Ticking Time Bomb — Genesis 6:1-8

If you like action movies like I do, no doubt you have seen many times the scenario where the bomb squad is called in to try to defuse a ticking time bomb.  The red light counting down the remaining minutes and seconds flashes on the device as the experts try to work their magic under intense pressure.  The beads of sweat pouring down from the forehead make it difficult to see.  The expression on everyone’s face is one of panic and horror.  The effects of the imminent explosion would cause unbelievable devastation.  Here in Genesis Chapter 6 as we approach the devastation of the universal Flood of Noah’s day, we see that there are only 120 years left to tick down.  That might sound like a lot of time.  But in this case there will be no efforts at diffusion and no escaping the catastrophic impact of God’s judgment.  The time clock has been set and this bomb is going to go off.  That much is certain no matter how you answer the interpretative challenges of this much-debated passage.

I have come through a journey these past couple of weeks of wrestling with the two major options regarding the identification of the “sons of God” in vs. 1.   Caught up in the context of what I have been preaching the past several weeks in chapters 4-5 of Genesis … I was starting to gravitate towards the view that the opposing lines of Seth and Cain would dictate a warning against the corruptive influence of mixed spiritual marriages.  Certainly, there is much truth in that principle.  The Bible warns time and again that believers are not to be joined with unbelievers in the intimacy of marriage.  In addition to the argument from the immediate context (chap. 4 detailing the line of Cain and chap. 5 the line of Seth), there were several other points to be made in favor of this popular position:

  • It avoids the difficulties of wrestling with angelic involvement in human propagation – a real DNA quagmire (cf. 22:30 – angels don’t marry) – difficult for us to understand – caused Ben Scripture to adopt this position
  • The judgment that God brings is directed towards mankind rather than towards fallen angels (although the NT passages may shed light on that aspect —

2 Pet. 2:4-6 – Jude vs 6 ff)

  • The context emphasizes the Spirit of God striving against fallen humanity – defined as flesh – rather than fighting the principalities and powers of the hidden realm of demonic spiritual warfare
  • But why would the offspring of such mixed marriages be described in such unusual terms??

But upon further reflection, I find stronger arguments in favor of the position that fallen angels here are either directly involved or possessing human male bodies and involved in some very unusual activity of perverse propagation.

  • This view follows a biblically accepted definition of “sons of God” as recorded in several passages in the book of Job – where angels are sons in the sense that they are directly created by God; Jesus is the unique Son of God – not created; and it is also true that spiritual believers are identified as sons by virtue of adoption and by virtue of the new birth; However, it would seem odd to define fallen angels as “sons of God” so it seems preferable to me to pinpoint the time of their fall as co-existent with this lustful activity in accordance with the passages in Jude and 2 Peter – even though this may have some theological implications regarding the doctrine of angels

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, 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 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, cf. Psalm 89:6; Daniel 3:25).

Timeframe for Job:  maybe even in days of Abraham or earlier

  • Secondly, and most importantly – the identification of the “daughters of men” seems to me to be the clearest point in the passage – from vs. 1 we can see that mankind in general is in view; so it would be a stretch to try to limit the definition of the same term in the very next verse to just the ungodly line of Cain
  • Thirdly, there is no assumption in the narrative that there is any type of uniformity of godliness or wickedness in the two different lines; only that the seed of the woman is going to come eventually from the line of Seth rather than Cain

[ All early sources refer to the “sons of heaven” as angels. From the third century BCE onwards, references are found in the Enochic literature, the Dead Sea Scrolls the (Genesis Apocryphon, the Damascus Document, 4Q180), Jubilees, the Testament of Reuben, 2 BaruchJosephus, and the book of Jude (compare with 2 Peter 2). For example: 1 Enoch 7:2 “And when the angels, (3) the sons of heaven, beheld them, they became enamoured of them, saying to each other, Come, let us select for ourselves wives from the progeny of men, and let us beget children.” Some Christian apologists, such as Tertullian and especially Lactantius, shared this opinion.  Wikipedia]

In both views, there is no question that Satan is launching an aggressive attack against the ultimate victory of the seed of the woman … so it would not be strange in this context to see him unleash the forces of his dedicated henchmen – the demons under his control.

Aside: Some see a distinction between fallen angels and demons – with demons being the disembodied spirits of the dead Nephilim – seeking a body to possess – so they would not use these terms interchangeably; they would say angels manifest themselves with a body as opposed to seeking to possess somebody else’s body – I’m still using the terms somewhat interchangeably

[The Nephilim explanation for the origin of the demons is partly the result of a misunderstanding of who exactly are the “spirits in prison” in 1 Peter 3:19 (see also Jude 6). Many misunderstand the “spirits in prison” to be all of the fallen angels who rebelled against God. If all of the fallen angels are imprisoned, then there must be an alternate explanation for the existence of demons; thus, the need for the Nephilim explanation. However, clearly, not all of the fallen angels are imprisoned. Satan, the leader of the angelic rebellion against God, is not imprisoned. Why would God allow the rebel leader to remain free but then confine the angels who followed Satan in the rebellion? No, it makes more sense to understand the “spirits in prison” as the fallen angels who participated in an additional rebellion, viz., the sons-of-God/daughters–of-men incident. The fallen angels who mated with human females are the ones who are imprisoned. There is no solid biblical reason to reject the idea that the demons are the same beings as the fallen angels.

https://www.gotquestions.org/Nephilim-demons.html]

Obviously, we are just skimming the surface of the complexities of these various arguments.  I would say that I respect both positions and am not dogmatic here – you may very well choose to disagree with me.  But that is going to determine the direction I take in our sermon this morning.

PERVERSE DEMONIC ACTIVITY INTENSIFIES AS SOCIETY DEGENERATES TO THE POINT

WHERE GOD MUST POUR OUT HIS WRATH IN JUDGMENT

I.  (:1-4) DEMONIZATION OF MARRIAGE AND ITS IMPACT  –

UNUSUAL PERVERSE PROPAGATION THAT CORRUPTS SOCIETY

A.  (:1-2) Demonic Activity

  1. (:1)  Population Explosion Provided Opportunity

Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land,

and daughters were born to them,

Man generically (adam) is multiplying over the face of the earth (adamah); play on words;

Purity harder to control and maintain as the sphere of population rapidly grows

Remember overall context of battle between the seed of the woman and the seed of Satan from Gen. 3:15 – how is God going to ultimately be victorious?  How is Satan going to try to frustrate God’s plan for history?

Again the daughters of men here used in generic sense —  not limited to either the line of Seth or of Cain – this is describing normal procreation – “after its kind” = important biblical command – established in Gen. 1 – all things are supposed to produce after their kind – not some strange mixture of strange flesh

  1. (:2)  Perverse Pursuit of Lust

a.  Motivation

                         “that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful;

sons of God” are distinct from the “men” mentioned in vs. 1

the writer of Genesis states that the sons of God saw that the daughters of humankind were “beautiful” (Heb. tob). This connects the daughters of humankind in 6:2 with chapter 4. There, in the genealogy of Cain, the sons of Lamech are named and something is said about each one’s impact on society; for example, Tubal-cain was the forger of all implements of bronze and iron. Tubal-cain’s sister, Naamah, is named, but nothing is said about her. This should make the reader wonder why she was mentioned at all, especially since women were viewed as lower-class citizens. Interestingly, her name means “beautiful.” This is not the same word used in 6:2, but we have already seen that passages do not need to use the same terms to be parallel.

The word tob, “beautiful” or “good,” in 6:2 sets up another connection with a statement in 3:6: “The woman saw that the tree was good [tob].” The couple in the garden fell into judgment because they took the prerogative that belongs only to God — deciding what is good. Genesis 6:2, therefore, is presented as a reenactment of the Fall. [ saw, good, took] The godly line, who were supposed to walk with God, see the daughters of humankind from the ungodly line and decide for themselves that they are good.

Thomas Howe –

Christian Research Journal

http://www.equip.org/article/who-were-the-sons-of-god-in-genesis-6/

b.  Methodology

                          “and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose.

Could be violence involved if women or their parents were not willing;

But apparently society was so corrupt that the women willingly gave themselves to these angelic beings who just from an outward appearance evaluation would have much to commend themselves in terms of strength and stature – God’s judgment is going to hold mankind responsible for these unspiritual decisions

Satan here is being super aggressive – his goal is to establish some type of super-race that can compete with and ultimately defeat the seed of the woman

B.  (:3) Death Sentence

  1. God at the End of His Rope

Then the LORD said, ‘My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh;’

Borgman: Words only have meaning as they fit into a context; no inherent meaning

Specific nuance of striving is in question; but what is not in question is that God is going to withdraw in some sense – 2 Options:

  • Contend — Struggling to bring man to conviction and repentance

  • Remain — Or spirit will no longer remain and what is left is death

Both concepts are true

Vast distinction between Holy Spirit and humans defined as mere flesh – even the offspring of this unusual half breed does not rise above the level of designation as flesh

The Holy Spirit is exalted far above such creatures and should be worshiped and respected and obeyed as such

  1. Extent of Man’s Rope Defined

nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.

Some take this as a limitation of man’s approximate age – up to this time the patriarchs lived extremely long lives … however, even after the Flood we see some long lives

Better to take this time designation as the setting of the ticking time bomb we described earlier

Quite a long period of warning – during this time, God would send his prophetic voice of warning of judgment in the person of Noah = preacher of righteousness – but no response of repentance

God’s patience and forbearance do not extend without limits

C.  (:4) Degeneration of Society

  1. Presence of Nephilim

The Nephilim were on the earth in those days,

               and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men,

one of the most difficult aspects of this passage – seems best to equate them with the offspring defined below as mighty men and men of reknown … yet it seems like they are present on the earth before this evil propagation takes place and at subsequent times in history – so this is a strategy that Satan re-uses

– yet they also seem to be distinct from the sons of God here

Genesis 6 and Numbers 13:33 are the only passages that mention the Nephilim

Fallen ones; giants – to fell a tree – are they the fellers or the ones fallen??

Satanic attempt to take over the earth by this new class – the product was human (at least half breeds) = men of renown

  1. Propagation of Extraordinary Offspring

and they [sons of God] bore children to them [daughters of men].

Significance of propagating “after its kind” – can’t mix the kinds; concept of “strange flesh”

Judgment came to all animals as well

[Maybe dinosaurs were some type of cross breed that God destroyed at the flood as well]

  1. Prominence of These Freaks of Nature

Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.

Parunak: Who were they? Three terms are used to describe them.

  • Giants,” lit. nefilim, “fallen ones.” Cf. GKC %84a.l p. 231, like ‘asir, mashiax, “a passive meaning to denote duration in a state” (for defective hireq, see nasi’, nesi’im, Ex 34:31). The name may denote their half-heavenly origin; people saw them as divine beings fallen to earth.
  • Mighty men of old,” gibborim. A standard term for a military hero. These half-breeds were mighty fighters, with superhuman strength. “Of old,” the legendary ones; cf. Ezek 26:19-20, esp. its association with destruction by a flood.
  • men of renown,” lit. “men of name.” It is God’s prerogative to make a name for himself (2 Sam 7:23), to bring glory to himself. People who seek fame often run afoul of the Lord’s commands. Note:

o Gen 11:4, this was the intention of those who built the tower of Babel.

o Num 16:2, those who rose against Moses in the rebellion of Korah were “men of            name.”

o 1 Chr 5:23-26, so were the children of Manasseh, “famous men,” who transgressed       against the God of their fathers.

o Ps 49:11-13 is God’s general verdict on such.

II.  (:5-8) DESTRUCTION OF WICKED HUMANITY BY A GRIEVING GOD –

WITH THE EXCEPTIONAL PROVISION OF GRACE TOWARDS NOAH

A.  (:5-6) Man’s Wickedness Grieves the Heart of God

  1. (:5)  Evaluation of Man’s Wickedness

a.  Actions

                         “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth,

What does God see when He looks at our world today?

b.  Intentions

                        “and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Parunak: The universality of the corruption is expressed in two ways: “only evil,” so that there is nothing good, and “continually,” so that there is no period when the man is not controlled by it.

  • Man’s sin is intensive. It pervades his individual thought, his purposes, plans, desires.

  • Cf. Jer 17:9, “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?

  • Cf. Mark 7:21-23, “from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness”.

  1. (:6)  Emotional Response of God

a.  Sorrowful

                         “And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth,

Presents some interesting theological challenges —

But what about the Scriptures that say that God is not a man that He should repent

Open Theism: In short, open theism says that since God and humans are free, God’s knowledge is dynamic and God’s providence flexible. While several versions of traditional theism picture God’s knowledge of the future as a singular, fixed trajectory, open theism sees it as a plurality of branching possibilities, with some possibilities becoming settled as time moves forward.  Thus, the future as well as God’s knowledge of it is open (hence “open” theism).

God is omniscient” about “settled” reality, but the future that God “leaves open” can be known only as open “possibility” without specific foreknowledge.

Parunak: When God is said to “repent,” the term has an emotional, not a volitional, sense. It describes the pain that God feels over something that has happened.

1 Sam. 15:11; clarified in vs. 29

b.  Grieving

                          “and He was grieved in His heart.

B.  (:7) Man’s Wickedness Demands Divine Judgment

  1. Extent of the Judgment

And the LORD said, ‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land,

from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky;’

  1. Emotion of the Judgment

for I am sorry that I have made them.

C.  (:8) God’s Grace Prevails Over Man’s Wickedness

But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.

To escape the wrath of God you must be the recipient of the grace of God – found by faith in Christ

CONCLUSION:

Henry Morris – 1976 — studied Scripture and identified 15 characteristics that will prevail as we near moment of Christ’s return as in days of Noah:

  • 1- Preoccupation with physical appetites – commercials about exercise equipment

  • 2- Rapid advance in technology

  • 3 – Grossly materialistic attitude and interest – millionaires looking for more and more

  • 4 – Uniformitarian philosophy which will become worldwide moving towards one world govt.

  • 5 – Inordinate devotion to pleasure and comfort – “Temptation is fun; giving in is better”

  • 6 – No concern for God in conduct or belief

  • 7 – Disregard for sacredness of the marriage relationship – we can’t even figure out who should be married to whom

  • 8 – Rejection of Word of God

  • 9 – Population Explosion

  • 10 – Widespread violence

    – mother killing her children; children killing parents

  • 11 – Corruption throughout society

  • 12 – Preoccupation with illicit sexual activity

  • 13 – Widespread words and thoughts of blasphemy

  • 14 – Organized satanic activity

  • 15 – Lots of blood and lots of sex in our movies