Foundations - Why is there Judgment? (Genesis 6:5-22)

Series: Foundations

Last week we watched the painful decline of man into corruption and sin. Everyone had given into the lies about God and had turned to evil. In response, God must bring judgment.

This is a very disturbing concept to people. This can be part of why people reject the God and the Bible. Someone may say, “I just can’t believe in a type of God that would do this to people. I believe in a God of love and acceptance" The idea that God would wipe away likely millions of people or more is a very disturbing concept. It will bring problems to your life and heart.

Judgment is a part of the Bible, and it isn’t just the judgment of Noah’s generation. It teaches about the ultimately judgment of all nations when Jesus returns. Part of the reason we are so disturbed by this is because this story moves beyond academic and becomes personal.

We need to take time to examine and understand some of these very important concepts, this story is meant as an example to help change our behavior and turn us back toward God.

The Violence of Man

Now, as I mentioned, believing in judgment is going to cause problems for your life and heart. But, if you reject divine judgment you are left with a much bigger problem - human violence. Notice what brings about the divine judgment of God - Genesis 6:11-13. It is a deep corruption in man that has caused the world to be filled with violence.

The intellectual problem

First, you have an intellectual problem if you remove God and divine judgment. If there is no God and you believe that all there is the natural world, then violence is completely natural and there is no reason to be upset by it or call it wrong.

Take human rights for example, why do we believe them? Remember the declaration of independence? “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”. Can you observe human rights in nature? No. If you remove God and a divine standard, then violence is natural.

No one is out protesting coyotes eating rabbits. No one is protesting bass eating perch. All of this is completely natural. If no one is doing that, then why protest when big nations, big groups, big people, eat smaller nations, groups, and people? Why is it wrong? C.S. Lewis realized, how can you call something crooked if you don’t have something straight to compare it to? That was a huge problem for him when he was an atheist.

If there is no standard, all moral outrage then is a way of trying to manipulate or control other people. It cannot be objectively right or wrong. It’s all personal preference and driven by human opinion. We might not like divine judgment, but this is a greater problem.

The emotional problem

For every physical act there are thousands acts of emotional violence. Reputations and characters are destroyed, hopes and dreams are dashed, relationships are ruined, self-images are shattered. How do you respond when this happens to you?

The answer often times is “well, just forgive.” Anger doesn’t solve anything. Bitterness just makes it worse. But, if we can forgive something just by a matter of will, then what is the most valuable to us hasn’t really been touched. What we treasure in our hearts is still secure. But, when you have been completely violated, when you have lost your reputation, your identity, or your deep seated desires because of the intentional actions of someone else, you cannot simply just “forgive.” You have been violated.

The only way that you can truly, deeply forgive, is if you believe there is a judge and that you are not the judge. We don’t have the power to give someone what they deserve, we don’t have the knowledge to give them what they deserve, and further, we don’t have the right to give them what they deserve because we are flawed. We have to have someone, something above us to bring about justice. But, if you know there is a judge, then you can forgive others.

The cultural problem

The challenge with violence is that it can become a cultural cycle people become trapped in. One person is wronged, so that person responds and does wrong to the other. One nation is wronged so they respond and do wrong to the other nation. Then it escalates more and more until either everyone is dead or the cost is so high they feel revenge isn’t worth it.

It is only in our comfortable lives that we would think that we want a God that only loves and does not judge. That’s because we have not truly suffered like those in so many places. When your wife is raped, when your home is burned, when you family is senselessly slaughtered in cold blood, you feel a deep rage inside and you cry out “Justice!”. And if nothing is done, you will want to take justice into your own hands.

This is the condition Habakkuk found himself in Habakkuk 1:2-4 - he cries out for justice in the face of all the violence around him. What helped him was some depressing news - God was going to bring justice through Babylon. But, because of his faith in God’s righteousness to bring ultimate justice, he was able to walk with God through judgment (Habakkuk 2:4, 3:17-19). Habakkuk believed that no matter how bad it was, God would appear and right all wrongs. That gave him the hope to live righteously in an unrighteous world and it broke the cycle.

The only way to break the cycle of repaying evil for evil, and to never avenge yourself, do good to your enemy, and overcome evil with good, is by leaving it to the wrath of God and knowing he will repay. He has the power, knowledge, and character to make a perfect judgment.

Now, is divine judgment outdated or irrelevant? Well, is violence outdated? Texts like this ancient book of Genesis then are striking relevant to a world that has so much violence.

The Pain of God

Now, if we really hate this concept of divine judgment, if it makes us sick to our stomach, it’s unbearable emotionally, or your heart recoils, then there is nothing wrong. How do we know that? Look at what is said about God’s heart in this text.

In Genesis 6:5, God is the judge and he is examining the condition of the world. Look at what the verdict was - “The wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” In Genesis 6:12 “all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.” That’s a depressing situation - what is God supposed to do?

Notice God’s reaction: Genesis 6:6 - he “regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.” Genesis 6:7 - He said “I will blot out man…for I am sorry that I have made them.” This so striking. God’s heart is filled with pain as he looks out at the condition of his creation. We think our hearts are sick? God’s heart was far more sick.

This is a powerful concept. This word is about distress and pain caused to a person. One use of this word in (Isaiah 54:6) to describe the condition of a woman that is forsaken and loses her husband. The loss of a spouse is some of the greatest emotional pain that a human being can experience and this is the word used to describe it.

There is an unfulfilled longing and deep frustration here. God’s heart is bound to humanity. Not because he needs us, but because he is committed and faithful to us. God is experiencing pain when humanity is going on the wrong course. It is much like a precious loving child that one has that then grows up and rejects their parents, turns away from them, refuses their love, and begins hurting others. This is a message of heartbreak. And, it seems the regret is at the path that man has taken and the damage they are causing to his world and one another.

Tragically, in the garden, and each of us since then, have said to God “We don’t want you, we don’t trust you.” But, God came to rescue them. God stepped in to save humanity. God is suffering for the sins of the world. God is not eager to bring punishment on humanity. God is not judging humanity because he does not love humanity. It is because of his love for humanity that he is bringing his judgment. God is doing what is necessary to defeat sin.

The Solution in Jesus

Now, the tragedy is that this did not fully stop the problem. It slowed the spread of evil but it did not remove it. Sin will continue after the flood and we’ll talk about that. But this text shows us that the solution to the problem of human violence is not through the means we often think of. Think of the liberal concept: The solution is not to give people unlimited freedom and power - humanity quickly becomes corrupt and self destructive. Think of the conservative concept: The solution is not to get rid of all the bad people and have an ideal society - sin still comes back. This story is pointing forward to the real solution and to the ultimate judgment. It shows us what God is looking for and who is acceptable to God.

Notice, that Noah is saved through judgment. Noah is told to build an ark. He is called on to trust God and he does it. He trusts God, takes the time, obeys God carefully and faithfully even in a world that was completely wicked - a staggering feat in many ways.

But then, when God brought the water, the same water that saved Noah also destroyed the evil. Noah wasn’t spared from judgment, he was saved through the judgment. Grace, mercy, and judgment are all woven together in this story.

Now, have you ever wondered, if God knew the evil and suffering that would happen, why did he let it go on? Often times we are thinking of our personal suffering. But, we need to remember God is suffering. The reason you put up with suffering is because either 1. There’s nothing you can do to change it. Or, 2. whatever you are suffering for is worth it. God can obviously change it, so whatever it is must be worth it.

It gives us a pattern for how God will solve his pain, the problem of human violence, and that all our human ideas are simply inadequate to solve a problem of this magnitude. The flood points forward to a greater and perfect solution in Jesus. How can God deal with human evil? How can he be completely just and completely loving? How can he be a God as he describes in (Exodus 34:6-7)? Merciful, loving, faithful, and yet never tolerant of sin?

It takes two steps: First, it’s in the cross - remember what we have discussed in Romans? What reveals the righteousness of God? The gospel. How can God be just, and the justifier of a sinner? Romans 3:21-26. It is only through putting forth Jesus as the covering to be received by faith. He has done this to show his righteousness - he can be just and justify the sinner. But in that same exact moment, in Romans 5:8 this is where God shows his loved for us. We are justified, made righteous by his blood. Love and Justice are inextricably connected in Jesus.

But, we have to be in the ark. 1 Peter 3:18-22 - Christ has suffered to bring us to God. They had to be in the ark to be saved - and it was surrounded with “pitch” or a “covering” (Genesis 6:14) - the same word for atonement in Hebrew. This a shadow of what Jesus - baptism puts us into Jesus, the covering of God for our sins. It is how we appeal to God for forgiveness and through which he will deliver us from the judgment to come. Are you you in the ark?

Hebrews 12:2 says it was the joy set before him that motivated Jesus to suffer. What was the joy? Here’s the joy - Hebrews 2:9-10. He saw the joy of bringing you and me to glory.

Second, it’s in ultimate judgment. See, Peter knows there would be people who would come and mock at the day of ultimate judgment and he brings up this story with Noah to be the reminder to them. But, he reminds us of how God feels about the wicked - 2 Peter 3:9. God does not want anyone to perish, he wants all to come to repentance. God has a judgment ahead for all of us like the days of Noah. But, there is something beyond comprehension ahead for the righteous 2 Peter 3:11-14. Since we know this is coming, we need to live holy and godly lives like we see in Noah. We care for this world and our hearts break over it’s sin. We are involved in the lives of others, telling them the truth in love. We stand for justice and mercy with the world and who we interact with. We trust in God who can deliver us from evil and who will protect us from judgment. That is a life that imitates the character of God, reflects of a respect and devotion to him and prepares us to be ready. This hope allows us to see our suffering as not worthy to be compared and be patient for our hope (Romans 8:18-25).

Based on a sermon titled: Lord of the Storm by Tim Keller