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Author:Rev. Steven Swets
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Congregation:Immanuel Covenant Reformed Church
 Abbotsford, BC
Title:Wickedness Before the Flood
Text:Genesis 6:1-4 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:God's Justice

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)


Led by: Rev. S. Swets


                                    Pre-service singing # 451 & # 302      

Silent Prayer

Call to Worship
*Invocation: Minister –
Congregation, from where does our

                                help come?

    Congregation – Our help is in the name of the Lord

the maker of the heavens and the earth.

# 159

The Law
Song # 60:1-3

Prayer of Confession 
Assurance of Pardon

*Song # 48

Prayer for Illumination
Scripture Reading: Matthew 24:36-44 and Genesis 6:1-12

Scripture Text: Genesis 6:1-4

Sermon: Be Careful Who You Marry  

  1. Sin’s Development
  2. God’s Warning
  3. Lessons Learned

Prayer of Thanksgiving

*Song # 398


*Song # 487

*Benediction- followed by a three-fold Amen

*Please stand if you are able.


* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Steven Swets, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Scripture Reading: Matthew 24:36-44 and Genesis 6:1-12

Scripture Text: Genesis 6:1-4

Beloved Congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ,

            This morning we begin a new series on the life of Noah. We will plan, D.V., to study Genesis 6-9 before we return to Romans. The text we will study this morning, Genesis 6:1-4 is the most difficult passage in Genesis to translate and exegete or draw out its original meaning. There are many theories and ideas about what it means, but a careful look in the light of scripture will teach us what it means and why it matters.

            The context in Genesis 4-5 is the development of two lines. Two nations are born. After Cain killed Abel, Cain fled to the land that would be called Nod and started a family. He had a son named Enoch who built a city. In that line we come to Lamech (the wicked Lamech, not Noah’s father) and his infamous family. Read 4:20-22. Here we see the prosperity of the wicked early on. They are growing and developing and the earth is quickly filling with people. That is the wicked line of Cain.

            On the other hand Adam and Eve had another son named Seth: this is the line of promise...the line of Chirst. Adam lived another 800 years after that. In the modern period, that is 40 generations of people. The long ages people lived enabled them to have large families and fill the earth. Genesis 4-5 are about two lines of people, one who loved God and one who did not. As the earth rapidly filled with people, it also rapidly filled with wickedness. In this light we come to Genesis 6. Our theme is Wickedness continues to develop on the face of the earth according to God’s purpose.

  1. Sin’s Development
  2. God’s Warning
  3. Lessons Learned

I. Sin’s Development

            Our text opens us by giving us a picture of what is taking place prior to the flood. In verse 1 what we see is the rapid development and population of the world. We do not know the exact time periods, but it is clear that growth was exponentially. Today, people often choose how many children they want. In the Bible, prior to most birth control methods, generational growth was exponential. Dozens of children are not out of the question. However, as the world grew, so it  seems did the wickedness. What caused this? Read verses 1 and 2. These two verses have led to quite a bit of debate. The real issue has been the question of who are the daughters of men and who are the sons of God. There are primarily three different views on this subject.

            The first view teaches that we should view the sons of God as the highest class of people at the time. The daughter of men, therefore, might refer to the lower working class of people. So, the intermarriage was between social classes or structures. However, this is not what these terms mean in our text and this view is quickly written off.

            The second view explains that this passage is referring to a union between angelic and human beings. The sons of God, therefore would refer to angels who have taken on human form and the daughters of men are simply women. The result of this unique union was the giants of verse 4. This would mean that before the flood, angels descended to earth  from heaven to have intercourse with human beings and the result was the giants. Though this view was often held in the early church, it has regained support by modern critics who want to emphasize that the first 11 chapters of Genesis are nothing more than a bringing together of different myths. This is the view of modern critics who write off the first 11 chapters of Genesis. However, this is not what this text means for a few reasons. Though the phrase sons of God could refer to angels, Jesus teaches that angels do not marry and our text is referring to marriage, not merely intercourse. This becomes clear also from our scripture reading from Matthew 24:38. Also, the reference to giants does not refer to them as half human/half divine beings of Greek mythology. They are humans, men of renown, like Goliath. There are more than a dozen reference to giants in the scriptures. Also, verse 4 makes clear with the phrase, “...there were giants on the earth in those days...” that the giants already existed when this amalgamation or marriage was taking place.

            The third view, which is the best exegetical view, is that the term “sons of God” refers to men. Scriptures use that term often in a moral, ethical, covenantal sense. Many times in the OT (Deut. 32:5; Ps. 73:15; Hosea 1:10 and many NT places) are God’s people referred to as his sons. Israel is God’s firstborn Son. Therefore, the sons of God are the descendents of Seth. People were calling on the Lord in the line of Seth (as 4:26 makes clear). So, what is taking place in our text, is the line of Seth is intermarrying with the line of Cain. The line of Seth was the line of promise, from which would come Noah, but the line of Cain was the line of the curse and this is where the daughters of men arose. This is the clearest explanation in light of what Jesus says in Matthew 24. Verse 2 says, “they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.” To be sure, there may have been many Sethites who did not intermarry with the Cainites, but then again, as we saw from Romans 9, not all Israel is of Israel. Nevertheless, this union was brought about through marriage. This was serious.

            Marriage in the scriptures begins back in the garden when God brought Eve to Adam. Marriage will continue throughout redemptive history and will ultimately end with the eternal marriage the church has with Jesus Christ as the glorious bridegroom. Marriage in the Bible is to be a union of lifelong love and devotion between one man and one woman. In marriage two become one. Jesus said, “what God has joined together, let not man separate.” In marriage the two are united physically but also spiritually. They become one together with purpose, goal, love, faith, hope, struggles and prayers. The man as man, the woman as women. Hence the reflection of Christ and the church (Eph. 5). 

            We can talk about compatibility in marriage and the complementing of intellect, emotions, social desires, etc. but first and foremost is a complete unity in devotion to almighty God. This, after all is the source of love. Homer Hoeksema puts it strongly, but I believe biblically when he says, “There is no true love in marriage, but only perversion and subversion of love, unless there is the spiritual unity which is characterized by the love of Christ and the fear of the Lord...from this point of view, the world, outside of Christ, cannot even speak of love; it has no right to do so. Call it infatuation, or “falling in love”, or sexual attraction. It is not love, but lust....without the love of Christ, there is not true love in marriage.” The reason this is so important is because this is going to lead to the flood, the destruction of most of the world. At the very foundation of life and society, marriage, the Devil was winning.

            The church of the OT has been growing in the line of Seth. The line of Cain continued in its depravity. We see Lamech in 4:19 take two wives for himself. It is not clear if our text refers to polygamy, but it is not out of the question. Verse 2 says that they saw that the daughters of men were beautiful and took wives for themselves of all whom they chose. As we will see in our third point, if beauty is the basis of marriage, as the wise preacher of Proverbs says, “beauty is fading and charm is deceitful...”, then when that young beautiful wife is no longer pleasing in your eyes, you marry another one and thus the continued perversion of marriage continues.  

II. God’s Warning

            Read verse 3. This verse also carries with it some difficult exegetical questions. Without getting into all of the debates about it, let us seek to understand what God is saying. What does it mean that His “Spirit shall not strive with man forever.”? What we should understand this to mean is the spirit or soul, that thing which gives life to man is going to be removed. This is the punishment that will come. What this means is that God will no longer permit wicked man to live. Since man is flesh, his days will be numbered.

            This is the punishment God will give for the intermarriage that has been taking place and has undermined the spiritual status of the church. By the time the flood comes, the church is merely comprised of 8. There are 8 righteous left from the line of Seth. Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives.    

            Our text continues and God says, “yet his days shall be 120 years.” Some explain this to be a reference to the shorter lifespan of those who lived after the flood compared to those beforehand. But, after the flood, many lived longer than 120 years as Genesis 11 makes clear. For example Shem lived to be 600, Arphaxad lived to be 438; Shelah 433; Eber 464; Peleg 239, even Abraham lived to be 175, Isaac 180 and Jacob 147.

            So, then what does this mean. This is likely a reference to the patience of God in waiting a period before the flood. However, as it was for Sodom and Gomorrah, if God could find 10 righteous he would save the city, but alas, later in our chapter there will be but 8 who remain.  

            Verse 4 refers to the nephilim, the giants. This verse likely is a reference to the period of time in which giants were more common. As mentioned earlier, the giants were not some half-breed of divine men. What we do know about them is that they were around before and after the flood. The end of this verse refers to the as “men of renown.” This likely is a reference to the fact that they were fearsome warriors and were famous for it. In Numb. 13:33 the Israelites felt like grasshoppers before the giants in the land. Other giants in the Bible are King Og of Bashan in Deut. 3:11; Goliath in I Sam. 17:4 who was over 9 feet tall. There were Egyptian giants and other philistine giants in the scriptures as well.

            Nevertheless, the wickedness in the world has angered the Lord, even as will see next week and he will not strive with wickedness forever.

III. Lessons Learned

            The first lesson to take away from our text is the importance of the marriage. Not merely that you do or do not get married, but the person you marry. It is the single most important decision you will make. Marry in the Lord. When a believer puts on a yoke with an unbeliever, the yoke is unequal...that alliance is made on the world’s terms. This is what happened in our text. What was the basis of their marriages. The only indication our text gives is that the women were beautiful. They did not see that they were godly, but rather they allied themselves with those who did not love God.

            Young men, what kind of future wives are you looking for? The pretty face or a regenerated heart? Young women, what kind of men are you looking for? Tall, dark, and handsome? Or a man whom you know would give His life for His Lord and therefore, will treat you with dignity and respect. When women are married to jerks, most oftentimes, those same women dated jerks, but they made excuses for him. Don’t make excuses for him. Rather, drop him, for the sake of your soul. A god-fearing women is the most beautiful woman in the world and a man who is committed to the Lord and in sacrificial service to His wife is the most handsome. Don’t let the world entice you with window shopping. You can’t afford the things behind the windows, or on the TV, or on the computer, or that which belongs to your neighbour. Marry/date only in the Lord.

The second thing we should take away from this text is to recognize the wickedness of the world. The church has a permeating and preserving effect on the world. We are the salt, preservative, of the world. When the church is continually diminished, wickedness is permitted that much more.  

            Look at the issue of same sex marriage. 50 years ago there was no way the US or Canada would have passed laws legalizing these unions. By the way, biblically, they are not marriages at all. It is not different than a man marrying his dog, it is contrary to the very nature of marriage. Nevertheless, we might ask, what happened with the world. Did it get worse? Not exactly, the church changed its tune. Now there are churches, including some Reformed churches, who are defending homosexual marriage. There are churches who have practicing gays and lesbians as pastors. What does the church have to say? Nothing, the church has become the world.

            In this light, thirdly, the witness of the church is gone. What can the church say to the world any longer? The church has sought to make an alliance with the world. They stand on the same basis when they sell out. The church, in a desire to be more relevant has abandoned her worship, her creeds, her polity or government, her office bearers, and often historic Christianity itself. The church has sold out. The Canadian church has nothing to say to the world. The witness of the spirit is gone. The light of the exclusive claims of the gospel has been snuffed out.

            I once heard of a father who rebuked his son and told his son that he had better never be a smoker. The problem was, the father had a cigarette hanging out of his mouth when he said it. This is like the church’s witness to the world. You can’t sit in Tim Horton’s on Sunday and tell people they shouldn’t cheat on their spouses. Why? Because what standard would they use, God’s law? The very law they are breaking? Christians are sinners, but they must fight against sin.  

            What do we want to say to the unbelieving world? There is a Saviour, come to worship and hear him, place yourselves under the gospel, make diligent use of the means of grace, but then we miss the afternoon service. For what? Oh yeah, the preaching is that important that you cannot sit under it for two hours a week.

            The world will tell us many thing. But, let us seek the truth in the Word of God. God has always had his people, but in the days of Noah they were very few. Intermarriage had destroyed the church and people stopped calling upon the name of the Lord. But remember, this too was under the sovereign providence of God. This too served God’s purposes, and like it will be when the Lord returns, so it was in the days before the flood. The deadly battle between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent was in sharp focus. Our Lord Jesus Christ was on the horizon in judgement, but also in grace in the church He preserved. It is in Him alone that we find our hope. In order to bring that wicked period of history to an end, our Lord revealed the wonder of His grace in that there remained a remnant, though small indeed, yet victorious in the light of judgement. Jesus Christ will judge the nations, and in doing so, will sit upon the eternal throne. Worship Him there. Amen.

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Steven Swets, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2015, Rev. Steven Swets

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