When will God do something about all the violence?

As Africans, we are no strangers to crime and violence.

We have had our fair share of invaders, dictators, warlords and freedom fighters who have then turned on their own people.  Not only that, we constantly hear of assault, murder, rape, abuse and many other violent crimes.

South Africa is reeling as we are confronted on a daily basis with news of another woman or child being rape and killed.

A UCT student was raped and killed in the last week by a postal worker, in a Post Office, in the southern suburbs of Cape Town.

Many people in Africa live with this as their daily reality.

When will enough be enough? Is God concerned? When will God do something?

These are good questions that Genesis 6 helps us answer.

The story so far

Genesis 1 tells how God created a good world and everything in it.  He created men and women in his own image to enjoy a good relationship with him and each other. 

It was a perfect world with no crime or violence.

In Genesis 3, we read how human beings disobey God, and sin and death enter our world.  In an act of cosmic treason, the creature rebels against the creator.

Men and women become disconnected from God and each other.

In Genesis 4, we read of the first violent crime, murder, and we discover that not only does sin spread, but it also gets worse. 

Genesis 5 may be made up of a genealogy, but the most repeated phrase is “and then he died”.  Francis Schaeffer notes, “As we run through this genealogy, we are reminded over and aver that we live in an abnormal world; since man (human beings) has revolted things are not the way God made them originally.”  The consequence of rebellion against God are devastating, including spiritual and physical death.

These are still the realities of our world today.

1. Normal life continues, but is marred by sin

From the first few verses in Genesis 6, we see that normal life continues, but it is marred and tainted by sin.

1 When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in[a] man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown. (Genesis 6:1-4)

These are controversial verses, but Jesus took them to mean that life carried on as normal and routine (Matthew 24:38).

The “sons of God” were probably the male descendants of Seth (i.e. from the godly line) who married the “daughters of man” from the line of Cain (i.e. the  ungodly line).  It says they “took as wives any they chose”, seemingly implying violent acts of non-consensual marriage.  The sequence here in 6:2 (“saw … attractive [good] … took”) parallels the fall in 3:6 (“saw … good … took”).

The judgment of God is anticipated in 120 years (v3).

 “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days” seems to be an historical marker and reminder of the ungodly marriages.  It is a reference point to the original readers that these things happened while the Nephilim were around; this was not a made up story.

It would be like me saying that I wrote this article in the month that Robert Mugabe died. 

Life was going on as normal, but marred by sin and violent crime.

2. God is concerned about you and his world

The Lord saw…

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  (v5)

The LORD sees what happens in his world.  Not one thing is hidden from his sight. 

He sees every invasion, every rape, every murder, every assault, every lie, every kidnapping, every abuse, every hardship, every hurt, every dictator and every warlord.  He sees it all.

Notice the extent of sin: (v5) “every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

If the truth be told, we know that this verse is true for us. We know that all our motives, our thoughts, our words and our deeds are influenced by sin.

We may not be as bad as we could be, but no one is as good as they ought to be.  There isn’t one aspect of our lives not tainted by sin.

We cry out to God for justice and to punish evildoers – and it’s right that we do.  But, if God had to punish all evildoers, he must punish each of us also.

The Lord was grieved…

And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. (v6)

The word for “grieved” is a strong word.

Wenham explains that the word expresses the most intense form of human emotion, a mixture of rage and bitter anguish. The same word is used in Genesis 34:7 where Jacob’s daughter Dinah had just been violently raped.  When her brothers heard that she had been raped, it says, “They were filled with grief and fury”.

When God sees sin and violence in his world, it fills him with rage, because he hates sin and grief, and because his creatures are suffering.

If we are filled with rage and anguish over violence towards women and children, how much more is this true for the Holy God who absolutely detests sin?

If we are filled with rage and anguish over violence towards women and children, how much more is this true for the Holy God who created all women and children in his precious image?

What will God do?

The Lord said…

So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” (v7)

God speaks a word of judgment because sin cannot go unpunished. God said he would send a catastrophic flood.  And he did.

God decided that that sin had reached its limit.  God exercised his sovereign right to destroy that which he created.  The flood in the Bible becomes a picture of God’s future judgment of the entire world.

Jesus’ words in Matthew 24 are sobering:

36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

The Bible teaches that there will be a great day of judgment in the future when Jesus Christ returns.

At last justice will be done. No loopholes. No delays. Only justice. All the Hitler’s, self-serving rulers, murderers, rapists, child pornographers and criminals will face the just judgment of God. 

Criminals might escape judgment in this world, but not in the next.

Question:  When will God do something about all the crime and violence?

Answer: Ultimately, on that day.

Sin, all sin, from the violent crimes of rape and murder, to the seemingly innocent sins of pride and greed, are infinite offences against an infinitely holy God.  Not only do gangsters and warlords deserve God’s judgment, but so do we.

3. The favour of God

But Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord. (v8)

Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. (v9)

Noah escaped God’s judgment because God favoured him.

What was different about Noah, you ask?  Here’s the difference:  God favoured him.

V8 comes before V9.  He walked with God because God favoured him, not vice versa. 

If Noah’s righteousness or good deeds were the cause of God’s favour, then we would be advocating Islam.  Noah was a sinner like everyone else (v5).

Noah responded to God’s favour by faith (Hebrews 11:7).  He believed God’s promise about future judgment and was counted righteous.

The same God who rescued Noah still rescues people today.

In the gracious plan of God, the sinless Son of God died a violent death to take upon himself the just punishment for our sin.

By believing in Jesus (John 3:36), we may be forgiven and escape God’s judgment.

God’s favour is now seen in Jesus and the gospel promise.  

Implications:

  1. We treat all human beings with respect and dignity because we are all created in God’s image.
  2. We strive for justice because God loves justice.
  3. We hate and oppose crime and violence because God hates sin.
  4. We don’t lose hope with seeming injustice because one day there will be complete justice.
  5. We cast ourselves on God’s gracious favour in Jesus because our sin needs to be forgiven.
  6. We look forward to the renewed universe where there will be no sin, crime or violence.

Bibliography

Francis A. Schaeffer, Genesis in Space and Time.  IVP

Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1-15 (Word Biblical Commentary). Word Books