A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to hear my good friend Jason Strong preach. He began his message with one of the most dramatic introductions I have ever heard.
He said this, “My life was affected by a decision that was made in the 1640’s.”
He could renounce his Protestantism and continue to live his life uninterrupted, or he could rot in an English prison, or he could move to the New World and begin a life of exile in America.
He chose the latter, and he came to America without having anything except his family and his Bible. Pastor Strong then went on to recount how that decision had repercussions for the next 400 years. From that man came a long line of godly men who devoted themselves to the service of God. It is interesting to hear how many ministers and elders came from that family over the course of that time. Some of you might even be familiar with Strong’s Concordance. That was developed by one of Great Grampa Strong’s descendants.
But it all began with Great Grampa Strong. It all began with a man who had an unwavering devotion to Christ, and a desire to see it flourish for generations to come.
It is interesting to see how the history there is not just a tail of the the Strong family, but it is a testimony to Strong faith!
The story of the Strong Family fits in well with our study in the Book of Genesis. For in this study we’ve been tracing the stories of two family lines. We’ve heard about the heritage of the the faithful and the faithless. That is to say, we’ve been looking at God’s family and we’ve heard the story of Satan’s family.
And this morning I we are going to talk a little more about that. I want you to realize that faith and family are two things that typically go hand in hand. The passages that we read today show how family and faith are often interlocked.
I began our reading with Chapter 5 because I thought it is important that we go back and hit one point we skipped over last week. I want you to be sure to notice how the faith was preserved. If Chapter 5 tells us anything, it tells us that God blesses faithful families.
I. How the faith was preserved / God blesses faithful families
Chapter 5 is all about a godly family line. Each of these men were guys who feared God. More than that, he is a man who was no doubt diligent to train his children to do the same. How do I know that? I believe that something is said right there in the first three verses. Chapter 5 opens by telling us that God created man in his image. And then it goes on to say that Adam bore a son in his own image. Seth was born after the likeness of his father.
What does it mean that born in the likeness of his father? Why wasn’t Cain born in the likeness of Adam? What is the difference between the two?
James Montgomery Boices says that it is significant because it introduces the heritage of godly line. Boice says that Seth “retained the likeness of Adam in that he followed Adam’s lead in the worship of the true God.”
Really, what you have here in Chapter 5 is a testimony of grace in the home. Here in chapter 5 we have a string of men who no doubt were diligent to disciple their children in the fear of God.
Of course, we recognize that this godly seed is due primarily to the working of grace in the hearts of these men. But we cannot doubt too that this chapter is a testimony to how God often blesses the efforts of parents.
Think about it: Seth didn’t just come out of the womb saying, “Praise the Lord!” No. He had to be taught that. Especially given the society that he lived in. Things were probably not too different from what it is like now. The line of Cain was increasing just as rapidly, and the pressures to conform to the idolatry of his time was no doubt prevalent.
How then did Seth and his children come to believe? It had to be because they were taught the fear of God. They had to have spent time with their children. They had to have talked about the things of the Lord on a regular basis. They taught them about the promises of God that they heard from their fathers, and the mom’s sought to inculcate in them spiritual truth.
The kids were able to replicate the faith of their parents because they had been steeped in it as grew up.
And I just want to take this opportunity to remind you that this is the normal way God works in the world. Yes, God can use evangelistic meetings and big tent revivals. Yes, God can draw people to himself from every corner of the earth. But his normal way of extending and preserving the faith is though godly men and women training up godly sons and daughters. And that’s the way it has been ever since the beginning of time.
It is my hope that you have the same vision as Adam and Enoch and all these other men. It is my hope that you may be able to say with the apostle Paul, “Follow me, as I follow Christ.”
Now, as we skip ahead to Chapter 6, we are going to see something very different. If chapter 5 tells us about how the faith was preserved, chapter 6 tells us of how the faith was lost.
II. How the faith was lost / God curses faithless people
Chapter 6 starts off by telling us that the “sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose.” Then it goes on to talk about the Nephilim, and it seems to indicate that these Nephilim were the product of these marriages.
Now, historically speaking, there are two ways this verse can be taken. It depends on how you interpret the phrase “sons of God.”
There is a line of interpretation that takes this to mean that fallen angels came down to earth and began to intermarry with human women. It sounds rather sci-fi, I know. But there are many respectable theologians who hold to this position.
Why do they say this? The main reason is that the phrase “sons of God” is used three other times in the Bible. And each time it is used in reference to angels. For instance, those of you who are familiar with the book of Job know that it says that the “sons of God presented themselves before the Lord” and Satan himself came among them. That is a clear reference to spirit beings.
Now there are a number of other reasons take this this line of interpretation. I’m not going to go into them because they are rather involved and technical in nature. This is the main reason for their argument though.
But their point is this: Here you have the battle between Satan and the seed of the woman. What better way for Satan to wipe out mankind than by creating a mixed hybrid of humanoid and demonic being.
Whatever you think of this view, you have to give these people a great deal of credit. They are to be commended because they are seeking to be Biblical and they are trying to interpret Scripture with Scripture. That’s very good.
There is another line of interpretation though. This view says that the phrase “sons of God” indicates those who were the descendants of the Sethites. In other words, they were they children of the godly line. So this view says that the people of God began to apostatize. Instead of being faithful and marrying women who feared God, they went after the “daughters of men” (i.e. women who were of the line of Cain and not inclined towards God at all). You might say that they married for looks rather than for faith.
So what you have here is a great apostasy. The faith was lost because the homes were no longer centered on Christ.
We are warned a number of times of this in Scripture. The most vivid example is that of Solomon. You remember that Solomon took wives from all the nations around him and eventually he was led astray by them. A lesser known story is that of Balaam. Balaam was called upon to curse the people of God. He tried to, but it didn’t work. So he implemented plan B. Balaam said, “If you want to get rid of these people, here’s what you do: Go and marry them. Begin to intermingle with them and lead them away from their God that way.”
Paul tells us that we should not be unequally yoke with unbelievers. And for good reason. It is because apostasy is the normal product of such relationships. And I want you young people to remember this. You need to understand that as you seek a spouse, you need to seek a man or a woman who fears God. That’s not something you can compromise on.
If you latch on to a guy who doesn’t love Jesus—or if you start developing a relationship with a girl who isn’t walking with the Lord, then you are making a serious error. And just how serious is seen right here.
In verse 3 the Lord says, “My spirit shall not abide with man forever…his days shall be 120 years.”
Now again, there is some difference of opinion as to what this means. Some take this to mean that men will not live to be 8-900 years old anymore. Instead man’s lifespan will be 120 years at the most.
But I believe that this is talking about how long it would be until the flood comes. Think about it: God is mad. He is being provoked by people who are turning from him and chasing idolatrous women. And when God gets mad, he usually talks judgment. That is why I believe that this number is God’s time frame for the flood. He’s saying, “Don’t think that I will allow sin to go unpunished forever. I’m only going to permit it for so long. Eventually, you will meet your just dues.”
And you must therefore understand that the Lord will not tolerate anyone who flippantly disregards him or turns away from him. The Lord has promised to come again, and he will once again wipe the earth. He will not be cleansing it with water. He will cleanse it with fire. And everything that is foul in his eyes will be removed.
Perhaps then you are wondering about your present estate. You recognize that the relationships that you have entered into have not been pleasing in God’s sight. Perhaps you have been one who has turned away from the Lord in the past. What then? Hearing this news of his coming judgment will likely make you uneasy.
If that is your case, then I want you to focus your attention upon what is said in the last part of Chapter 5.
In verse 29 Lamech says of his son Noah, “Out of the ground that the Lord has cursed, this one will breing us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands.”
Lamech hoped that his son would be that promised seed who would remove the curse that came upon the earth due to Adam’s sin.
In a sense, Noah did bring that hoped for relief. The world was wiped and there was a renewal of the world through those waters. But it was not complete by any means. The toils and pains of the curse were still widespread even after Noah’s day.
That is why these words point us ultimately to the Lord Jesus Christ. It was Jesus that is spoken of here, the one who brings relief from our works in his death on the cross. As he died he underwent the curses of God, he endured the wipe. And it is he who promises to bring us the full redemption of the world.
The story is told of one of the fires that raged across the plains out west, as they often do. On one farm there was a hen been scourged by the flames that was running here and there had. Yet it had not yet exhausted its life. Finally, the charred bird collapsed, dead. Then, out from under its wing came a few chicks. Though the mother had been had been so deeply singed, they were completely unharmed by the flames.
So it is with anyone who is found to be in the Lord Jesus Christ. When the fires of Judgment come, you will not be touched. For Christ has brought you relief.
Just to let you know, this is not the position that I hold. I think that there are some problems with this line of reasoning. For one, we know that the angels and spirit beings are not sexually driven creatures. Remember, Jesus said that at the resurrection we won’t’ be given in marriage, but we will be like the angels. The idea there is that angels they are not made to copulate. They don’t have a sex drive or the ability to reproduce.
What’s more is that this view fails to take into consideration the immediate context of the book of Genesis. The context is telling us of the two different lines, a godly line and an ungodly one. The seed of Satan has already been defined as men who are under the power and dominion of Satan by virtue of their sin. The seed of the woman are those who live by faith.
Again, more could be said. But I think it is sufficient for now to say that
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.