Noah, previous to the Deluge.
Chapter 6, to Ver. 13. That which is born of the flesh is flesh. It does not follow because one is a saint that his children are also and all of them saints. Too well, alas! we know the contrary. These patriarchs, mentioned by name in chap. 5, may have been, and probably were, all truly acquainted with God themselves; but each of them begat children, and there is no proof that their children all followed in their parents’ faith.
It should be understood that at the beginning of the world’s course, these two seeds, to wit, those of the openly wicked (in chap. 4), and those of the sons of God, were not only separated as to the latter professing godliness, and as to the former scorning it; but there appears to have been a local distance maintained, for a while, between the two parties. The one hovered still on the outskirts of Eden, where were the Cherubim and the Shechinah; the other, even in Cain’s own time, “went out,” as the Scripture itself informs us, from the presence of the Lord. But in process of time, as the two parties multiplied, and the seed of Cain and the seed of Seth were each much increased, the advanced habitations of the one would approximate to the nearest dwellings of the other. For it is not likely that Cain’s seed went much further away than out of the view of Eden. And then the one line, the sons of God professing, beheld the daughters4 of men that they were fair. Messengers,5 or angels, would soon pass from the one party to the other, and enticed by the beauty of their women, abandon their own local nearness to Eden and to the Shechinah, and fix their dwelling-place among their new friends. The result is not left in doubt. Marriages of these who had formerly been in separation the one from the other prevailed at length, and to that extent, that amalgamation of the two seeds, the Sethite and the Cainite, followed. The one line thus proved that, however lineally descended from Seth, they were not spiritually his true seed.
But separation, as witness for God, abandoned, then came the deluge. After that, corruption and violence6 had broken down all the barriers dividing between the two parties; then God, in exact retributive judgment, removed the barriers that restrained the flood of waters from the earth. In the 12th and 13th verses of chap. 6, this sin of men, and this consequent judgment of God, are linked together. The emphasis is lost in the authorized Version through the one Hebrew word being rendered in ver. 12 “corrupt,” and in ver. 13, “destroy.” There is a striking allusion to this very passage, and to this use of one and the same word for the sin of men and for the judgment of God, in 1 Cor. 3:17, where again, most unfortunately, the idea suggested by the Holy Ghost is lost sight of by two different renderings in English of one and the same Greek word: “If any one mar the temple of God (i.e., by blending the two seeds together, or by upsetting God’s own order in His house), “God will mar him.” The one word in the two clauses shows that the particular judgment is for that particular sin. So here, “all flesh had marred its way on the earth” (ver. 12), and God said, “I will mar them with the earth” (ver. 13).
But some will have it that these sons of God were celestial angels. Now, in proof that the true idea suggested in the passage is the abandonment of separation unto God of the Sethite seed, the whole of the descendants of Adam becoming all united together; and note that wherever a union based on compromises, and then of amalgamation, is affected, this can only be by the avowed witnesses for God forsaking their high standing, for the other side have nothing to surrender— in proof, I pay, that these sons of God here spoken of were human, I submit the following considerations. Let them all be viewed as a whole, and surely conviction ought to follow.
1. Turn to the last two verses of Luke 3. There you have the Sethite line traced backwards, “Methuselah was the son of Enoch, who was the son of Jared, who was the son of Maleleel, who was the son of Cainan, who was the son of Enos, who was the son of Seth, who was the son of Adam, who was the son of Gad.” Thus the Sethite line is headed up by Adam as son of God. In other words, here we have the line of the sons of God. Cain’s line was the line of the children of men.
2. Matthew (22:30) informs us that God’s angels are incapable of marriage, as also the children of the resurrection will be.
8. Angels are spirits (Heb. 1:7). But spirits have not flesh nor bones either, as Christ explains in Luke 24:39. Now combine these Scriptures with proof No. 2 above. For, putting these two passages together, we learn that angels have not flesh; and in Matt. 22:30, that they have no sexes. Now, in proof that the term “angel “is frequently used in the Greek Testament, where men are certainly meant, I have quoted two instances in a note at page 22. But because this point is important, as conducive to a right understanding of the subject, I cite here two more. In James 2:25, the messengers that Rahab received are called “angels.” So again in the Greek of Matt. 11:10, John the Baptist is termed an “angel.” Putting side by side all this Scripture evidence, it seems to me to sweep quite away the argument, such as it is, drawn from the word “other,” or “strange flesh,” in Jude 6; and the obvious meaning is, that the professing sons of God left their own Sethite side and place, allured by the daughters of the Cainite or serpent race.
4. Matthew (24:38), speaking of the days before the flood, states that they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. Here there seems a glance back to the account in Genesis, and to the various modes of fleshly self-indulgence in which men spent their days.
5. On a comparison of the last-cited Scripture with Luke 17:27, contrasted with verse 28, the probability ripens into certainty. Of those living in Noah’s days, it is there said: “They did eat, they drank; they married, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark,” etc. But in the next verse, the language is varied, certainly not without design. For there, speaking of the days of Lot, the Lord omits all reference to the Sodomites’ marriages and of their being given in marriage. Now this very variation as to how the men of Sodom were occupied, as contradistinguished from the manner of life of those in Noah’s time, proves that the Lord calls distinct attention to the crowning sin of those antediluvians. But surely in neither Matt. 24:38, or in Luke 17:27, is there the remotest thought of angelic sin.
6. And what heavenly angels can here be alluded to? Had they been the holy angels, they would not thus have acted; if the confederates of Satan, how could they be called “sons of God”? Moreover, these “angels,” Jude witnesses, are in prison for their sin; but the fallen angels are still at large, and will not finally be cast out of heaven until the rapture of the Church into heaven (Rev. 12).
7. Already I have shown above the connection between the sin committed and the judgment inflicted by the Holy Ghost, using one single word for these two in the Hebrew of Gen.6:12, 13; and again, by a single word for the parallel sin and punishment of Christendom, in 1 Cor. 3:17. But if the guilty party were indeed heavenly angels, either good or bad, then the wrong party was punished. For unquestionably it was the race of men, as well the Sethites as the Cainites—Noah and his family only excepted—that was swept away by the deluge. But how likely, how righteous the judgment, if by these professing “sons of God “be signified the Sethites, who had become savourless salt.
8. I think it very probable, as Bunyan7 suggests, that Balaam hence got his idea as to how he would ruin Israel, by inducing them to abandon their separation through intermarriage with the Midianites. la his prophecies to Balak he had testified of Israel’s grandeur in testimony for God, by “dwelling alone, and not being numbered among the nations.” This silent witness for their God he would set aside, and thus devote them to destruction, which he had failed to accomplish by cursing them. Traditionary relics of the deluge would still be rife in his day, as even now among the heathen such are found.
9. All this is often met by the scornful question, how such marriages as of Sethite with Cainite would produce “giants.” It does not seem very wonderful that the children of the holy and the chaste should have healthier bodies than the impure should have. But I might return the question, and ask how it can be proved that the seed of angels and of men should necessarily be a race of giants. There is no Scripture in proof of this. On the contrary, Matt. 24:38, and Luke 17:27, are quite opposed, as we have seen, to such a view. In the antitype, now fulfilling before our eyes, the answer is very clear; and the answer carries with it the proof that, in our days, both parties are certainly human. For who are the giants nowadays? Those who pretend to be of a more heavenly and holy line than the world to which they are joined. Those who use a form of godliness to help themselves on in this world. Those in whom much of the hero-worship of the day is centred. Those who, however great they are in the religious world now, their names as “men of renown” had never been heard of, but for their fleshly piety. Lastly, if these giants had been really half-castes, partly angelic as to their origin and partly human, how would they stand towards Him, the Saviour of the world, who lays not hold of angels, but of the seed of Abraham (Heb. 2)?
I have tarried somewhat on this passage, because of its extreme importance, and have sought to remove from the reader’s mind any bias in favour of an interpretation which blunts its point, at a time, too, when its solemn warning demands special attention. For Laodiceanism, as we are expressly informed in Rev. 3, is the very last guise that the nominal church assumes ere it is spued out of Christ’s mouth. The commingling of hot water and cold, the form of godliness without the power—nay, more, the denial of the power thereof, self-content and self-complaceney with one’s own state, albeit Christ is shut out, as here in Genesis, God was esteemed a stranger, and all witness for Him abandoned; these, surely, are the marks of the religion of the day. And thus the opening verses of Genesis 6, which trace the real and proximate cause of the deluge, resemble the inspired portraits of the present time, as in Rev. 3:15, or 2 Tim. 3, and all contribute to prove how near its end the age has come. As the Lord predicted, so has it come to pass: “As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the Son of Man.” May we be looking for Enoch’s God to take us to Himself, and heed this warning, and be ready for His signal. So shall we have disappeared hence, and have at last reached our home yonder, and be shut in eternally with God, ere the world’s sin has fully ripened, and the vials of His wrath be at last poured out upon it!
Chapter 6:14, to 8:19. But Noah, who represents the saints to be preserved for the earth, finds grace in the eyes of the Lord. God had looked out upon the earth; and He who had once seen all good, now sees all to be evil. He is grieved at His heart. Let this affecting remark penetrate us through and through. However plenteous He is in goodness and mercy towards them that fear Him, sin is eternally abhorrent to His nature. But what had been said of Enoch is here repeated of Noah. Never does He confound the righteous, however few they may be, with the wicked. Only Noah, as the type of the saints for the earth, is not removed from the scene of judgment and taken up to God. He is to pass through all that is impending, safely sheltered in the ark.
As for this ark, clearly it was God’s own thought alone. He likewise gave minute directions as to all its details. Nothing was left for Noah’s ingenuity. It was not we who found Christ as One who could save us. If God had not told us, never should we have known that He had a co-equal Son at all. He laid help on One mighty; and whatever Christ is now to us, is owing to God’s provision and appointment. For instance: Was the ark to be made of gopher or cypress wood? In this very selection there is, I think, some reference to the shelter to be found in Christ. I am more confirmed in this by the fact that the word here twice rendered “pitch,” is called in the Hebrew “copher!”8 And then the passage reads, “Make thee an ark of gopher wood; and thou shalt copher it within and without with copher.” For these Hebrew words are allied to our English one “cover.” And thus we are reminded of that precious and frequent phrase in the New Testament—”in Christ.” In Him only can we be sheltered from the wrath to come. In Him only can we be carried through the region of death and judgment into resurrection life (John 5:24).
So when all was ready, after the exhibition of divine patience and forbearance with the ungodly for a hundred and twenty years, during which the preaching of Noah, at least, in pictured action, as the ark was slowly fashioned according as God had directed, then the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark. Likewise, the Lord has called us who believe in Christ and has safely sheltered us in Christ, though as yet the door is not closed.
In 1 Peter 3:18-21 is a most remarkable passage, drawing lessons from the scene before us, for our instruction. There three things are ascribed to God, as working by His Spirit. (1) He spake by His Spirit in Noah to the antediluvians, who, however some may have been impressed with the sight of the huge vessel slowly approaching completion, or others who mocked and said, “to-morrow shall be as this day,” all ultimately persisted in disregarding the warning message, and are now for their obstinacy consigned to prison, there awaiting their final and terrible doom. (2) Again, by that same Spirit, He quickened Christ who had been put to death. And now again, (3) a similar message is sent to the world through us who believe, as was sent of old through Noah, and some by grace having been drawn by the Spirit are saved in Christ and identified with Him, even as those who in a ship go both down and up in it. Only in our case, as we well know, the waves of wrath were poured out upon Him alone. The waters of baptism into which we descend testify of our death, burial, and resurrection in Him. True, the corn of heavenly Wheat was alone till It had died (John 13:24). But there in death, though not before, It had reached us, particles as it were of earthly mould. So It gathers us to Itself. Then in Him we all rise together (see also Rom. 6; and Col. 2, 3.) And He who has called us to Himself, will perfect that which concerneth us. His call of us is not by any means a call for once and then over. We are to abide in Him and to walk in Him. That is to say, His call is continuous and daily. As He once said “Light become, and light became,” that call perpetuating light unto this day; so that call of His to us is extending to our affections, our hearts, even to our very eyes and hands. And for our comfort let us remember that whilst the ark rested on the bleak and craggy mountains of Ararat; we have been already in spirit and shall be soon in body brought home unto our Father and our God.
Hence, one window only was there to the ark, namely at the top thereof. For now our eye is to be directed upward unto God. Worship, praise, and thanksgiving, with habitual living in His presence; these are what become us who are saved in Christ. For the deluge imminent then and now are God’s own work. “Behold, I, even I, do bring a flood.” He that provided the ark is the same as He who brought the deluge. He that has found for us Christ, will presently pour out His unmitigated fury on all unbelievers. Mercy and judgment are each among His treasures. Most men now, as of old, scorn God’s perfect way of salvation by death, burial, and resurrection in Christ, and so by the passage out of a doomed world into another, where there is no condemnation, the judgment having been all expended, exhausted for those in Christ, by Him. Nay, sad to say, some of those who do believe, unwisely scorn the instructive figure—to wit, the baptism itself.
There is a singular coincidence here, but one on which I may not tarry. I just mention it and pass on. Like as God waited seven days after the door of the ark was shut ere He let loose the waters of the deluge upon men; and again, as there was a like pause of seven days between the warning to Pharaoh concerning the slaughter of the first-born and that slaughter itself (compare Exod. 11 with 12:15); so there will certainly elapse seven years, between the rapture of the Church to be with Christ, and His subsequent appearing to execute judgment on the world. This is that notable period of which we read so much in the Revelation of twice twelve hundred and sixty days. In fact, this said period is identical, as others have shown, with the last week of Daniel’s seventy weeks of years.
Regarding the completeness of the judgment, when at last God arose to execute vengeance, surely such texts as 7:19, and 8:5, are adequate testimony to those who bow to the authority of Scripture. The waters reached a height fifteen hundred feet higher than Mont Blanc. Otherwise, had there been some parts of the earth uncovered by the waters, thither could the birds have retreated. Another proof of the universality of the deluge we have in the designed inversion in the list of all flesh slain in 7:21, with 23. In the former verse, the order followed in the account of the animals that perished is thus given, “fowl, cattle, beast, every creeping thing, and every man;” but in the latter verse the order traced is, “man, cattle, the creeping things and fowl.” Here, surely, is a warning to every one great or small, that there is only one shelter from the day of the Lord’s anger. (Read here Rev. 20:11-15.)
There seems no reason to doubt that the day of the ark resting on the mountain of Ararat is identical with the day on which the Lord rose from the dead. It rested “on the seventeenth day of the seventh month.” But by the commandment of the Lord, given at the time of the institution of the feast of the Passover, the seventh month was changed into the first month. Then three days after the Passover, which was on the fourteenth day of the month, the Lord, having passed quite through the waters of judgment, stood in resurrection in the midst of His disciples, saying, “Peace be unto you.” They, as well as Himself, had reached the haven of everlasting rest. But though we now who believe are not in the flesh, yet is the flesh in us, and will be so until we are changed, even as to our bodies to be altogether like Him. Hence, sure as the unclean raven and the pure dove both issued forth from this ark, so do the motions of the flesh and those of the spirit proceed forth from us. The two natures co-exist in every Christian. But the dove returns With an olive branch. Oh, joy! the Earnest of the heavenly glory we do obtain, and enjoy even now. When we live after the Spirit, and walk in the Spirit, we constantly find that heaven is far from being wholly a future thing. The Spirit of God brings us even now foretastes of that new and better world, into which by grace we have already been introduced (see 1 Cor. 2:9-12). Then at last God says to Noah, “Go forth of the ark.” This word it is most important we should observe. For much oftener do we hear of being shut in and so sheltered from the wrath to come, than of having been brought forth, according to the will of God, into this new, this heavenly region by the Lord Jesus. And even still He is sitting, according as the Lord bade Him sit at His own right hand, and will do so till God shall bid Him rise. I mean that in His continuous session at the right hand of God, His is continuous persistent obedience. But when God’s time has come, Christ will come forth and take us at last and for ever to dwell yonder with our God and with His blessed Son!
Noah, subsequent to the Deluge
Genesis 8:20, 9.
Chapter 8:20, to end of 9. There can be no question in the mind of a careful reader of this section of Scripture, that these verses as thus specified ought be kept together. For chap. 9, beginning where it to does in the authorized translation, interferes greatly with the full appreciation of the teaching herein conveyed. That is to say, when Noah had builded the altar, and had offered burnt-offerings, so that the Lord smelled a sweet savour, then two verses at most suffice to set forth what the Lord will not repeat in the way of judgment; whilst all the first seventeen verses of the next chapter are occupied with the declaration of what God now can and will do in the way of blessing. And all this is shown to be in consequence of the offering of sweet-smelling savour! Here, too, it should not escape notice that the voice of God alone is heard. For through Christ’s offering, God has all His own way in grace and mercy. Himself fills the entire scene. Hence He assigns the identical reason why He will not destroy the earth again by the waters of a flood, as before He had given why He must curse the earth (8:21, with 6:5). So, likewise, when presently the earth has been purged by fire, God is heard soliloquizing complacently with Himself in Rev. 21:5-7. And the fact that this close connection of chap. 9 with the close of chap. 8, and the burnt-offering of sweet-smelling savour is so continually missed, as it has evidently been by those who inserted chap. 9 in the middle of God’s utterance in response to that odour which He smelled, affords another illustration how Christians themselves often see little more, and are contented to see no more, than the negative value of the blood of Christ in lifting us from hell, than the negative side of all God’s action in grace towards us.
Three points in these first seventeen verses of chap. 9 demand each a word of remark. Here at the outset of the post-diluvian world’s course, God establishes for the “good “of His saints, the principle of government (Rom. 13:4). And this, His own institution, He has in mercy continued down to the present day. Viewed in this light, it is a coincidence that quickly after the rapture of the church into heaven, the Lord begins to open the seals, causing the overthrow of the thrones of the Roman empire, whereby fierce democracy and anarchy prevail, and from which come forth the terrible beast and his ten kings of the book of Revelation. For it is well that the Jews and the world, having rejected the true King, should know a little of the sort of rule which they have preferred, and of the good time coming, of which their infidel poets have sung. And thus this present dispensation of rule as far as respects the world dates from Noah. Never since that patriarch’s day has God once interfered with the course of this age (Luke 17:28). And right in between these two interferences of God—on the one hand by the deluge of water, and on the other by the Lord’s appearing in flaming fire—stands the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, a witness to all men, that however patient God may show Himself to be, sin. cannot eventually go unpunished.
Secondly, we read here of His covenant which He made with Noah, and which, in so far as there is aught of grace in it, is taken from that far larger and better covenant made with Christ, and which, through the blood of His cross, has become to us a testament9 of fullest, richest grace.
And then, thirdly, we read of the token of that covenant, “the faithful witness in heaven,” as God’s bow in the cloud is termed in Ps. 89:37. And now in this symbol of that covenant, there is a hint of grace. For the bow is directed towards heaven, and arrow to it there is none, as if it had been discharged heavenwards. Compare Gen. 49:23, referring to the rejection of Joseph, the type of Christ, as king. And surely we who are gathered to the Lord and to His name every Lord’s-day, to break bread and to drink of the cup which He enjoined us to do, cannot but recall to mind that that cup is itself a token, and a precious one, of the blood of the new testament shed for us.
The remaining verses of this ninth chapter afford us ample evidence that fallen man is a total wreck—that judgments, however awful and sweeping in their character, may awe him, but do not change him, and that his only resource and salvation is God Himself. He ever fails in that which he has aught to do with. So Judges 2; 1 Kings 11; Acts 20:29, 30; 2 Tim.; Rev. 2 and 3, all confirm the sad truth first found out in Eden, that whenever God has set up aught for man’s blessing, sure as its charge is committed to man, he ever spoils it. But God blesses Shem, and, through Shem’s seed, Japheth also. “Blessed of the Lord God is Shem … God shall enlarge Japheth, but He shall dwell in the tents of Shem.” So Hebrew of verses 26, 27. He will give deliverance, or redemption, to Japheth; but He will pitch His tabernacle with Shem. Compare Exod. 25:8; Ps. 102:13-16; John 1:14.
Chapters 10 and 11. In casting our eye over chap. 10 we at once observe that the Holy Ghost tells us of the descendants of Japheth and of Ham, ere He traces those of Shem. This is His ordinary way, to keep the best till the last. Precisely the same order will be found in the opening chapters of the first book of Chronicles, where the lists of divers genealogies are given us in full. But we shall have a very vivid evidence of this way of the Lord, when we come to consider chap. 36 preceding chap. 37. For the present, therefore, let us pass from this subject.
The main lesson of this entire section is, that as God proceeds to develop His plan for the blessing of man, man, intent on present aggrandisement and power, ever opposes Him. The key to what we read here is to be found in Deut. 32:8, where Moses states what was the design of God when He separated the sons of Adam, according as we find unfolded here. See Gen. 10:verses 5, 20, 25, 31. The passage cited from Deuteronomy tells us that “when the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the bounds of the peoples (Hebrew) according to the number of the children of Israel. For the Lord’s portion is His people; Jacob is the lot of His inheritance.” For when Israel went into Egypt, the number of souls was seventy (Gen. 46:27). So in Gen. 10 there is mention of seventy nations, to wit: from Japheth, fourteen; from Ham, thirty; and from Shem, twenty-six. The seventy disciples sent out by the Lord Jesus may have an eye to this arrangement of His, which shall yet obtain when His kingdom is set up in power, in the millennium. For man may be allowed, apparently, to retard the execution of His purpose, as he does here, but never ultimately to defeat it. Now that this statement in Deut. 32 is millennial, is evident from the name God there takes of Most High, equivalent to the new testament language of King of kings, and Lord of lords (Rev. 19). Hence, in Ps. 83, Messiah, after subduing the nations, and quelling all opposition reigns as “Most High over all the earth.” See, too, Ps. 91, and what is said of Melchizedek, as in Gen. 14:18, 19. Therefore, as we ponder this explanation of a part of His ways, as revealed to us in these verses of Deut. 32, we perceive that the will of God, in establishing the earth’s blessing, was to group the various nations round Israel as a centre; only Israel, as the medium of this blessing, and so the best, the favoured nation, kept in reserve till the last, till all was ready. And hence the line of the true Seed is traced on, at the end of chap. 11, from Shem to Abram, from whom Israel, and Israel’s king, Messiah, was to come. Hence, also, special attention is called to the fact that Eber’s son was called Peleg, because “in his days was the earth divided.” And so, too, at the close of the list of the sons of Japheth, and of the list of the sons of Canaan, son of Ham, and of the list of the sons of Shem, e.g., in verses 5, 18, and 32, this said division of the lands, and the borders thereof, are respectively marked out as appertaining to the several families of Noah’s sons. How beautiful and perfect this way of God! How thoughtful for Israel, even ere it nationally existed, with the divine smile resting finally on Israel’s future King! Yet these chapters (10 and 11) also witness how rebel man was allowed to interfere, and to delay, the revelation of God’s purpose.
For, now, observe how verses 8 to 12 of chap. 10:are inserted; as if what they narrated formed a block as to the development of this counsel: so much so, indeed, that if these verses are not read as a parenthesis, the reader may fail to see the scope of these chapters. Then, in the first nine verses of chap. 11, a continuation of this parenthetic account of man’s wickedness is found. So the two parentheses, to wit, chap. 10:8-12, with chap. 11:1-9, we had better combine. Outside these said parentheses the chapters form a long-continued line of the descendants of Noah down to the time of Abram.
As to the former passage in chap. 10:8-12, revealing the guilty way of ambitious man in obstructing earth’s blessing from God, the ringleader is appropriately termed Nimrod, or a rebel. This name seems evidently assigned to him as the clue to his entire career. And here compare a scripture or two which speak of the great rebel at the close of this dispensation, “whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and destroy with the brightness of His coming.” He is called “the lawless one” in 2 Thess. 2:8, Greek; and “the wilful king” in Dan. 11:36. It is suggested that there is something peculiar in his rise. “He began to be mighty.” So 1 Chron. 1:10. He struggled for preeminence, and, by dint of indomitable will, he attained it. In the passage in 1 Chronicles, and thrice here, he is called “mighty,” a word of evil omen when spoken of men in opposition to Christ, the most Mighty (see Gen.6:4). So of Goliath in 1 Sam. 17:51, Hebrew. He shoots up above all his fellows, and spreads himself like a green bay-tree in all directions, save only that Babylon is the innermost circle of his power. In verse 10 mention is made of four of his cities, all in the land of Shinar, with Babel by name put first. It reminds one of the four Babylonish kingdoms in Dan. 2 and 7, with which there is, no doubt, some designed prophetic connection. Compare my remarks further on as to the four kings whom Abram, the Hebrew, overcame and slew in Gen. 14. These last we shall quickly perceive to be clearly representative of Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. Then from Shinar he, Nimrod, goes forth unto Assyria, and builds Nineveh (see margin), and other great cities.
“He was a mighty hunter before the Lord.” Possibly beginning with hunting the savage beast, his skill and his renown here assist and incite him to subjugate his fellows. The special opposition to the Lord’s will throughout this dispensation, and fully developing as it nears its close, is rendered easier in its winning over of many souls by the plausible and specious pretexts of necessity, or of advantage, by which it is defended. For obedience certainly brings us into difficulties which wilfulness at once cuts through. Something singular and bold in his defiance is certainly noted by the expression “before the Lord.” And the little Antichrists in the church of God all through this age, who, wittingly or unwittingly, constitute themselves the centre, and even, to some extent, the object of the worship of their admirers, and that, too, where the name of the Lord alone should be all—all the wickedness of these will reach its apex in the worship of the beast of Rev. 13. Beginning with Babylonish apostasy, it culminates in open opposition, and is only destroyed by the Lord’s appearing. In verse 9 we find he made to himself a name famous for many generations following, even as the giants whom we have considered in Gen.6:became “men of renown.” Likewise Dathan and Abiram were “famous in the congregation” in their day (Num. 26:9); as also the two hundred and fifty princes in the assembly were “famous “too, and “men of renown “(Num. 16:2). Ah! it is this terrible love of fame, it is this unwillingness to be content with the Lord’s smile here, and with the crown of glory when He comes, which have led to so much striving and restless ambition even in the professing church itself, that has wrought mischief irreparable. Hence, Babel is the present result. See Micah 5:6, where Babylon is called! “the land of Niinrod.”
Then, in the second parenthesis in Gen. 11:1-9, we are instructed as to the mode by which Babel was built, which Babel was the centre of those dynasties mentioned in chap. 9:10-12, set up, be it remembered, in opposition to the government which God had designed through Israel and Israel’s future King. So in like manner now there is a Babylon still, who has daughters or religious confederacies many, more or less infected by the ecclesiastical virus that has come from Rome, and all of whom must perish ere the true church of God, with Christ at its head, can be displayed before creation.
The builders of Babel, as again here most solemnly we read, were actuated by the desire for a name, and to avoid the being scattered, as to their carnal minds appeared would be the case, unless they themselves and their city became men’s centre. But every way that is not God’s must end in utter confusion. He that gathers not with Christ, making Christ alone the attraction whereby souls shall be drawn together, however ingenious the method, and however the device may seem to prosper for a while, in the end every such worker does but scatter. Look at the church; behold it, alas! all divided and broken up. The cause is easily traceable. Under favourite leaders, men of renown, professing Christians will range themselves. Then Clerisy—whether avowed or unavowed is immaterial—Clerisy begets Prelacy, Prelacy leads to Popery, and Popery will end in Antichristianism.
It is said that in every known tongue some Hebrew can be found. This is not improbable. But certainly in every sect there is some truth that is contended for; but these particles of truth all radiate from Christ. The only divine mode of union is therefore by clinging alone to Christ, the Truth. The builders of Babel, we learn, journeyed from the East; that is to say, from whence the Dayspring from on high doth visit men. Babel’s builders cannot but err, whatever truth they hold; for in their building, in their ecclesiastical organizations, the name of the Lord is not esteemed as amply sufficient. Hence, in their cleverness, they resort to brick for stone, which is man’s work, instead of God’s; and, again, for mortar they have slime, which in Hebrew denotes a compound formed of the corruption of animal and vegetable substances. In Babylon there is the semblance of the church, and of the divine ordinances; but the whole is corrupt, the whole must perish, however it may for the present afford men tranquillity and security (chap. 11:2). Better now suffer with Christ, that when His kingdom is established in joy and peace, we may, through grace, be found worthy to reign with Him. It is to Him that this very chapter goes on in the after verses to point. God cannot be baulked, nor Christ ultimately set aside. All creative good can only come through Him. Nothing but loss can ensue where Christ, who is God’s one Centre in heaven and on earth, is unacknowledged. Put what you may instead of Him, and you become a rebel, and your work Babylonish in its aim and end.
4 The term “men,” here is used in a bad sense, as the word “world “is now. Cain’s seed were the “men”; they made up all the world’s history. Their “daughters” are specially mentioned for the part they played in the sin that followed.
5 Thus simply may be interpreted that somewhat obscure passage in Jude 6. Then the “angels “here are identical with “the sons of God” in Gen.6:2 Peter 2:4 seems to confirm this interpretation of the word “angel,” since he goes on, in the very next verse, to speak of the deluge. Now that these “sons of God” were human, overwhelming evidence will be afforded a little further on above. And as to the word “angel,” the English reader should be informed that this term is often used in Greek where men are undoubtedly signified. Thus the messengers that John sent to Christ are so named, in Luke 7:24. So the disciples that the Lord sent to a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for Him, are such (see Luke 9:52)
6 Corruption and violence are the two forms that sin takes. In Prov. 1 wisdom warns of violence; chap. 2, of corruption.
7 See a long quotation from Bunyan on this point in the “Javelin of Phinehas,” pp. 474, 475.
8 The word copher, in Exod. 21:30, 30:12, and Isa. 43:3, is rendered ransom. It is found in the plural in Exod. 29:36, 30:10, 16; Lev. 23:27, 25:9, and is translated atonement. In Exod. 25:17, 30:6, and 31:7, the same word radically is rendered mercy-seat.
9 See my Leaflet on this subject of Covenant and Testament, First Series, No.