Remember earlier when I said that, since God promised a harsher punishment for Adam and Eve than he actually delivered, “the child’s respect for the parent’s word of law could erode”? Well, apparently that happened.
As discussed in my last post, the godliness of Adam’s bloodline is degrading along with their lifespans. God notices and declares:
My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. (6:3)
One hundred and twenty years, fascinatingly enough, is also about the longest confirmed lifespan in modern history. Spooky.
Interestingly, we also get a specific mention of “daughters” being born, which I do appreciate, thank you very much. And, of course, we also learn that when men and women love each other very much, “the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children” (6:4). Allll righty then. There wasn’t any “coming in unto” in my Children’s Illustrated Bible growing up. Just saying.
But anyway, God isn’t happy, and apparently it isn’t because of the “coming in unto.” The diction used, in my favorite line of the chapter, helps me sympathize with him this time:
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. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. (6:5-6)
Notice the repetition of the word “heart,” providing strength to the parallel between God and humans. We are reminded that God created people in his own image, which means he has a heart, too. As the “father,” God is grieved as any parent would be when his children are wicked. Even so, in renouncing humans God tries to distance himself from them:
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. (6:7)
Many times has it been mentioned that God created humans in his own image, but here he emphasizes another theme: that humans were created from “the earth,” distinct and distant from God. Speaking of distinct, there’s also evidence that God distances himself from “flesh” in general, for he claims “flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth” (6:12) and promises “the end of all flesh” (6:13).
Perhaps emphasizing the differences between humans and himself helps God feel better about wiping out (almost) his entire creation. Ironically enough, though, the rhetoric of excuses gives God a more human element. He can do whatever he wants, but he still feels like he must give a reason. Who would he have to convince, after all?
The answer? Noah.
Noah is quite literally the savior of the human race at this point, which is clear from the language even if you weren’t familiar with the story of the Ark. A “just man and perfect in his generations” (6:9), Noah’s importance is emphasized by alluding back to lineage (“generations”) and the fact that, like his ancestor Enoch, he “walked with God” (6:9). And just as God swiped Enoch up to heaven for his own purposes, God likewise saves Noah from the impending flood.
As has been famously told, God gives very specific instructions for building the ark (perhaps a do-it-yourself manual for future generations?) and the number of animals to bring, but I’m not going to go into details on that. All we have to know is that Noah, God bless him, is apparently great at following directions.