When we look at the world around us, we find that wars and rumors of wars abound, people die of starvation, the poor are cheated and the hungry are starved. We see places where disease, famine, and natural disasters are in a never ending cycle of viciousness. We turn on the news and hear stories about murder, theft, terrorism, and a lack of justice for the innocent. As we look around, we must ask ourselves, “was the world ever really worse than it is now?” To put it differently, we could ask “is the world getting better or worse?” And finally, we could ask “how bad must it have been for God to send a worldwide flood in the days of Noah?” In reality it seems obvious that there is enough wickedness in the world today to warrant our destruction, yet God allows us to keep on living. Regarding this, I we ask why?
The short answer is that God is slow to punish wickedness because he is giving all people an opportunity to place their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. We find evidence of this in two passages specifically, 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” and 1 Timothy 2:4 “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
The first passage quoted above shows that God is slow to bring about judgment because he is giving people time to find salvation. The second passage states that God wants all people to be saved and the verse is stated in reference to living in such a way that our lives are pleasing to God.
So if God desires for all people to be saved and he is slow in bringing judgment or justice, then why did he send the flood in the days of Noah?
To answer this question we look at more Scripture.
Genesis 6:4-8 states:
4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.
5 The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. 6 The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. 7 So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.
From these verses we see that there was something going on with the Nephilim and that the human race had become exceedingly wicked. The term Nephilim seems to have roots outside of the Hebrew language, but means “giant.” It has also been shown to refer to scary creatures or monsters. It seems here that the term is being used in reference to sons of God and daughters of men or humanity. This idea could be understood as having something to do with godly people marrying ungodly people and abandoning their faith. This seems quite likely given that only Noah and his family still worship God. The term could also have something to do with fallen angels possessing key individuals (perhaps kings or tribal leaders) and causing them to be more wicked than normal. Perhaps through demonic influence/possession these leaders were putting the very existence of humanity in threat. To get more perspective on this event we ask what else the Bible has to say about the issue. We find reference to the reason for the flood in three other passages.
In 1 Peter 3:19-20 we read: “19 After being made alive, [Christ] went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— 20 to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water.”
and in 2 Peter 2:4-5 is states: “4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment; 5 if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others.”
Finally, in Jude 6 it reads: “And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.”
From these three passages we see that the flood was brought about because of some disobedient spirits (fallen angels) who were put into hell through the event of the flood. Genesis mentions that the Nephilim (monsters or men or renown) were still around after the flood. After the flood we find that both heroes and some fallen angels remained on the earth, but what we see through these passages is that some angels were removed from the earth in the Flood.
Thus I propose that God sent the Flood not only because of the wickedness of humanity, but because he chose to use this event as a means by which he would imprison specific fallen angels. We find this idea in one additional passage in the Gospels. When the man possessed by many demons (the one’s who refer to themselves as Legion) meets Christ on the shore, Christ cast the demons into swine. Then the swine run off of a cliff and into the ocean where the demons seemingly cease to remain on the earth. Perhaps here Christ is also putting these specific fallen angels into the same prison where he is holding the one’s removed from the earth in the flood.
We now get back to our original question. “Has the world ever really been any worse than it is now?” Seemingly it has been better, but one would be hard pressed to say that it has been worse. With only one family left that worshiped God perhaps it was, but even with more Christians now we find the existence of all the same kinds of evil.
So how should we think about the world, evil, and God? I propose that we recognize that God is patient in bringing about justice, because he is giving more people opportunity to repent. I also propose that while we can trust that God is not simply going to flood the world again, that we recognize that there are still demonic forces at work in the world today. As Christians we have a responsibility to stand for the truth, and to share the goodness of God’s mercy, love, and salvation so that we can help others find the goodness and the blessings that come now with God’s Kingdom.
What are your thoughts about all of this?