Genesis 6:1-4

January 24, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Posted in Bible Study | Leave a comment
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Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.

This week, we begin to look at the events that led up to the Flood. Chapter six is pivotal in understanding the causes of the Flood as well as the state of man at the time of the Flood. Before we begin to look at those things, let’s take a look at what’s happened so far. First, God created the entire universe in six, twenty-four hour days. On the sixth day, God formed man out of the dust of the ground and breathed life into him. We also learned, from chapter two of Genesis, that God formed woman from the man’s rib. At the end of the second chapter, we see the first marriage. The man and the woman are now considered one flesh. We then see the dangers of not rightly understanding God’s word. God had told the man (and through him, the woman) that they could eat of any tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If they did this, they would die. We saw the serpent (whom Satan had entered) tempt Eve by twisting the commands of God and causing her to misunderstand them and add to them. Because of this temptation, the woman ate of the forbidden fruit and encouraged the man to do so as well. Because of their sin, death entered the world. God showed them (and us) His mercy by not physically killing Adam and Eve on the spot. He killed an animal to replace their fig leaf coverings, thereby shedding the first blood for sin. He then commanded them to leave the garden of Eden.

The man and woman lived in a world much different than the one that they were created in. The curse of the fall reached even the earth and caused the man to toil for his food. The woman also knew pain in childbirth. Even so, the couple continued and soon found themselves with two sons. Cain and Abel were raised by the first man and woman to give offerings to the Lord. In one instance of this, Abel offered a sacrifice of the flock and Cain a sacrifice of the ground. Because God accepted Abel’s sacrifice and not Cain’s, Cain became angry. This anger caused him to sin against his brother and murder him. Cain was punished by God and eventually built a city in the land of Nod. Cain’s descendants followed in his footsteps. Meanwhile, Adam and Eve’s son Seth began the line that we will follow for the rest of our studies. From this line will come Noah, Shem, Abraham and others. In the fifth chapter of Genesis, we saw a grim reminder that God’s word will accomplish exactly what it says. We read that Adam and every one of his descendants, except Enoch, had children and eventually they died. At the end of the chapter, we are introduced to Noah and his three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

With this background then, we will begin to look at chapter six of the book of Genesis. Right off the bat, we are faced with a controversy. We see that men began to multiply on the face of the earth and have daughters. Those daughters were then seen by the sons of God and were taken as wives by the sons of God. The controversy comes in who the sons of God are. For this, I will present both sides and what I have found in my studies and leave it to you to decide their identity. It is important to note as we study this that the identity of the sons of God is not an essential doctrine of Christianity and, therefore, we can disagree and still be brethren.

To begin the study on the identity of the sons of God, we will look at the Hebrew phrase, bene elohim:

ben – H1121 – son, child (of either gender), descendant (in any generation), offspring (human or animal); by extension: a term of endearment; one of a class, or kind, or nation, or family. A “son of man” is a human being, a term often assuming Messianic significance.

elohim – H430 – God (plural of majesty: plural in form, singular in meaning, with a focus on great power); gods (true grammatical plural); an person characterized by greatness or power; mighty one, judge.

With the Hebrew terms defined, we can now look at both arguments for the identity of the sons of God. The first argument is that the sons of God were the descendants of Seth. At the end of chapter 4 we see that when Seth started having children, men began to call upon the name of the Lord. We see these men who call upon the name of the Lord begin to view the daughters of men and see them as beautiful. These daughters of men would be the descendants of Cain and (in general) anyone outside of the descendants of Seth. We see in verse 4 that the result of the marriage of the sons of God and the daughters of men are the Nephilim. These men were mighty men of old, giants (the definition of Nephilim) and men of renown. Because the men who followed after God began to find themselves attracted to women who rebelled against Him, the fate of the children was that they would be drawn away from Him too.

The second argument for the identity of the sons of God is that these sons of God were fallen angels who came down to intermingle with the daughters of men. We find in many places that angels can take the form of man and there is nothing in scripture that says that they can’t have sexual relations with women, only that they do not marry (Matthew 22:30). There are also a couple of other verses to consider:

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. (Job 1:6)

Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the LORD. (Job 2:1)

When the morning stars sang together And all the sons of God shouted for joy? (Job 38:7)

These are the only other places in the Bible where the phrase bene elohim is used. In each instance, the phrase refers to angelic beings and not a group of men who are following God. The phrase sons of God is used again in the New Testament, but it is important to remember that you cannot use Greek from the New Testament to interpret Hebrew phrases in the Old. In the New Testament, we see the saints(those who believe) called the sons of God.

Regardless of whether you believe the sons of God are the descendants of Seth or that they are the fallen angels, the bottom line (as we’ll see next week) is that they ended up being a ruthless, violent race of men. It is this that is important in the context of the Flood.

There is one other thing to talk about this week and that is verse 3. In this verse we see God declare that His Spirit will not strive with man forever. This should be a sober reminder to all of us that even the patience of God can be worn thin. God will give us as much time as we need to repent, but if after that time we still have not repented of our sins and put our faith in Christ; we will find that we have no way to be saved. Before I explain exactly what I mean, let me say that I have heard many people use this verse to say that God has allowed man to live 120 years, no more, no less. They see this as a declaration for the length of life of each individual man after this declaration. A simple glance at the lengths of life in Genesis 10 would tell you that this cannot be the case. Instead, this declaration of the Lord is in regards to man’s time before the Flood. We have already seen numerous times in these 5 short chapters that God is merciful. When justice gave God every right to kill men on the spot, He showed mercy and allowed them to live for a time. It is no different here. This declaration was made about 20 years before Shem, Ham, and Japheth were born. God gave man 120 years from the time of the declaration to the beginning of the Flood to repent of his sins and turn back to God. If they failed to do so, God’s Spirit would stop trying to draw them to Him and they would perish in the destruction of the entire planet and much of the life on it. This is still how God works today. You have been given as much time as you need to repent for your sins and put your faith in Christ. If you are reading this, then you still have time.

We have looked at some of the events leading up to the Flood. We have been privy to the hints that God will soon pour out His wrath on those who had rebelled against Him for so long. While many see this as a fairy tale and a kid’s story, the Bible says that we should use it as a reminder that there is a judgment yet to come:

Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. (2 Peter 3:3-7)

We are reminded that just as in the days of Noah, when men mocked that preacher of righteousness; so it will be when the Lord returns and the world is judged by fire. Please understand that no one knows when that time will be, only that it will happen just as the Lord has said. If you have been living in rebellion against God and you’re reading this, there is still time for you to repent. It is not too late. But you must do so today. You and I are not promised tomorrow. Repent of your sins and put your faith in Christ, and you will be born again. You will be saved from your sins and from the wrath of God to come.

Next week, we will continue our look at Genesis 6 and the commands given to Noah in preparation for the Flood. We hope that you are with us and that you will tell your friends about our study. God Bless!

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