it will be destroyed totally and an entirely new Earth will be created without sin. God saved the righteous Noah and enough stock to populate the Earth again, in the forthcoming renewal the righteous in Christ will also be saved. Although Noah was righteous [2 Peter 2:5] he was not sinless [Genesis 9:22-24], just as we are not sinless. We will however be cleansed by the blood sacrifice of Jesus and will not take sin into the New Earth. There is also the analogy concerning the door of the Ark, if you read in Genesis 7:16 they al went into the Arc , “And the Lord shut him in.”. Note it was God who shut the door, not Noah or any of his family, they were entirely in God's hands, the Lord shut the door on sinful people Then Jesus comes along and opened the door again so that all who call upon His name can come in [Revelation 3:20]. I have always had a soft spot for a painting that hangs in St. Paul's Cathedral in London, England (Wlliam Holman Hunt) of Jesus standing and knocking on a door. If you look carefully you will see that there is no handle on Jesus' side of the door, so although Jesus calls us, it is up to us to let Him in or not. I always think that this is the same door as was in the Ark, although God shut us out, it is we ourselves that can make the decision to let Jesus in. “Behold I stand at the door and knock.”
So whilst that door is open to us, it will soon close again, this time for ever, when the Lord totally destroys the old sinful Earth, takes away all of our sins and gives us a new sinless Earth. Won't that be something?
In God's love.