Read Genesis 6:1-13.
It is speculated that by this time (~ 1656 years after Creation), the population of the earth would have been in the millions. Longevity of life (average lifespan of 912 years) and large families would have contributed to a large population. In fact, just allowing 18 children per family and including only those generations listed in Genesis 5, there would have been ~775 million still living by the time of Noah. Genesis 6:1 bears witness to the fact that mankind had indeed multiplied.
The phrase “sons of God” has caused interpreters quite a bit of difficulty for the last two millennia! You will likely find several interpretations mentioned in your commentaries/study Bibles. Here are the most prevalent views:
A. They were angels, either angels who joined Satan in his rebellion against God previously (demons) or angels that rebelled at this time.
· Support for this view: the technical phrase “sons of God” is used elsewhere of angels in the Old Testament (Job 1:6; 2:1; Job 38:7; Psalm 29:1; Daniel 3:25) and in Jewish literature, generally referring to those who were created by God not born (like humans). Also, the progeny of these seem to be excessively wicked as would be expected of demonic origin. The references to spirits now in prison (1 Peter 3:19-20; I1 Peter 2:4) and Jesus’ encounter with demons who didn’t want to be locked up (Luke 8:31) may be referring to God’s judgment upon those wicked angels of Genesis 6.
· Objections to this interpretation:
1) How could demons be referred to as “sons of God,” a phrase usually associated with those who revere and honor Him?
2) Angels do not marry (Mark 12:25) or procreate after their kind. However, we do know that men of Jesus’ day were indwelt by demons and participated in the daily activities of life while being “demonized,” even exhibiting superhuman strength. If these (Gen. 6) were angels, they did on this unique occasion cohabit with human women to produce human offspring.
B. The “sons of God” were godly men, believers, such as are represented in the line of Seth; the “daughters of men” represented the unbelievers, such as are described in the line of Cain. So, the wickedness developed as a result of breaking down the wall of separation between believers and unbelievers, the godly and the ungodly.
· Support for this view: Expressions equivalent to “sons of God” often refer to human beings, though not in similar contexts (Deut. 14:1; 32:5; Psalm 73:15; Luke 3:38). We also know that the families of the Sethites were involved in the wickedness of the time as well as those of Cain because both were destroyed in the Flood (except for Noah and family). And, Adam and Eve had several sons and daughters besides Cain and Seth so all of their descendants were involved in the wickedness. Also, God’s judgment upon the earth was directed at humans. There is no mention of blame upon any angels who may have caused the problem.
· Objections to this interpretation: It is not very well supported by the terminology used or the context of the passage. Why would such believer/nonbeliever unions lead to universal corruption and violence?
C. These were powerful rulers who may or may not have been controlled (indwelt) by fallen angels. It may be that fallen angels left their habitation and inhabited bodies of human despots and warriors, the mighty ones of the earth, who then married commoners.
· Support for this view: It is believed from Ezekiel 28 and Daniel 10 that great kings of the earth have “princes” ruling behind them—demonic power. In ancient literature, kings are described as divine, half-divine or demi-gods. Many mythological traditions describe them as being the offspring of the gods themselves such as in the Sumerian traditions.
· Objections to this interpretation: it does not fit the context of the passage. How could this lead to universal violence and corruption?
Have we confused you enough? The point is that NO ONE REALLY KNOWS who those “sons of God” were. Therefore, we are giving you several possible interpretations but will concentrate on the rest of this passage in the questions rather than discussing this topic.
1. Regardless of interpretation, Genesis 6 describes how corrupt the world had become as a result of sin in less than 1700 years. Describe the moral characteristics of the people of Noah’s day as God described them.
Scriptural Insight: Nephilim? Men of Renown? Mighty Men? Giants? Genesis 6:4 also generates lots of discussion and interpretation. Who or what could have been the Nephilim? (KJV uses “giants of the earth”.) Nephilim comes from a Hebrew word meaning “to fall” so the word can be translated “fallen ones.” However, it can also refer to those who fall upon others such as attackers/bullies. The term came to be used after the Flood of men who were excessively tall (giants) and/or fierce, behaving as bullies. Read Numbers 13:31-33. The Greeks translated the word Hebrew word nephilim into gigantes (giants). So this term may be referring to the physical characteristics of pre-Flood humans.
Interestingly enough, nearly all modern animals and plants were once represented by larger fossil ancestors. Giant cockroaches; armadillos 6 feet tall; birds with wing spans of 52 feet; and, of course, dinosaurs—20 feet tall, 50 feet long and weighing 7 tons!! Detailed analysis of the few pre-Flood human bones and footprints studied suggest the men and women who made them were at least 6’8” to 7’5” tall. So, it would not be unreasonable to conclude there were indeed “giants” in those days. [For information as to the possible reasons why, see “Creation Answers: The Flood Begins.”]
Who were the mighty men, “the men of renown”? The Hebrew term translated “mighty” refers to power and strength and is often used of warriors. “Men of renown” refers to men of reputation. So, this phrase may refer to men whose exploits of strength and violence had made them famous in song and fable in all nations in the ages following the Flood. Perhaps these were the source of the heroes of Greek, Roman, and Sumerian mythology. To men of later times, especially rebellious men, they were revered as great heroes. But in God’s sight, they were as described in your answer to the previous question.
2. Discuss God’s evaluation of the social climate on earth and what He plans to do about it. Notice the timetable he has set. Include both His plans for judgment and for mercy.
Read Genesis 6:8-13.
Genesis 6:8 is the first reference to grace in the Bible. The Hebrew word translated “favor/grace” (chen) is from a root word meaning “to bend or stoop,” and thus came to mean condescending or unmerited favor of a superior person to an inferior one.
3. From Genesis 6:8-13, describe Noah’s character.
4. From the following verses, what quality of Noah caused him to find favor with God?
· Genesis 6:22; 7:5—
· Hebrews 11:1-7—
5. What could “he walked with God” (Genesis 6:9) mean? Read also Deuteronomy 13:4. For additional understanding, see II Kings 23:3; Isaiah 66:2; Micah 6:8; and Malachi 2:6.
6. Noah was the only one in his generation who was found righteous. Isn’t it wonderful to know that because of Christ and His Church, a Christian is surrounded by brothers and sisters who are like-minded, also found righteous because of what Christ has done for them? Yet, like Noah…Think of a time when you may have felt like you were the only one who was trying to be righteous and walk with God in your family, job environment, neighborhood. How do you deal/did you deal with such isolation? Share scriptures that have given you direction and comfort for such times. Feel free to use creative means (poem, song, drawing) to describe your experience.
When all around us is total depravity, we individually have the choice of God’s ways or the world’s. Isn’t it neat to know that God notices even just one person, such as He did Noah? Such as He does you?
7. Read Ephesians 4:1-3; Colossians 1:9-12; 3:12-17. Thank Him that we can individually “walk with Him” through Jesus.
8. Read I Corinthians 1:4-8 and Ephesians 1:4 and thank God that Jesus Christ will “strengthen you to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
· Read “Creation Answers: The Lost World” following this lesson.
· Go to www.answersingenesis.org. SEARCH a word or phrase from today’s passage such as “Nephilim, Noah, pre-Flood, giants.” Select an article to read or watch a video. Also visit and search.
It is speculated that by this time (~ 1600 years after Creation), the population of the earth would have been in the millions. Take the average lifespan of 912 years plus 9 children per family. Just including only those families listed in Genesis 5 and taking into consideration the violence prevalent on the earth, there may have been ~200 million people alive at the time of Noah.
If there were that many humans alive, we might expect to find lots of human fossils, right? Yet, most human fossils are found in what is classified as post-Flood sediments or in caves not in Flood deposits. Why is that? Good question. Here are some possible reasons (from Chapter 13 of The New Answers Book):
· 200 million people spread out over the surface of the earth would average only one human fossil for every cubic mile of sediment of land surface. Pockets of humans living in settlements may have not been found—yet.
· We can’t say that God’s wiping mankind from the earth means that no evidence of their past existence remains. The same Hebrew word is used to refer to God wiping away our sin. Evidence still remains in the consequences and scars of sin in our lives.
· Since the waters of the Flood took weeks to cover the earth completely, humans could have climbed to higher ground, grabbed onto floating debris, then died and decomposed rather than being buried. The speed at which water and other forces eliminated all traces of bodies in the 2004 Asian tsunami absolutely shocked scientists. 43,000 victims were never found. Dead humans bloat and float rather than sink.
What was that “Lost World” like? Three particular evidences scream out about this lost world. I call them the Big Three.
According to the Bible, humans lived for more than 900 years (at least Seth’s line did from those genealogies in Genesis 5). Then, after the Flood, lifespans dropped significantly.
Geologists admit there’s evidence of a worldwide tropical climate throughout the fossil record. These are statements from geology books about the past geological time periods.
· Description Of the Cambrian: “climatic conditions were much more uniform over the earth than now.”
· Of the Pennsylvanian and Mississippian: “a moist, warm climate throughout the year provided luxuriant, unceasing vegetative growth.”
· Of the Jurassic: “The earth had a tropical or sub-tropical climate over much of its land surface, & abundance of lush vegetation. The land was low, & there were no high mountains forming physical or climatic barriers.”
Scientists have found fossils of tropical plants and animals from the North Pole to the South Pole and on top of the highest mountains. Remember the “Chilled Crawfish” in Antarctica? Below Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay inside the Arctic Circle, an ancient tropical forest is found 1100 to 1700 feet down—palm trees, pine trees, and tropical foliage in great profusion. Other examples are a foot-long millipede fossil and an 8-foot long crocodile-like fossil called a champsosaur both found on an island in far northeastern Canada. The champsosaur is cold-blooded and cannot migrate or hibernate during winter. These can’t be explained by continental drift because the process is too slow, and evolutionary scientists think that island hasn’t moved much anyway.
Another indication of warmer climate is coal—compressed plant material that becomes carbonized as all its cells are replaced by carbon. Huge coal seams everywhere represent massive vegetation existing all over the land being buried and decaying at the same time. Nothing like that is occurring today.
According to the fossil record, nearly all modern animals and plants were once represented by larger fossil ancestors. There were literally giants in the past and not just dinosaurs weighing 40 tons (although the average size was that of a sheep). Here are some other examples:
· Armadillo—6 ft tall, 18 ft long found in Florida
· Bison—12 ft tall at shoulder, 12 ft horn span!!
· Beaver – 6 ft long. Imagine looking up into the face of a giant beaver. When he says, “I want that tree,” you respond, “Take it. It’s yours!”
· Camel—20 ft tall; found in India
· Donkey—9 ft tall at shoulder; found near Lubbock
· Rhinos—17 ft tall. This one was almost eighteen feet high and 27 feet long. One of the biggest land mammals found.
· Pigs grew to be the size of cattle. Kangaroos 10 ft. tall; Wombats the size of a small car
· Giant birds—With feather sizes 5 feet long and 8 inches wide. Giant birds called terror birds, nearly 10 feet tall, weighed over 500 pounds, and could swallow a dog in a single gulp.
· The pterosaur, found in West Texas, wingspan of >50 feet! Size of a Lear jet!!
· Crocodiles—50 ft long, 14 ft skull
· Alligator—found in the Amazon, 5-foot long skull. Height estimated at 8 feet when walking and its length 40 feet (the size of a railroad boxcar).
· Turtles 11 ft long; 12-14 ft wide; found near San Antonio
· Giant plants—Cattails (like those that grow along the edges of a pond) 60-100 ft. tall!! Club mosses (only a few inches high today) — 120 feet tall.
· Giant insects—Dragonflies with a wingspan of 25 inches. Scorpion-like insects 5 ft long!! Centipede-like bug, 3 feet long. Yikes!!!!
Giants in the land! Then all of a sudden the large animals and plants disappear. Don’t have them today—except for the whale. Why?
Secular geologists say that the giants have “devolved” to smaller representatives. That doesn’t make sense to me when it comes to survival of the fittest. Evolutionary theory doesn’t do that great a job of explaining why such large animals were the ancestors of the smaller animals living today. It’s one thing if all these extinct animals are different species than exist today (and in some cases they are) but quite another if the primary difference is that they were giant animals. Scientists solve this problem by the use of the scientific term, “LIKE.” For instance, if a 12 foot St. Bernard were to walk across their lawn, they would describe it as a “Dog-Like creature, rather than a dog.
Something was different about the pre-Flood world!! But what? Several models have been proposed. A recently popular one is the Vapor Canopy Model.
According to this model, a thick water vapor canopy covered the top of the atmosphere creating a greenhouse for the earth and producing a worldwide tropical climate, greater atmospheric pressure, a higher concentration of carbon dioxide, and protection from harmful radiation. All this resulted in longer life spans for man and animals.
· Genesis 1:7 says that God separated the waters below from the waters above which could be a water vapor canopy, clear enough to see stars through it.
· Genesis 2:5-6 says, “for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth … but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground” Based on this, it was thought the earth did not experience rain until the Flood, just a daily misting like dew. This canopy came down as a source of rain for the Flood.
· The vapor would act as a greenhouse, trapping the sun’s heat inside so the Earth would be like a humid terrarium, an idyllic paradise. And, such a canopy would shield out harmful radiation that causes mutations plus provide greater atmospheric pressure, increasing available oxygen for larger animals and carbon dioxide for plants. So, plants, animals, and humans would live longer and grow larger.
· Three planets in our solar system (Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter) have atmospheres with one gaseous substance floating in or above another gaseous substance, like a canopy.
· And, God’s use of the rainbow indicates it might have been a new thing for people to see.
· The Bible does not require the pre-Flood world to have been idyllic; the Fall was the point of ‘paradise lost’ and the Earth was filled with violence. According to the fossil record, it was also filled with disease and carnivorous behavior (animals eating other animals).
· Genesis 2:5-6 at face value teaches only that there was no rain at the time Adam was created. But, it doesn’t rule out rain at any later time before the Flood.
· Recent computer simulations reveal that only a small canopy was possible, enough to keep the air evenly moist and comfortably warm—a gentle greenhouse effect. A thick canopy would be too hot and heavy to sustain life. Although, it’s possible that the high reflection at the top of a cloud layer in the canopy may reduce the sun’s radiation into the canopy, greatly reducing the heating. More research is being done on this.
· Regarding the greater atmospheric pressure, too much oxygen can often be as harmful as too little. I couldn’t find enough satisfactory information on this issue. More research is currently being done.
· The sun’s heat, even in that era, must have evaporated large volumes of surface waters which would have condensed into clouds and rain so we can’t be dogmatic and say it didn’t rain before the Flood.
· The seasonal changes may not have been as great as today, but there were seasons. Many trees buried in the Flood had tree rings indicating seasonal change. There are other proposed sources for the rain besides a vapor canopy. And, regarding the rainbow, God often uses existing things as symbols—for example, the bread and wine at the Last Supper.
It’s not that there couldn’t have been a canopy. That’s still a possibility. A special research team is investigating through computer simulations and geological studies various models for the pre-Flood atmosphere. I look forward to their research results.
From the study of modern family lines that include centenarians (100 year-olds) and the process of cell division, it is now believed that lifespans were not affected by environmental factors as much as genetic ones. Even with a canopy “raining itself out,” Noah still lived another 350 years in the post-Flood atmosphere. It’s likely that Noah came from a line of humans that was genetically programmed for longer life. Other pre-Flood humans may have had genes for fewer years. When the entire human race was reduced down to Noah and 7 others (this is called a population “bottleneck”), it is entirely feasible that some forms of the genes present in Noah were not passed on. Also, subsequent population bottlenecks (dispersion of family groups from Babel) may have contributed further to the shortened life spans. The decline reached a plateau by the time of David. Apart from disease and accidents, there is no biological reason at all why people could not live much longer than they do at present, if they had the appropriate genetic makeup.
Based on Genesis 1:9, we can propose all the land was together in one landmass (some call it Rodinia) with fewer, lower mountains as the geologists also propose. The combined continents centered around the equator, extending not nearly as far north as today. This would result in a more tropical climate over most of the land as opposed to today. There were likely no deserts yet. Everything today grows bigger in the more tropical climates. Given this, though, the most likely explanation from creation scientists for that champsosaur and other tropical plants & creatures buried at the poles is that during the Flood, the plants and animals, even live animals, floated rapidly to high latitudes from their tropical origins on gigantic floating mats of vegetation. Similar mats are seen during local floods today and after tsunamis scour shorelines.
One creation scientist, John Woodmorappe, proposes a pre-Flood climate model that includes:
· Absence of tall mountain ranges that tend to deflect global wind circulation from a more polar direction—according to some models. So, there would be absence of ice caps at the poles as well.
· The existence of shallow seas over much of the continental-interior areas. These would trap heat and help prevent the interiors of the large continents from falling below freezing temperatures at night. Nearby water and forests moderate temperatures. There isn’t anything in Genesis 1 or 2 that would prohibit inland lakes and shallow seas. There is even a hint of water coming up from subsurface reservoirs through springs or artesian wells. Many lakes today are fed through underground springs.
· Larger concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide for a greenhouse effect. The increased carbon dioxide would greatly increase forestation and, thus, raw material for the coal deposits. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a heavy gas so it would be trapped inside even a small canopy. In spite of adverse publicity about this today, the opposite side is that forests would soak it all up!! Plants grow very well in a greenhouse and love CO2. You would expect to find remains of lush plant growth everywhere. We do find tremendous amounts of fossilized vegetation everywhere, including current deserts. Abundant vegetation became huge coal deposits. The land configuration enhanced vegetative growth. The Floodwaters uprooted all the vegetation and buried it rather quickly, producing a hundred times more coal than from today’s slow “swamp-to-coal” model. There are no massive coal deposits forming today. Other creation scientists have proposed that carbon dioxide levels were higher in the pre-Flood world and dropped drastically after the Flood until recently building up again.
How did the animals and plants grow so big? We know that many living reptiles and even some mammals (elephants) can grow slowly throughout their lifetimes. A cottonmouth snake can grow to the size of a tire. That’s an “old” snake. Comparing bones of juvenile dinosaurs, scientists believe that dinosaurs experienced rapid growth in their youth and then continued slow growth the rest of their lives. If dinosaurs lived hundreds of years, as people did before the Flood, they had plenty of time to develop into the enormous creatures we find as fossils. Maybe some fossils of giants are the ones originally created by God. Also, the climate as described above seems to favor optimal growth of animals and plants. Remember, that everything had been created perfectly. There hadn’t been much time for the cumulative effects of inherited mutations to show up in genetics. And, there is indication from post-Flood evidence that the largest creatures were killed by humans. There were still giants in the land after the Flood.
It is reasonable to consider the pre-Flood earth having some kind of greenhouse effect, greater shielding from radiation by both water vapor and the magnetic field, and habitable land space actually being closer to the equator with fewer mountains to block air currents. These plus genetic factors contributing to long lives could easily contribute to not only man living for a long time, but gigantism in animals and plants.