Genesis 6:3 Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” (emphasis added)
Sometimes it’s easy to see the Grace and Mercy of God in stories of His judgment, but that’s just not true with the Genesis flood.
For those of you who may not know much about this let me give you some background:
- All mankind decided to rebel against God
- This sin hurt God (who is Holy) and He decided to kill everyone with a worldwide flood (this would also be the first time it ever rained)
- Noah the one Godly man left was chosen by God to build an ark, and bring animals into it
- God after the ark was finished closed the door and brought a flood that killed all mankind except for Noah’s family in the boat
Not a very happy story is it? Yet the mercy of God can still be seen.
In Genesis 6:3 God expresses His frustration over the wickedness of man and says, “I won’t contend with (have mercy on) children forever.” He then says the days of man will be 120 years
As amazing as it may seem this wasn’t that long of a lifespan since during those days people lived far longer. Noah actually lived for 500 years before having children (Genesis 5:32).
There are two major views on what God meant by saying man’s days would be 120 years.
- 120 years would be the new lifespan after the flood
- 120 years was the amount of time between this decision, and the flood
I prefer to believe that God was referring to the time before the flood came since men and women didn’t all live to be 120 (obviously doesn’t happen today).
Okay so why would God wait 120 years before bringing His judgment? One reason is it would take Noah an incredibly long time to build the Ark without modern day machinery (everything would be done by hand). But the real reason I believe is to give people opportunities to repent.
For around 100 years I would say (we do know Noah was 600 when God brought the rain Genesis 7:6) he preached that message to the people
God is going to send a flood that will destroy the entire world…repent of your sins, and join me in the Ark.
But during all of that time nobody would believe.
The moment that first drop fell from the sky they all suddenly realized Noah was telling the truth and wanted to get in.
but it was too late
God’s opportunities for mercy had ended
As a child my parents used the common “three strikes your out” philosophy of dealing with bad behavior. The idea was I would be given three warnings for misbehaving. After the third I would either be punished, or put in a situation where the slightest disobedience got me in trouble.
Being a normal child I would always completely ignore warnings one and two, then try to really obey or beg for mercy when the third warning came. Usually my parents response was “it’s too late, you already had your chances.”
Sometimes they would give me one last chance but even if the hadn’t I had no reason to call it unfair. They gave me two clear warnings. They explained what would happen if we got to number three. I didn’t even try to do the right thing till the last minute.
Throughout Scripture we see God warning mankind of their sins through prophets, angels, or Jesus Himself. Altogether he gives us a much better chance for repentance than the count of three (try the count of one-hundred and twenty!) This long-suffering grace makes us believe sometimes that that mercy of God will last forever.
But it won’t
Eventually God’s Holiness will win out, and He will righteously judge us for our sins…and at that point it will be too late for us to ask for mercy.