Genesis 6:1-8 Noah And Covenant Lawsuit Judgment And Renewal.
Up to this point we have seen the separation which was occurring in the human race between the godly seed through Seth, and the ungodly seed through Cain. Those beginning with Abel understood the terms of their covenant relationship with the LORD-it was a relationship built on the acknowledged need for a sacrifice for sin (3:21; 4:4). These were the men who were calling on the name of the LORD (4:26). Now with the multiplication of the human race, these “sons of God” were breaking covenant with the LORD by marrying those of the ungodly seed (6:1-2 Cf. Dt. 7:3-4). Like Eve who decided to eat of the forbidden fruit because it was “pleasant to the eyes” (3:6), the sons of God saw that these unbelieving women were “beautiful” (6:2). They put outward beauty above fidelity to the LORD. They were outwardly members of the covenant seed, but their hearts were somewhere else.
We read that the LORD’s Spirit would not strive or abide with these men forever. They were experiencing the outward benefits of the Spirit’s presence, such as long life, but that would end with an upward termination point of 120 years at best (v. 3). Some of these men were giants, so they were impressive to look at as well, but they would be brought down (v. 4). The reason for this judgment was clear-“the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (v. 5). It should be noted that when the bible speaks of the heart, it refers to the core of one’s thoughts. The same word used for ‘intent’ here is rendered as ‘imagination’ in 8:21. This idea of intent or imagination is one of conception, framing, or the inclination of one’s thoughts in the core of one’s being (Cf. Dt. 31:21).
The opposite of a wicked heart is one where the intent or imagination of one’s thoughts are loyalty to one’s covenant LORD. This is expressed in the prayer of David on the occasion of the dedication of the house of the LORD. He understood that there was an internal condition of the heart which was far more important than the outward administrations associated with the covenant relationship. “O LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep this forever in the intent of the thoughts of the heart of Your people, and fix their heart toward You” (I Chron. 29:18). Those with loyal hearts offer themselves to the LORD willingly (I Chron. 29:9). All of this followed upon the covenant relationship which the sovereign LORD had entered into with David (I Chron. 17). The judgment of the flood was against the lack of covenant fidelity among His own people.
This lack of a loyal heart is contrasted with the LORD who “was grieved in His heart” and sorry that He even created man because of this infidelity (v. 6). It wasn’t just the occasional lap in loyalty to the LORD, it was hearts which were continually bent on evil (v. 5). This was the ultimate grounds for the judgment of the flood (v. 7). Now it is interesting as to what sets Noah apart. We do not read that Noah had a different heart, or that Noah’s thoughts or actions somehow earned for him a release from the coming judgment. Instead we read that “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (v. 8). The covenant making and covenant keeping LORD made this covenant relationship effectual for Noah by showing to him unmerited favour-grace. From this development in salvation history we find reiterated a basic principle-covenant lawsuit judgment always accompanies the renewal of the one covenant of grace.
Beginning with the first administration of the covenant of grace or redemption, we find that the promise of the Seed included covenant lawsuit judgment against the ungodly seed who follow their father the Devil and experience the enmity of those who remain under the judgment of the original covenant of works under Adam. So also here with Noah, the enmity which is expressed in the judgment of the flood accompanies a renewal of the one covenant of grace now through Noah who “found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (v. 8). Note well the expression-“in the eyes of the LORD.” It was not a case of the LORD turning a blind eye as it were to Noah’s sinful condition, even if this were possible, since Moses is here speaking anthropomorphically. Rather, the LORD initiated this renewal of the covenant of grace precisely because of his sinful state.