Before we begin, I want to point out that we are all familiar with the Flood Narrative and in this lesson, we are looking more at the background and cause of the Flood Judgment.
Text: Genesis 6-9
Who are the players in this story?
- Noah, a righteous man and preacher of righteousness
- the Lord God
- the “Sons of God,” who these are remains a mystery to this day. Some say they were the offspring of the righteous Seth while others think these are angels and perhaps fallen angels
- The remainder of humanity
Words you need to know
bənê hāʼĕlōhîm (בְנֵי־הָֽאֱלֹהִים) the sons of Elohim (God)
There is no real consensus as to who these are. There are two major interpretations among scholars.
- The Offspring of the righteous line of Seth
- Fallen Angels: Early Christian writers such as Justin Martyr, Eusebius, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Commodianus believed that the “sons of God” in Genesis 6:1-4 were fallen angels who engaged in unnatural union with human women, resulting in the begetting of the Nephilim. Modern Christians have argued against this view by reasoning on Jesus‘ comment in Matthew 22:30 that angels do not marry, although it only refers to angels in heaven. Others saw them as descendants of Seth.
Saint Augustine subscribed to this view, based on the orations of Julius Africanus in his book City of God, which refer to the “sons of God” as being descendants of Seth (or Sethites), the pure line of Adam. The “daughters of men” are viewed as the descendants of Cain (or Cainites). Variations of this view was also received by Jewish philosophers.
As David Guzik points out,
“The sons of God saw the daughters of men: It is more accurate to see the sons of God as either demons (angels in rebellion against God) or uniquely demon-possessed men, and the daughters of men as human women.
i. The phrase “sons of God” clearly refers to angelic creatures when it is used the three other times in the Old Testament (Job 1:6, 2:1, and 38:7). The translators of the Septuagint translated sons of God as “angels.” They clearly thought it referred to angelic beings, not people descended from Seth.
ii. Jude 6 tells us of the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own habitation. Jude goes on (Jude 7) to tell us they sinned in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh. Here in Genesis 6, as in Sodom and Gomorrah, there was an unnatural sexual union.
iii. It is useless to speculate on the nature of this union. Whether it was brought about by something like demon possession, or whether angels have power permanently to assume the form of men is not revealed. But we should understand the occult is filled with sexual associations with the demonic, and there are those today who actively pursue such associations.
iv. Jude 6 also makes it clear what God did with these wicked angels. They are reserved in everlasting chains under darkness from the judgment of the great day. By not keeping their proper place, they are now kept in chains. Their sinful pursuit of freedom has put them in bondage.
v. 1 Peter 3:19-20 tells us Jesus went to these disobedient spirits in their prison and proclaimed His victory on the cross over them.
vi. An objection offered to this understanding is found in Matthew 22:30, where Jesus said angels neither marry nor are given in marriage; but Jesus never said angels were sexless, and He was also speaking about faithful angels (angels of God in heaven), not rebellious ones.
vii. From the book of 1 Enoch, which is not inspired scripture, but may still contain some accurate accounts: “And it came to pass that the children of men had multiplied that in those days were born unto them beautiful and comely daughters. And the angels, the children of heaven, saw and lusted after them, and said to one another: ‘Come, let us choose us wives from among the children of men and beget us children … [They] took unto themselves wives, and each chose for himself one, and they began to go unto them and to defile themselves with them, and they taught them charms and enchantments … And they became pregnant, and they bare great giants … And there arose much godlessness, and they committed fornication, and they were led astray, and became corrupt in all their ways.”
Approximately 1100 years (more specifically around 1056) after Adam’s ejection from the Garden, God looked and saw that man’s thoughts were continually evil and He was “sorry that He created man.” Why? What was happening on the earth that caused God to feel this way?
- Exploding population (Genesis 6:1)
- Sexual perversion (Genesis 6:2)
- Demonic activity (Genesis 6:2)
- Constant evil in the heart of man (Genesis 6:5)
- Widespread corruption and violence (Genesis 6:11)
Looking to Matthew Henry for a moment:
The charge was exhibited and proved against them, v. 5. The evidence produced was incontestable. God saw it, and that was instead of a thousand witnesses. God sees all the wickedness that is among the children of men; it cannot be concealed from him now, and, if it be not repented of, it shall not be concealed by him shortly. Now what did God take notice of?
1. He observed that the streams of sin that flowed along in men’s lives, and the breadth and depth of those streams: He saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth. Observe the connection of this with what goes before: the oppressors were mighty men and men of renown; and, then, God saw that the wickedness of man was great. Note, The wickedness of a people is great indeed when the most notorious sinners are men of renown among them. Things are bad when bad men are not only honored notwithstanding their wickedness, but honored for their wickedness, and the vilest men exalted. Wickedness is then great when great men are wicked. Their wickedness was great, that is, abundance of sin was committed in all places, by all sorts of people; and such sin as was in its own nature most gross, and heinous, and provoking; it was committed daringly, and with a defiance of heaven, nor was any care taken by those that had power in their hands to restrain and punish it. This God saw. Note, All the sins of sinners are known to God the Judge. Those that are most conversant in the world, though they see much wickedness in it, yet they see but little of that which is; but God sees all, and judges aright concerning it, how great it is, nor can he be deceived in his judgment.
2. He observed the fountain of sin that was in men’s hearts. Any one might see that the wickedness of man was great, for they declared their sin as Sodom; but God’s eye went further: He saw that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually-a sad sight, and very offensive to God’s holy eye! This was the bitter root, the corrupt spring: all the violence and oppression, all the luxury and wantonness, that were in the world, proceeded from the corruption of nature; lust conceived them, Jam. 1:15. See Mt. 15:19.
(1.) The heart was naught; it was deceitful and desperately wicked. The principles were corrupt, and the habits and dispositions evil.
(2.) The thoughts of the heart were so. Thought is sometimes taken for the settled judgment or opinion, and this was bribed, and biased, and misled; sometimes it signifies the workings of the fancy, and these were always either vain or vile, either weaving the spider’s web or hatching the cockatrice’s egg.
(3.) The imagination of the thoughts of the heart was so, that is, their designs and devices were wicked. They did not do evil through mere carelessness, as those that walk at all adventures, not heeding what they do; but they did evil deliberately and designedly, contriving how to do mischief. It was bad indeed; for it was only evil, continually evil, and every imagination was so. There was no good to be found among them, no, not at any time: the stream of sin was full, and strong, and constant; and God saw it; see Ps. 14:1-3.
So, man was so corrupt, that God decided to destroy them. On a side note, here we see the Doctrine of Total Depravity on full display in the Old Testament.
The Flood Narrative is one that we hear quite often and sometimes it is easy to be trite and to miss the cause of the Flood Judgment, that human society had become so corrupted and evil that their very existence was such an insult to a Holy God that their entire destruction was necessary.
- What parallels are visible between our society and the society of Noah?
- What does God expect from you in such a wicked world?
For the glory of God’s justice, and for warning to a wicked world, before the history of the ruin of the old world, we have a full account of its degeneracy, its apostasy from God and rebellion against him. The destroying of it was an act, not of an absolute sovereignty, but of necessary justice, for the maintaining of the honor of God’s government.