Genesis 5–6:9. The Human Race Fell Into Ruin.
Key Notes: Intermarriage of godly and ungodly led to ruin. Life-span shortened.
The genealogy of two groups before the Flood, like most genealogies elsewhere in Scripture, seems dull and uninteresting. We don’t know why we should pay attention to such trivia. Scholars search for meaning in the names of the heads of families, but no messages emerge. There is a message from the merging of two family lines.
5:1–3 We see a studied contrast between Adam being made in the likeness of God, and Seth, made in the image and likeness of Adam. This gives us four perspectives on human beings: we are…
made of the dust of the ground,
like the animals;
created in the likeness of God;
made in the likeness of Adam.
Scientific thinking dismisses any likeness to God and concentrates on our resemblance to the apes and other primates.Was the image of God lost after the Fall? In Genesis 9:6 God says that it is still there, in unbelievers as well as the godly.
The generations of Cain to Lamech are listed in Gen. 4:17–24 and end with Lamech the Violent. Ten generations of Seth's kindred are tabulated in chapter 5. The genealogy of Seth has a rhythmic cadence in which almost every life sounds the same. It is fascinating to think of the nearly millennial life-spans of these patriarchs. The fact that they started to have children from 60–100 years after their birth suggests very slow maturing. Attempts to rationalize the ages of the Antedeluvians by dividing by ten fails; they would be having children at the age of 6. Since only one son is named, the genealogy is selective, and therefore, not complete. Seth's genealogy is repeated in IChron.1:1, and Lk.3:36, indicating its importance.
The uniform ending of each generation is "and he died." There are two exceptions: "Enoch walked with God and was not for God took him." (5:24). This suggests that if Adam had not sinned, God could have used other ways of maintaining the population without overcrowding. They could have been “translated”, taken directly to Heaven as Elijah was. (II K.2:11). The other exception is that “Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” Generally things got much worse.
6:1 The sons of God married the daughters of men. There are two theories to explain this enigmatic statement: the sons of God are fallen angels and the daughters of men are humans. The second theory is that the sons of God are the offspring of Seth and the daughters of men are the offspring of Cain.
Who are the sons of God? Some Scriptures call angels “sons of God”. Job 1:6; 2:1. Psa.29:1; 87:6.
Other Scriptures call humans “sons of God”. Deut.14:1; 32:8; Hos.1:10; perhaps Psa.73:15 and Isa.1:2.
There are some who teach that angels had intercourse with humans and produced a race of heroes—and villains. They appeal to apocryphal literature for support. However, it would be appear equally likely that the sons of God are the godly line from Seth. The fallen angels conjure images of Greek gods having intercourse with human women—a deplorable thought even to the Greeks who gave up on their immoral gods in disgust and turned from religion to philosophy. Jesus virtually excludes the angel hypothesis by declaring that angels in heaven do not marry. (Matt.22:30). I think the idea ought to be rejected.
6:4 What about the Nephilim? The Nephilim preceded and also followed the intermarriages, suggesting a separate ethnic group. They were adversaries of Israel, but not the focus of the downfall of the human race. The Nephilim and their descendents, the Anakim appear again among the inhabitants of Canaan. (Num.13:32–33; Josh.11:21). They were giants and were an important reason why the Israelites feared to enter Canaan at their first opportunity. They were later adversaries of David, so they persisted well into the period of ordinary history. ((IISam.21:16,18–22). They were traditional enemies of Israel, many coming from the Philistines. Giantism has multiple etiologies, endocrine as well as genetic, but at least one of the giants of II Samuel had congenital anomalies (24 digits). II Sam.:21:20
Men of renown are found also in the history of Greece—Hercules, Achilles, Agamemnon, etc. at the siege of Troy. Since the city of Troy was discovered a hundred years ago, there is some truth to the Greek legends.
Then who are the sons of God and who are the daughters of men? If we accept that the line of Seth are the sons of God—the lineage of the godly--and the lineage of Cain are the ungodly (both lineages listed here) we can ask what the outcome might be. Will society be better? If the godly marry the ungodly, will not the ungodly improve? Sadly, no. The bad drives out the good. One rotten apple spoils the barrel. Bad food corrupts good food. Pornography displaces classic literature.
“If one carries holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and touches with his skirt bread, or pottage or wine, or oil, or any kind of food, does it become holy? The priests answered, ‘no’. Then said Haggai, ‘If one who is unclean by contact with a dead body touches any of these (foods), does it become unclean? The priests answered, ‘It does become unclean.’” (Hab.2:12–13) What the result of what happened next?Serious deterioration resulted. There was degradation of the whole society. The godly line did not elevate the ungodly, but the reverse, as is typically the case. When a Christian marries a non-Christian, the Christian is usually neutralized. Paul warns against it sternly.
“Do not be mismated with unbelievers. For what partnership have righteousness and iniquity? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols?” (IICor.6:14–15)
Why did the sons of Seth marry the daughters of Cain? Why would the godly marry the ungodly? They were presumably more beautiful—more sexually attractive than the godly women—not a strange concept.
6:5 “The Lord saw that...every imagination of the thoughts of his heart (the heart of man) was only evil continually.” That is depravity spelled out three times—"every imagination", "only evil", "continually".
6:7 God had a series of measured responses:
“My Spirit will not always strive with man.” There is a point of no return in God’s dealings with us. Even grace has its limits.
“His days will be 120 years.” God shortened the lifespan ten-fold. This gives us further evidence that the antedeluvians had long life-spans. [A plot of life-spans from the antedeluvians to David shows a decline from 900 years to 120 years after the Flood and then a smooth decay curve to 70 years .]
God was “grieved in his heart that He had made man.”
He resolved to blot out the human race. "Now the earth was corrupt ind God's sight and the earth was filled with violence."
This decision seems extremely drastic and deplorable. However, whole-sale destruction has its counterpart in the modern world. If cattle get infected with an infectious prion ("mad cow disease" in Britain) for which there is no remedy, the entire stock must be destroyed. We use similar draconian measures for the eradication of bird flu in Asia and similar treatment of brucellosis in cattle years ago. We do not know if infectious agents were ruining the human race, but syphilis, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS are candidates for diseases with devastating consequences for human populations today.
There is but two bits of good news to relieve the tragedy:
Enoch walked with God.
Noah found favor with God.
We too can walk with God and find favor with God.