In the last part of our study we looked at the global Flood that destroyed every human being on earth except for Noah, his wife, their three sons and their wives. Eight people were saved by an Ark that God designed and Noah and his sons built. After they left the Ark and stepped on dry ground, Noah and his family worshiped God.
God promised to never curse the ground for man’s sake again, “although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” That raises the question of WHY would God continue to work with humans when He knew that their heart would lead them to evil just like their ancestors who died in the Flood.
Why bother? If people are evil, why would God continue with them? Why? Because He had an eternal purpose and plan.
As we wrote in the last part of our study –
** God determined in unlimited, unbounded eternity that Jesus Christ would die on the Cross, be buried, and rise from the dead. **
Jesus Christ and His death, resurrection and glorification is THE FOCUS of everything we see in the Bible. That includes calling Noah to build the Ark, sending the global Flood to destroy every living creature not in the Ark, and making a covenant with Noah, his sons and their descendants. It’s all about God the Father sending God the Son to earth to be crucified and raised from the dead. It’s all about God giving us eternal life through His Son.
Jesus Christ is the Key
We’ve seen in past studies that Jesus Christ is the Key to understanding God’s eternal plan –
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began. 2 Timothy 1:8-9
Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior. Titus 1:1-3
… knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. 1 Peter 1:18-21
He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8
The death, burial, resurrection and glorification of Jesus Christ were determined in eternity “before time began.” Our Lord’s sacrifice was “foreordained before the foundation of the world.” His purpose is to “destroy the works of the devil.” Everything we read in Scripture points to it. Everything.
The Apostle Peter gave us some important insights into understanding how the global Flood was part of God’s eternal purpose and plan –
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.1 Peter 3:18-22
When did Jesus preach to “the spirits in prison” and who were they? Were they the angelic spirits who were in prison or were they the people who died in the Flood? Did He preach to both? If so, when did He do that? While His body lay in the grave? After His resurrection? Or did Jesus preach to them through Noah who was a preacher of righteousness?
For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly.2 Peter 2:4-5
Hebrews 11:7 reads –
By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.
Did Jesus warn the people who died in the Flood through Noah?
Based on what Peter wrote at the beginning of his first letter, the answer might be that Jesus preached through Noah. We read in 1 Peter 3 that Jesus preached to the spirits in prison ‘by the Spirit’ – “being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison.”
Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into.1 Peter 1:10-12
It’s important for us to remember that when we read that Yahweh (יְהוָ֔ה) saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and was sorry He had made man and was grieved in His heart – the word Yahweh includes the Son of God.
God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – were in agreement when they said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth … But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:7-8). The decision to destroy every human being except for Noah and his family was God’s decision – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They spoke as One.
When did God make that decision to destroy every human being except for Noah and his family? “Before time began.” “Before the foundation of the world.” God made that decision in eternity as part of His great purpose – “according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.”
God’s purpose? To glorify His Son and redeem many humans from death and destruction –
… knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
The story of the Bible, from beginning to end, is about God redeeming members of Adam’s family from death. That redemption, first promised by God in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15), is front and center in every part of Scripture.
Destroying Satan’s Works
As we move through the Book of Genesis we are looking at how God revealed His eternal plan to redeem members of Adam’s family and destroy the works of the devil.
- It began with a beautiful home for Adam and Eve, but with a warning that they would die if they disobeyed God.
- Satan deceived Eve and Adam followed her in disobeying God.
- God cursed Satan and promised the Seed of the woman who would destroy the works of the devil.
- God cursed the ground and drove Adam and Eve away from their beautiful Garden home to face a new kind of challenge in the world.
What we see from that point on concerns Satan’s works and how God destroys them.
Satan had a lot invested into what happened in the Garden. He wanted to destroy what God had done by creating human beings in His image, according to His likeness. Satan apparently opposed God’s choice to appoint humans to have dominion over all the earth and every living thing that moves on the earth. It may be that Satan wanted dominion of the earth and was jealous of God’s choice. Jealousy and pride seem to be at the heart of what Satan has done in the past and is doing today.
We’ve written about Satan many times in the GraceLife and FaithandSelfDefense blogs concerning what turned him from a beautiful creation of God into a terrible enemy of God. Jesus Christ said this about Satan –
You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.John 8:44
The Apostle Paul wrote this –
… lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. 1 Timothy 3:6
… and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. 2 Timothy 2:26
Battle of Wills
What we find in the Bible is a cosmic battle of wills: God’s Will and Satan’s will. In the middle of that battle lies our will. That’s what we see in Genesis 2 and 3. God expressed His Will to Adam. Satan expressed his will to Eve, deceived her and snared her. Adam was not deceived and knowingly followed his wife ( 1 Timothy 2:14).
We see Satan use his battle of wills with Jesus in the wilderness (e.g. Matthew 4; Luke 4). Satan attempted to impose his will on Jesus, but Jesus obeyed the Will of His Father and rebuffed Satan’s attack.
That is the great battle you and I face today and every day. Who will we obey? God or Satan? The Apostle Paul gave us great insight into how to fight this battle of the wills –
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.Ephesians 6:10-18
Satan knew Adam and Eve would die if they disobeyed God’s Will and may have thought that would put an end to God’s plan for mankind. However, Satan was wrong. God had other plans that included what Satan had done.
Satan could only know the parts of God’s eternal plan that God revealed to him. Satan, being the proud angel he is, went after humans who God created in His image and likeness to destroy them. What Satan couldn’t have known until God revealed it to him was that the Son of God was going to save members of humanity and destroy his (devil’s) works at the same time. All part of God’s eternal plan.
These words – “And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel” – rang in Satan’s ears as a constant harbinger of terrible things to come for him and he did his best to keep it from happening.
Satan began by trying to kill who he thought would be the Seed who would destroy him. Eve gave birth to two sons, one of whom Satan may have thought could be the dreaded Seed that would destroy him. Satan came up with a plan to take them both out of the picture –
- Cain killed Abel even after God warned him not to do it – works of the devil
God responded by banishing Cain for killing Abel, which may have appeared to play right into Satan’s diabolical plan. However, God gave Eve another son (Seth) from whom the Seed would come. As we see in the human lineage of Jesus Christ –
… the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel, the son of Cainan, the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.Luke 3:36-38
Did God have to run around trying to figure out what to do after Satan led Cain to kill Abel? No. God’s eternal plan never included Jesus Christ coming through the lineage of Cain or Abel. The plan always had the Seed coming through Seth. Satan did not know that, but there were many things Satan did not know about God’s eternal plan until God revealed it.
Satan took on Seth and his lineage to destroy the Seed who would destroy him –
- The wickedness of people on earth was so great that every intent of the thoughts of their hearts were only evil continually – works of the devil
That included the lineage of Seth. Even though we saw people begin to worship God after Seth’s first son was born (Genesis 4:26), that worship diminished to just one man (Noah) out of the entire human race prior to the global Flood. Everyone else had succumbed to the devil’s works. God responded by destroying every human being except for Noah and his family. It must have been obvious to Satan that God was still moving forward to reveal His promised Seed when Noah and his family survived the Flood.
Satan had a new enemy on earth – Noah and his sons and their descendants. As we will see in our next study, Satan worked hard to destroy the new thing God was doing in the world. What God did in return was to introduce nations to His Majesty and Power, which was a vital part of His eternal plan.
[You can read more about the post-flood history in our book A History of Man’s Quest for Immorality.]
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.