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. ……. 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)
There has been much commentary on this particular passage throughout the years. So much so that I’m sure it would make just about anyone’s top ten list of confusing passages. Obviously, the problem comes in defining who exactly the sons of God were and consequently what the Nephilim were. Yet, despite all the talk I believe there is a very simple answer. You see while some believe that the sons of God were angels, I believe that the sons of God were actually the descendants of Seth. By contrast, I believe the daughters of man were the descendents of Cain.
One does not have to go very far to begin to back up this exegesis, for the two chapters that immediately precede this passage are wholly devoted to the distinguishing between two different lineages. Chapter 4 spells out the line of Cain, while chapter 5 shows the line of Seth. Furthermore, throughout the Bible we find a continued theme of God setting aside a people unto Himself. So where does that leave us? What does the passage teach?
To answer that we first must deal with a part of the problem still unanswered. Who were the Nephilim? I’ll try to unpack this quickly. The descendants of Cain were the founders of the first cities. Therefore, it’s reasonable to assume that they had developed a political clout of sorts. Well, power is intoxicating and the descendants of Seth seeking to make a name for themselves as well made alliances through marriage. Thus, we find that their offspring became political giants, or “men of renown”. What had started as two different lines, one that sought God and one that didn’t, ended as one enormous self-centered group of people.
Here’s the point. Seth’s lineage through their actions showed that they valued fame and power more than they valued fellowship with God. As a result the dividing line between the two families was destroyed. On a deeper level the passage shows us that we can not seek God of our own accord, for when it all comes down to it we value ourselves more than God. That’s what sin is after all, a dishonoring of God. And, that is the ultimate result of the fall. Our moral compass is broken.
What God continued to show through this story and those that followed throughout the Old Testament is that we can’t do it on our own. That’s why we need Jesus. And, that’s why we need the Holy Spirit, so we can return once again to fellowship with God. You see, it is only through the divine intervention of the Holy Spirit that we are able to start seeking God. And, it is only through the blood of Jesus that our sins (past, present, and future) are forgiven. It is He that is our justification.
What is that you are seeking? Is it fellowship with God or is it something else? After all “our beginning (as one saith) shows what our end will be.” – John Bunyan