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What the Bible says about Pre-Flood Culture
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Genesis 6:4

The Scriptures indicate that these giants died out. Not long after this, God sent a worldwide Flood to destroy "all flesh" upon the earth (Genesis 7:21). Since these giants were simply a natural, genetic variation of human beings, they died along with the rest of the earth's population. The only humans to escape that catastrophe were Noah and his family.

Since Noah was of a stock of smaller people, most of his descendants were of his stature. However, some of the genes to produce giants survived through the wife of Ham, one of Noah's sons. Therefore, a number of the sons of Canaan (one of Ham's sons) were giants (Numbers 13:1-2, 32-33). In Deuteronomy 2:19-21, Moses records that God destroyed the giants who dwelt in Ammon so that the children of Lot could possess the land. Those giants - who apparently descended from Canaan through a man named Anak - eventually became extinct. King Og of Bashan was the last of them to inhabit Palestine east of Jordan (Deuteronomy 3:11).

Another well-known biblical giant is Goliath of Gath (or "the Gittite"), whom the teenage David killed with a sling stone (I Samuel 17). Goliath's brother and sons were also men of great stature, and the Bible explicitly mentions that David and his men killed them all (II Samuel 21:15-22; I Chronicles 20:4-8).

Both before and after the Flood, God was directly involved in the destruction of those giant men. The reason for their destruction is not stated directly, but like Goliath, those men seemed always to be in opposition to God and to His people Israel.

Staff


Genesis 6:4

"Giants" is the Hebrew word nephilim, which has little or nothing to do with being tall and muscular but refers to cultural leadership. God is describing the culture immediately before the Flood. Nephilim has to be seen in that context. These Nephilim - giants not in size but in influence - were establishing evil, deceitful, violent, and enslaving leadership. They were "men of renown," which literally means they were men of name. In other words, they had a reputation, but that term is used in a derogatory sense. These were not good characters.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part Two)

Genesis 6:5-6

Just like its spiritual father, Satan, mankind uses God's beautiful creation self-centeredly and destroys.

In Genesis 1-3, we see God graciously giving mankind wonderful gifts to enjoy life. He provided them with long lives and brilliant minds to make use of earth's resources. In Genesis 6, though, we see humanity destroying virtually every good gift in its savage disrespect for Him and what He had made. An ever-increasing population was living nearly without restraint. Perhaps the most astounding detail in this whole mess is what all this did to God: He was grieved in His heart that He had created humanity.

To appreciate the Flood and the covenant that resulted, we need to grasp a major factor that directly led to it. God does not judge impatiently or carelessly; He is merciful and gracious, His actions always motivated by love. Everything He does is in the best interest of His purpose and with the well-being of others at heart. Even considering those two factors, what God did in using an overwhelming Flood to wipe out the entire human population in a matter of a few days is sobering. Undoubtedly, God had good cause.

We have no figures at hand to show how many lives perished, but in 1,600-plus years, combined with their brilliant minds and long lives, not only the population could have been abundant, but the development of the earth's material resources may also have been extensive and advanced. We look forward to having those details revealed in the resurrection.

These considerations indicate that two factors made Him decide to destroy nearly all life and begin all over again: 1) a profound change in the quality of life combined with 2) what was developing in people's minds. God did not have an attitude of defeat or failure. Instead, He primarily considered the result of what was occurring in people's minds. It was a sobering judgment but not nearly as bad as what would have been produced had He allowed events to continue. His judgment provides us a clear understanding of His loving character.

God's reaction was guided by what He saw regarding mankind's sins. In His experience with humanity at this point, He concluded that sin should not be understood as a mere imperfection in character but as a hostile, infecting, poisonous, and destructive force relentlessly driving people to even greater excesses. Added to this reality is an element that significantly raises the level of seriousness: Sin is not merely murder, lying, coveting, thievery, etc., but a vicious motivation buried deeply in men's hearts that generates evil almost incessantly.

God's statement that “every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” is not an exaggeration. The heart is a generator of evil by nature (Matthew 15:16-20). In Ecclesiastes 7:29, Solomon reminds us, “Truly, this only I have found: That God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.” How far mankind had fallen from the pinnacle of purity and righteousness Adam and Eve contained when created by this same God! How radically that beautiful creation had changed!

Sin, then, is not merely what one sees on the outside. Far more challenging to understand and deal with is the reality that it is an internal matter; sin is generated from within. This is all the more interesting because Jesus later admonishes us not to look on the outward appearance in making judgments (John 7:24). Yet, we must do this because we lack the godly powers to judge as God does.

I Samuel 16:7 says that in His judgments God looks on the heart. From this incident, the wisest of all Beings, God Himself, teaches us a valuable principle of judgment: When the heart becomes so consistently wicked that evil is its natural course of action, nothing can be done to change it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Leadership and Covenants (Part Nine)

Genesis 6:5-6

At this time in the world, we have not reached the specific level of violent conduct before the Flood, but we are moving toward it. This increasingly perilous condition stands as an indictment against all of us because we have all contributed to this menacing situation. How? It is partly motivated by our collective lack of knowledge, understanding, desire, and/or will to seek God's righteousness and pursue it as the Bible commands us to do.

Many secular-minded people severely question even God's very existence, but God counters those challenges with a stern judgment of His own. Romans 1:18-20 declares that humanity is without excuse because God has made His existence known to mankind. As it is impossible for God to lie, it is a statement of fact: The proofs of His existence and overall governance are available in the observation of creation. Yet, we see no groundswell of people searching for those spiritual truths.

Can today's humanity change and practice a culture of morality superior to what we see in the world? Probably, because even this nation's history shows an America with a much higher level of moral conduct among the general population. Within its histories of the Israelite peoples, the Bible shows a few instances of such a thing occurring.

However, the overall chances of reformation are slim because the Bible pointedly shows us that as long as man's self-centered, anti-God nature remains driven by its resident carnality, nothing will ever change! Romans 8:7 dogmatically states that man's carnal mind, the mind he develops from birth, is antagonistic to God. It is not subject to God by nature.

It has been this way since Adam and Eve. They sinned, bringing the sentence of death upon themselves almost immediately after spending time in the presence of their Creator and being instructed by Him personally. This reality is evidence of how persuasive the anti-God nature we take on at birth is. That one of their children murdered the other proves that the same nature passes on to us, their children.

Immorality has almost always been the dominant way of life for mankind. The early chapters of Genesis show violence continued growing until God Himself put a stop to it by bringing the Flood on humanity. He wiped humanity out entirely except for one family of eight.

With the reality of the conditions we are living through and the availability of the Bible as a resource, we are challenged to choose. God took this same approach toward ancient Israel, and His challenge remains in His Word to this day—to choose life (Deuteronomy 30:15-20).

Since Jesus Christ walked the earth, history shows that no nation has had such full and easy access to the Word of God as America. Who then do we choose to believe, God or men? Even though God is not challenging the entire nation to choose now as He did Israel at that time in their history, the challenge remains for the individual citizen. If an individual sincerely desires to better his conduct before God and not follow the crowds eagerly throwing themselves into the pit reserved for those who do not want to please Him, he or she can choose life.

The potential violent destruction because of America's immoral conduct deserves serious consideration and positive response. Does our conduct follow the American pattern, or does it reflect Jesus Christ's teaching? Those two ways of life are not similar in character. The choices are obvious. We have little excuse not to choose life.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Why Hebrews Was Written (Part Six)

Genesis 6:11-13

We can easily reach a conclusion about humanity by comparing the Bible's overview of mankind's pre-Flood activities with our more detailed daily news reports. Together, they suggest that we are experiencing times increasingly similar to those just before the Flood. This leads us to an unavoidable conclusion: What God did through the Flood proves that the cataclysm did not solve the problems that reside in the hearts of human beings. What is in man's heart created the necessity for humanity to witness that major disaster as part of its history. The internal stain was still there after the Flood waters drained away; the massive execution of earth's population did not erase the evil motivations of man's self-centered nature. That must be accomplished by another means.

By putting them to death, the Flood did clear the population of a vast number of troublemakers. However, only God's merciful and generous grace, as Noah and his family received, changes a person's heart and thus his or her conduct. Our hearts are changed by God initiating our calling, revealing Himself, granting repentance, giving His Spirit, and then personally working with us in a close, personal relationship. By this means, we are created in the image of God. This is the only permanent solution.

This fact should have the effect of causing us to resolve to follow through by willingly cooperating with God within the relationship created by His merciful calling. What practical, spiritual counsel will enable us to negotiate these times, which are so similar to what Noah went through?

In short, our salvation is to yield to God's guidance, as seen in Noah's story. His attitude and conduct become our practical, human example and spiritual guide. Just as he persevered in building the ark and trusting God to preserve his family through the Flood, we should put the same effort into preparing for God's Kingdom.

Genesis 7:1 provides us with a simple but meaningful instruction: “Then the LORD said to Noah, 'Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation.'” Noah did not hesitate when God commanded him to do this, as his labors in building the ark were ending. This command states the qualification to meet our time's spiritual challenges. Noah faithfully lived righteously within the difficulties of the times.

The biblical record shows that God oversaw and provided safety for Noah and his family during those challenges beyond their control. He will do for us as He did for them. The Flood of our times is not one of water but an overwhelming “flood” of deception combined with threats of violence against us. It is already upon us to some small degree. As far as can be determined, nothing of this world will turn it aside. In fact, it is already named in the Bible—our Flood is called the Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Leadership and Covenants (Part Ten)

Genesis 7:17-23

Amid the prevailing violence of the pre-Flood world, God singled out Noah, called him, and began giving him the grace he needed to complete what likely seemed like an impossible assignment. He spent one hundred and twenty years preaching, undertaking the hard labor to build the ark, and enduring the mockery of his neighbors. When the Flood came, he faced torrential rains combined with earthquakes that produced frighteningly huge waves on an endless sea, making him fear for his family's survival. While never knowing a period of absolute calm, he cared for the animals, including the birds sent out to reconnoiter conditions outside. When one did not return, and the ark settled into the soft but stable soil, the lifesaving voyage ended, and the reestablishment of life on earth began in a world of absolute calm dominated by silence.

From beginning to end, Noah's story has the sense and appeal of a fantastic fictional tale. Within it are events that may remind us of a superhero conquering every challenge devised by a mysterious villain to keep him from accomplishing his mission, and saving his family despite the sacrifices. Since God Himself reports Noah's work through Moses, his story is not fiction; one man lived the entire experience. Moreover, every person born on earth since descends from this one man and his wife.

We do not have to search long to find the cause for God's judgment: man's unending determination to fill his life with every vile form of sin he could imagine. Humanity needed to be saved from itself before millions of minds became so set on sinful ways of living that they could not repent. The step God took—sentencing almost all of mankind to death—was, in reality, an act of divine mercy before humanity reached that point of no return.

This current generation of humanity is living in an atmosphere of widespread violence, which Jesus warned in His Olivet Prophecy would be similar to the state the world was in as Noah was finalizing the housing of the animals God brought to him. The beginning of the Flood was only days away.

How much time do we have before God gives the signal for Jesus to return to earth to establish the Kingdom of God? Before His crucifixion, even Jesus did not know the time of His departure from heaven, so we do not know either. He admonishes us to be ready at all times.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Leadership and Covenants (Part Eleven): Signs

Genesis 11:4-6

How technologically developed the people were at this time is sketchy. The Great Pyramid of Giza, whether built before or after the Flood, is evidence of a high degree of technology. Whatever the case, God's statement that "nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them" implies the builders of Babel were at least on the verge of great technological leaps. How much can a person discover and develop in a seventy-year life span? Yet these people lived hundreds of years! Since knowledge accumulates from generation to generation, imagine how it would build in a person over 500 years!

Consider what man has accomplished in the last 150 years. He has learned how to harness the power of mighty rivers by building dams to produce electricity. He has built soaring bridges across great chasms. He has drilled deeply into the earth to tap its stores of oil and gas to transport ourselves from place to place, heat our homes, and fuel our factories. Man has put satellites hundreds of miles into the heavens and placed men on the moon. We can watch the astronauts on television though they are 240,000 miles away!

The list of our technological accomplishments seems endless. Technology, though, is not the answer to mankind's problems. By the time the Millennium begins, the world will have realized that knowledge of physical things cannot solve our problems, especially those of the spirit. Each new technological stride merely titillates us for a while, failing miserably to give a sense of meaning to our lives. Technology cannot rid us of competition and inordinate desire. Instead, it only seems to accelerate the plunge toward oblivion and meaninglessness.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Preparing to Rule!

Matthew 24:36-39

The thrust of Jesus' message is clear beyond question. He is concerned that when He returns, people will be so focused on—and thus distracted by—the secular concerns of life that they will be unprepared for the climactic events of His return. His concern is enhanced by three parables that follow this section, each dealing with the state of urgency and readiness we need to have as that time approaches.

Why would a Christian not be prepared as the end nears, when we should know full well that we are close? The answer is fairly obvious. Those caught in this "pre-flood syndrome" have their minds on something else.

The Parable of the Sower and the Seed addresses this clearly: "Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world . . . choke the word" (Matthew 13:22). "The cares of this world" catch the people's attention as the "flood" begins and contribute to their deterioration.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Flood Is Upon Us!


 




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