Bible Order: Genesis 25–26
Old Testament Only: Genesis 20–22
New Testament Only: Matthew 7:1–20
(Current Plan is Chronological)
The Sons Of God
Today we begin the story of Noah. Have you ever wondered who these guys were that Genesis 6 refers to as the “Sons of God”? I decided to look into the matter a little bit by scrolling through some of the resources available to me in my very expensive Bible study software. I came across a commentary written by James Montgomery Boice entitled “Genesis, Volume 1: Creation and Fall (Genesis 1-11)”. It may come as a great surprise to you but there is heated debate about who these guys were. There are basically two views on the subject and Dr. Boice does a good job laying out those views. When I finished reading he commentary I saw how both had their point and I wasn’t prepared to jump firmly on one side of the other.
At issue is whether or not these “Sons of God” were human or angelic (non-human) individuals. The only other place in the Old Testament where the Hebrew phrase is used is in the book of Job where it appears three different times to refer specifically to angelic beings. The side of the argument that claims these beings are human says the “Sons of God” are the sons of Seth. If you’ll remember Cain killed Abel and then was sent away. Adam and Eve then had a third son named Seth and it is through him that the Savior of the World would be born. It is believed in this first view that some children of Seth left their godly relationship with God to pursue the ungodly children of Cain. In other words the “Sons of God” are descendants of Seth and the “Daughters of Men” are the children of Cain. Throughout the Bible we read of God’s edict not to marry outside the family of God – non-believers. Doing so always leads to greater sin and thus greater separation from God as we see later in the life of Israel.
The other view is that the “Sons of God” are actually fallen angels who mate with human beings and thus create abominations before God. I wish I could share with you the entire commentary but we just don’t have space to do so here. I highly recommend this commentary if you are interested in this kind of thing. Let me, however, share with you Dr. Boice’s summary of his commentary on the first four verses of today’s reading.
“A study like this involves so many technical details that it is easy to find oneself wondering about the point of it all and asking whether the outcome really matters. In one sense, the natural interpretation is quite valid and its point well taken. But I am convinced that to view Genesis 6 in this way is actually to lose something important.
Earlier we pointed out that one thing in favor of the natural interpretation is that it seems to fit in well with the general theme of chapters 4 and 5, namely, the contrast between the godly and the ungodly lines. But this is not the only contrast we have seen in the opening section of Genesis. What of the serpent? What of Satan? What of his desire to subvert the race and draw men and women after himself against God? If Genesis 6 does not refer to demonic activity, Satan apparently fades out of the picture entirely after chapter 3. But if Genesis 6 refers to a further attempt by Satan to pervert the race, then we have a reminder of his continuing hostility not only to God but to ourselves as well.
Satan was in the garden when the promise of a deliverer was given. He heard God say, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Gen. 3:15). Like Eve, he too must have thought that Cain, the woman’s offspring, was the deliverer and must therefore have plotted to turn him into a murderer. He succeeded! He corrupted Cain by getting him to murder Abel, thereby eliminating one of Eve’s children and rendering the other unfit to be the Savior. Yet Satan failed! For, as he was soon to learn, God simply continued on his unruffled way to develop the godly line through which the deliverer would eventually be born. What was Satan to do now? At this point he conceived the plan of corrupting the entire race by the intermarriage of demons and human beings. The Savior could not be born of a demon-possessed mother. So if Satan could succeed in infecting the entire race, the deliverer could not come. In narrating this incident, Genesis 6 is saying, in effect, “Meanwhile, back at the ranch the villain is still hatching his plots.”
Satan is still doing it today. Because he is a being who learns by experience, he is a much wiser and more dangerous devil today than he was in the time before the flood. A person who knows this and who knows that we struggle “not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12), will fear Satan and draw near to Jesus, who has defeated him.
Again, there is this practical application. Without detracting in the slightest from the fact that the flood was a real judgment of God on the ungodliness of men and women and consequently a warning of an even greater judgment to come, we can also see that it was at the same time an act of the marvelous grace of God. For in preserving the race intact, uncontaminated by Satan’s attempts at demonic perversion, God actually provided for our salvation through keeping open the way for the Redeemer to come. If Satan had succeeded, Jesus could not have been born and the race as a whole—including Adam and Seth and Enoch and all the rest—would have been lost. But by destroying the contaminated race and saving uncontaminated Noah and his immediate uncontaminated family and by binding the demons who participated in this great sin in Hades until the final judgment, God made the salvation to be achieved by Christ both sure and possible.”
Boice, J. M. (1998). Genesis: an expositional commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.