Hello, Scroll Eaters! Wow! What a packed two chapters! I’ll have more to say about the Flood tomorrow, but today I simply want to focus on the first eight verses of chapter six, for three reasons. First, they’re some of the most confusing, misunderstood, and conjectured-about verses in the Bible, so that should be fun! Second, I figured I’ll just keep all the Ark/Flood stuff together. Third, there’s just so much to talk about! So, let’s jump right in.
Okay, first, where did all these people come from? We’ve got Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel, and Seth – that famous question “Where’d Cain get a wife, and of whom exactly was he afraid?” Well, Genesis 5:4 says Adam “had other sons and daughters.” Genesis 4:3 makes no mention of how much time passed before Cain killed Abel, and since humans lived into the 900s at the time (more on that tomorrow), and Eve would have had a child a year, and incest wouldn’t have been a sin (more on that tomorrow), it’s easy to see that from Adam and Eve alone, within 500 years, there could have been tens of thousands of people. There were undoubted millions by the time of the Flood, some 1,500-1,600 years later.
Now, as we saw yesterday, we’ve got two lines that will follow to the end of time: the wicked, and the Remnant. The first seven verses of this chapter deal with the wicked; the eighth with the Remnant. In 6:2 we read, “…that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose.” This phrase “the sons of God” refers to angels. We see it five times in the Old Testament: twice in this passage and twice when God and the adversary are discussing Job: “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.” There is one other incidental use in Job 38:7, and Paul uses it in Romans 8:19 to refer to Christians (interesting, because the context in Romans 8 is Creation and Re-Creation).
Angels were leaving their assigned place and taking human wives? Huh? The simple and obvious answer here is that we are seeing the first recorded demon possession. So, these men, controlled by angels who left their estate, are producing offspring, and these offspring are known as the Nephilim – “the Giants.” Oh, Nephilim! What great confusion have you caused through generations!
There are two prominent theories as to exactly what the Nephilim were. I’ll briefly explain both and then tell which I adhere to.
The first theory is the Nephilim are literal giants – men and women in the 9 ft. to 14 ft. range. The idea is that somehow these demonic offspring are huge. The evidence for this view is the fact the word means just that, “giants,” and that there are recorded giants in Scripture, the most famous of which was Goliath. (cf. II Samuel 21:16-22; I Chronicles 20:4-8). For the record, there is a lot “evidence” for giantism in the 9 ft. to 14 ft. range, but it is circumspect and always debated over being a hoax or being authentic. One thing is for sure; 8 ft., 11 in. Robert Wadlow certainly lived.
The second theory is that “giant” is figurative – it says the Nephilim were “the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.” While literal giants can surely be described as mighty, it can also be interpreted to simply mean men who were “mighty on the earth, giants among men.” In other words, Hitler, Napolean, Genghis Khan. Think of it this way: what would be the psyche of a child of a demon-possessed man? This kind of “psychic scarring,” if you will, lead to extremely evil men, seeking power at all costs, be it murder, theft, genocide, or war. Imagine an entire collective of Napoleans arising at the same time, fighting over the world.
Now, I adhere to the latter explanation: the sons of the “sons of men” were a group of dictators and murders, genocidal maniacs and despots. I have two reasons for this.
First, there is another (and better) explanation for physical giantism of the time. For now, ponder this: if there were a race of physical giants before the Flood, but not preserved on the ark, then what’s the explanation for Goliath and the others after the Flood? (We’ll get into that more tomorrow!)
Second, the rest of Genesis 6 seems to fit the “collective of tyrants” idea better. In the very next verse, we read, “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.” A race of physical giants wouldn’t necessarily lead to this bleakness.
As a side note, if this is true, and demon possession still happens, which I believe it does, then why isn’t the same phenomenon happening now? Sure, we have tyrants, but not tens of thousands of them. Two reasons. First, we Christians are everywhere, and Jesus described us as “salt,” which at the time was primarily used as a preservative. We keep this place from running down. Second, God took preventative measures. It is probably that Jude 6 refers to this incident, “And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day.” See, when God flooded the earth, these Nephilim died, and the fallen angels were locked away. There is demon possession still today, but the en masse procreation is not allowed.
So, how bleak was it? There are many sad passages in the Bible, but few as tragic as this: “And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 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.'”
So, God gives humanity an expiration date in Genesis 3: 120 years and he’ll wipe us out*. And two often overlooked tidbits: he adds in Genesis 6:7 and 13 that he will blot out all life “…from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky…. The end of all flesh…, I am about to destroy them with the earth.” First tidbit: all flesh will be destroyed, not just man. Second tidbit: With the earth? We can all see how a flood would destroy all animal life, but the earth? How does that destroy the earth? Wouldn’t it just make it muddy? (More on that tomorrow!)
Though those first seven verses are mighty dark, with the eighth we end on a note of hope and salvation. “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.” The Hebrew word translated “favor” can also be translated “grace.” Why did God save Noah and his family? Grace. God favored Noah the way we favor one kind of food over another – no particular reason, we just like it more. God loved Noah, and showed him favor. While it’s plain in the passage that Noah was the only one left on the entire planet who was righteous, we know from Isaiah 64:6 that our righteousness is like a filthy rag, and that makes us unclean, and so Noah was not saved by his righteousness, but by God’s favor, God’s grace.
Tomorrow, we take a look at the Flood, and read Genesis 8-9 and Psalm 12.
The Lord bless you and keep you.
* Some believe this states that humanity’s life-span is shortened from around 900 years to 120 years, and later shortened to 70. I believe this to be incorrect on many levels, mainly because there is a much better and more coherent explanation for the life-span decrease. (More on that tomorrow!)