Monday, November 9, 2015

Genesis 6: 1-12 - Sign of a Collapsing Society

The predominant idea  which emerges clearly from this text is that a new stage has been reached in the evolution of evil in the early civilizations of man. We shall see  that this is in fact the  prelude to  the great flood, which  becomes  the greatest judgement of God  on earth apart from that which  is to be when Christ returns.

From Chapter 3 onwards we read of much trouble as man, as a result of his willful disobedience against God  is driven out of the garden of Eden. Cain, the son of Adam kills his brother Abel out of jealousy. This becomes the record of the first murder. Chapter 4  records that Cain  went away from the presence of  God  and settled in a restless land. His grandson  Lamech begins a new habit  of polygamy and he   also commits murder. In Chapter 5 we read of a line of  men   who  walked with God, and who are found in the ancestry of our Lord Jesus,  but we read of  their death. Truly, the emergence of   sin has brought lack of peace and death into the world.  A pattern of self- destruction  has emerged in the world.
Chapter 6   creates an additional  dilemma, which we shall  consider  now.    

The beginning of the end of this civilization happens  when   the sons of God  look  to the attractive  daughters of man  and take  them  as  their wives. This clearly had  a negative effect  upon  them and this is affirmed in Genesis  6: 3 and  5-7.

But who are these sons of  God and who are these daughters of man ?
The view that held   by  some early  church   fathers such as Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Cyprian and Ambrose[1],  was  that  this  referred  to an  intermarriage between angels and human beings.  The reason why they thought this was that  this   phrase,  ‘sons of God’  almost always refers to angels in the OT [2] and so the thought arose that these  must have been  angelic beings that   married  human beings. They thought for instance  of the angels, who appeared to Abraham,  warning him that   Sodom (proverbial for its great sin of sodomy - Gen. 18:20; 19:5)  was about to be destroyed  by God. They thought of these three angels that  appeared as ordinary looking  men, to be demonic types of those that might  have misled the daughters of man.

Against this view there are  two  weighty arguments.  Firstly, there is no specific reference to angels in Genesis 6. In fact, there is no reference to angels at  all in the first 6 chapters of Genesis.  Secondly,  the Lord Jesus tells us in the synoptic gospels[3]  that the angels do not marry because they are eternal beings who do not propagate. So, these are  strong reasons for rejecting that particular view.

The plainest explanation is that  these  were  marriages taking place between the seed of God and the seed of Satan[4], based upon that pivotal division  found in  Genesis 3:15, as  we  have  consistently argued in our  previous expositions of Genesis.  The godly line  through Seth, based on divine election, are the sons of God.  It is these sons of God  that make this very poor choice, to take as wives the  attractive  daughters of  man (singular)  - that is, of the descendants  of the man  Cain, who walked away from the presence of God. God has a word on this matter. Before we get to some specific observations with regard to this  in Genesis 6, we must point out  that  the  first  five books of  Moses[5] as a whole, provide numerous warnings of God against any intermarriage of believers and unbelievers. In this regard we need to remember Genesis 26: 34,35,  the marriage of Esau to  a ‘Cainite/ Hittite‘ woman (i.e.  a wife not taken from the godly seed), a fact that made life for his parents  Isaac and Rebekah bitter.

We also  think  of the story  of  Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah  who was  raped  by  Shechem the Hivite  in Genesis 34. The rape of Dinah by Shechem was  enough cause for revenge on behalf of Jacob’s sons, but it was the fact that  Shechem was uncircumcised, and not a son of the covenant  (Gen. 34:14) and  daring to make a marriage proposal to Dinah for marriage, that sent  Jacob’s  sons, Simeon and Levi into a murderous frenzy!  There are other such illustrations, and the point is, that  the intermarriage between the people of the line of Seth and the line of Cain, the sons of God and the daughters of man are not  encouraged  in the Bible.

So what was happening here in Genesis  6?  Moses  indicates  that after the multiplication of man on the earth  (6:1)  the sons of God, the line of Seth,  were rebelling  against God. The  way in which they expressed that rebellion was  by  taking  as their wives any they chose among the  daughters of man.  In plain language, the   appearance of the  beauty of the women of  Cain  overruled the sense of the  spiritual judgement of the sons of Seth.  Hormones overruled the  godly heritage.
God’s displeasure with this  is clearly seen in  6:3. It is very  clear   that   God is not angry  with angels who did this! No! The judgement here will not be against  angels, but against man!  God is   angry with  the sons of God, born in the line of Seth,  because they were  compromising their  godly heritage!  God is angry with the  daughters of man  for  being seductive  and subversive of His rule. 

At this time there was as yet no  written law, but the fact was that this law of ‘holiness unto the Lord in marriage relationships’ (Gen. 2:24,25)  was written on the hearts of the sons of God. And once the law  was  given to Moses at Sinai  this  fact is established and upheld in the time of  Ezra when  this problem is addressed in Ezra 9. Right  through the Old Testament God forbade his people  to marry those who were not his people[6], and the same principle continues right down into the New Testament. We  that are in Christ are instructed to marry only in the Lord. (1 Cor. 7:39)

So, the first question  for a son of God with respect to a prospective marriage partner  is not, ‘is she beautiful ‘, but ‘is she godly’ ? Sadly, many Christian sons and daughters have pierced themselves with grief  because  they have  entered into an ungodly marriage, because beauty and physical attraction and chemistry  and need  are very powerful impulses  working upon their fallen  minds and hearts.

At the heart of  this great problem  that arises in Genesis  6  is this problem  of indiscriminate  sexual attraction and activity [7]  It is significant  that Jesus  linked this event  with  Matt. 24:37:  “As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the coming of the Son of Man”.  Is this world wide  focus  on rampant  perverse and illegitimate forms of  sexuality  the indicator of our Lord’s soon return?

Indiscriminate  sexuality (i.e. forbidden  forms of sexuality)   is the main cause  whereby marriages   and families are destroyed. It is ultimately  the  cause why a society or a civilization is destroyed. This  early generation is destroyed because of  unrestrained  sexual desires; Sodom and Gomorrah  are destroyed on the same account;  Paul’s  analysis of  the nature and  development  of  sin  in Romans 1 :18ff follows the same line of reasoning -  unnatural unrestrained  sexual relations  are the reason why God  destroys  a society, and the  final  handing over of a society is  when God  hands  men and women over to dishonourable passions (Rom.1:26).

As one looks at the condition of our own society, one  looks with great  concern at the spread  and acceptance of the homosexual life style. We look with great concern  at the fragility of so many marriages, and  one can’t help but thinking that  many marriages are fragile  because they are  built on an improper foundation. Many people  marry for the wrong reason. They marry because they are lonely  or infatuated  or  madly in love. But these things  do not sustain a marriage  when the temptations  of life arise,  such as when children come and when romantic evenings go out of the window!  Marriage  is not firstly a feeling. It is a theological   thing, because God created marriage (Genesis 2). There must be a God centred purpose, a  commitment to  biblical companionship  in marriage. A marriage may be  begun with the grandest of wedding feasts and with a romantic get- away as a honey moon,with  everyone  excited, but it is not going to last,and the cracks  appear very quickly  if there is no commitment  to the basics  that God has designed  for a successful marriage.

We are told, “Then the LORD said, “My Spirit will not abide  (contend)  with man for ever, for he is  flesh ; his days  shall  be 120  years.” (v.3).  
In vv.  5-7  he elaborates on this  fact and  we shall consider this  next time.

God saw what  was happening to the people  that He had made. They were  brilliant  people, made in His image. They were accomplished in poetry and song and skilled musicians. They were  skilled workers  of  metal and bronze;  pastoralists and agriculturalists  (Gen. 4). The women were beautiful and some of the men were impressive giants (the meaning of  Nephilim ). And yet they all  fell short of God’s  glory – the glory that He had designed for them from the beginning of the world, except for  the sin  which they freely chose!   God  saw all this  and  He saw how man was developing  and He was unimpressed and so  He decreed that,  “Man is flesh; his days shall be 120 years” (6:3). We note, that man now lives substantially shorter  than  the first patriarchs mentioned in Gen. 5.

It was, of course  not God’s desire that any of them should perish but that all should turn from their sin and live. He took no pleasure in their deaths. He spoke to their consciences, and he addressed them personally through preachers like Enoch and Noah.  He was good to His creatures. He was patient with them, and we are reminded of the words of Peter  that “God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being prepared ” (I Pet. 3:20). That is the nature of our God. He is patient and longsuffering  with us. He hasn’t given up on us. He is still working with us . He is still preaching to us .

But He will not  abide  or contend with men forever,  when they  go on in their sin. Verse 3 and then verses  5-7 and  the next few chapters will  show us that. There comes a time when  God says, “Enough!   You have had heard enough sermons.  You  have been prayed for enough. A time will come when His Spirit will be withdrawn and  God shall speak no more. The Saviour will become  our Judge.  

Now I don’t know how long God is going to contend with our  generation.  We have lived under incredible privileges. We have had the full gospel  given to us by the appearance of Christ; we have lived under  the anointing of the outpoured Holy Spirit, and we have been no more  responsive  than  the sons of God  have  been in Noah’s day.

The time for  the  final  judgement is approaching.  The Lord Jesus  is your only refuge. He is your only righteousness.  Flee to Him. Abide and live in Him. Amen.


[1] This  view is also  held by some modern  commentators
[2] E.g. Job 1:6; 2:1

[3] Matthew 22: 30 , Mark 12 :25 and  particularly Luke 20:34-36
[4] e.g. Matthew Henry  holds to this view 
[5] i.e. the Torah , or Septuagint
[6] Except  if they came into the covenant  of God with Israel ,  e.g. Ruth  and  Rahab
[7] Moses himself was guilty of this very thing . His first wife was Jethro’s daughter Zipporah, but Moses took another wife and she was a woman from Ethiopia, a Cushite (Num. 12:1), and it caused division between him and his sister Miriam.

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