Nephilim | Genesis 6:1-4
When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown. Genesis 6:1-4 | ESV
Sons of God. Daughters of men. 120 years. Nephilim. Men of renown. Yes, these would be some of those tantalizing layers of mystery and meaning from a shrouded past before the Flood. Such mystery invites us to sacred savoring and exploring – but we much prefer to defile it with manageable and reasonable explanations (more residue of Cain’s way). Such sacred explorations have typically followed along three paths when it comes to this whole “sons of God seeing the daughters of men and taking any of them as wives as they so desired” business: (1) the godly line of Seth becoming corrupted by Cainite women (an exploration favored by the likes of Luther and Calvin); (2) angelic beings who “left their proper place” and attempted cohabitation with human females, magnifying the destructive momentum of humanity ad infinitum (an explanation favored, seemingly by the likes of Peter and Jude in 2 Peter 2:4-5 and Jude 1:5-7); or (3) a dynasty of tyrants who succeeded Lamech and made a royal mess of everything (an explanation suggested by more contemporary voices, some pointing to Psalm 82 as a reference). So which is it? Or is it a combination of more than one or even all three? All three can marshal solid evidence from Hebrew grammar and other textual support. So perhaps we shouldn’t belabor the point and simply try to get the point of the Story. Despite the positive momentum of Seth’s line, the mess got (and gets) messier – which continues to be distressing to all “children of Seth” who strive to foster such positive momentum in the mess of today’s world. For every Enoch that walks with God there are multiplied tyrants who do as they please, take whom they want, kill whom they will, and build as they wish. It is the impostor kingdom of darkness that rules by acquisition and brutal power, on whose forehead is inscribed veni, vidi, vici. It comes, it sees, it conquers. But just as all seems to be swirling out of control with no justice, no relief, no redemption, another Kingdom tips its hand. In a repeat of Genesis 1, God again sees, and it’s not good. He won’t let this train wreck continue to wreak its havoc. He serves notice. 120 years worth of notice. And then the Landlord will pull the plug. Quite literally. So, yes, it’s antediluvian history shrouded with mystery, but it’s a story still as relevant as our own headlines. The limits of our cultural train wreck will likewise be revealed in time, as will our personal role in it. The question is are we part of the tyrannical chorus of acquisition and self-assertive destruction, or will we be revealed as those who are an oasis of comfort and quiet in the midst of all the mess? Are we falling Nephilim or are we Noahs who quite literally rise above it all?
So how about it? Are you a “falling Nephilim” who aspires to be great and renowned as a mover/shaker /taker in this world? Are you a Noah who brings comfort to others rises above it all? How does it show?
God, let me be one through whom comfort comes into the mess of this day. Let your breath of life come through me into each hurt, each break, each fracture I encounter this day. Through Jesus.
For all of this week’s resources for this new series on Spiritual Disciplines including this week’s DG video, check out the Vineyard website.