The Reality of Judgment and the Hope of Grace
October 8, 2017
Many people do not like to talk about the judgment of God. Many people in the world make fun of it. And many people in the church try to avoid it. The topic of God’s judgment is often seen as taboo or off limits or just bad manners. But it should not be seen like that.
The judgment of God is real. It is real. Today’s Scripture shows us that there was a reason for the flood that we all know of from the story of Noah and the ark. The flood was not a random act of nature. The flood was a personal and intentional act of God. It was an act of judgment. And God’s judgment is real.
The Lord brought judgment because he saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth. He saw that every intention of the thoughts of man was only evil continually. These are staggering words. The wickedness of man was a total wickedness. The depravity of man was a total depravity. And the sin and rebellion that Cain and bad Lamech loved so much was now rampant on the earth and unbridled in the hearts and minds of all mankind.
Imagine yourself at the grocery store. And imagine yourself getting some eggs. You open a carton of a eggs to check if they are good. But you find that all twelve of them are cracked and spoiled. This disturbs you a bit, but you figure that you were just unlucky. So you grab another carton. But when you open that one up, you discover that all the eggs there are also cracked and spoiled. Now you are a bit upset. You frantically begin to check all the egg cartons, and to your horror you discover that every single egg in the grocery store is cracked and spoiled. So you leave the store and head over to another one down the street. But all the eggs there are also cracked and spoiled. Now you think you’re either going crazy or you’re in a bad dream. You head to another store. Same thing. Another store. Same thing. You pull out your phone and check the news. And in big bold letters, you see the words: “Every egg on earth cracked and spoiled.” Wouldn’t that be amazing if something like that happened? Isn’t it more amazing that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of man was only evil continually?
The wickedness of man is highlighted in this Scripture text by two terrible things: sexual perversion and tyrannical violence.
First, sexual perversion. Verse 1. When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. These words should make you want to vomit. Scholarship is not sure exactly who the sons of God were in this text, but they were most likely either men from the line of Seth or kings from the line of Cain. They were definitely not angels. If the sons of God here were men from the line of Seth, then perhaps they gradually began to reject the promises of God. Perhaps they forgot about the wonderful story of good Enoch or the hopeful words of good Lamech. And in marrying the daugthers of men, who in this case would have referred to women in the line of Cain, perhaps they started to allow non-believers and worldly people to influence them and lead them astray from the gospel of Genesis 3:15. If the sons of God here were kings from the line of Cain, then perhaps they gradually began to form harems and forcefully take many women at a time to be their wives. Perhaps they even engaged in incest. But one thing is for sure with these sons of God and daugthers of men. The wicked sin of sexual perversion happened on the earth. And it ought to make you want to vomit. Indeed, the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
It is worth noting that this sexual perversion was a harkening back to the fall and a bitter reminder of sin against God.
The Israelite audience would have picked up on the language of how the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive and took as their wives any they chose. Listen. The sons of God saw. The sons of God saw what they thought was attractive. The sons of God took. These words are an eerie echo of the fall in Genesis 3:6, where we are told that Eve saw that the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil was good for food and took of its fruit and ate. Listen. Eve saw. Eve saw what she though was good. Eve took. The sons of God saw. The sons of God saw what they thought was attractive. The sons of God took. History may not repeat itself. But it does often rhyme. This sexual perversion is man basically saying, “I will have whatever I want.” This sexual perversion was a harkening back to the fall and a bitter reminder of sin against God.
It is also worth nothing that this sexual perversion was a total escalation of the antichrist spirit of bad Lamech. Do you remember bad Lamech in Genesis 4, the boastful and vengaence-loving Lamech who took two wives, Adah and Zillah? Bad Lamech disobeyed God’s design of marriage between one man and one woman. But now here in Genesis 6, we have worse versions of such sexual perversion. And now here in Genesis 6, it is everywhere. This sexual perversion is man basically saying, “Let’s have everyone do this everywhere all the time.” This sexual perversion was a total escalation of the antichrist spirit of bad Lamech.
Brothers and sisters, let us be nauseous at the wickedness that we see here in Genesis 6. But unfortunately, there is more to be disgusted about. For the wickedness of man was highlighted not only by sexual perversion. That was first. But second, the wickedness of man was highlighted by tyrannical violence.
Verse 4. The Nephilim were on the earth in those days. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown. The Nephilim were most likely barbaric warriors who raised up the banner of tyranny and violence. In the original Hebrew language, they are literally called the fallen ones. And in the original Hebrew language, they are literally men of “name.”
It is worth nothing that this tyrannical violence was also a total escalation of the antichrist spirit of bad Lamech. Again, do you remember bad Lamech in Genesis 4, the polygamous Lamech who boasted about his murder and revenge? Bad Lamech killed a man for wounding him and a young man or possibly even a child for striking him. The Nephilim took that idea and scaled it up and made it fashionable and cool to the whole world. They were champions and heroes of men who sought their own glory and strived to make a name for themselves. They were bad Lamech on steroids. This tyrannical violence was also a total escalation of the antichrist spirit of bad Lamech.
Brothers and sisters, let us now be twice nauseous at the wickedness that we see here in Genesis 6. The wickedness of man was highlighted by sexual perversion. And the wickedness of man was highlighted by tyrannical violence.
So, there was sexual perversion, tyrannical violence, wickedness and evil, rebellion and sin.
And God saw it all.
When we read this, we are not meant to think that God saw it all and was surprised. It was not as if God was busy looking at something else for a few hundred years and then decided to check back on earth and realize what had happened. God did not wonder if he was going crazy or if he was in a bad dream. No. When the text says that God saw it all, it means that God surveyed and evaluated everything with his perfect and holy justice. When the text says that God saw it all, it means that God saw everything as the almighty king and judge over all creation. God saw it all.
And then what we read next is mind-blowing. In verse 6, it is written these words: “And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.” Brothers and sisters, I want you to realize that this is one of the saddest verses in all of Scripture. God regretted man. And God was grieved in his heart.
At the reading of these words in Holy Scripture, we now arrive at the cusp of utter mystery but powerful revelation. Brothers and sisters, we are not God. And the distance between God and us is so great, that while we do owe obedience unto Him as their Creator, we could never have any fruition of Him as our blessedness and reward, except by some voluntary condescension on God’s part, which He has been pleased to express by way of covenant. Brothers and sisters, this verse, verse 6, is an stunning covenantal revelation from God to us. This verse, verse 6, is an incredible moment of mysterious and inexhaustible but true and real knowledge of him. And when we are told that God regretted man and that God was grieved in his heart, we know God deeply. Upon hearing that about God, we ought to be deeply saddened to know that this is how God is before sin. And upon hearing that about God, we understand the meaning and the reason for his judgment.
Therefore, God brought judgment upon the whole earth. And God said what he would do in response to wickedness and sin. The Lord said “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” And the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens….” These are amazing and breathtaking words.
First, the Lord began a countdown. He said that in 120 years, his Spirit will not abide in man. Second, the Lord declared death. He said that he will blot out man and all other living things. This is what the Lord said. And what he said came true in the flood.
Brothers and sisters, the judgment of God is real. As we will see in the several weeks to follow, God’s judgment happened. The judgment of God is real. And the reason why the judgment of God is real is because regret and grief is real and because sin is real. Israel needed to know this many years ago. And we need to know this today.
This entire account of the judgment of the flood is a warning for the world, a reminder for the church, and a preview for all of God’s ultimate judgment when Jesus Christ returns. While the flood in Genesis was a serious and significant event in history, it is nothing compared to the final judgment of Christ.
God has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by Jesus Christ, to whom all power and judgment has been given by the Father. In that day not only shall the apostate angels be judged, but also shall all people who have ever lived on earth appear before the judgment seat of Christ in order to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds, and to receive judgment according to what they have done in the body, whether good or evil.
God’s purpose in appointing this day is to manifest the glory of his mercy in the eternal salvation of the elect, and the glory of his justice in the damnation of the reprobate, who are wicked and disobedient. On that day the righteous shall go into everlasting life and receive that fullness of joy and refreshing which shall come from the presence of the Lord; but the wicked, who do not know not God and who do not obey the gospel of Jesus Christ, shall be cast into eternal torments and be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power.
Brothers and sisters, how can we be counted as righteous? The answer is: only by the grace of God.
At the end of today’s Scripture text, after all the wickedness and evil of man, after all the grief and regret of God, and after all the words of judgment, there is a glimmer of hope. In verse 8, we read these words: “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.”
This is amazing. Noah was a sinner. He deserved to die in the coming flood just like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved Noah, even when Noah was dead in his trespasses, made Noah alive with Christ - by grace Noah was saved - and raised Noah up with him and seated Noah with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace Noah was saved through faith. And this was not Noah’s own doing; it was the gift of God, not a result of works, so that Noah may not boast.
Noah found favor. Noah found grace. And Noah had faith. He had an assurance of things hoped for and a conviction of things not seen. He understood that the universe was created by the word of God. Unlike the line of Cain, Noah looked forward to a city designed and built by God. He acknowledged that he was a stranger and exile on the earth. And he believed that the judgment of God was real. Therefore, Noah, by faith, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. And by this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
Noah found favor. Noah found grace. Noah had Jesus.
Brothers and sisters, may you grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. Do not ever forget that the only reason why you are going to heaven is because of God’s grace.
Brothers and sisters, may you be absolutely convinced that there will be a day of judgment. Remember that the Judgment Day of Christ is coming.
Brothers and sisters, may you shake off all carnal security and worldliness. Do not see the world. Do not think that the world is good or attractive. Do not take the world. Do not love the world. Walk by faith, not by sight. Do not seek might or renown. Do not make a name for yourself.
Brothers and sisters, may you be sensitive to the sexual perversion and tyrannical violence that exists today. Do not fall into these things that the world revels in. Such things are wicked and evil. Wake up. Kill sin or else sin will be killing you. Take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.
Brothers and sisters, may you find consolation in your adversity knowing that God will make all things right. The wicked seem to win in this world. Evil people seem to get away with things right now. But God sees everything. Never avenge yourselves, lest you become just like evil Lamech, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
Brothers and sisters, may you always be watchful. We do not know at what hour the Lord will come. God declared a 120 year timetable for the flood. But today we do not have the luxury of knowing when Christ will return. Instead, let us always be prepared to say, “Come Lord Jesus. Come quickly. Amen.”
Brothers and sisters, may you evangelize to the unrepentant. We are not living in a happy time. We are living in a countdown time. It is time to prepare for the kingdom. It is time to go and make disciples of all nations. Many people will be blotted out. Many people will experience eternal punishment in hell. Many people are going to die. You are not. What are you going to do now? Let us act in a manner worthy of the gospel. Let us evangelize to the unrepentant. Let us not be afraid of people and hide the facts about judgment and hell. Let us be bold and speak the truth in love. Let us keep it real, because the judgment of God is real, but the hope of grace is just as real too.