Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and full of violence.
The description of Noah is very similar to that of Enoch, just and perfect in his generation, that is, blameless in his walk before men, which is saying much of one who lived in a time of universal corruption. And he walked with God, i.e.
devout and religious, and, from the analogy of the preceding use of the words, we may say, a prophet. He preached righteousness both with lip and life. To this good and great prophet the announcement is made of the coming judgment. "The secret Of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will show them his covenant." The earth is filled with violence through men, and therefore with man must be destroyed. With the message of judgment there is also the message of mercy, as at the first. THE ARK, AN EMBLEM OF SALVATION BY GRACE, AS AFTERWARDS (cf. 1 Peter 3:19-22
). The offer of salvation was a trial of faith. God did not himself provide the ark; it was made by the hands of men, of earthly materials, with ordinary earthly measurements and appointments, and prepared as for an ordinary occasion. There was nothing in the visible ark to stumble faith; but, as it was connected with a positive commandment and prophecy, it was a demand on the simple faith of the true child of God, which is of the nature of obedience. We cannot doubt that this Divine message to Noah was the Bible of that time. It appealed to faith as the word of God. And, as in all times, with the written or spoken word there was the unwritten law, the lex non scripta
; for we are told that "Noah did according to all that God commanded him, so did he." In this primitive dispensation notice these things: -
1. The righteousness of God is the foundation.
2. The accordance of the world with God's heart, as at once commanding righteousness and hating violence, is the condition of its preservation.
3. The mercy of God is connected with his special revelations in and by the men who have found grace in his sight.
4. The provisions of redemption are embodied in an ark, which is the symbol of Divine ordinances and the associated life of believers.
5. The salvation of man is the real end and aim of all judgments.
6. With the redeemed human race there is a redeemed earth - creatures kept alive in the ark to commence, with the family of God, a new life.
7. While we must not push the symbology of the Flood too far, still it is impossible to overlook the figure which the Apostle Peter saw in the ark floating on the waters - the Church of Christ as washed by the Holy Ghost in those waters, which represent not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God. - R.
The earth was corrupted, and full of violence, and all flesh had depraved its way upon the earth; therefore the end of all flesh was resolved, together with the earth. The earth is, in the Bible, not considered as a mere passive object; it is the habitation of man; it beholds his deeds of virtue and of baseness; it is, therefore, like the eternal heavens, invoked as a witness in solemn exhortations; it cries up to heaven if it is soiled with blood; it "vomits out" the wicked inhabitants. But the earth has also furnished the matter from which man was framed; there is, therefore, a certain mutual relation between both; if man is corrupted, the earth shares his degradation; if the one is exterminated, the other participates in the ruin; Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed together with their impious inhabitants; the Israelites were threatened, that when they should be led away as captives for their iniquity, their once blooming land would be converted into a dreary desert of thorns and thistles; whilst, at the return of the pious and penitent into their land, even the inhospitable wilderness would be changed into beautiful gardens and proud cedar forests; and just as the first parents were, after their fall, doomed to exhaust their strength on a curse-laden soil; thus the generation of Noah was annihilated, together with the earth which had seen and suffered their iniquity. The Persian faith teaches that, in whatever country the sacredness of matrimony is violated, that country perishes, together with its inhabitants. The nearer man is to the state of nature, the more mysterious and inseparable appears to him his connection with the earth and its silently working powers; the earth is the "great mother" of all men, who produces, nourishes, and may destroy them; and the heathen nations have based upon these conceptions many of their most beautiful myths, too universally known to require a detailed allusion. But the animals must perish, because they had also beheld the iniquity of man; every witness of the degradation was to be removed; the history of man should commence a new epoch. If crimes were committed through the instrumentality of animals, the latter were also killed: an ox which had caused the death of a man, was destroyed; if a Hebrew town adopted idolatrous worship, its inhabitants were destroyed with their cattle; whilst piety and faith were attended by prosperity among the beasts; the avarice of Achan was punished by death, and the destruction of his family and his property; when the Amalekites were to be extirpated, the animals were included in the fatal decree; and when the Ninevites did penance by fasting and humiliation, the beasts shared the same acts of external grief. The horror against bloodshed was so intense, that every reminiscence of it was to be eradicated; some Indian tribes pursue with their united force the wild beast which has killed a man, and the family of the murdered is an abomination and a disgrace till they have killed that or another beast of the same species; and other ancient nations went a step still farther, and doomed even inanimate objects (as an axe) with which a crime had been perpetrated to ignominious treatment, if the author of the misdeed could not be discovered (see notes on Exodus 21:28-32); and if, among the Hindoos, a man is killed by an accidental fall from a tree, all his relations assemble, cut it down, and reduce it to chips, which they scatter to the winds.
The earth also was corrupt.
If succeeding generations inquire, wherefore hath the Lord done thus unto the work of His hands? What meaneth the heat of this great anger? Be it known that it was not for a small matter: The earth was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. Here are two words used to express the wickedness of the world, corruption and violence, both which are repeated, and dwelt upon in verses 12, 13. The former refers, I conceive, to their having debased and depraved the true religion. This was the natural consequence of the junction between the sons of God and the daughters of men. Whenever the Church is become one with the world, the corruption of true religion has invariably followed: for if wicked men have a religion, it must needs be such as to accord with their inclinations. Hence arose all the heresies of the early ages of Christianity; hence the grand Romish apostasy; and in short every corruption of the true religion in past or present times. The latter of these terms is expressive of their conduct towards one another. The fear of God, and the regard of man are closely connected; and where the one is given up, the other will soon follow. Indeed, it appears to be the decree of the eternal God, that when men have cast off His fear, they shall not continue long in amity one with another. And He has only to let the laws of nature take their course in order to effect it; for when men depart from God, the principle of union is lost, and self-love governs everything: and being LOVERS OF THEIR OWN SELVES, they will be covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. Such a flood of wickedness is at any time sufficient to deluge a world with misery. If these things did not then break forth in national wars as they do with us, it was merely because the world was not as yet divided into nations; the springs of domestic and social life were poisoned, the tender ties of blood and affinity violated, and quarrels, intrigues, oppressions, robberies, and murders pervaded the abodes of man.
Apostasy from God and pollution of worship, is the corruption of men.
2. Such corruption in God's face is high provocation.
3. Violent injury to man accompanieth apostasy from God.
4. Fulness of such iniquity makes a world ripe for judgment (ver. 11).
5. God must see and mark iniquity done in His face.
6. God layeth open all corruption of men, which He seeth.
7. Man is a self-corrupter; he pollutes his own way.
8. The habitation of sinners aggravates their corruption (ver. 12).
9. God revealeth His wrath before He strikes.
Salter used to say: "In regard to our corruptions we may learn something from the difference of glasses. You behold yourselves in your common looking glasses, and see yourselves so fine that you admire your persons and dress. But when you view yourself in a microscope, how much may you behold in that fine skin to be ashamed of; what disfigurement to the eye! and instead of smoothness, irregularity, uncomeliness, and even impurity. So, if you will look upon yourself through the glass of faith, that glass would show you much of the corruption of your sinful nature still cleaving to you, your tempers crooked, your graces misshapen and deformed, and so much corruption cleaving to every action of your lives that would make you sin sick that you have known God so long, and are like Him so little."
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