This post is about Genesis 6:1-7 and particularly concerns the identity of the sons of God in verse 4.
Someone sent me an article from gotquestions.org on the subject. Using the article's numbering system, view #1, that the sons of God are fallen angels, is the view they embrace, but that view is the least Biblical view. God created everything to reproduce according to its kind (Genesis 1:11 and many others). The angel kind and the human kind are not compatible. That closes the case and points us elsewhere for the correct interpretation.
As to their objections to view #2 or #3, they write:
The weakness of views 2) and 3) is that ordinary human males marrying ordinary human females does not account for why the offspring were “giants” or “heroes of old, men of renown.” Further, why would God decide to bring the flood on the earth (Genesis 6:5-7) when God had never forbade powerful human males or descendants of Seth to marry ordinary human females or descendants of Cain? The oncoming judgment of Genesis 6:5-7 is linked to what took place in Genesis 6:1-4. Only the obscene, perverse marriage of fallen angels with human females would seem to justify such a harsh judgment.
I respond to the first objection: the information that God placed into human genome can easily account for the production of giant humans. There are humans known to reach 8 feet in height in the modern era, and no reason why humans could not grow to a tremendous stature under the right conditions and with the right genes. In fact, the text mentions the giants first, before the sons of God are mentioned.
I respond to the second objection: the Bible tells us precisely why God sent the flood on the earth, and that is because "the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." God's sorrow at making man refers to the entirety of mankind, not just the sons of God and daughters of men. God's statement about his Spirit not striving with man occurs BEFORE the giants and BEFORE the sons of God are mentioned, so they are not the sole reason for His judgment.
As far as the support that the article marshals for its view (sons of God = fallen angels), it is quite lacking.
1. They say that the phrase "sons of God" always refers to angels in the Old Testament. I note in response that in the New Testament the same phrase always refers to humans, and always believing humans. This would support view #3 (sons of God = godly descendants of Seth or godly men more generally). Further, the other citations in the Old Testament are limited to the book of Job. Nowhere else in Moses do we find the exact phrase. God does refer to Israel as His son (Exodus 4:22) which at least slightly undermines the article's argument.
2. They say that angels can appear in human form. The simplest explanation for the perverted desire of the Sodomites was that they thought the angels were actually human men because they appeared to be so.
3. They suggest that angels can replicate human sexuality. This is an utter speculation that is not explicitly backed by any other Scripture (I include Jude 6 in that statement).
A fourth interpretation is possible, namely that the fallen angels (= demons) indwelt men and heightened their evil desires and actions. I have no problem with any interpretation that understands the sons of God as men, whether kings or sons of Seth or possessed by demons. To break the "according to its kind" principle is far more problematic than any of the other views because it calls into question the veracity of God's word in the earlier chapters of Genesis and ultimately casts doubt on the operation of the created order.
I was listening at lunch to a fine Bible teacher who was explaining how our thinking has to be right, as per Philippians 4:8-9. In explaining this, he said (paraphrase), if your thinking is not right, nothing in your Christian life will be right. That caused me to pause for a minute and think about this phrase "your Christian life." I think we need to be careful how we use this phrase.
Allow me to ask you a question: if you are a Christian, besides your Christian life, what other life do you have?
I believe the Bible clearly teaches that if you are a Christian, you have no other life than your Christian life. If you are a Christian, you have life, and you have it abundantly. You do not have a compartmentalized Christian life, walled off from your other life (or lives). A true Christian has a life that is Christ, from Sunday to Saturday, 24x7, 365 and every February 29. Sure, Christians are not perfect little angels! But if we are Christians, then that describes the totality of our being. We either are Christians or we are not.
If you are living two lives, you better stop and figure out if you really have the Christian life you think you have.
Here's a quick hit-and-run on the NIV translation. I was reading the Greek text of John 16:16 this morning, and ran across this difference between the 2011 NIV and its predecessor.
Jesus went on to say, "In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me." (Joh 16:16 NIV-2011)
In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me. (Joh 16:16 NIV-1984)
I have to wonder why the words "Jesus went on to say" are added in the new translation. They are completely unnecessary, particularly because they were translated from whitespace in the Greek. It seems the added words give us less insight into the passage and more insight into the translator's minds, namely that they desired to emphasize the paragraph break between verses 15 and 16.
One use of technology that we have found very helpful at Fellowship Bible Church is the conference call. When there is very bad weather, as today, we invite our people to participate in our Bible study and prayer meeting by telephone.
We set up an account with freeconferencecall.com. The services gives you a phone number to call and a passcode. We are able to use the free level of service. There is some cost associated with using the service because our church members must be able to call a long distance number either on their land line, or be willing to use cell phone minutes to make the call.
From caller's perspective, the service is easy to use, if perhaps a bit awkward at the first for those who have not done a conference call before. The caller dials the phone number, enters the access code followed by the # key, and then is connected to the call. When they hear the signal, we ask as a matter of etiquette that they announce their presence on the call. There is a special touch-tone command *6 that they can use to mute their side so that the rest of the callers cannot hear background noise (say, children making noise in the background). Pressing that touch-tone command again will unmute their side so they can be heard on the call if they wish to say something. If the person wants to speak, they might ask the moderator, "Pastor, this is George..." and await an acknowledgement from the moderator before "taking the floor."
From the moderator's perspective, it is also fairly easy. While people are joining the call, he can welcome each person and others will also say 'hello.' After a couple of minutes when most people have joined the call, he can begin the meeting. The moderator has "special powers" and can mute everyone on the call simultaneously with a special code (*5) if the accumulated background noise is too much.
Tonight, I plan to lead the call in prayer or ask someone to do that who I know is ready and willing to do so. Then I will start off with my Bible study by reading the passage and then saying what I want to say about it. This takes some adaptation from regular preaching since there are no visual cues such as body language. (We have not ventured into video conferencing yet.)
I then plan to ask people to share prayer requests. This part is a bit tricky because everyone might start talking at once. A good moderator will help by asking the participants in a round-robin fashion if they have prayer requests. I might start with some folks I know already who have some, for example, some of our leaders or people who are not shy. Then I will ask other people by name and go around until I have gone through everyone I know to be on the call. After this, I would ask several to lead in prayer and then conclude the meeting.
Since the prayer time is short on the call, I usually request that after the call, the people spend more time in their family units praying for all the requests that have been mentioned, or other things they wish to pray about. I might also ask them to take a moment to call someone else in the church who was not able to participate in the meeting just to greet and connect again.
Sometimes people do not announce themselves at the beginning of the call. That's OK if they want to stay somewhat to the background. Also, the service sends a log after the call to the email address registered with the account. That way, I can see a list of all phone numbers that participated.
This technology is a nice way to have a meeting if the weather constrains travel, or if a person is not able to get out due to some health issue. We do not do it often because church requires real contact with real people, but as a backup it is helpful.
Guest post by Vincent Brattin, one of our church members.
Consider Well (2/3/2014 by VJB)
Does your church take a stand against moral decay
Or are they afraid of what people might say?
Does your music uplift, and teach real Christian truth
Or do you have drum sets to placate your youth?
Tell me true, is your pastor just “one of the guys”
Wears t-shirts and jeans, never jackets or ties?
And is your congregation so large over there
That only a fraction gets pastoral care?
Is the sermon you hear now so watered and thin
That you’re never challenged to deal with your sin?
Are you being prepared to face worlds of wrong?
Instead, will you fall when that cult comes along?
Does your Bible translation still honor what’s true?
Or rather, will your paraphrase have to do?
Do you help out the missions with treasure and prayer?
Or maybe you act like they aren’t even there?
You attend Sunday morning—well, that’s a good start
Or do you think “Finished! Now I’ve done my part.”?
Do you enter your church and think “what can I do?”
Or do you think “serve” is what happens to you?
Consider well your house of worship—
Are you where God would have you be?
And are you growing as a Christian?
Just ask the Lord to help you see.
In case you want a real challenge, you can do your devotional Bible reading in the Greek New Testament. Click here for a reading schedule that moves from easier to harder books throughout the year, and gets you through the entire New Testament in that time.
My sermon notes are available in Word document format. There are 48 files covering Romans 1 through 8. They are available by clicking here.
As they were on the verge of entering the promised land, Moses reminded the people of Israel how God had cared for them over the preceding years. But a danger would come when they began to enjoy rich material blessings:
Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today. (Deuteronomy 8:11)
when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; (Deuteronomy 8:14)
Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the LORD your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish. (Deuteronomy 8:19)
The same danger applies today to us. Many readers of this post are extremely rich by comparison to the rest of the world. Consider the following quotation from economist Mark Perry at the American Enterprise Institute:
For example, nearly half of the world’s richest 1% of people live in the U.S., and the threshold required to make it into that elite group is only $34,000 per person, according to World Bank economist Branko Milanovic.
If your household income is over $34,000, you are the 1%! This can pose a serious danger because riches can beget a self-sufficient disposition. Such a disposition is death to reliance upon God. Do not forget your God! If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you cannot allow money or material wealth to have the mastery over you.
I extolled the value of Bible reading during the Sunday morning service, encouraging our flock to read Scripture diligently. You can listen in at our audio page.
Someone emailed me a helpful reminder after the sermon about a Bible app that not only allows you to read, but also to LISTEN to the Bible as it is read. I should have emphasized in my sermon the great value of this method of getting into the Bible. After all, many early Christians had no other option but to listen as the Scriptures were read to them. We have the benefit of having inexpensive printed copies of the Bible available to us everywhere, and now we have the benefit of inexpensive audio copies of the Scripture as well. Besides being able to use time you otherwise cannot use to read (say, as you drive), an audio Bible is a good way to learn through the Scripture through another "learning channel." Learning through reading is complemented well by listening. You can also learn by writing it out and reading it out loud yourself.
There are many Bible apps available, but here are a few key ones:
The 2014 Bible reading schedules are available as PDF files (below) and soon will also be available on the front page of our site, in left menu bar under the Bible Guide.
Why should you regularly read the Bible? Because you are not supposed to live by bread alone, but by every word of God (Matthew 4:4, Luke 4:4, Deuteronomy 8:3).