“For some reason, human beings can't walk in a straight line. There's just something about our inner orientation that causes us to walk in a crooked or warped way. That's the conclusion of Robert Krulwich, science correspondent for NPR. In an interview on Morning Edition, Krulwich cites a study from Jan Souman, a scientist from Germany, who blindfolded his subjects and then asked them to walk for an hour in a straight line. Without exception, people couldn't do it. Of course everybody thinks they're walking in a straight line, until they remove the blindfolds and see their crooked path.
This tendency has been studied now for at least a century. We animated field tests from the 1920s, so you can literally see what happens to men who are blindfolded and told to walk across a field in a straight line, or swim across a lake in a straight line …, and they couldn't. In the animation, you see them going in these strange loop-de-loops in either direction. Apparently, there's a profound inability in humans to [walk] straight.
According to this research, there's only one way we can walk in a straight line: by focusing on something ahead of us—like a building, a landmark, or a mountain. If we can fix our eyes on something ahead of us, we can make ourselves avoid our normal crooked course. Krulwich concludes, ‘Without external cues, there's apparently something in us that makes us turn [from a straight path].’”
Source: Steve Inskeep, "Mystery: Why We Can't Walk Straight?" NPR: Morning Edition (11-22-10).
As followers of Jesus Christ we realize that in order for us to “walk a straight line” we have to fix our eyes on God.
Blessings of our marriage
One of the blessings of our marriage is that Judy and I both grew up attending United Brethren in Christ churches
We met at Huntington College (now Huntington University), which is the denominational college of the United Brethren in Christ church
We were both followers of Jesus Christ when we met
Because of our faith and common upbringing, we had the same goals and we were fixing our eyes on God
Those same goals and focus have enabled us, over the years, to stay connected and growing in our love and dedication to each other
God brought us together for a purpose, to serve Him in ministry
Not everyone has experienced what Judy and I have experienced
We realize that and our heart breaks for those who have struggled in their marriages and have even gotten divorced
Story of one person
There is one person I know who said after two days of being married, they realized they had made a mistake
They were not following the Lord (their eyes were not fixed on the Lord) when they met their spouse and subsequently married someone who was not a follower of Jesus Christ
This created problems in the marriage, which finally resulted in divorce
This person deals with regret, because of marrying someone who was not a believer
This story is not an isolated incident – it probably happens more often than we know
Perhaps every one of us knows of someone who has experienced this or maybe we have experienced it ourselves
We’ll see today that the population of the earth exploded and that sin was rampant. This broke God’s heart as He watched godly individuals compromise their convictions and marry ungodly individuals. While this happened on a large scale, there was still hope, because of one man and his family, who had their eyes fixed on God. We’ll learn today that . . .
BIG IDEA – Our heart will find what it’s looking for.
If our eyes are fixed on the things of this world, then our heart will find the things of this world.
If our eyes are fixed on the Lord, then our heart will find the things of the Lord.
GOD (Genesis 6:1-8)
Pursuit of Sin (vv. 1-4)
Population of the earth in Noah’s time
The population began to increase in number
“If a man has four kids and lives to see his kids have kids, in five generations his family will number ninety-six. In ten generations, the population will jump to 3,070. In twenty generations, the population soars to 3,120,000. And in thirty generations, it skyrockets to 3,220,000,000. If a generation is forty years, with at least forty generations listed in Genesis 5, the population on earth in Noah’s day would have conservatively been billions and billions of people.” [Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, Old Testament, Volume 1: Genesis-Job, 29]
The Population Reference Bureau lists the world’s population at 7.8 billion in 2020
Noah probably lived when the population on the earth was higher than it is now
This is hard for us to wrap our minds around, because we see the genealogy in Genesis 5 and it seems so compact in 32 verses
We never really stop to think about what is really being said when they list the first born son and then mention that the individual had other sons and daughters
Sons of God
There are three views concerning who they were
This view was held unanimously up to the second century A.D.
Scholars view these angelic beings as being either angels or fallen angels, so there is division about that also
The phrase “sons of God” is used in three other places in the Old Testament that refer to angels (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7)
The Hebrew word for God (Elohim) is used for rulers in Ex. 22:8-9 and Ps. 82:6
Those who hold to this belief focus on those passages
This view focuses on the passages where those who are spiritual are called God’s children (Deut. 14:1)
We know from Genesis 4:26 that during the time that Seth had his son, Enosh, that men began to call on the name of the Lord
We also know that it’s from Seth’s line that Noah comes, and from Noah’s line that Abraham is born, and eventually Jesus
What makes it most difficult to determine, which view is correct is that all of them can be defended with Scripture
Daughters of men
This distinction doesn’t need any further explanation
These were human women
Married any of them they chose
The Hebrew word for marriage is the usual word used for marriage and does not carry any connotations of the “daughters of men” being forced to have sexual relationships with the “sons of God” or forced into marriage (it was consensual – agreed upon by both parties)
What exactly is the concern here with the sons of God marrying the daughters of men?
Let’s return to the three views of who the sons of God are [Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 291]
The concern with human women marrying angelic beings is the transgression of boundaries
In the creation story we know that God said that each tree was to produce its own kind and every animal was to reproduce its own kind
The same would be true for human beings
The reproduction of angelic beings with human beings would produce demigods, as the mythological accounts tell us
The concern with human women marrying human rulers was that the rulers of the day would have married multiple women
The offense would have been polygamy or promiscuity
We already saw that with Lamech in Cain’s line (not to be confused with Lamech from Seth’s line)
The concern with human women marrying human men from Seth’s line is the mixing of godly with ungodly
The offense would have been spiritual exogamy (marriage outside the group)
Godly and ungodly lines of humanity
Because the punishment that is coming, is for mankind only, I tend to shy away from the view that the “sons of God” were angelic beings
The identification of the “sons of God” is less important than the principle or truth behind it
“Whatever position one takes on the identification of ‘sons of God,’ the truth remains that there was a sin of improper, mixed marriage that resulted in great sin and eventually necessitated God’s world-wide judgment.” [Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 66]
PRINCIPLE #1 – God is concerned about proper marriage, because godly marriages are the foundation of a righteous society.
Choosing a spouse is a serious matter, before the Lord
We should be very careful who we marry
In fact, we should be very careful who we date, because once an emotional attachment is formed it’s very difficult to break that connection, even when we know we should
Paul talks about not being yoked with unbelievers when he writes the Corinthian believers
2 Corinthians 6:14-16a, Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God.
If you are in a dating relationship with an unbeliever, I would encourage you to seek the Lord about ending that relationship
Marriage is sacred!
Marriage is for a lifetime (until death do us part)!
If you’re in a marriage with an unbeliever, listen to Paul’s advice to the Corinthian believers
1 Corinthians 7:12-14, To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.
If God is concerned about proper marriages, then we should be concerned about it too
The sons of God were being indiscriminate in who they were choosing to marry and in some cases they were choosing ungodly women – the reverse was probably true also – ungodly men were choosing godly women
Our heart will find what it’s looking for.
NOTE: We see repeated here what happened with Eve and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – both of them saw something that was good/beautiful and they took it
It was improper, mixed marriages and the resulting sin that followed that prompted the Lord to remove His Spirit from mankind
Time of grace
“In withdrawing his ‘spirit,’ the Lord no longer graciously preserves their life span. ‘The attempt by man to become more than he is results in his becoming less.’” [Eslinger cited by Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1A, Genesis 1-11:26, 332]
Obviously, after all of humanity was destroyed through the flood, the Spirit of God would no longer remain with them
With the removal of the Spirit comes this period of grace prior to the punishment
Growing up I always read this passage and thought that it meant that human beings would not live longer than 120 years
We know that some of the Patriarchs lived longer than 120 years (Abraham lived 175 years)
I don’t know that in our modern age that many people even make it to 120 years old
In studying for this message, it’s fascinating that many scholars believe that the 120 years was a period of grace prior to the flood
Potentially how long it took the build the ark
Genesis 5:32, After Noah was 500 years old, he became the father of Shem, Ham and Japheth.
Genesis 7:6, Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth.
God was providing a time for humanity to repent before He wiped them out
It seems that He used Noah to preach righteousness to them during this time
2 Peter 2:5, if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others
PRINCIPLE #2 – God is patient with His creation.
This is especially true when it comes to salvation
Peter continues writing to believers and reminds them about how God destroyed the earth by flood (2 Peter 3:5-6)
Then he reminds us of God’s patience when he says, The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9)
It’s mind blowing to realize that God pronounced judgment on humanity and then waited a hundred years to act, so that they would have an opportunity to repent and turn to Him
God is still patient with His creation today
Perhaps that’s a truth that you need to hold on to today, especially if you have been praying for years for a loved one to repent and turn to Jesus for salvation
#1 – My Next Step Today Is To: Claim the promise that God is patient, especially with those who need to repent.
In verse 4 we basically have information that helps us place this story in time
The Hebrew word can mean “giants” or “fallen”
“Luther gives the correct meaning, ‘tyrants:’ they were called Nephilim because they fell upon the people and oppressed them.” [Kiel & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 86-87]
These giant, fallen, tyrants were on the earth before and after the sons of God and the daughters of men were marrying
Heroes of old, men of renown
It is most natural in the sentence structure to connect the heroes of old, men of renown with the sons and daughters
These were the offspring of those marriages
The Nephilim were not the heroes of old, men of renown
We’ve seen the pursuit of sin in the first four verses and now we see the punishment for sin
Punishment for Sin (vv. 5-8)
The Lord saw (v. 5)
He saw that humanity was caught up in wickedness – they were focused on it – their eyes were fixed on it
He saw that human beings thought about evil all the time
“Wickedness is an inner compulsion that dominates their thoughts and is not just overt action; they plot evil as a matter of lifestyle.” [Mathews, 340]
That’s the human condition
We are all born sinners (Rom. 3:23)
Romans 3:10-12, As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”
That’s what God saw and it grieved Him
The Lord grieved (v. 6)
PRINCIPLE #3 – God is grieved when His people choose evil over righteousness.
Our heart will find what it’s looking for.
If our heart is looking for evil, it will find evil
If our heart is looking for righteousness, it will find righteousness
The imagery here is of a parent who is grieving and feeling the pain associated with losing a child or having a child walk away from the Lord
That child is fixing their eyes on the world instead of God
Their heart is finding what it’s looking for, but that brings incredible pain to us as parents or loved ones
“Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright shares this brief moment she shared with Holocaust survivor and author, ElieWiesel:
Not long after September 11, I was on a panel with Elie Wiesel. He asked us to name the unhappiest character in the Bible. Some said Job, because of the trials he endured. Some said Moses, because he was denied entry into the Promised Land. Some said Mary, because she witnessed the crucifixion of her son. Wiesel said he believed the right answer was God, because of the pain he must surely feel in seeing us fight, kill, and abuse each other in the Lord's name.”
Source: Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, in a talk given to Yale Divinity School in March 2004
This didn’t take God by surprise, but knowing that it was going to happen didn’t lessen the pain [Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament, Pentateuch, 126]
After grieving and experiencing the pain of His creation rebelling, the Lord had to act
The Lord said (v. 7)
Humankind, animals of all kinds, and birds will be wiped out
This was God’s punishment for the human race, that thought about evil continually
The animals and birds were an unfortunate side effect of humanity’s sin
They weren’t going to be able to tread water for 40 plus days
This is a reminder that our sin doesn’t just affect us, but it affects others
“The Lord audited the accounts because he had made humankind in the earth and his heart tormented him (i.e., he was distressed) over it. So the Lord said, ‘I will wipe humankind, who I have created, from the face of the earth . . . because I have audited the accounts since I have made them.’” [Walton, 310-11]
PRINCIPLE #4 – God is just and must punish sin.
Many people struggle with God’s justice, but it is one of His many attributes
Perhaps the struggle we have is that we really haven’t experienced perfect justice in our culture
We know of people who have broken the law and have never been brought to justice
We also know of people who have been falsely accused and have even spent time in jail – some of them have been found innocence years later and set free
God’s justice is perfect!
It’s hard for us to realize that all of humanity was corrupt and evil except for eight individuals and yet we know our own hearts and the sins we struggle with
In our humanness we don’t want to see people hurt or destroyed
Guess what, God doesn’t want them to be destroyed either, that’s why He is patient, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance
As was mentioned earlier, none of us are righteous, we have all turned away from God, none of us does good
If God did not punish sin, He would not be just
Romans 6:23, For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
While God must punish sin in order to be just, He has also provided a way for us to have our sins forgiven
He sent Jesus from heaven to earth to take our punishment for sin
That’s the gift of God that enables us to have eternal life
2 Corinthians 5:21, God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
#2 – My Next Step Today Is To: Accept God’s gift of eternal life by recognizing that Jesus took my punishment for sin.
It’s great that the passage doesn’t end there, because that would be dark and depressing
What we see in verse 8 is hope and a future
Noah’s heart found what it was looking for
Noah had his eyes fixed of the Lord and it made all the difference
His heart was looking for righteousness
Noah’s lifestyle was characterized by righteousness
Our heart will find what it’s looking for.
God’s favor is also His grace, which is initiated by Him
PRINCIPLE #5 – Only God’s grace can save us from His judgment.
“The only way people can be saved from God’s wrath is through God’s grace (Eph. 2:8-9); but grace isn’t God’s reward for a good life: it’s God’s response to saving faith. ‘By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household’ (Heb. 11:7, NKJV). True faith involves the whole of the inner person: the mind understands God’s warning, the heart fears for what is coming, and the will acts in obedience to God’s Word.” [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Old Testament, Genesis-Deuteronomy, 43]
#3 – My Next Step Today Is To: Worship the Lord for extending His grace to me and saving me from His judgment.
What is your heart looking for? (the things of this world or the things of God?)
Have you expressed your gratitude to God for His patience & grace?
Are you ready to accept God’s gift of eternal life?
How can we help our family and friends with what their heart is looking for?
“On April 28, 1789, Lieutenant William Bligh, commander of the H.M.S. Bounty, was awakened by men who ‘seizing me, tied my hands with a cord and threatened instant death if I made the least noise.’ Bligh called out anyway, but all of the ship's officers were guarded by mutineers. Bligh was then ‘carried on deck in my shirt, in torture with a severe bandage round my wrists behind my back, where I found no man to rescue me.’
Anyone who has seen either the 1935 or the 1962 version of this story likely thinks Bligh had it coming. He was a sadistic villain, and the dashing leader of the mutineers, Fletcher Christian (Clark Gable/Marlon Brando), was doing everyone a favor. The reality was more complicated—and the ending much more surprising.
When the mutiny occurred, the Bounty was en route from Tahiti, where its crew had collected breadfruit plantings, to the Caribbean, where the plantings would be used to grow food for slaves. The sailors had enjoyed their time in Tahiti, though, and they didn't want to leave—especially under the command of Bligh, who was, if not a sadist, notably strict and ill-tempered.
Christian's original plan was to flee the Bounty in its attached long boat and head back to sunny Polynesia, but other crew members convinced him to keep the Bounty and pack the officers in the long boat instead. Amazingly, Bligh and company navigated their overcrowded vessel 3,600 miles to the Dutch East Indies. The lieutenant eventually made it back to England, then returned to the South Pacific for revenge. In the meantime, the mutineers were living large on Tahiti.
Though Christian never found out Bligh had survived, he feared that staying at Tahiti could put him in danger of capture. Mutiny was, after all, a capital offense. He reboarded the Bounty and set out to find a place where he could hide forever. Seven other mutineers, twelve Polynesian women, six Polynesian men, and one infant joined him. After months of exploration, they found Pitcairn Island, which had no people but an abundance of coconuts, breadfruit, and other useful crops. The group destroyed the Bounty, to avoid detection by passing ships, and settled into their own paradise.
Like the first paradise, however, this one featured hidden dangers. Unfettered sexuality provoked jealousies and rage. The root of the ti plant, one mutineer discovered, could be distilled into liquor. The underlying problem, though, was building a society with criminals, concubines, and malcontents. Within four years, all of the Polynesian men and half of the mutineers had been murdered. A few years later, only two Englishmen—Edward Young and Alexander Smith—remained with the fearful women and children.
The Mutiny on the Bounty films are uninterested in the fate of Pitcairn Island, but for Christians, this is where the story really begins. While poking through the items saved from the ship, Smith discovered a Bible and a Book of Common Prayer. Smith couldn't read, but Young taught him before succumbing to consumption in 1801. Smith studied the Bible for years and became convinced that everyone on the island (at this point, himself, 10 women, and many children) needed to live by its principles. He instituted Sunday worship and daily prayer times, at which he would offer petitions like this:
Suffer me not, O Lord, to waste this day in sin or folly. But let me worship thee with much delight. Teach me to know more of thee and to serve thee better than ever I have done before, that I may be fitter to dwell in heaven, where thy worship and service are everlasting. Amen.
In 1808 an American ship discovered Pitcairn Island, where the crew was shocked to find a community of 35 English-speaking Christians. The Americans reported their find, but England was too busy with the Napoleonic Wars to do much of anything about it. Six years later a British ship rediscovered Pitcairn, and though the crew had orders to seize and kill any mutineers they found in the South Pacific, they couldn't bring themselves to disrupt the peaceful community by punishing Smith, now known by all on the island as ‘father.’ Smith still feared recapture, and he changed his name to John Adams (after the American president) in a rather curious move to avoid it. But no one came to seize him, and he died on the island in 1829.
Even sincere biblical teaching couldn't turn Pitcairn into an earthly paradise—every community has its problems—but Smith's work made a huge difference. The island settled by fugitives from the law has a courthouse, but it has never hosted a trial. Pitcairn's three jail cells house only lifejackets.
Source: Elesha Coffman, "Mutiny and Redemption," Christian History Newsletter (4-27-01).
Notice that Alexander Smith fixed his eyes on the Lord and it made a huge difference. It transformed him from a mutineer to a man of God.