The sons of God . . . married any of them they chose.
Today we examine a confusing passage, but its message is still clear: the evil brought into the world in Genesis 3 continues to wreak havoc.
Some commentators interpret this passage to mean that the godly line of Seth sinned by marrying outside the faith into Cain’s line. But usually the phrase “sons of God” refers to angels, not people (cf. Job 1:6), and the passage gives other clues to support this. The offspring of these marriages become the “Nephilim,” a race of giants (Num. 13:33), from whom Goliath may have descended. Many other ancient cultures have stories of “gods” consorting with humanity, just as they have flood accounts that parallel the biblical narrative.
The chaos introduced through Cain and Lamech upset the harmony and order God established, but now angels threw gas on the fire. Evil was expanding exponentially. Lamech took two wives, but now these disobedient angels (Jude 6) married anyone they chose, with disastrous results. The phrases “heroes of old” and “men of renown” (v. 4) look positive at first, but should remind us of Cain’s descendents in Genesis 4. With no thoughts toward a heavenly country, the Nephilim did all they could to establish themselves on earth. We now have an misrepresentation of the divine on earth, a horrible parody of the image of God. In Genesis 3 Adam and Eve perverted the closeness of their relationship and led each other into sin. Now marriage itself had become a tool to defy God.
But God acts. The long lifespan at that time (cf. Gen. 5) gave them plenty of time to make themselves “men of renown,” so God acted to limit their time on earth. Hopefully this would put brakes on the train wreck mankind had made of God’s good creation.
Apply the Word
We appreciate the gift of freedom, but freedom without restraint turns into slavery to sin. When we trust that God made the world for our care and enjoyment, we can thank Him for the freedom He gives. The boundaries He sets are signposts pointing to our true happiness with Him. May we desire to bring Him glory, not seek our own renown and pleasure.