Because men were living long lives the population of the earth grew at a rapid rate. At the time of Flood there was a great number of people on the earth probably numbering in the millions. There are many formulas for calculating the population of the Pre-Flood world and in each case they are but guesses. They however let us see what the possibilities were.
An article in the Bible Science Newsletter, May 1980 stated that it was not unreasonable to estimate that during this time an average family would have six children and an average generation be one hundred years. Based on these figures at the time of the flood there would have been as many as 235 million people on earth.(1)
If you number a generation at thirty five years, calculate the average family at having four children, in only twenty generations there would be 3.15 million people on Earth. Add another ten generations and you would have 3.2 billion people on earth. In 1656 years, (the time between Creation and the Flood) there would be 47.31 generations!
It leads us to conclude there probably were conservatively millions of people on Earth. Henry Morris
estimates possible figures of 1,030 million people.(2)
Genesis 6:2-4, has been a very controversial passage of Scripture. The question is, who were the "sons of God" that took wives of the "daughters of men?" Some have concluded that the "sons of God" were angels who co-habited with women on Earth. They use 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6 to support their idea that angels were the sons of God whom by this act fell into sin and were condemned by God. They further surmise that the "giants" of Genesis 6:4 were their offspring. I cannot accept this as correct for several reasons:
2. Angels are spirit beings. Jesus stated that angels do not have conjugal union nor reproduction. (Matthew 22:30, Mark 12:25) It is unlikely they would have desired to take human wives. Also, being a "spirit being" they could not have produced children.
"For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven." (Matthew 22:30)
"For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven." (Mark 12:25)
3. The Bible does not say that this union produced the "giants" of verse 6:4. It just states that there were giants on earth at the time of the Flood. (See explanation below)
4. 2 Peter 2:4, and Jude 6 are clearly references to the fall of Satan and the angels that followed him. These two New Testament passages are not a reference to the events of Genesis 6:2,4, because the Fall of Satan and the rebellous angels occurred in time over a thousand years eariler. The events of Genesis 6 have no connection with or bearing on those recorded in 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6.
"There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown." (Genesis 6:4)
Henry Morris, (The Genesis Record) states incorrectly that the sons of God were fallen angels noting that the phrase "sons of God" (bene elohim) is in all other places used exclusively of angels. (3) However, the phrase also can simply mean the creation of God. In the New Testament the phrase refers to saved born again believers and denotes there relationship with God.
Dr. Morris also states we do not know if angels can produce offspring or not. That statement ignores Matthew 22:30 and Mark 12:25 which refutes this false idea. He is correct in saying that if his assumption is correct, this was a very unusual event that has no other parallel in Scripture. Further, every reference to angels in the Bible presents them as sexless spirit beings. What was their purpose? Fallen angels are not called the "sons of God" and became "demons" and demons "possess" human beings, they do not marry them or have sexual relations with humans.
Genesis 6:4, is three statements. First, there were giants in the earth. Second, it says "also" the sons of God produced children of the daughters of men. Third, its states their offspring was "mighty men of renown".
It does not say the offspring of the sons of God and daughters of men were giants. J. Vernon McGee, states, as I believe, that their offspring were not monstrosities, but men of outstanding ability that their offspring were not monstrosities, but men of outstanding ability. (4)
Some translate the word "giant" as "Nephilim." Nephilim can be translated, "be wonderful, strong, powerful, mighty." It may be a word of unknown origin meaning "heroes" or "fierce warriors." A safe translation would use the word "Nephilim" referring possibly to a nation or race of people. From the evidence, it is not proper to suggest the word refers to a race of superhuman monstrosities or giants.(5) The word mighty refers to their abilities, not to their size or outward appearance.
The correct understanding is that the sons of God were the descendants of Seth. Through the lineage of Seth God chose to bring the Lord Jesus the Messiah and therefore the phrase "sons of God" recognizes this distinction. The daughters of men were the offspring of Cain. Cain's offspring is called "daughters of men", because Cain rebelled against God and produced a progeny of unbelieving and sinful men. Thus this passage is explaining that the whole of the earth became corrupted and what God destroyed them. Seth's descendants, although in the "godly line", sinned and they intermarried with the ungodly line of unbelievers that Cain produced. At the time of the Flood, only eight souls of Seth's descendants remained true to God, which was Noah and His family. None of Cain's descendants survived the Flood. This indicates that because Seth's lineage sinned they too perished with the progeny of Cain. This is a logical interpretation and in keeping with the subject and context of this passage and the other Scriptures which have a barring on this matter.
The context of Genesis 6:2 begins in verse 1 which says, " And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them," Note the comma at the end of this verse. The subject being discussed here (the context) is the population of the earth and is only part of the statement God made. Verse 2 says that the sons of God (Seth's descendants) saw the daughters of men (Cain's descendants) who were beautiful and they married them. God is explaining why He destroyed the earth and mankind in the Flood and what happened to the once godly line of Seth.
Genesis 6:4 states there were also giants in the land at that time. These too were wicked men. The term in Hebrew implies not so much the idea of great stature as of reckless ferocity, impious and daring characters, who spread devastation and carnage far and wide. This tells us there were three groups of people on earth. The sons of Seth, the sons of Cain, and these giants. The sons of Seth who married the daughters of Cain had children and they were mighty men and renown men of old. The term "mighty" identifies them as a warlike people who were tyrants. They are also called "renown" which means they were well know, ruled, and feared.
Genesis 6:5 states that the whole population of earth, which included both the lineage of Seth and Cain were wicked in all they did. So the context of these verses are that God is giving the reason He destroyed man from the earth. Man had become so wicked that God had to bring judgment to stop his evil.
In focus is man's sin and wickedness, and this passage has nothing to do with angels. God judged all the angels at the fall of Satan before Adam and Eve sinned. His judgment of the angels was as to their respected roles of (1) demons angels who rebelled against God, following Satan and (2) the righteous angels who did not rebel and followed God. If you hold to Dr. Morris' view you have a second rebellion of angels in heaven of which there is no mention of in God's word. This is why Dr. Morris is incorrect. God judged man and destroyed him from off the face of the earth with the exception of Noah and his family. Angels are not in view here.
I used to think that the those who hold the view of Dr. Morris had some biblical grounds to do so. However, a thorough study of the matter taking into account all the Bible has to say that applies to this matter, the Bible clearly shows that the correct understanding or interpretation is that the "sons of God" were Seth's descendants who married the descendants of Cain. It is grossly improper to ignore the context, which is the subject of a passage in interpreting God's word. There are no problems or contradictions with this interpretation.
As men multiplied so did their sinfulness. Many of the offspring of Seth, who knew and worshiped God, married among the ungodly Cainites and produced children who were unbelievers. In time the population of Earth had only one desire; that being to satisfy their sinful lusts. They spend all their time seeking new ways to gratify their flesh. Verse 11 & 13 further states the Earth was "filled with violence." The nature of sin is that it grows and spreads. Its destructive nature not only effects the one sinning but those around him. Even so called small sins lead to greater sins. Sin against oneself grows until it begins to affect others. Sins of the heart such as bitterness, hate and being unforgiving grow and lead to the sins of physical assault and murder. This was the picture before the Flood. Man's every action was sinful and this led to great violence. It would be logical to assume that personal violence lead to mob violence. Government became thoroughly corrupted. There was no justice or place to appeal. There was no peace on Earth as all mankind had become corrupted except for Noah and his family. Possibly Methuselah also knew the Lord because his name meant, "When he is dead, it shall be sent. He died shortly before the Flood.
Mankind had ample warning of the coming of the Flood. Man knew it was a judgment from God and Methuselah, Enoch and Noah warned the antediluvians to repent and be saved. The message of redemption fell on ears deaden by sin. (See Jude 14-15, 1 Peter 3:20, 2 Peter 2:5)
God looking down on man and was grieved at man's sin and sorry He had made man. The phrase, "it repented the Lord that He had made man" is better translated "God was sorry He had made man." To repent means to acknowledge sin and turn from it. God cannot sin as I Samuel 15:29 states: ". . . the Strength of Israel (God) will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent." This does not imply any uneasiness or repentance as we understand it. This shows God's just and holy displeasure with man's sin and disobedience even when warned. In other words, God was sorry that man had become so sinful and had to take action to stop it.
God, grieved at the state of mankind, made the judgment to destroy man from off the face of the Earth including the beasts, creeping things and birds. (Omitted from the list is fish that would live through the flood)
Even today God warns us of sin's destruction nature. He warns that judgment is coming. Yet, man is willingly blind to the warning. He scoffs at even the existence of God. 2 Peter 3:1-18, reads like the morning newspaper in describing the attitude of men today concerning the promised future judgment of sin. Peter says that those that perished also were willingly ignorant. They choose not to believe the truth and they perished in the Flood. Peter makes the point as well that the Earth today is reserved for judgment, and it will surely come. At the time of the Flood, when the waters began to rise, the Antediluvians to late understood the truth, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promises . . ."
"But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord." (Gen. 6:8) If Noah found grace, God had examined all men and only he pleased God. Noah was a fool in the eyes of the men of his day. Today men who believe that the Bible says God made the Earth and destroyed the Earth in a great Flood are called fools and laughed at by the world too! Modern science ridicules those who reject evolution that is based on uniformitarianism. Uniformitarianism teaches all the geological phenomena on Earth may be explained as resulting from observable processes that we see in operation today. They reject the miracle of the Flood and that God has intervened in history. Because they cannot see what caused the Flood in operation today, though they see the evidence that it accrued, they reject that the Flood happened. In truth they are rejecting God.
Noah was a righteous man who professed to know God. Noah believed in the super-natural. The sinful men of his day refused to believe in their super-natural Creator. This was the difference between Noah and the rest of mankind. He was in the minority. Noah was almost alone in believing in God, yet he was right and everyone else was wrong. This is the first place in the Bible the word "grace" is used. Charles Ryrie makes this footnote on Genesis 6:8:
"6.8 grace. Or favor. Heb. "chen", from a root word meaning "to bend or stoop", thus condescending or unmerited favor of a superior person to an inferior one. It is sometimes used redemptively (Jer. 31:2; Zech 12:10). This is its first occurrence." (6)
Noah submitted himself and worshiped God. Because Noah believed, his faith was counted as righteousness and God saved him and his family. (Hebrews 11:7) He was called "just" and "perfection his generation" meaning he was mature in the Lord. As was earlier mentioned of Enoch, Noah also "walked" with God. The evilness of those around him did not stop him from being obedient to God. The rest of the world was in gross sin, yet Noah would not let them influence him. The implication is clear: Although the world around us is in great sin this should not keep us from being faithful to the Lord. Noah was a man the same as all men. He was tempted to sin. He had a carnal nature the same as all other men. His strength to live for God was that he chose to walk daily with the Lord. The same power is available to us to believe in God and let God direct our lives.
God gave Noah three sons Ham, Shem and Japheth. They also lived before the Flood surrounded by sin. Yet, they followed the example of their Godly father and served God. More will be said of them later.
God will not allow his plans for the world to be destroyed even by the willfulness of man to sin and destroy himself. Had the corruption and violence on earth continued, in time, it would have been possible that there would have been no righteous men on earth. Yet, God extended His grace to mankind in that He chose to use the last family on earth who believed, to save mankind. God had promised that One would come who would undo the work of Satan in the Garden of Eden and God proceeded to explain to Noah His plans.(Genesis 3:15)
The building of the ark must have invoked great ridicule from Noah's neighbors. Noah said there was coming a great flood and then preceded to build this mammoth boat on dry land. It had not rained on Earth before the flood. Many scientists believe the surface waters on Earth were only in shallow seas. Where was this great boat to float? They could not believe what they could not see. It made no difference that their Creator had said it. If they would have believed in God, they would have believed what God said.
The ark was 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet height figuring the cubic as 18 inches. Until 1858, when the "Great Eastern" was built the ark was the largest ship ever to float. The "Great Eastern" was 692 feet long, 83 feet wide and 30 feet high.(7) The ark, however, was not a ship but rather a barge. The word "ark" is the Hebrew word "tébä" meaning "chest." This well describes the ark as it was not designed to travel under power, but simply to float upright in very turbulent waters.
The ark was constructed of gopher wood. Some translations translate the word as meaning "cypress" but no one can be sure this is correct. Many thousands of plant life and trees became extinct after the flood. Gopher wood just may be one of these extinct trees. To make the barge water tight it was sealed inside and out with pitch (probably a tar like substance).
Inside the ark Noah was to build rooms. These would be for Noah and his family as living quarters and thousands of compartments for the animals. The ark was to have three decks and have a window of one cubic (18 inches) in the utmost deck. This window probably was in the top of the highest deck and ran the entire length of the ark. This would provide adequate air and ventilation.
Whitcomb estimates the ark as having 95,000 sq. feet of floor space and a total volume of 1,396,000 cubic feet. Comparing the ark size to freight cars it was equal to ten freight trains of 52 cars each. Whitcomb states that a barge of this size could carry two of every know species in the world today in only about half its cargo capacity.(8)
There is an important spiritual truth found in these events. Noah in working and doing the seemly ridiculous was God's witness to a wicked world. He was personally being obedient to God. God could have saved Noah and his family in many ways. But, God has chosen to use the work of man, directed by God, as the means of offering salvation to the world. It is as true now as it was then. Noah first believed God, then in faith he went about the work that God had for him to do. Noah preached for 120 years before the Flood came. He not only preached of the coming judgment of God he could be seen to be about the business of living for God every day of his life. (Gen. 6:9) Noah did not just give the Lord lip service, he also physically worked hard as all could see to be obedient to what God told him to do. It took 120 years of toil, sweat and hard labor to build the ark. Though the world thought him crazy they could not say that he did not believe and live what he professed. Step one in being a testimony for the Lord and winning others to the Lord is living a consistent Christian life. The world knows what is right and what is right behavior for one who says he is a child of God. The world knows also what a hypocrite is. The person who claims to know Christ and lives like all the rest of the world has no testimony for the Lord. If they have any faith no one would believe it by seeing how they live. I firmly believe that the greatest hindrance to seeing people saved is not the Devil, but is those persons who professes to know the Lord Jesus and do not live for the Lord. It is not that the world does not know of Christ and the Truth, but they see little evidence that is has much effect on those who claim to profess it. It is sad to say that in the majority of those who use the name of Christ, little is seem of the power of God.
The ark was built to withstand terrific impact of flood waters and to be completely stable. Today Danish barges called "fleuten" are modeled after the ark. Although smaller in size they have the same ratio of length to width to height. This makes them practically impossible to capsize.(9)
Until this time God had said only that He would destroy all mankind and animals on the Earth. He now revealed to Noah that He would cause a great flood of water to inundate the Earth. Everything that breathed air would die in this catastrophic deluge. Again fish are not mentioned as they do not breath air. We know from the fossils found, that great numbers of fish perished in the flood, but many survived and repopulated the oceans.
God made a covenant or promise to Noah that he and his family would be safe inside the ark and also two of the various kinds of animals on Earth. The question is asked by many: Could Ark hold two of every kind of unclean animal and seven of all clean animals? (Gen. 7:2-3)
First, the ark did not need to contain all animal varieties on Earth. It needed only to contain two of each "kind" or species of animal. There are many varieties within each kind of animal. Consider that all the different races of men on Earth descended from Noah's three sons.
It would have only been needed to have had only two breeding dogs on the ark to produce all the varieties of dogs on Earth today. So it must have been for all the various kinds of animals. Note that on page 12, of this commentary it was explained that a "kind" was a Biblical classification which mean breeding group. Animals that cannot interbreed are classed as different kinds. Today the AKC Dog Book classes 140 different kinds of dogs. The common pointer is a cross breed between a foxhound, greyhound, bulldog and a spaniel. These dogs were bred from earlier breeds of dogs. All these dogs because they interbreed are within a class or "kind." Thus, only a pair of dogs with all the traits of modern dogs in their "gene pool" needed to have been taken on the ark. A "gene pool" is presence of the various genes which produce different characteristics in animals. Genes produce traits such as color of skin, hair and eyes. The genes determine height and physical features. It is genes that determine the various "races" of man.
Next, it would have been logical for the animals in the ark to have been young or immature. Two infant elephants would have taken up little room and would have eaten must less than a full grown three ton adult.
Taxonomists (a scientist that classifies animals) estimate that there are one million species of animals on earth today. If you subtract fish and limit the number to "kinds" you have only 35,000 species to be taken on the ark.(10) One, two decked box car can hold 240 sheep size animals. Remember earlier it was estimated the size of the ark was equal to 520 box cars. If the animals were sheep size only 73 of the 520 box cars would be needed to transport these 35,000 animals.
God told Noah to take food for himself and his family and also for all the animals. This means there needed to be enough storage to feed the animals for the 371 days they were in the ark and probably for several more months until food could be grown to feed them. The size of the ark provided ample space to house the animals, Noah and his family and all needed food supplies.
Many have concluded that it would have been an impossible task to gather all the various kinds of animals on earth and get them inside the ark. According to Genesis 6:20, God told Noah the animals would come to him. Therefore the Bible says God intervened and chose only the best from all the kinds of animals and delivered them to Noah at the site of the ark.
Noah did what I am sure to many appeared to foolish and fanatical. He spent 120 years building a large 450 foot barge on dry land! In the eyes of the world he was wasting his life. To them his time would have been better spent living the high life they were having. Maybe the taunted him by saying, "Noah, look what you are missing!" Yet, Noah believed God and did all the God said do. Note, the verse says he did ALL God said do. He did not live a life of being torn between living for the flesh and living for God. He chose to serve God. He believed in God. The proof that he really believed is that he did ALL God said do. Not part of it, but All God commanded him to do. Saving faith is not a part time faith. True faith is operative always. Too many today have accepted a faith less than the Bible presents as genuine trust in God. Can Sunday morning "Christians" truly say that they have true Biblical faith if their faith is only a one day one hour affair? Is it real if does not effect their lives through all of the week? Is it real if it cannot help them overcome temptation? Is it real if it yields to every call and beckon of our carnal nature?
Noah is presented as a man in a totally corrupt society, yet he remained faithful to the Lord. He had every opportunity to sin as we do today and probably more occasion to join in with the evil world around him. Yet, Noah professed to know God and not only did he profess to know God, he lived for God. No one could question that. The world around him and the terrible circumstances he lived in never turned him from his objective to serve and obey God. The Bible says Moses also was such a man. Moses chose to be a believer in God and remain a faithful Hebrew rather than to " . . . .enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season." (Hebrew 11:25) Repeatedly in the Bible we find that God used men and women who would take a stand in their lives. They chose to serve God rather than enjoy the short lived and destructive pleasures of the world. Saving faith is a faith that does not straddle the fence. It is not a faith that keeps one foot in the world and supposes the other to be on God's side. Very clearly Jesus rebuked such mistaken actions by asking the question, "Why do you call me Lord, Lord and do not the things I say?" (Luke 6:46) Let no one misunderstand, the truth is Christ is NOT Lord to one who lives for self and the world. Noah was faithful for 120 long hard disappointing years. You can be sure, however, he was a happy man the day the rains came and he was safe and dry inside the ark that was the product of his faith and obedience to God.
The question each of us should ask ourselves is, "What kind of faith do I have?" Does my faith guide me in my daily decision? Does it keep me from sin and temptation? Does my faith give me strength to obey God? Is it a "head knowledge" which knows about God, but does not experience the power of God in daily living? If the answer is no, we should repent and truly believe in God. Paul said:
"For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged (by the Lord). But when we are judged we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world." (1 Corinthians 11:31-32)
1. "Bible Science Newsletter", Volume 18, No. 5, May 1980, "Five Minutes with the Bible and Science", page 1.
2. The Genesis Flood, John C. Whitcomb, Jr. and Henry M. Morris, Baker Book House, 1961, page 26.
3. Morris, pages 164-165.
4. Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Vol. I, Genesis - Deuteronomy, Thru The Bible Radio, Pasadena, CA., 1981, pages 36-37.
5. Theological Word Book of the Old Testament, page 587.
6. Ryrie, page 16.
7. The World That Perished, John C. Whitcomb, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1981, page 20.
8. The Genesis Flood, John C. Whitcomb, Jr, and Henry M. Morris, page 10.
9. The Christian View of Science and the Scriptures, Bernard Ramm, Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Mich, 1956, page 230.
10. The Genesis Flood, page 69.