©  Jeff Stacey   |   Last updated:   27 September 2016

2B31.  God responded to them:

God declared His coming judgments, yet He also showed mercy before carrying them out

2B31(title)  God responded to them

God’s responses were decisive in these cases.

2B31(sub-title)  God declared His coming judgments, yet He also showed mercy before carrying them out

God passed judgment on various people for their deliberately sinful actions.  Yet His responses were also mixed with mercy.

Arrow 2B30 -> 2B31

This arrow indicates that all people were accountable for each of their sinful responses, because they were deliberately ignoring God’s CONDITIONAL offer of grace, and His warning Gen 4:7.

Cycle 4

2B31(a)  God called Cain to account

Abel’s murder was not hidden from God Gen 4:10.  He confronted Cain by simply asking him a direct question Gen 4:9a.

Continue to Cycle 5[2B24(a)(v)]

Cycle 5

2B31(b)  God put Cain under a curse

God then put Cain under a curse for murdering Abel Gen 4:11-12.  Cain would be an exile from his homeland, a restless wanderer who would never again get anything from cultivating the ground.

God was making His perfection, power and love known negatively TO and THROUGH Cain and positively THROUGH dead Abel.   God was demonstrating that every person’s life was still profoundly significant to Him despite their sinfulness.

Continue to Cycle 6[2B24(a)(vi)]

Cycle 7

2B31(c)  God still showed mercy to Cain and Lamech

Cain had been condemned under God’s judgment Gen 4:11-12.  Yet God was still generous to him and Lamech and their descendants.  He had given them ongoing life, families, places to live and productive occupations.  These were further evidences of God’s mercy to them despite their lack of commitment to obeying His two basic requirements.

Continue to Cycle 8[2B24(a)(viii)]

Cycle 10

2B31(d)  God warned that His Spirit would not endlessly contend with mortal, corrupt people

In response to the sins of the “sons of God”, God warned that His Spirit would not endlessly contend with (or remain in) mortal (or corrupt) people Gen 6:3.1  This implied that His judgment “deadlines” for bringing all sinfulness to account were approaching.

Yet God was again showing mercy by giving a warning and allowing further opportunities for people to obey His two basic requirements.  In grace, they could still gain His acceptance and fulfil His intended roles for them.

Continue to Cycle 11[2B24(a)(xi)]

Cycle 11

2B31(e)  The first of God’s judgment “deadlines” came:  He would reduce the maximum lifespan of people to 120 years

God had permitted people to continue to live after the FALL despite their sinfulness.  He had not intervened to change their basic situation for at least 1656 years [2A(intro)4].  

The life spans of eight men Gen 5:3-20,25-31 had ranged from 969 years (Methuselah) to 777 years (Lamech).  Their average lifespan was 907.5 years.  Enoch had only lived on Earth for 365 years, but he never died Gen 5:21-24.

Following God’s judgment upon Cain there were no specific responses to people by Him except His “taking away” of Enoch.  God was allowing all people to act freely upon their knowledge of good and evil, either to obey or reject Him.

Throughout this time God had given people opportunities to turn back to Him by simply doing what was right.  This was not impossible for them, as demonstrated by Eve, Abel, Enoch and a few others [2B26].  But almost all the people descended into greater sinfulness following the FALL.  Disastrously, they ignored God’s warning [2A12].  Even the “sons of God” had joined in this revolt.

However, God had not abandoned but only deferred His judgment upon sin.  Further resolution of this terrible issue was still necessary.  The first of His judgment deadlines was reached when He decreed that He would reduce the maximum lifespan of all people to 120 years Gen 6:3b.  Presumably this was in order to limit the extent of evil [2A6(b)].

Later only Noah (950 years) was comparable to them.  But the lifespans of successive generations of Noah’s descendants decreased until it was less than 120 years, as shown in the table below.

So God’s judgment to reduce people’s maximum lifespan to 120 years was implemented gradually.

Noah950Genesis 9:29
Shem600Genesis 11:10-11
Arphaxad438Genesis 11:12-13
Shelah433Genesis 11:14-15
Eber464Genesis 11:16-17
Peleg239Genesis 11:18-19
Reu239Genesis 11:20-21
Serug230Genesis 11:22-23
NahorGenesis 11:24-25
TerahGenesis 11:26-27,32
Job*Job 1:2,4,  42:16
SarahGenesis 23:1
AbrahamGenesis 25:7
IshmaelGenesis 25:17
IsaacGenesis 35:28
JacobGenesis 47:28
JosephGenesis 50:26
LeviExodus 6:16
KohathExodus 6:18
AmramExodus 6:20
AaronNumbers 33:39
MosesDeuteronomy 34:7
JoshuaJoshua 24:29 

*  Job had married and fathered ten children Job 1:2.  This would surely have taken him to at least age 35-40 years, given that he had only one wife Job 2:9.   Before his disasters his children had all reached adulthood and his seven sons were living in their own homes Job 1:4.  That would have been at least another 25-30 years later.  The period of his disasters cannot be estimated but may have been several years.  After his disasters he lived for another 140 years Job 42:16.  So his estimated lifespan would have been at least 200 years.  It is probable that Job lived prior to the times of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob [see 3B(JOB)(intro)1].

I can find no more lifespans recorded in the Bible that exceeded 120 years.

Continue to Cycle 12[2B24(a)(xii)]

Cycle 13

2B31(f)  God’s second and final judgment deadline came

God had already hinted [2B31(d)] that a further deadline was coming Gen 6:3a.  Eventually God’s final judgment deadline came.  He declared that He would destroy all people, land creatures and birds! Gen 6:7a.  

God’s stated His reason for doing this Gen 6:6,7b.  It could give the impression that God was filled with regret and very upset because His creation of people had been a terrible mistake!  Even worse, that His primary purpose of expressing His own nature THROUGH people had ended in total failure!

However, from another perspective it was simply a consequence of His nature of love.  Having created people “in His own image”, God made them capable of love by giving them freedom of choice [1A6(f)].  But it also made Himself vulnerable to grief and pain if they did not choose to love Him [2A8(b)(iii, iv)].

Yet this was going to be neither the final demise of God’s creatures nor of His primary purpose.  It was only “the end of the beginning”.  In the midst of judgment, God’s love also prevailed!  Noah was a ray of hope! Gen 5:296:8.  The “account” of Noah (GEN 6:9 – 9:29) describes the start of Era 3.

Era 3 was a whole new beginning, as set out in Charts 3A and 3B.  Hope for future generations of people (and creatures) was to be kept alive.  The accomplishing of God’s primary purpose THROUGH them would still be possible.

Arrow 2B31 -> 2B24

This arrow highlights the fact that even though God acted in judgment, yet He had also given further opportunities even for people who had no heart commitment to Him, to repent and in grace gain His acceptance.

Continue to 3A(intro)


1.  See NIV footnotes on Gen 6:3 for these alternative Hebrew word meanings.(Return to reading).