top of page

God's Goodness Meets Sin | Genesis 6:9-9:29

As preached by Timothy O'Day.

"We need a savior who can actually deal with our sin."

What does the history of the flood teach us and instruct us to do?

1) God's judgment comes against sin.

2) God's judgment is his determination to bless his people.

3) God saves a remnant through one man.

God’ Goodness Meets Sin

Genesis 6:9-9:29

June 25, 2023

One of the first books that I read on my own was a short history book on the United States. At this point in my life, I did not read much, but this was a book I could not put down. I was enamored by learning facts about the past and seeing how the story would unfold. I liked it because it was entertaining. What I didn’t realize until years later is that it was also helpful. You’ve probably heard the old adage, “Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it.” The older I get, the more I see that history is not mere entertainment. It is a vital means of education for life.

As you read Genesis 6:9-9:29, you should acknowledge that it is history. But if you merely acknowledge it as history, then you will be no different than someone who views this as a myth. This passage is not given to us by God so that we may have mere information; it is given so that we may learn about God and what is to come. This story is given for our instruction.

What does the history of the flood teach us and instruct us to do?

God’s judgment comes against sin

The flood is God’s judgment against sin. Simply reading through a few of the verses in chapter 6 make this plain:

6:11-13, “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. And God said to Noah, ‘I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth.”

In these verses, notice the direct correlation with God seeing violence and corruption and his determination to destroy the earth through the judgment of a flood that will kill everything that has the breath of life in it. Why would this be? Why would seeing the earth corrupt and full of violence cause him to bring judgment? In order to understand this, think back to Genesis 1. In Genesis 1, God looked at his creation as it was unfolding and he “saw” that it was good (1:10,12, 18, 21, 25, 31). What does God now see? Verse 11, “the earth was corrupt in God’s sight,” and verse 12, “God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt.” This word corrupt means “ruined” and “wasted.” God could not look out at his creation and say “it is good.” Now he looks out and says, “it is ruined.”

Likewise, as he looks out at creation, notice what he sees “filling” the earth. Verse 11, “the earth was filled with violence,” and again in verse 13, “the earth is filled with violence through them,” speaking of all flesh, humans and animals. What was supposed to fill the earth? After creating humanity, God says to the man and the woman in Genesis 1:28, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it…” Humanity, created as God’s image bearers, were to reflect the glory of God into all of creation and to fill all of creation with his glory by being like him as they submitted to his good rule. But after the Fall, man’s decline into sin grew worse and worse until this point in which God, when he looks out at creation, does not seen humanity as revealing his glory but rather as defaming his glory. Since we are God’s image bearers, everything we do is a statement about who God is. That you reflect God in this creation is without question; the only question that remains is whether or not you will tell the truth about God with your reflection. Like a mirror is supposed to give an honest reflection of you, you are supposed to reflect the glory of God into his creation—you are are to be a reflection of his goodness, beauty, justice, power, and love. So when you lie to your neighbor, you are yelling out to all of creation, “God is a liar.” When you use someone for your own gain, you are crying out, “This is what God is like.” When you tell a lie, you are crying out, “just like you can’t trust me, you can’t trust God.”

Can you think of a time in your life where someone thought something of you that was wrong? It’s painful, isn’t it? Can you think of a time that someone not only thought something of you that was incorrect, but then spread that lie around to others? That’s devastating. Did you know that is what you are doing when you sin? In Genesis 6, the Lord looks out at creation and sees that it is no longer good but is instead full of violence—image bearers tearing image bearers apart and defaming his name.

Is it any surprise that his judgment is to wipe out the whole earth as it is doing the exact opposite of his created purpose?

Our Instruction

What kind of instruction are we to take out of this? Two things that I mentioned last week, so I will not spend too much time on them here. First, do not view God’s patience as his acceptance of your sin. Do you notice how God does not fly off the handle? He is patient in the face of human rebellion, but he will not tolerate it forever. If you are playing with sin, do not say, “I’ve got time.” Do not presume on his kindness for judgment will come against your sin. Second, do not be comfortable with sin in your life. To be comfortable with sin is to say, “Sin isn’t that bad.” Like I said before, see your sin as a patient sees his or her cancer: while we may have to deal with it, we do not want it in our lives at all. Sin leads to death. Don’t play with it; don’t grow comfortable with it. As John Owen said, “Be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.”

But how are you to kill sin? The next thing we see in these chapters can help us understand that.

God’s judgment is his determination to bless his people

Judgment is not typically how we think of blessing, but judgment is actually a manifestation of God’s determination to bless his people. In considering why judgment was coming, we looked to God’s purposes for creation and how humanity had rebelled and spoiled creation. Since that is the case, why does God speak to Noah in verses 13-17, warning him that he will destroy the earth and then instructing him to build an ark so that he may escape the coming judgment? The earth is ruined after all, so why not just wipe everyone and everything away? For this reason: God is determined to bless humanity by having them as his true image bearers. We see this in two ways in this passage: Covenant and Recreation


After telling Noah of the coming flood and giving him instructions on how to build the ark, God says to Noah “But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.” This is the first time the word “covenant” is used in Genesis and, subsequently, the Bible. What’s so interesting about this use of the word covenant, though, is that the word “establish” is used instead of the word “make.” Simply put, whenever the word “make” is used with covenant, it signifies the making of a new covenant that did not exist before. The word establish, however, signifies that a covenant that already exists is being applied. But if this is the first time the word “covenant” is used, how could God be applying a covenant to Noah? While the word “covenant” is not used in Genesis 1 and 2, the elements of a covenant are. Covenants typically have these elements:

1) A preamble that identifying the superior partner of the covenant

2) A history that shows why the superior parter is indeed superior

3) A set of stipulations to be followed by the lesser party

4) A set of blessings and curses

5) A formal ceremony of some kind

We see all of these elements in Genesis 1 and 2.

1) God is identified as the Creator of the heavens and the earth with all that is in them. He has rights over all as Creator.

2) The history of the creation of the world is laid out; the details of the garden that God made for man is also spelled out in Genesis 2.

3) After creating humanity, God calls them to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, subdue the earth, and have dominion. Likewise, we see in Genesis 2 the stipulations to work and keep the garden in Eden and not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

4) The blessings set forth are being with God and seeing the garden spread over all of creation; the curse is death, which is separation from God.

5) There are two poems in Genesis 1 and 2 that act as formal ceremonies. In Genesis 1, humanity is created male and female. Then, in Genesis 2, the man and woman are given to each other in marriage.

I mention all of this to say that God is committed to his covenant with humanity, with Adam as the representative head. While Adam was a covenant breaker, here God is looking to Noah to establish the covenant with him so as to bless him—and humanity through him—in the same way that he promised to bless Adam.

In short, why has God elected to preserve Noah through the flood? Because he has committed himself through covenant to bless. The rampant sin in the world is making this impossible, so he will preserve a people for himself through judgment and by judgment. This is where Re-creation comes in.


The world had gotten so bad that God promises to essentially remake the world and restart with Noah. The flood itself is like a “re-creation.” Notice the parallels in these chapters with the creation story

1) Both original creation and the renewed world after the flood emerge from watery chaos. The waters coming over the earth act as a reversal of the creation account; likewise, the receding of the waters parallels the creation. Genesis 1 shows us the gradual receding of the waters as God creates, in the flood the waters gradual overtake whole earth (7:6). After all life was blotted off the earth (7:23), God “remembers” Noah and makes a wind to blow over the earth. The act of remembering is not just referring to thought. It is speaking of God acting on the covenant he has with Noah. The statement of the wind blowing over the waters should make us think of the Spirit of God “hovering” over the waters in creation.

2) Adam in his creation, before sin enters the world, is righteous, blameless, and walks with God. Noah is said to be righteous, albeit in his generation (7:1), blameless, and one who walks with God. He is being set up not as a sinless one, but one who is fit to be like Adam.

3) Adam and Noah rule animals: Adam by naming, Noah by gathering and preserving.

4) Adam and Noah are both associated with the image of God language directly, yet differently, and the commission given to humanity in Genesis 1 is repeated with only one small change in Genesis 9 to Noah and his family. While both are associated with the image of God, the image of God is mentioned in Genesis 1 to speak of Adam and Eve’s identity. The image of God is mentioned in Genesis 9:6 in order to speak of man’s worth. This is necessary because Noah lives in a sinful world in which violence against man is common. While the earth has been cleansed through judgment, sin still resides in human hearts. This is why God institutes capital punishment on the earth that governments are to uphold so that the earth is not again consumed in violence as it once was when the motto of Lamech ruled the day.

What we see in all of this is that God is determined to bless his people even though we complicate matters with our sin. Judgment is what makes his blessing possible for his people. Those who reject him will face his judgment, but those who come to him in faith, like Noah, will find blessing through the judgment.

Our Instruction

How is this history instructive for us? Let’s focus on just a couple. First, we are tempted to view God’s judgment as only a negative thing. But as we already discussed, God’s judgment is just. The focus of the flood is to rid hold back sin. The point of final judgment, to which the flood points, is to rid all of creation of sin once and for all. This is obviously good, but it doesn’t seem obvious when we consider our own sin. A few years back the Salt Lake City purposed tearing down their overcrowded homeless shelter and making 4 or 5 new homeless shelters. The vast majority of people in the city applauded the idea. But then when the purposed sites for the new shelters came out, everyone living in those selected areas loudly objected. What seemed like an obviously good thing became hard to call good when it negatively effected them. The same is true with judgment. You may want to call it bad, but that is only because we want to keep our sin. Judgment is destruction of sin and destruction of all those who want to cling to sin. Judgment comes so that a new world without sin will be ushered in. This is obviously good as long as you are willing to let go of sin.

Second, in Christ, God is making a new creation. The interesting thing is that he is starting with the people who will inhabit that creation. That is to say, he is making us new before he brings us into the new heavens and earth. He does this by bringing the judgment we deserve for our sin onto Jesus. As we said earlier, judgment comes against sin. If your faith is in Christ, then God’s judgment has come against your sin in Jesus Christ in order to destroy your sin—both the condemnation of sin and the power of sin. In Christ, your sin is actually removed and forgiven. In Christ, you are actually able to fight against sin and say no. On this point, CS Lewis tells a story of how, when he was young, he would not want to tell his mother that he had a toothache. He wanted to tell her in order to get pain medicine, but he knew that if he told her he would get more than just pain medicine because she would certainly take him the next day to the dentist. The dentist, then, would help solve the problem but he would also solve all the other problems as well. Jesus, says Lewis, is like that dentist. We might want to go to him in order to have some particularly painful sins removed from us, but we don’t want him to poke around and totally change us. Lewis writes this,

“Now, if I may put it that way, Our Lord is like the dentists…Dozens of people go to Him to be cured of some one particular sin which they are ashamed of…or which is obviously spoiling daily life. Well, He will cure it all right: but He will not stop there. That may be all you asked; but if once you call Him in, He will give you the full treatment. That is why He warned people to “count the cost” before becoming Christians. “Make no mistake,” He says, “if you let me, I will make you perfect. The moment you put yourself in My hands, that is what you are in for. Nothing less, or other, than that. You have free will, and if you choose, you can push Me away. But if you do not push Me away, understand that I am going to see this job through. Whatever suffering it may cost you in your earthly life, whatever inconceivable purification it may cost you after death, whatever it costs Me, I will never rest, nor let you rest, until you are literally perfect—until my Father can say without reservation that He is well pleased with you, as He said He was well pleased with me. This I can do and will do. But I will not do anything less.”[1]

God’s judgment and discipline may seem painful, but they are for your good and show his determined purpose to be good.

God saves a remnant through one man

I last thing that I want to draw our attention to in these chapters is that fact that God saves a remnant for himself through one man. These chapters center on one man: Noah. Chapter 5 gives us the genealogy of Seth and then chapters 6-9 effectively stop on one of the men, Noah, in that line. Noah is thus marked out as the bridge between Adam and Abram. Let me just quickly sum up what we see about Noah in these chapters

Noah Knows the Lord

As we noted briefly earlier, Noah is unique in his generation because he is righteous, as it says in 6:9 and in 7:1. This means that out of everyone in Noah’s generation, he stood out as being concerned about the things that God is concerned about. 6:11 also tells us that he was blameless and that he walked with God, blamelessness referring to his wholeness and devotion to the Lord. Putting these 3 things together—righteous, blameless, walking with God—Noah stood out in his generation as one who was devoted to the Lord.

Noah Obeys the Lord and So Brings Others through Judgment

This is what the chapters bear out, for a pattern emerges with Noah early on. In 6:13-21, God speaks to Noah. Then in 6:22 we see his response: “Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.” Included in the word “this” is building a huge boat and gathering animals into it. Upon receiving further clarification in 7:1-4, we read again in 7:5, “And Noah did all that the LORD had commanded him.” Likewise, Noah does not even disembark from the ark until the Lord directs him to do so in 7:16.

Noah is the one who is commanded and he responds in faith. In doing so, all those with him are saved because he obeyed in faith. Noah was a man of faith and you could see his faith in how he listened to the Lord and obeyed him.

Noah Acts as a Priest to the Lord

After disembarking from the ark, Noah builds and altar to the Lord and offers a sacrifice to him (8:20). This sacrifice shows us a few things about Noah. It shows us that he knows that he is a sinner who deserved to die in the flood. Offerings are made for sin, as the book of Leviticus will show us more in depth. The sacrifice was propitiatory in nature then, meaning that it is meant to satisfy God’s rightful wrath. Not only does it do this for Noah and his family, but this leads God to make a covenant with creation in which he promises to maintain the seasons of the earth until he brings final judgment on the earth. You see this in 8:22 and further in 9:8-17. This again is establishing the covenant already made with Adam to Noah and all flesh on earth. The sign of this covenant is the rainbow, which in Hebrew is just “bow.” The rainbow is a sign that God will not destroy the earth through a flood.

Noah is Not the Savior We Need

While Noah brings people through the judgment of the flood, he is not the ultimate savior we need because he cannot rescue us from our sins. Noah, like Adam before him, falls. Just as Adam was placed in a garden, ate forbidden fruit, and then was ashamed of his nakedness, so Noah sins by the fruit of his garden when he drinks too much wine. He then finds himself naked and ashamed. While he is drunk and naked in his tent, his son Ham finds him and mocks him to his brothers. Shem and Japheth, for their part, do not join in the mocking and act to cover their father. Just as there were curses and promises given after the fall in Genesis 3, we see curses and promises made at the end of Genesis 3 in the wake of Noah’s sin. What’s especially notable about 9:25-27 is that these are the only recorded words of Noah. There he pronounces a curse on Canaan, marking him out as a seed of the serpent. He then pronounces blessings on Shem and Japheth, with particular focus on Shem since he will have the tents and Japheth will be granted a place with him.

What does this show us? While Noah was the man to lead through the flood, he is not the savior that the world needs. He is merely a type, a foreshadow, of the Savior to come. That Savior will come through the line of Shem. As the Bible unfolds, we see that this is indeed the case as Jesus comes from this line. And the line of Japheth, the line that comes to populate Greece and Rome, is welcomed in as they come to Christ

Will You Heed God’s Instruction?

Isn’t all of this incredibly instructive and helpful to us? A greater judgment than a world wide flood is coming. Jesus will come to usher in the new creation and only those who come to him will enter in. Judgment will come against sin—either at the Lord’s return or when you pass from this life. The promise of judgment is not God’s uncontrolled rage against you; it is God’s determined love for Jesus and all those in him. So where will you dwell? Will you come to Jesus and have life or will you cling to sin as one clings to shackles on a sinking ship? Don’t be fooled. Come to Christ by confessing your sin and clinging to him for salvation. He will have you; will you come?

[1] CS Lewis, Mere Christianity, 173-174


bottom of page