Why did God destroy the world?

Or did you forget that God destroyed the world? “For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water” (2 Peter 3:5, 6).

Some willfully forget the flood to avoid thinking about the impending judgment: “But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3:7).

Why did God wipe out mankind?

“Then 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. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the LORD said, ‘I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them’” (Genesis 6:5-7).

“The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. And God said to Noah, ‘The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth’” (Genesis 6:11-13).

What do we learn from the sinners who perished in the flood?

What was the condition of society? How did people become so wicked? Were there exceptions? Was there a solution for their sins? Is our world any better? Is there a solution for our sins?

What was the condition of society?

Technologically, society was quite advanced. The longevity of man allowed him to acquire skills and pass them on for several generations. Cain built a city (Genesis 4:17); Jubal played the harp and flute (Genesis 4:21); Tubal-Cain was an instructor of craftsmen in bronze and iron (Genesis 4:22). Noah built a boat with three decks that held a large cargo (Genesis 6:14-16) and that stayed afloat for five months (Genesis 7:11, 24; 8:4).

The lifespan of the antediluvians was about 900 years, thus physiologically they were far superior to modern man. That these years were equivalent to ours is indicated by the statement: “In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened” (Genesis 7:11). The ark rested on the mountains of Ararat “in the seventh month, the seventeenth day of the month” (Genesis 8:4). This period of exactly five months is also designated as “one hundred and fifty days” (Genesis 7:24) making five months of thirty days.

In the antediluvian period there were people whose physical makeup was superior to ours. “There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown” (Genesis 6:4).

The physician, Philippe Charles Schmerling (of Austrian descent but born in Holland), who found the first human skull in 1829 at Engis, Belgium of the type that would later be called Neanderthal, believed that he had found bones of antediluvians (Recherches sur les ossemens fossiles découverts dans les cavernes de la province de Liége, 1833-1834).

This is possible since the skeletons of Neanderthal man indicate that these people were much stronger and more muscular than modern man.

Some artists like to depict Neanderthals as dumb-looking cave men, but here is a scientific reconstruction from the skull of a Neanderthal girl made by Elisabeth Daynes.

Thus, at the time of the flood, man had built up a society that was quite advanced technically, and people were far superior physically to modern man. So what was the problem? Why did God decide to destroy them? Sin was the problem.

The wickedness of man was great. Every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually and the earth was filled with violence “through them” (Genesis 6:11).

How did people become so wicked?

We know very little about antediluvian society, but certain contributing factors are mentioned.

Man’s longevity contributed to wickedness.

Solomon said: “Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil” (Ecclesiastes 8:11).

At the time of the flood, God reduced man’s lifespan from 900 to 120 years. “And the LORD said, ‘My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years’” (Genesis 6:3).

When Pharaoh asked Jacob “How old are you?” he replied: “The days of the years of my pilgrimage are one hundred and thirty years; few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage” (Genesis 47:8, 9).

When the Psalms were written, man’s lifespan had been reduced to 70 years: “The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength, they are eighty years” (Psalm 90:10).

The longevity of the antediluvians made it easier for them to forget that God would punish them for their sins.

Man did not leave vengeance to God.

When Cain killed Abel, God did not execute Cain. A curse was placed on him: the ground would not yield its fruit to him and he would be a fugitive (Genesis 4:11-14). But God commanded that Cain not be killed and warned: “whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold” (Genesis 4:15).

This was misapplied by Lamech, a fifth generation descendent of Cain, who was proud of being a man of violence: “I have killed a man for wounding me, even a young man for hurting me. If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, then Lamech seventy-sevenfold" (Genesis 4:23, 24).

God’s warning to prevent violence was misapplied by Lamech to justify violence.

Vengeance is God’s prerogative, not man’s: “‘Vengeance is Mine, and recompense; their foot shall slip in due time; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things to come hasten upon them.' For the LORD will judge His people and have compassion on His servants” (Deuteronomy 32:35, 36). This passage is quoted in the NT in Romans 12:17, 19, 21 and in Hebrews 10:30. This truth is the basis of the command of Jesus in Matthew 5:38, 39 that if someone hits you on one cheek you must turn the other also. We must overcome evil with good.

The sons of God made bad marriage choices.

“Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose” (Genesis 6:1, 2).

Men chose wives, not on the basis of spiritual qualities, but on the basis of physical beauty.

God gave Adam one wife (Genesis 2:23-25). Cain’s violent descendent, Lamech, had two wives (Genesis 4:19). Social research in our time indicates that polygamy results in more domestic violence and an increase in the number of unmarried men, who then are more prone to violence.

Were there exceptions?

In the days of Enosh, the grandson of Adam and Eve via Seth, “men began to call on the name of the LORD” (Genesis 4:26). There were people who served God and asked Him for help. The number of people serving God decreased, however, until at the time of Noah, he and his family were the only ones who still served God.

Although there undoubtedly were others, the only two men in the prediluvian period in addition to Abel who are mentioned as being righteous, were Enoch and Noah.

Enoch, in the seventh generation after Adam, “walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:24). “By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, ‘and was not found, because God had taken him’; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God” (Hebrews 11:5).

Like Abel, Enoch was a prophet: “Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, ‘Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him" (Jude 14, 15).

Adam and Enoch were contemporaries, since Adam did not die until Enoch was 308 years old. Those living on earth still had first-hand testimony about their creation by God.

Enoch lived in about the same period as Cain’s descendent, Lamech, who was so proud of being violent. Enoch warned sinners that God would execute judgment on them.

Noah was also righteous. He was born 126 years after the death of Adam, but his father, grandfather and three other ancestors, who were still living when Noah was 100 years old, were contemporaries of Adam.

When Noah was born, his father called him ‘Noah’ which means ‘repose, rest or consolation’, saying, “This one will comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD has cursed” (Genesis 5:29).

Thus, at the time of the flood, man’s creation by God, man’s sin, and sin’s consequences were common knowledge. The wickedness of man did not result from ignorance. People knew God existed but they spoke against him. Enoch warned that God would punish them for “all their ungodly deeds” and for “all the harsh things which ungodly sinners” had spoken against Him (Jude 14, 15).

Noah was righteous in a world filled with wickedness and violence: “Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:9). In Ezekiel 14:14, 20 Noah is named, along with Daniel and Job, as a righteous man. He was a man of 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, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith” (Hebrews 11:7).

Was there a solution for their sins?

Noah condemned the world by demonstrating to them that it was possible to be different. He was saved because of his faith and godly fear. “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (Genesis 6:8).

For a hundred years, while the ark was being built, the world had an opportunity to repent. Noah was “a preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5). Through the Spirit, Christ had preached (no doubt through Noah) to those “who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared” (1 Peter 3:20).

God was patient. He gave them a hundred years to repent. If they had repented, they would have been saved.

Consider the example of Nineveh in the days of Jonah. God decided to destroy the city of Nineveh because of their wickedness. But they repented at the preaching of Jonah and the city was saved: “Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it” (Jonah 3:10).

But those to whom Noah preached ‘were disobedient’. They refused to repent.

Is our world any better?

Do you think God has not yet destroyed our world because it is less wicked than the world at the time of Noah? Not necessarily. “Then the LORD said in His heart, ‘I will never again curse the ground for man's sake, although the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease’” (Genesis 8:21).

Thus, “although the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth” God has promised to never again destroy the world by a flood “while the earth remains”. Did you notice that “while the earth remains”?

Is there a solution for our sins?

The flood demonstrates for all time that God hates sin and will bring sinners into judgment. But it also proves for all time that God can and will save those who repent of their sins and lead faithful, god-fearing lives. God “did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly” (2 Peter 2:5).

Peter writes that “scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation’” (2 Peter 3:3, 4). He goes on to explain that these people willfully forget the flood and that God allows the world to carry on only because He “is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

As in the days of Noah, God is giving this sinful world an opportunity to repent before it is too late. “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness” (2 Peter 3:10, 11).

“The Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14). Before He returned to the Father, after dying for our sins and rising from the dead, He told His followers: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:15, 16).

Just as Noah “prepared an ark for the saving of his household” (Hebrews 11:7), Christ has established His church in which people now can be saved from God’s judgment on a sinful world. As Peter proclaimed on the day of Pentecost: “Be saved from this perverse generation” (Acts 2:40). “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38).

Peter explains that just like Noah and his family were saved from the wicked world by water, we are now saved by baptism. Just as there was an ark “in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. There is also an antitype which now saves us -- baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:20, 21).

God destroyed the world because of sin, and He will do so again.

When Christ comes, will we be inside the ark or outside the ark? When He comes “in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-10).

Yes, there is a solution for our sins if we repent and are baptized into the body of Christ, His church, God’s ark of salvation for our time. Amen.

Roy Davison

The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers.
Permission for reference use has been granted.

Published in The Old Paths Archive