Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
I. ILL-ASSORTED MARRIAGES. The sons of God - i.e. the seed of the righteous, such men as the patriarchs described in Genesis 5., men who walked with God, and were his prophets - fell away from their allegiance to the Divine order, and went after the daughters of the Cainites, The self-will and mere carnal affections are denoted by the expression "all whom they chose."
II. VIOLENCE AND MILITARY AMBITION. The giants were the "nephilim," those who assaulted and fell upon their neighbors. The increase of such men is distinctly traced to the corrupt alliances.
III. THE WITHDRAWAL by judgment of THE DIVINE SPIRIT from marl, by which may be meant not only the individual degeneracy which we see exemplified in such a case as Cain, driven out from the presence of the Lord, given up to a reprobate mind, and afterwards in Pharaoh; but the withdrawal of prophecy and such special spiritual communications as had been given by such men as Enoch.
IV. THE SHORTENING OF HUMAN LIFE. Since the higher moral influence of Christianity has been felt in society during the last three centuries, it is calculated that the average length of human life has been increased twofold. The anthropomorphism of these verses is in perfect accordance with the tone of the whole Book of Genesis, and is not in the least a perversion of truth. It is rather a revelation of truth, as anticipating the great central fact of revelation, God manifest in the flesh. But why is God said to have determined to destroy the face of the earth, the animal creation with the sinful man? Because the life of man involved that of the creatures round him. "The earth is filled with violence." To a large extent the beasts, creeping things, and fowls of the air participate in the disorder of the human race, being rendered unnaturally savage and degenerate in their condition by man's disorderly ways. Moreover, any destruction which should sweep away a whole race of men must involve the lower creation. The defeat of a king is the defeat of his subjects. In all this corruption and misery there is yet, by the grace of God, one oasis of spiritual life, the family of Noah. He found grace not because he earned it, but because he kept what had been given him, both through his ancestors and by the work of the Spirit in his own heart. - R.
I. THE LONG LIVES OF THE ANTEDILUVIANS. Long life, if helpful to the good, is much more injurious to the wicked. Giants in health and life are often giants in wickedness.
II. THE UNHOLY ALLIANCES OF THE SETHITES AND CAINITES. Nothing so demoralizing as marriage with an evil woman. Its bad effects are commonly transmitted to, and intensified in, posterity.
III. THE DEPRAVITY INDUCED BY THE FALL, which was universal in its extent, and gradually deepening in its intensity. Lessons: -
1. The inherent evil of our natures.
2. The curse clinging to ungodliness.
3. The true function of worldly sorrows and of frequent and early death. - W.R.
I. THE GREAT MORAL FACT OF MAN'S CONDITION IN HIS FLESHLY STATE. The striving of God's Spirit with him.
1. In the order of the world and of human life.
2. In the revelation of truth and positive appeals of the Divine word.
3. In the constant nearness and influence of spiritual society.
4. In the working of conscience and the moral instincts generally.
II. THE DIVINE APPOINTMENT OF SPIRITUAL PRIVILEGE at once a righteous limitation and a gracious concentration. That which is unlimited is apt to be undervalued. Not always shall the Spirit strive.
1. Individually this is testified. A heart which knows not the day of its visitation becomes hardened.
2. In the history of spiritual work in communities. Times of refreshing generally followed by withdrawments of power. The limit of life itself is before us all. Not always can we hear the voice and see the open door.
III. THE NATURAL AND THE SPIRITUAL ARE INTIMATELY RELATED TO ONE ANOTHER IN THE LIFE OF MAN. He who decreed the length of days to his creature did also strive with the evil of his fallen nature that he might cast it out. The hundred and twenty years are seldom reached; but is it not because the evil is so obstinately retained? Those whose spirit is most in fellowship with the Spirit of God are least weighed down with the burden of the flesh, are strongest to resist the wearing, wasting influence of the world.
IV. THE STRIVING OF GOD'S SPIRIT WITH US MAY CEASE. What follows? To fall on the stone is to be broken, to be under it is to be crushed. The alternative is before every human life - to be dealt with as with God or against him. "Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker!" The progressive revelations of the Bible point to the winding up of all earthly history. Not always strife. Be ye reconciled to God. - R.
I. THE DOCTRINE OF HUMAN DEPRAVITY.
II. THE GRANTING OF GOD'S SPIRIT TO OUR FALLEN WORLD.
III. That God's Spirit is OPPOSED BY MAN.
IV. That the effort of God's Spirit for man's salvation, even though not successful, COMES TO AN END.
V. That the striving of God's Spirit comes to an end not because God's willingness to help comes to an end, but because HUMAN NATURE SINKS BEYOND THE POSSIBILITY OF HELP.
VI. That it belongs to God as Sovereign to FIX THE DAY OF GRACE. Learn -
1. The richness of Divine mercy.
2. The possibility of falling away beyond the hope of repentance.
3. The fact that our day of grace is limited.
4. The certainty that, however short, the day of grace which we enjoy is available for salvation. - W.R.
i.e. devout and religious, and, from the analogy of the preceding use of the words, we may say, a prophet. He preached righteousness both with lip and life. To this good and great prophet the announcement is made of the coming judgment. "The secret Of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will show them his covenant." The earth is filled with violence through men, and therefore with man must be destroyed. With the message of judgment there is also the message of mercy, as at the first. THE ARK, AN EMBLEM OF SALVATION BY GRACE, AS AFTERWARDS (cf. 1 Peter 3:19-22). The offer of salvation was a trial of faith. God did not himself provide the ark; it was made by the hands of men, of earthly materials, with ordinary earthly measurements and appointments, and prepared as for an ordinary occasion. There was nothing in the visible ark to stumble faith; but, as it was connected with a positive commandment and prophecy, it was a demand on the simple faith of the true child of God, which is of the nature of obedience. We cannot doubt that this Divine message to Noah was the Bible of that time. It appealed to faith as the word of God. And, as in all times, with the written or spoken word there was the unwritten law, the lex non scripta; for we are told that "Noah did according to all that God commanded him, so did he." In this primitive dispensation notice these things: -
1. The righteousness of God is the foundation.
2. The accordance of the world with God's heart, as at once commanding righteousness and hating violence, is the condition of its preservation.
3. The mercy of God is connected with his special revelations in and by the men who have found grace in his sight.
4. The provisions of redemption are embodied in an ark, which is the symbol of Divine ordinances and the associated life of believers.
5. The salvation of man is the real end and aim of all judgments.
6. With the redeemed human race there is a redeemed earth - creatures kept alive in the ark to commence, with the family of God, a new life.
7. While we must not push the symbology of the Flood too far, still it is impossible to overlook the figure which the Apostle Peter saw in the ark floating on the waters - the Church of Christ as washed by the Holy Ghost in those waters, which represent not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God. - R.
1 Peter 3:20, 21. Baptism the initial seal of the Christian covenant. Text therefore sets forth salvation through Christ.
I. "Make thee an ark." Why? BECAUSE SENTENCE OF DEATH RESTS UPON ALL MEN (Romans 5:12). As in the destruction of first-born (Exodus 11:5). No exceptions. Covenant people saved only by the blood; so here (cf. Job 9:30). Men, even now, are slow to believe this. Maxims of society contradict it. From childhood trained to live as if no danger, as if many things more important than salvation. And when preacher proclaims (Acts 2:40), men listen and approve and go on as before. Yet this is the first step towards salvation, the first work of the Holy Spirit - to convince careless (Matthew 16:26) and well-living people that they cannot save themselves. Until this is done Christ has no attractiveness (Isaiah 53:2). Who would shut himself up in the ark if no deluge coming? Who would trust it if another way would afford safety?
II. "Make thee an ark." IT IS GOD'S APPOINTED WAY OF SAFETY. "The Lord hath made known his salvation." As surely as the deluge is according to his word, so surely is the way of deliverance (Romans 5:20). But mark the way. Can you trust that which seems so frail? At the root of sin lies unbelief of God's truth. This caused the fall. God says, Will you trust me? One will say, I live a good life; is not that the main thing? (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:11). Another, I pray that God would love me, and be reconciled to me. Does he not love thee? (Titus 3:4). Is he not longing for thee? (Isaiah 1:18). And is not this unbelief of what God says? Thou needest indeed to pray that the Holy Spirit should open thine eyes to what God has done. But that thy prayer may be answered there must be the will to be taught (Psalm 85:8).
III. "Make thee an ark." THE TEST OF FAITH. There is a faith which does nothing, which merely- accepts a doctrine. Such was not that of Noah. His life's work was to act on what he believed. The object of our faith is Jesus Christ, the personal, living, loving Savior; not merely the doctrine that he died and rose again. "Make thee an ark" is more than knowledge that he is the Deliverer. It is taking refuge in him, and walking in his steps. - M.