************ Sermon on Genesis 6:1-3 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on June 26, 2011
Genesis 5, which we looked at last week, records a rather sad time in the history of the human race. We are reminded there that mankind, beginning with Adam, was made in the image and likeness of God (Gen 5:1). Then we are told that Adam "had a son in his own likeness, in his own image" (Gen 5:3). Yes, man was still in the image of God but man was also in the image of Adam. Meaning what? Meaning that man was no longer enjoying perfect life with God in a perfect body in the perfect Garden of Eden. Meaning that man was now a fallen sinner. Meaning that man, as I said last time when we looked at Genesis 5, was now mortal. We saw the results, didn't we, as each of the first nine generations died?
But not everything in Genesis 5 is negative. We are told about Enoch, who walked with God, then was no more, because God took Him away (Gen 5:24). We are told about Noah, a source of comfort in a fallen world (Gen 5:29). Enoch and Noah illustrate the gracious destiny of those fallen sinners who value their relationship with God and strive to live in covenant obedience.
If Genesis 5 reveals the rewards faithful covenant keepers can expect, Genesis 6 warns us what faithless covenant breakers will experience. So, in Genesis 6 and following, we see that the first age of human history comes to its end in the days of Noah. It comes to its end because of the continued progression of human sin.
Sin began so simply with Eve doubting the word of God: "Did God really say ..." (Gen 3:1). It then moved on to the eating of a piece of forbidden fruit (Gen 3:6). Its true colors began to show when Cain murdered Abel. It came to maturity in the godless civilization of Cain's descendants. It finally descended into such depths of wickedness and corruption that Genesis 6 and following tells us a total cleansing and purging by means of the flood was needed.
You may wonder what connection any of this has with us today. Other than answering some historical and geological questions, where is the relevance? Do you remember what Christ's disciples asked Him two days before His crucifixion? As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. "Tell us," they said, "... what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" (Mt 24:3). Jesus' reply pointed to a number of signs and ends with this warning:
(Mt 24:37-39) As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. (38) For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; (39) and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.Do you hear what Jesus is saying? We had best pay careful attention to Noah because what happened then will happen in the days just before Jesus returns. Keep in mind, then, that Genesis 6 and following describes the days of Noah; but, according to Jesus, it also describes our days and our time.
I Sons of God, Daughters of Men
A Notice how our Scripture reading begins: "When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them ..." (Gen 6:1). Men began to "increase in number." Men began to multiply. How many people do you think this would be? A few hundred, a few thousand, a few million? How many? One of my commentaries looked at the genealogies and the life-spans and the often repeated statement in Genesis 5 of "other sons and daughters" and calculated that there could have been seven billion people on earth at the time of the flood – about the same number as we have today. Don't think civilization back then was not advanced enough for a population this size. Because, as Genesis 5 makes clear, this was not a backwards time of cave-dwellers with no technical, cultural, and linguistic skills. Rather, it was an advanced civilization with technology, weapons, culture, agriculture, animals, language, and writing. I want you to forget the picture of early human kind painted by National Geographic or atheistic anthropologists and archeologists.
B Notice the next verse of our Scripture reading: "the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose" (Gen 6:2). Who are the "sons of God" and who are the "daughters of men"?
Two main interpretations have been proposed. Some think the "sons of God" are fallen angels since the same phrase refers to the heavenly court elsewhere in Scripture (cf Job 1:6; 2:1; Ps 29:1). This is the approach taken by the apocryphal book of Enoch. Somehow these fallen angels united with human females. The problem with this view is that, according to Jesus, the angels neither marry nor are given in marriage and appear incapable of sexual relations (Lk 20:34-36; Mt 22:30).
The second and best approach is to identify the sons of God with God's followers here on earth and the daughters of men with those who don't follow God. I say that because the phrase "sons of God" is used by Hosea to refer to God's followers here on earth (Hosea 1:10). Furthermore, Adam is called "the son of God" at the beginning of Luke's Gospel (Lk 3:38). In the rest of the New Testament we see the more inclusive term, "children of God," to refer to those who are followers of God (1 Jn 3:1-2; Jn 1:12; Rom 8:15).
What about "daughters of men"? Some commentators view the title "daughters of men" to be the same as the title "sons of men." This means this is the title used for wicked people who don't serve God. So, in Genesis 11:5, those who had rebelled against God to build the tower of Babel are called "the sons of men." In the Psalms, the enemies of David are called "the sons of men" (Ps 4:2; 57:4).
With all this in mind, then, the sons of God are those who are faithful to God and His plan for salvation, from Adam to Abel and down to Seth. On the other hand, the sons and daughters of men are those who are the children of Cain.
II The Attraction of Beauty
A However we understand the two titles, we need to listen carefully to the text. What did the two groups do? They intermingled with one another in marriage. It becomes clear from verse 3 that this intermingling was against the will of God.
What caused the intermingling of the two groups? What does Scripture say?
(Gen 6:2) the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.Do you hear the stimulus for the behavior of the sons of God? The daughters of men were "beautiful." They were attractive. They were sexy and adorable and cute and desirable.
B The Bible is filled with stories in which human beauty or attractiveness is central and even fatal. Think of Abraham and Sarah; Sarah was so attractive the Pharaoh of Egypt took her (Gen 12:11,14; cf Abimelech in Gen 20). The same thing happened with Isaac and beautiful Rebekah (Gen 24:16; cf Abimelech in Gen 26). Think of the triangle formed by Jacob and ugly Leah and beautiful Rachel and the conflict this produced in the next generation (Gen 29:17). Think of the rape of Jacob's daughter, Dinah; Shechem raped her after he saw her (Gen 34). Think of David and beautiful Bathsheba and their adultery (2 Sam 11:2). Think of Absalom and his rebellion against David; the trouble started when he was highly praised for his handsome appearance (2 Sam 14:25). Think of Absalom's sister Tamar and the trouble her beauty caused (2 Sam 13:1). Think of beautiful Queen Vashti in the story of Esther (Esther 1:1; 2:7). In each and every one of these cases beauty caused untold tragedy.
We should not be surprised by this because don't we find this in the Garden of Eden already? Think of Eve's struggles with the serpent. Why did she finally eat of the forbidden fruit? What does Scripture say?
(Gen 3:6) When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.Did you hear that? The fruit of the tree was "pleasing to the eye." It was attractive. It was beautiful. It looked desirable. And the results were absolutely deadly and terrifying and awful and horrible. It marked the start of man's fall into sin and evil and depravity and misery.
C We see, again, something of how Satan works. He dresses up evil to make it look good and attractive and appealing and desirable. He did that with Eve in the Garden. He did that with Abraham and Pharaoh. He did that with Isaac and Jacob. He did that with Samson and Absalom. And, we see Satan doing the same thing in our Bible reading. He dresses up evil to make it look good. It is his plan and his intent to wipe out the line of Seth and the promised Seed of Genesis 3:15 through intermarriage.
Today, Satan continues to dress up evil so it looks good. This is true whether it is alcohol or drug abuse, adultery, theft, pornography, or even the choosing of a marriage partner. Look at the sons of God and the daughters of men. The sons of God picked their marriage partner on the basis of appearance. They paid no attention to matters of character, moral goodness, religion, and faith. They failed to see that beauty is only skin deep. They learned, too late, that today's ravishing beauty becomes tomorrow's wrinkled prune. They did not seem to realize that beautiful is not the same as good. As Scripture says elsewhere, it is man who looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart (1 Sam 16:7).
Topic: BeautyIf only the two women in this story spent as much attention on their inner being as on their outward appearance.
Title: Real Beauty
Two fairly well-to-do women spent an afternoon at the local mall searching for "the perfect outfit." The following day was to be a special event and the two women wanted to look especially attractive. The two had their nails polished to a fine brilliance, hair done by a well-known stylist, selected a sweet smelling perfume, and tried on outfits.
While in the dressing room of a fashionable store, the two women were catered to by the store assistants. "This outfit is much too small!" yelled the first woman as she threw her garment at the store assistant. "Go get me another one now!" she ordered.
The second woman was no better. "You fool! You brought me the blue dress! I told you I look horrid in blue!"
For the next hour, the two women tried on many glittery outfits as they verbally abused and insulted the assistants whose job it was to assist them.
By the time the women finally selected appropriate outfits, the assistants felt drained and were glad to see the two women go. "Have you ever seen such ugly women?" asked one assistant to the other.
"What do you mean?" asked the other, looking puzzled, "Those women were very attractive."
"Attractive on the outside yes, but on the inside, they were ugly as sin!"
Often, we spend too much time and money on things that God does not even care about. What He is concerned with, though, is making our inner being beautiful with the truth and light of His word. What He is concerned with is the beauty of loving others. These are things which cannot be bought in a store.
I repeat, Satan dresses up evil so it looks good. So beware, congregation. Beware of what suddenly looks beautiful or handsome. Beware of what looks too attractive. Beware lest Satan ensnare you and trap you and lure you and entice you into sin. Stay on your guard.
D Why is beauty so attractive? God has placed something in man that is attracted to the beautiful. This attraction of and desire for the beautiful recalls something of the perfection of the Garden of Eden. It expresses man's longing for what he lost in the Garden. Because there, in the Garden, everything was beautiful, true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy (cf Phil 4:8).
The desire for beauty, however, can never be satisfied by things or people. It can never be satisfied by man's feeble attempts at utopia. It cannot be satisfied by genetic or social engineering. It can only be satisfied by Christ and His Kingdom and His righteousness. Isn't He beautiful – the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace? Isn't He the measure of true beauty? His Garden, His cross, His grave, His throne – isn't this the most beautiful thing in the universe?
E "The sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose" (Gen 6:2). What was the result of the intermingling? God announces, in the very next verse, that He will not "contend" with man forever. In other words, this intermingling was against His will.
What happens when God's people mix with the "daughters of men?" Throughout the Bible, there is only one outcome: apostasy! This was true for King Ahab and his marriage to wicked Queen Jezebel. This was true for King Solomon because his heathen wives turned his heart away from the Lord. This was true for Esau who married two Hittite women. This was true for the tolerant churches of Pergamum and Thyatira that we read about in Revelation. Intermingling with the daughters of women results in apostasy. And unfortunately, that is what happens here in Genesis 6.
We see from here that it has always been God's plan that believers should not "be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?" (2 Cor 6:14). Do you hear this young people, young adults: No Christian should ever marry an unbeliever.
The sons of Seth made the grave mistake of intermingling with and marrying "heathen" women. Out of these relationships came the desire for compromise. They chose worldly pleasure over the Lord. The result was that Noah was the only righteous person left on the face of the whole earth (Gen 6:8-9; 7:1)!
III God's Intervention
A Notice God's response. "Then the Lord said, 'My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years'" (Gen 6:3).
Long years of life means long years of mischief, danger, sin, and grief. A man who lives close to a thousand years starts to think he is immortal. He forgets he is flesh and blood, like the animals. A shorter life span limits the damage and the sin any one man can do. A shorter life span also keeps man feeling mortal and helps to turn his heart to God.
So God intervenes by shortening the years of man's life from 800/900 years to 120 years. God's intent is to preserve the line of Seth. God's intent is to produce the Seed Who someday will crush the serpent's head.
B We will see next time this intervention does not work. Nor, the one after in which God destroys the world as with a flood. Nor the intervention after that when God confuses the language of man. Time after time God intervenes in the affairs of men to limit the damage of sin, to stop the intermingling, to preserve a faithful people. And, time after time the people of God resist in their pursuit of a skin-deep beauty.
So, finally, do you know what God has to do? Many years later He intervenes again. We will call this THE INTERVENTION. This time it is God Who intermingles with man. He sends His Son, His only Son. In the flesh. To dwell among us. To die as one of us.
Do you see how God loves His people? Do you see the care and attention He lavishes upon them? Do you see why He sent Christ as Savior from sin and as Lord of life?
Look to Jesus, congregation. Pursue Him. Because He is the measure and the standard of beauty. Because He is the One for Whom our heart is yearning and searching.
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