DOMAIN by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC
Introduction: One of our family favorites is “It’s a Wonderful Life,” starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. Our Clearview theater ministry even had a production of it last December. One of the characters in the movie is the angel, Clarence Odbody, AS2 for Angel Second Class. He was George Bailey’s guardian angel who was sent to save him from committing suicide. If you’ve seen the movie, Clarence shows George several scenes from his life to convince him that his life really mattered, and he says that famous line – “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives, and when he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?” There are many other movies about angels helping humans like “Angels in the Outfield,” “The Preacher’s Wife,” and even the show “Touched by an Angel.” Today’s message is not about those kinds of angels. We are back in our series called “Contend” where we are learning how to know why we believe what we believe, and in this message, we come to a very controversial text in the Book of Genesis. Main point: As believers, we should remain alert to the non-stop spiritual warfare around us; but we need to remember that we are not called to fight the evil powers; neither are we to live in fear. Instead, we are to hide behind Christ and his Word, and remember that he that is in us is greater than he that is in the world.
Genesis 6:4 “There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.”
Context: The passage we just read is probably one of the most controversial sections of the entire Bible. It raises our curiosity with questions like – “Were there giants on the earth?” “Who are the sons of God?” “Were they angels?” “How could spirit beings interact with humans?” “What did their children look like?” “Who were these mighty men?” These questions have intrigued and challenged people for thousands of years.
Question #1. Where do we begin? We begin with a warning, a very very grim warning! This is a subject we need to tread lightly. We are dealing with beings that God created with certain powers and dominions. Although they are defeated, they still have some power and authority. It’s not for us to challenge, mock, or underestimate them. When Peter talks about false teachers, listen to how he describes them in 2 Peter 2 10 “…They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries, The word for “dignitaries” is “doxas,” which means “glorious beings.” 11 whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord. 12 But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption.” Also, Jude 8 “Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, (“kuriotes” = “ruling powers”) and speak evil of dignitaries (Again, the word is “doxas” = “glorious ones”). 9 Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” (This incident is recorded in an apocryphal book known as “The Assumption of Moses,” cited by Origen.) 10 “But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves.”
Here’s my point: We need to understand these difficult passages because they will make us aware of the attacks and wiles of the Enemy; but we need to do that with a sense of trepidation, healthy fear.
Question #2. Who are the Sons of God? Because of the challenging nature of the content, people have tried to explain this passage in all kinds of ways:
- Sethite view – “Sons of God” were descendants of Seth, and “daughters of men” were descendants of Cain. Nothing in the text says that.
- Royalty view – “Sons of God” were wicked kings of old who viewed themselves as gods. Again, nothing in the text says that.
- Demonic possession view – “Sons of God” were humans who were possessed by demonic beings. Again, that could’ve been easily said, but it’s not.
To start with, the phrase is “bene ha Elohim,” which is the regularly used of “angels of God.” Job, the oldest book in the Bible, uses it for angels – Job 1:6 “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.” Also, Job 2:1 “Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD.” Job 38 4 “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding…7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” Sometimes, it is “bene elim” = “sons of the mighty.” Psalm 29:1 “Give unto the LORD, O you sons of the mighty, Give unto the LORD glory and strength.” Psalm 89:6“For who in the heavens can be compared to the LORD? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened to the LORD?”
Question #3. Why should we believe something so odd? If only the Old Testament mentioned this incident, we could still find an alternative explanation; but the New Testament mentions it as well. Twice in the 2 books we just quoted. 2 Peter gives us the time of the sin and punishment for the sin, and Jude gives us the nature of the sin.
- 2 Peter 2 4 “For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell (“Tartaruo” = According to Greek myths, this was a special place of punishment for the extremely wicked) and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; 5 and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; 6 and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; 7 and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked 8 (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)— Just like the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah did what was forbidden, so also these angels. Homosexuality is a type of the fallen angels’ sin.
- Jude 6 “And the angels who did not keep their proper domain (“Arche” = “beginning” or “authority,” here it’s the latter), but left their own abode (Oiketerion = dwelling place), He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; 7as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” Again, homosexuality is a type of the fallen angels’ sin.
Forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest, but it leaves a bitter aftertaste. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. It’s great to cross boundaries to expand your impact to help others and build God’s kingdom; it’s not great to cross boundaries that God has set.
Question #4. Are there any objections to all this?
- Some people say that Jesus expressly spoke against this in Matthew 22:30 “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven.” Keep in mind that Jesus is referring to the good angels who obeyed God by maintaining their place.
- Others point out that this information in 2 Peter and Jude has come from the pseudepigraphal 1 Enoch. True, but now that it is in Word of God, it is because it was the truth as passed down through the generations and recorded in Enoch. Again, this does not make the rest of the 1 Enoch worthy of being canonical. By the way, people have asked me about reading extracanonical books. Typically, what I’ve found is that the people who ask me about extra canonical books are usually people who don’t read enough of the canonical books!
Question #5. Why did the fallen angels do this? It goes back to the curse in Genesis 3:15“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” Satan and the fallen angels were trying to corrupt the seed. Hence their punishment was so severe. Listen to God’s response – Genesis 6 3 And the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” (Countdown to the flood.) 4 There were giants (Nephilim = giants in LXX [gigantes], some claim “fallen ones”) on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men (Gibborim = mighty ones) who were of old, men of renown. 5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 7 So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. As horrible as the original sin was to humanity, the sin of the fallen angels spread sin on a whole new degrading level. Yes, the people of Israel saw some giants in the Promised Land. They were probably another attempt by Satan to corrupt humanity.
Question #6. What is our response?
- Acknowledge the reality of spiritual warfare – Ephesians 6 12 “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
- Be alert – 1 Peter 5 8 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” James 4:7 “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”Don’t be curious, rebellious, self-focused, or angry.
- Remember, our stance is defensive. Ephesians 6 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—
- Stay focused – Luke 10 19 “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. 20 Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
- Don’t be afraid – Romans 16:20 “And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.” 1 John 4:4 “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”
Invitation: Are you saved? Are you facing attacks? Are you alert? Are you standing in the armor?