Genesis chapter 4 through 11 deals with the period between the “fall of man” and the initiation of the first redemptive covenant (with Abraham). During this era, God acted to limit the manifestation of evil in mankind due to the influence of the Satan. God reduced the “gene pool” of mankind by causing all future generations to be descended from one righteous family. He reduced the lifespan of man by an order of magnitude (from ~900 + years to a theoretical limit of 120 years). Finally, He confused the language at Babel, making human cooperation very difficult.
The account of Noah presents us with some insight into the way that God views “human progress”. It appears that God has predetermined limits on “human progress” when it interferes with His plan of redemption. During the days of Noah, mankind (daughters of Adam) was evidently interactive with spiritual beings (sons of god) resulting in offspring referred to as “nephilim” or “fallen ones”. These are the “men of renown” from ancient times, literally, from eternity. Since God acted to destroy these “mighty men” we must consider them as evil relative to God’s purpose. Only Noah and his immediate family survived the flood.
God used the mechanism of the “great flood’ to accomplish His purpose. Noah, his immediate family, and pairs of the various species of the animal kingdom were preserved in the ark. From these, the earth was repopulated. The sign of the rainbow was given to assure man that God would not intervene in this same way again. We must understand that God did not indicate that He would not intervene in some other way.
God’s appraisal of the progress being made by mankind was:
“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5)
We presume that the reason for this assessment and God’s subsequent intervention is the result of the interaction between the “daughters of man” and the “sons of god” previously cited. Judging from the whole Biblical account, I believe that man was on the verge of destroying himself or at least disrupting the process of redemption which God was implementing. God intervened for this reason.
From my study of the Bible both from a historic perspective and from a prophetic perspective, I will set forth the hypothesis that God intervenes in human affairs to prevent man from self-annihilation. Later, in the Genesis account, God again intervened to retard human progress at Babel (Genesis 11:1-9). This, I believe, prevented man from reestablishing contact with the “sons of god” as had occurred in the pre-flood generations.
For a more complete discussion of God’s redemption process, please see my article, “Perspective of God’s Intervention into History”.
As we consider the revelation in this section of the Bible, I would like to discuss two subjects which I find to be particularly compelling. The first is the sign of the rainbow that God provided to indicate that He would not intervene through such a massive flood again. The second subject relates to the words of Jesus when He declared,
“For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be.” (Matthew 24:37-39)
The Sign of the Rainbow
First, let us consider the sign of the rainbow. On the second day of the creation account, God separated the waters above from the waters below. English translations of the Bible use words such as firmament and expanse to describe what God made. In the original language the word “rakiah” is used. This noun is derived from the verb “rakah” which means to spread out. In other words, God spread out the waters above from the waters below.
The Bible declares that in the pre-flood era, the ground was watered by means of artesian sources. We may say that the rain cycle that we are accustomed to today had not been set in motion at this point in the earth’s evolution. The Great Flood was caused when the “waters above” fell to the earth in the form of rain. This was the first time that rain had fallen on the earth. Therefore, with the initiation of the ran cycle, water droplets were suspended in the atmosphere and for the first time the rainbow became visible.
Many maintain that these events are simply mythological accounts of the early days of earth. However, the appearance of the sign of the rainbow confirms the reality of the “rakiah” and of the Great Flood. We now understand that the rainbow is caused by the reflection and refraction of sunlight in water droplets suspended in the blanket of atmosphere conforming to the curvature of the earth. The scientific understanding of refraction was only discovered about 400 years ago. Therefore, there is no reason that the writer of the Genesis account would have associated the first appearance of rain in the atmosphere with the rainbow and the rainbow could only serve as a sign if it appeared in the atmosphere for the first time. This account was included in the Bible due to direct observation not due to scientific reasoning. Hence, the Biblical account is confirmed by science.
The Days of Noah
The second subject has to do with the prophecy spoken by Jesus likening the days for His return with the days of Noah. The dominant characteristic of the evil of the days of Noah was the interaction of the “sons of god” with the “daughters of man” resulting in the birth of the “nephilim”. Is it possible that people today will discover how to interact with demonic beings (“sons of god”) like that which happened in the days of Noah? There is expanded interest in occult activities which might lead to rediscovery of these types of demonic interaction. Movies like “Rosemary’s Baby” portrayed such encounters.
A more likely scenario is experimentation with “genetic engineering”. The human genome has been mapped. It is just a matter to time before people will demand “designer babies” to conform to their desires and perceived needs. The possibilities here are almost beyond imagination. We have written before about the human condition described as “the illusion of self-determination under the influence of the Satan”. Evil is ever-present. We don’t know precisely what the “nephilim” were like. The Bible calls them “mighty men who were of old, men of renown” (Genesis 6:4b). This may be translated as powerful men whose origin is from everlasting and who possess a unique authority. Perhaps the uniquely evil men even of our present generation are modern “nephilim”. If so, the prophecy spoken by Messiah Jesus is being fulfilled. If not, genetic engineering could very likely produce such men in the near future. Many Evangelicals believe that the world will ultimately come under the dominance of a uniquely “gifted” leader called the Anti-Christ. For such a leader to be successful he would need to possess the qualities attributed to the “nephilim”.