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Bible Commentaries

Mackintosh's Notes on the Pentateuch

Genesis 6

Verses 1-22

Genesis 6

We have, now, arrived at a deeply-important and strongly-marked division of our book. Enoch has passed off the scene. His walk, as a stranger on earth, has terminated in his translation to heaven. He was taken away before human evil had risen to a head, and, therefore, before the divine judgement had been poured out. How little influence his course and translation had upon the world, is manifest from the first two verses of chapter 6. "And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose."

The mingling of that which is of God with that which is of man, is a special form of evil, and a very effectual engine, in Satan's hand, for marring the testimony of Christ on the earth. This mingling may frequently wear the appearance of something very desirable; it may often look like a wider promulgation of that which is of God - a fuller and a more vigorous outgoing of a divine influence - a something to be rejoiced in rather than to be deplored: but our judgement as to this will depend entirely upon the point of view from which it is contemplated. If we look at it in the light of God's presence, we cannot possibly imagine, that an advantage is gained when the people of God mingle themselves with the children of this world; or when the truth of God is corrupted by human admixture. Such is not the divine method of promulgating truth, advancing the interests of those, who ought to occupy the place of witnesses for Him on the earth. Separation from all evil is God's principle; and this principle can never be infringed without serious damage to the truth.

In the narrative now before us, we see that the union of the sons of God with the daughters of men led to the most disastrous consequences. True, the fruit of that union seemed exceedingly fair, in man's judgement, as we read, "the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown;" yet, God's judgement was quite different. He seeth not as man seeth. His thoughts are not as ours. "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." Such was man's condition before God - "evil only " - "evil continually." So much for the mingling of the holy with the profane. Thus it must ever be. If the holy seed will not maintain its purity, all must be forfeited as regards testimony on the earth. Satan's first effort was to frustrate God's purpose by putting the holy seed to death, and when that failed; he sought to gain his end by corrupting it.

Now it is of the deepest moment, that my reader should clearly understand the aim, the character, and the result of this union between "the sons of God" and the daughters of men. There is great danger, at the present day of compromising truth for the sake of union. This should be carefully guarded against. There can be no union attained at the expense of truth. The true Christian's motto should ever be - "maintain truth at all cost; if union can be promoted in this way, so much the better, but maintain the truth." The principle of expediency, on the contrary may be thus enunciated, - "promote union at all cost; if truth can be maintained as well, so much the better, but promote union." This latter principle can only be carried out at the expense of all that is divine in the way of testimony.* There can, evidently, be no true testimony where truth is forfeited; and hence, in the case of the antediluvian world, we see that the unhallowed union between the holy and the profane-between that which was divine and that which was human, only had the effect of bringing the evil to a head, and then God's judgement was poured out.

*We should ever bear in mind, that "the wisdom which is from above is first pure, then peaceable." ( James 3: 17 ) The wisdom which is from beneath would put "peaceable" first, and, therefore, it can never be pure.

"The Lord said, I will destroy man." Nothing less would do. There must be the entire destruction of that which had corrupted God's way on the earth. "The mighty men, and men of renown," must all be swept away, without distinction. "all flesh" must be set aside, as utterly unfit for God. "The end of all flesh is come before me." It was not merely the end of some flesh; no, it was all corrupt, in the sight of Jehovah - all irrecoverably bad. It had been tried, and found wanting; and the Lord announces His remedy to Noah in these words, "Make thee an ark of gopher wood."

Thus was Noah put in possession of God's thoughts about the scene around him. The effect of the word of God was to lay bare the roots of all that which man's eye might rest upon with complacency and pride. The human heart might swell with pride, and the bosom heave with emotion, as the eye ran down along the brilliant ranks of men of art, men of skill, "men of might "men of renown." The sound of the harp and the organ might send a thrill through the whole soul, while at the same time, the ground was cultivated, and man's necessities were provided for in such a way as to contradict every thought in reference to approaching judgement. But oh I those solemn words, " I will destroy"; What a heavy gloom they would necessarily cast over the glittering scene! Could not man's genius invent some way of escape? Could not "the mighty man deliver himself by his much strength?" Alas! no: there was ONE way of escape, but it was revealed to faith, not to sight, not to reason, not to imagination.

By faith Noah, being warned of God, of things not seen as yet , moved with fear ( eulabetheis ) prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is of faith; ( Heb 11: 7 ) The word of God brings His light to shine upon all that by which man's heart is deceived. It removes completely the gilding with which the serpent covers a vain, deceitful, passing world over which hangs the sword of divine judgement. But it is only faith that will be "warned of God," when the things of which He speaks are "not seen as yet; Nature is governed by what it sees - it is governed by it's senses, Faith is governed by the pure word of God; (inestimable treasure in this dark world!") This gives stability, let outward appearances be what they may. When God spoke to Noah of judgement impending, there was no sign of it. It was "not seen as yet;" but the word of God made it a present reality to the heart that was enabled to mix that word with faith. Faith does not wait to see a thing, ere it believes, for "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."

All that the man of faith needs, is to know that God has spoken; this imparts perfect certainty to his soul. "Thus saith the Lord," settles everything. A single line of Sacred Scripture is an abundant answer to all the reasonings and all the imaginations of the human mind; and when one has the word of God as the basis of his convictions, he may calmly stand against the full tide of human opinion and prejudice. It was the word of God which sustained the heart of Noah during his long course of service; and the same word has sustained the millions of God's saints, from that day to this, in the face of the world's contradiction. Hence, we cannot set too high a value upon the word of God. Without it, all is dark uncertainty; with it, all is light and peace. Where it shines, it marks out for the man of God a sure and blessed path; where it shines not, one is left to wander amid the bewildering mazes of human tradition. How could Noah have "preached righteousness," for 120 years, if he had not had the word of God as the ground of his preaching? How could he have withstood the scoffs and sneers of an infidel world? How could he have persevered in testifying of "judgement to come," when not a cloud appeared on the world's horizon? Impossible. The word of God was the ground on which he stood, and "the Spirit of Christ" enabled him to occupy, with holy decision, that elevated and immovable ground.

And now, my beloved Christian reader, what else have we wherewith to stand, in service for Christ, in an evil day, like the present? Surely, nothing; nor do we want ought else. The word of God, and the Holy Ghost by whom, alone, that word can be understood, applied or used, are all we want to equip us perfectly-to furnish us thoroughly, "to all good works," under whatever head those works may range themselves. ( 2 Tim 3: 16 , 17 ) What rest for the heart? What relief from all Satan's imagery, and man's imaginations! God's pure, incorruptible, eternal word May our hearts adore Him for the inestimable treasure "Every imagination of the thoughts of man's heart was only evil continually;" but God's word as the simple resting-place of Noah's heart.

"God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me......Make thee an ark of gopher wood. Here was man's ruin, and God's remedy. Man had been allowed to pursue his career to the utmost limit, to bring his principles and ways to maturity. The leaven had worked and filled the mass. The evil had reached its climax. "All flesh" had become so bad that it could not be worse; wherefore nothing remained but for God to destroy it totally; and, at the same time, to save all those who should be found, according to His eternal counsels, linked with "the eighth person" - the only righteous man then existing. This brings out the doctrine of the cross, in a very vivid manner. There we find, at once, God's judgement of nature with all its evil; and, at the same time, the revelation of His saving grace, in all its fullness, and in all its perfect adaptation to those who have really reached the lowest point of their moral condition, as judged by Himself. (The day-spring from on high hath visited us." ( Luke 1: 78 ) Where? Just where we are, as sinners. God has come down to the very deepest depths of our ruin. There is not a point in all the sinner's state to which the light of that blessed day-spring has not penetrated; but, if it has thus penetrated, it must, by virtue of what it is, reveal our true character. The light must judge everything contrary to itself; but, while it does so, it also "gives the knowledge of salvation through the remission of sins." The cross, while it reveals God's judgement upon" all flesh," reveals His salvation for the lost and guilty sinner. Sin is perfectly judged - the sinner perfectly saved - God perfectly revealed, and perfectly glorified, in the cross.

If my reader will turn, for a moment, to the First Epistle of Peter, he will find much light thrown upon this entire subject. At the third chapter, verse 18, we read, "for Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: by which (Spirit) he went and preached (through Noah) to the spirits (now) in prison; which once were disobedient, when the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, wherein few, that is eight souls, were saved through water ( di udatos ); to which the anti type ( antitupon ) baptism doth also now save us, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, (as by water,)* but the answer of a good conscience toward God, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who, having gone into heaven, is at the right hand of God, angels, and authorities, and powers, being made subject to him."

*It is impossible to over-estimate the wisdom of the Holy Ghost, as seen in the way in which He treats the ordinance of baptism, in the above remarkable passage. We know the evil use which bas been made of baptism, - we know the false place it has gotten in the thoughts of many, - we know how that the efficacy, which belongs only to the blood of Christ, has been attributed to the water of baptism, - we know how the regenerating grace of the Holy Ghost has been transferred to water baptism; and, with the with the knowledge of all this, we cannot but be struck with the way in which the Spirit of God guards the subject, by stating, that it is not the mere washing away of the filth of the flesh, as by water, But the answer of a good conscience toward God," which "answer" we get, not by baptism, how important soever it may be, as an ordinance of the kingdom, but "by the resurrection of Jesus Christ Who was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification."

Baptism, I need hardly say, as an ordinance of divine institution, and in its divinely-appointed place, is most important and deeply significant; but when we find men, in one way or another, putting the figure in place of the substance, we are bound to expose the work of Satan by the light of the word of God.

This is a most important passage. It sets the doctrine of the ark and its connection with the death of Christ very distinctly before us. As in the deluge, so in the death Christ, all the billows and waves of divine judgement passed over that which, in itself, was without sin. The creation was buried beneath the flood of Jehovah's righteous wrath; and the Spirit of Christ exclaims, "All thy billows and thy waves have gone over me." ( Ps. 42: 7 ) Here is a profound truth for the heart and conscience of a believer. " All God's billows and waves" passed over the spotless Person of the Lord Jesus, when He hung upon the cross; and, as a most blessed consequence, not one of them remains to pass over the person of the believer. At Calvary we see, in good truth, "the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven opened." "Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts." Christ drank the cup, and endured the wrath perfectly. He put Himself, judicially, under the full weight of all His people's liabilities, and gloriously discharged them. The belief of this gives settled peace to the soul. If the Lord Jesus has met all that could be against us, if He has removed out of the way every hindrance, if He has put away sin, if He has exhausted the cup of wrath and judgement on our behalf, if He has cleared the prospect of every cloud, should we not enjoy settled peace? Unquestionably. Peace is our unalienable portion. To us belong the deep and untold blessedness, and holy security, which redeeming love can bestow on the righteous ground of Christ's absolutely accomplished work.

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Bibliographical Information
Mackintosh, Charles Henry. "Commentary on Genesis 6". Mackintosh's Notes on the Pentateuch. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/nfp/genesis-6.html.