Genesis 6:1-2… Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, 2 that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose.
Genesis 6:1 is a flashback to Adam and Eve and the children they bore. They had indeed obeyed the command of God to “be fruitful and multiply” (1:28), and now the earth is full of both the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman. The writer of Genesis 6:1 is taking the reader back to the time when “men began to multiply on the face of the land.” This account is about those many children – the “daughters [who] were born to them”
The spiritual children from both lines of Cain and of Seth began to intermingle in marriage. Verse two says that the “sons of God” saw that the “daughters of men” were beautiful, and they took them as wives. “Sons of God” is a phrase used in the OT to refer to angels. This may be who is spoken of here (albeit fallen angels), but this is a difficult interpretation in light of what Jesus says about angels in Matthew 22:30 in that they “do not marry nor are they given in marriage.” It could also be that these “sons of God” are prominent men such as princes and judges. The word for “God” here is the Hebrew Elohim – a word that is often used to reference the One True God, but it is also used in reference to the pagan “gods” worshipped by Israel’s neighbors as well as some of the rulers of those lands who thought of themselves as “gods.” In this case these “sons” would be the male offspring of these wicked pagan rulers. A third interpretation is that these “sons of God” were the godly offspring of Seth, and the “daughters of men” were the ungodly offspring of Cain. Given the difficulty of the passage many scholars have adopted a both-and view by combining the angelic interpretation and the “sons of the judges” (gods) view. What we end up with is prominent men of renown who are apparently under the influence of wicked angels (demons). Though angels do not marry according to Matt.22:30, and these “sons of God… took wives for themselves, whomever they chose,” it is accurate and contextually acceptable to say that these are real humans who are under the influence of demons.
The reason for accepting the angel view in some form is due to a handful of NT passages. Jude 6-7 speaks of angels who did not stay within their given realm of activity but fell into gross immorality by going after “strange flesh.” As a result, these angels will undergo punishment in eternal fire. The Apostle Peter speaks of the abode of these angels as a result of their sin in 2 Peter 2:4 when he says that they are cast into “pits of darkness, reserved for judgment.” Peter refers to these angels again in his first epistle (3:19-20) as the ones whom Jesus proclaimed his victory to after his death on the cross. Peter says these angels “were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark…”
In sum, the “sons of God” appear to be despots ruled by fallen angels. Whereas Eve in Gen. 3 saw that the fruit was good and took some for herself, these tyrants “saw” something “good” (women), and they “took” them as wives – “whomever they chose.”
Food for Thought
The NT is replete with cautions concerning the evil spiritual realm. The devil is said to be “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2), and the Apostle Paul reminds his readers in 6:10ff. that our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against “principalities, powers, and rulers of this present darkness.” Evil angels have the ability to “transform themselves into angels of light” (2 Cor. 11:15), so we must not discount Genesis 6 as myth. Astrology, witchcraft, & all other forms of the occult continue to captivate the minds of many even today. Steer clear of that.
Genesis 6:3… Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be 120 years.”
Verses 1-2 paint a morbid picture of the wickedness of that day just prior to the world-wide Flood. The powerful and prominent rulers of that day behaved under the influence of the dark forces of evil to such an extent that it was a time of unprecedented wickedness that even the modern day doesn’t compare to. As a result, God’s judgment was just around the corner, and in verse three He says, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh.” In saying that His “Spirit shall not strive with man forever” God appears to be saying, in light of the great evil of that day, that the ministry of His Holy Spirit would eventually cease. The ministry of the Spirit of God has always been, as John 16:8 says, to convict the world of sin and the judgment sin brings. However, it appears that the moral corruptness of that day was so degenerated and so hopeless that God saw the people as beyond help – even the help of the Holy Spirit. This is this same Holy Spirit that “hovered over the surface of the waters” in Genesis 1:2. This Spirit of God was the initial Prime Mover that put all of creation and life into motion. Now the creation and life that came from the Spirit has moved so far from its Life-giver that it is beyond saving. God says that His Spirit will not “strive” with man forever. This is a word used only once in scripture, and its meaning is somewhat obscure. However, the context, along with an ancient cognate word, point toward a meaning akin to “protect/shield.” In other words, the wickedness of man had become so foul that God’s Spirit would eventually stop protecting and shielding man. This fits well because God holds the world in His hands, and without His life-sustaining Holy Spirit, man, no matter how powerful he thinks himself, is as fragile as an egg. The fact that man is said to be “flesh” reveals how fragile he is outside of the Spirit’s protection.
The second phrase of verse three is an attestation of God’s great patience even in the midst of great societal evil. After proclaiming that His Spirit would not strive with man forever, He says, “nevertheless his days shall be 120 years.” Though some have proposed that this 120 years would be man’s new life span, this is inconsistent with what follows. In the years after the Flood man continues to live much longer than 120 years but much less than the 900+ years he had been living. The 120 years spoken of here appears to be the time frame from that day to the Flood of Noah’s day. In other words, God was declaring that in the midst of the great evil of that day there would be 120 more years until judgment. Noah then had 120 years to build the ark and preach repentance to the world. When he does step onto the ark 120 years later, however, it is clear that his preaching affected no one, for they all died, save Noah and his family.
Food for Thought
God’s judgment on those who are evil and who reject His saving grace is not an obscure doctrine in the scriptures. Isaiah 30:18 says that God “longs to be gracious… He waits to have compassion.” Romans 2:4-5 says that the kindness and forbearance of God is there to lead us to repentance. And 2 Peter 3:15 says that God’s patience is for our salvation. In other words, God is not quick to destroy (as some so readily believe). All through the scriptures God punishes evil, but He never acts quickly. Instead He patiently waits for us to repent of our sins and walk in fellowship with Him. What “pet sin” are you involved in today? Remember that God will judge evil behavior. If He doesn’t then He’ll have to apologize to the people of Noah’s day and the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. He doesn’t take sin lightly, but He gives us every opportunity to repent. Do it today while it’s still called today. God doesn’t wink at sin but judges all of it.
Genesis 6:4…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.
The “Nephilim” is a transliterated plural Hebrew word that means “giants.” The root word is a verb that means “to fall,” and it suggests that these giants are “fallen ones.” They are the likely offspring of the demon-possessed judges of that day following their sexual union with the “daughters of men” spoken of in 6:1-2 (though possibly the offspring of actual demons who took on human form and had the ability to procreate with human women). These giants (no indication how big), according to the passage, were “mighty men… of prominence” in the days prior to the Flood. The Nephilim are only mentioned one other time in the OT in Numbers 13:33 where the writer notes that the Anakites of Canaan were their descendents. However, the Nephilim of that day could not have been related to the Nephilim of the pre-Flood era because that wicked generation perished while only Noah and his family were saved.
When the text says that the Nephilim were on the earth in those days, “and also afterwards,” this must be understood as a parenthetical comment that was likely added to Noah’s account by Moses himself (the complier/editor of Genesis). He is explaining the existence of these giants and their presence on the earth after the Flood. Again, there can be no relation to the antediluvian giants and the postdiluvian ones because the former passed away in the Flood. The ones who existed in Moses’ day, the Anakites, of whom Goliath was a descendant, should not be seen as any larger than the large men of our day (Hakeem Olajuwan, Yao Ming, etc.). Even though 1 Samuel 17:4 might imply that Goliath was over nine feet tall when he faced David, the actual Hebrew wording is corrupted and should read that he was about 6 feet, 9 inches (4 cubits instead of 6). The postdiluvian giants, the Nephilim, were simply large people with a genetic makeup that brought about this distinction. Hence, there is no relation to the pre-Flood Nephilim.
When the text says that these giants “came in to the daughters of men” it is referring to sexual relations between the two. The Hebrew verb here (imperfect) refers to the ongoing nature of this sexual union that produced these hybrid (part human, part demon) offspring which brought about the unsurpassed worldwide evil on the planet of that day.
The final phrase, “those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown” is the final summation of who these men were. “Mighty men” refers to “heroes” – men of notoriety – men who were known to be great warriors but who were known primarily for evil deeds.
Food for Thought
Passages like Genesis 6:4, in speaking of giants, are difficult to believe for many. Often they’re passed over as myth and legend. Many scholars note the stories of antiquity that pre-date Moses which speak of giants, creation, and a flood, and they assume that some ancient writer made up his own story to insert in what would become the Bible. The Nephilim, however, were men of notoriety, and their reputation was known to all. And just like most notorious people, it is likely that their stories circulated the globe for many hundreds of years. These “heroes” likely provide the historical base behind the obviously mythological accounts such as Gilgamesh and the like. Though many claim the Bible is myth represented as history, it’s really the opposite. The stories of the Bible given by God are the ones that circulated through oral tradition, and it was the ancient story-tellers of old who seem to have transformed history into myth. God’s Word has stood the test of time, and proves itself over and over to all who seek truth.
Genesis 6:5… Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.
While looking out over His once beautiful and perfect creation, God is now grieved over what He sees. Created perfect and without sin, mankind has reached the apex of corruptness on the earth in verse five. Cain’s offspring has introduced many things, not the least of which were polygamous marriages. Men like Lamech of Cain’s line (the seed of the serpent) attempt to outdo one another in evil deeds, and then boast about it (4:23-24). Wickedness is wickedness, but the above text says that it was “great.” The offspring of the mighty demon-possessed men of that day was producing a race of people who apparently had no boundaries for their evil behavior. They took as many wives as they chose (harems), and under the domination of Satan and his evil powers, were building a reputation as men of “renown.” These Nephilim were likely giants in stature who wielded both power and domination over the entire world of that day which God had originally created. God had created man to rule over His creation, but his rule was apparently coming to an end as God took note of what had become of His handiwork. The text says “that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” The word for “continually” is literally “every day.” So “every day” mankind was concocting more and more evil in his “heart” – what one mans says is the “locus of thought, feeling, volition, and morality.” His thoughts were snowballing from bad to worse, and the fertile ground of the mind that thinks continually of evil was producing a harvest of sinful and decadent behavior.
Verse six says, “the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.” While mankind and his thoughts were continually evil in his heart, the heart of God is “grieved.” This does not confound the doctrine of immutability (that God does not change), for there are many scriptures that speak of God’s emotions (wrath, love, etc.). However, contrary to humans, God is not given to His emotions nor is He ruled by them. Since God is good in every sense of the word, when man turns bad God doesn’t change what He decreed as good. He will work good out of man’s great wickedness (Rom. 8:28), but He is always good, and that never changes. God may change His plans to do good for people when they persist in sin (Jer. 18:10), and He may change His mind when they repent and do good (cf. Jonah 3:10). But all of this is within God’s perfect and unchanging will. He never changes nor does His character change. He is longsuffering and never quick to judge. He always hates sin and is grieved by it, so verse six is an attestation that God has not changed in his hatred for sin. He is both “sorry” about what had happened and “grieved” over it. The former means to have “emotional pain and regret,” and the latter is to be “highly offended; embarrassed or insulted.” The sin of man doesn’t just anger God, it prompts Him to judge those who offended Him.
Food for Thought
People today take God’s grace for granted. Though God is most certainly love in every respect, His love entails wrath and punishment for sin. He is too holy and sovereign to tolerate the ever-growing wickedness of sin. Those who bank on God’s mercy yet live their lives taking God’s patience and forbearance for granted are in for a rude awakening, for the books of prophecy in the Bible (Daniel, 2 Thessalonians, Revelation, etc.) speak of great judgment on those who persist in their sins and allow the decadence of the world around them to subtly take them away. Evaluate your life today. Ask God to purify your heart that it be pleasing to Him.
Genesis 6:7-8… 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; for I am sorry that I have made them." 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.
In verses 7-8 God takes action in accordance with his regrets for making man on the earth due to his wicked state. Since God is not given the whims of human emotions, He acts in accordance with His character. God hates sin, and the Genesis account is the first account that reveals how God allows sin to take root for a time, then He judges it. He is too pure and holy to allow sin to corrupt His creation for too long, and His actions against sin attest to the fact that He never changes – He is immutable. Sin is always an affront to God and is always punished.
Verse 7 is God’s decree against the great wickedness He sees on the planet. When He says He will “blot out man…” the word means he will “wipe them out” – He will “destroy” them. Genesis 7:23 attests to the fact that He did just that. Like ink wiped away from a dry erase board, so God would wipe man from the face of the earth. Notice that God reminds Himself and the reader that this is the same mankind that He Himself “created from the face of the land.” It’s not that God is responsible or His creation gone awry, but it shows His grief, His great sighing, over what was once beautiful and perfect. The one “little” sin of Genesis 3 has snowballed into destruction. Now God will destroy all the animals and creeping things and the birds of the sky. These innocent animals will suffer God’s wrath simply because of what mankind has done. He has not only ruined his own existence but the existence of the animals of the land and the air too. When the text says that God was “sorry” it refers to His deep sighing over what He sees.
Verse eight is a rose among the thorns. Amongst all the great wickedness that God saw on His created earth, Noah is said to have “found favor” with God. The name “Noah” doesn’t actually mean “rest” as some propose, but it sounds very similar to the Hebrew word that does mean “quietness; rest.” His name was given to him by his father Lamech who had likely hoped that in his son’s day the earth would enter into rest and be rescued from the Curse. God obviously saw a peaceful man amongst the wickedness of his day, and he “found favor” with God. This little phrase literally means “to find grace.” This man of rest is the one who stood out among the pagans of the earth. Of all the people who had been born since the creation of the world (circa 1600 years) only one man was left, and “in the eyes of the Lord” he found grace.
(Now God is not to be viewed as one who has eyes. This is an anthropomorphism – using manlike qualities to describe God who has no human form). Noah was a righteous man, and God, in keeping with His immutability, was pleased with Noah who obviously sought God.
At the apparent end of human existence, one man stands out and offers hope for the future of mankind. He will offer new life and a new hope for all future generations.
Food for Thought
The irony of Noah in relation to the Nephilim – the men of renown – is that Noah ends up becoming the man of renown. The human achievements through the centuries and the notoriety of God-hating atheists are nothing in light of what the many little-known God-fearers are going to receive. Men of peace find grace in God’s eyes, and the wrath of God that will be meted out on all the ungodly in the end will not touch God’s children – the seed of the woman. In the same way that Noah was saved from God’s wrath and by faith stepped onto a boat that was built on dry land, so it will be for all who place their faith in Jesus Christ. When God sees them, all He sees is Christ’s shed blood covering them, and they find favor in His eyes.
· Two themes from 5:1 through 6:8… Death/judgment for human race AND the heightened urgency and severity of death b/c of gross evil in the spread of sin
· The central verse in the passage is the wickedness of the human race (6:5).
· CONTRAST: The “sons of God” saw in verse 2 BUT God saw in verse 5.
· Summary message: In response to the worldwide sin, God determined to destroy all living creatures except the recipients of grace.
· Theme: wickedness brings pain to God and judgment to the world, a judgment that can only be escaped by God’s grace.
Approaching the NT
· Matthew 24:37-39… "For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. 38 "For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so shall the coming of the Son of Man be.
Examples of God sparing His children from wrath:
2. Sodom and Gomorrah
3. Josiah would die before he saw what would happen in Israel (2 Kings 22:19-20)
4. Church is not destined for wrath but for salvation (1 Thes. 5:9)
5. B/c they kept God’s Word, God was to keep them from the hour of testing (Rev. 3:10).
God limits human wickedness (1-2)