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Giants In The Land?

 

I had always been told that the Genesis 6 description of "giants in the land" had nothing to do with angels. But one day someone challenged that belief by asking me what 1 Peter 3:19 and 20 meant. As a result of my research into these scriptures, I have had to take exception to what I was always taught.

Today let’s talk about "giants in the land" and see what they could have to do with us.

Let's start with 1 Peter 3:18 through 20 which describes Christ in the tomb.

1 Pet 3:18-20 (NIV) .....He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, {19} through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison {20} who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built....

Who are these spirits in prison? It has always been my understanding that Satan and his angels would be put in chains at our Messiah’s return. Were there some in prison at the time of His death on the cross? We will go back to the days of Noah and read of it but first let's be sure we agree with the translators of 1 Peter 3.

The word "spirits" in verse 19 comes from the Greek word "pneuma". That is certainly in agreement with other uses of the word, which include ghost, angel, demon, Spirit of God, Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit.

The word "prison" in verse 19 comes from the Greek word "phulake" (fu-lak-ay'). It means to imprison, guard, cage or hold.

Verse 20 specifies that these were spirits who disobeyed in the days of Noah. Does Genesis have anything to say about them? Let's go to Genesis 6 and see.

(Gen 6:1-8 NASB) Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, {2} that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. {3} Then the LORD said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years." {4} The Nephilim were 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. {5} 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. {6} And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. {7} And the LORD said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them." {8} But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.

This seems to say that the "sons of God" were marrying the daughters of men. Who were these Old Testament sons of God? Who were the Nephilim mentioned in verse 4? As I said, I read from the New American Standard version. Let's read the same verses from the NKJV:

(Gen 6:1-8 NKJV) Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, {2} that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose. {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." {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. {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.

The two versions seem to be very similar. Both refer to "sons of God" but the NKJV uses the word “giants” instead of the word “Nephilim” in verse 4. Let's first check out “sons of God”. Who are the “sons of God?”

The NKJV includes ten verses with the words “sons of God.” We’ll look at each one of them. We have already read Gen 6:2 and 4 but this time let's look at these verse’s translation of “sons of God:”

“Sons of God” comes from the Hebrew “ben (pronounced bane) 'elohiym.” “Ben” means son and 'elohiym means God. No apparent contradiction here.

(Gen 6:2 NKJV) that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.

( verse 4 NKJV) 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.

Notice the distinction “sons of God” and “daughters of men.” Let's check the translation of the word “men.” The word men comes from the Hebrew word adam (pronounced aw-dawm') meaning ruddy or mankind or the species of man. I think we would have to conclude that “sons of God” and “daughters of men” mean just what they say.

But who are the sons of God? They are obviously not the same as “sons of man” or the Bible would call them that. The only other Old Testament occurrence of the words “sons of God” is in Job:

(Job 1:6 NKJV) Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.

Here we have the sons of God, along with Satan, able to present themselves before the Lord. Could they be anything but spirit beings?

Job 2:1 (NKJV) 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.

Here again both the sons of God and Satan are presenting themselves before the Lord. Again I ask, could they be anything but spirit beings?

Job 38:7 (NKJV) When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

In Job 38 God is asking Job if he was present when the earth was created. In verse 7 He refers to the morning stars singing and the sons of God shouting for joy. Many scriptures in Revelation refer to stars as angels. Some feel that “morning stars” are arch-angels. At any rate, the creation was a time of joy and happiness in heaven. The most likely translation is that the angels (sons of God) were jubilant. Who else could have been there?

Continuing in the New Testament:

(Mat 5:9 NKJV) Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.

(Luke 20:36 NKJV) “nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.

Rom 8:14 (NKJV) For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.

Verse 19 (NKJV) For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.

(Gal 3:26 NKJV) For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

In addition, John 1:12, Phil 2:15, and 1 John 3:1-2 use the better term “children of God.”

(John 1:12 NKJV) But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:

(Phil 2:15 NKJV) that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

(1 John 3:1-2 NKJV) Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. {2} Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

Every reference to "sons of God" in the New Testament is to God's people. Notice the promise of Rom 8:14 again: For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. What an uplifting promise. Isn't it obvious why Satan and his angels hate us so much? We are replacing them. And isn't it obvious why Satan and his angels don't care two hoots in a hail storm about those not led by God's Holy Spirit? I think it is significant too that the New Testament specifies "children of God". To me it assures us that both genders are qualified to be God's children, not just males, as the KJV implies.

One other source we might consider is the writings of Josephus. In his Antiquities of the Jews, Book 1, Chapter 3, Section 1, he writes:

Now this posterity of Seth continued to esteem God as the Lord of the universe, and to have an entire regard to virtue, for seven generations ; but in process of time they were perverted, and forsook the practices of their forefathers, and did neither pay those honors to God which were appointed them, nor had they any concern to do justice towards men. But for what degree of zeal they had formerly shown for virtue, they now showed by their actions a double degree of wickedness; whereby they made God to be their enemy, for many angels of God accompanied with women, and begat sons that proved unjust, and despisers of all that was good, on account of the confidence they had in their own strength; for the tradition is, That these men did what resembled the acts of those whom the Grecians call giants.

What have we learned so far? Sons of God in the Old Testament refers to angels. Sons of God in the New Testament refers to God's Spirit-led people.

In Genesis 6:4, the NASB referred to Nephilim in the land. Nephilim is the plural of Nephil.(Nef-eel’)(H5303.The NKJV called them giants. What or who were they? The Hebrew word for giant is Nephil. The only other reference to Nephil ((H5303) is in Numbers 13.

(Num 13:32-33 NASB) So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, "The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. {33} "There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight."

Here again, the NKJV uses the word "giants" for Nephilim. The definition of Nephilim is a bully or tyrant; a giant. Some associate the word Nephilim with naphal which means to fall, supportive of the words “fallen angels.” Numbers 13 is describing the journey of the spies God had Moses send to the land of Canaan. Was Numbers 13:33 an exaggeration or was it real? Could the giants have been that big? If they were, was it any wonder the faithless Israelites were so filled with terror they wanted to return to Egypt? Only Joshua's and Caleb's assurances that with God's backing the land could be their's, prevented a full-scale rebellion. Joshua and Caleb saw the giants too, but they had faith that God could and would protect the Israelites.

So we have here two examples of giants. One during the days of Noah; the other during the days of Moses. Who were these creatures? Let's go back to Genesis 6:4.

(Gen 6:4 NKJV) 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.

If the Nephilim were all killed during the Noachian [NoA’kE an] flood, how could they appear again on the earth during the time of Moses? Verse 4 states that they would be on earth after the flood. How? The only way was for there to be more fallen angels - maybe just one - consorting with women and producing giants about the time of Moses - and as we shall see, later than that. Satan again purposed to discourage the Israelites from entering the Promised Land. Inasmuch as God gave this land to the Israelites, it seems likely Satan would do whatever he could to discourage the Israelites from occupying the land - just as we see today with the exchange of Israeli land for promised peace from terrorists dedicated to destroying Israel.

The appearance of Goliath in 1 Samuel 17:4 probably marks another appearance of the Nephilim. Goliath was apparently between nine foot nine inches and thirteen feet tall. What was his purpose? To destroy the armies of Israel and, most importantly, to destroy the one who was to become the ancestor of Jesus Christ and the king of all Israel in the Kingdom of God. After the Noachian flood, God used Israelites to destroy these giants.

Each of these Nephilim appearances resulted in more fallen angels being sent to prison.

We have already established that the sons of God in the Old Testament were angels. How could they sire children? I want to give you a list of scriptures commonly given to support the theory that angels can't sire children.

Luke 20:35-36 (NIV) But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, {36} and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God's children, since they are children of the resurrection.

Mark 12:25 (NIV) When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.

Mat 22:30 (NIV) At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.

These three verses are all talking about the ability of the resurrected Saints to marry. They obviously will not be allowed to marry. Will we know or be close to our present spouses? That might have to be the subject of another investigation and sermon. My impression from these verses is that, as spirit beings, the resurrected Saints will not be married. Unless they can revert back to a physical being, like the angels who visited Lot, they will not be able to participate in marital activities. But does that make them angels? No, I don't think so, though they will be sons of God. The very fact that angels did appear as physical men in the days of Lot again proves that angels could appear to the daughters of men as impressive, powerful, probably handsome men to whom they could be attracted, but Genesis says these angels took the women they chose.

Luke 3:38 (NIV) the son of Enoch, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

Some like to point out that Adam was a son of God. Yes, he was, but that does not make him an angel. A son of God is someone who God created, whether physically or spiritually. God created all the angels and Adam, as He will the Saints at their resurrection.

(Heb 1:13-14 NKJV) But to which of the angels has He ever said: "Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool"? {14} Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?

The argument some use with these verses is that since angels are ministering spirits, they could not sire children. I fail to see that fact in these verses.

(Gen 1:11 NKJV) Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth"; and it was so.

We must remember again that man was created in the image of God and that angels can appear as men. From there it might be assumed and Genesis 6 certainly indicates that since only the same kinds can reproduce, that angel kind can co-habit with mankind.

(Psa 82:6 NKJV) I said, "You are gods, And all of you are children of the Most High.

(Mal 2:10 NASB) "Do we not all have one father? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously each against his brother so as to profane the covenant of our fathers?

These two verses are sometimes offered as an argument that we are all sons of God, but I'm not sure I understand the relevance.

Now let's return to our original scripture - 1 Peter 3:18-20.

1 Pet 3:18-20 (NIV) .....He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, {19} through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison {20} who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built....

The Greek word for "preached" is kay-roo'-so. It also means to herald, proclaim or publish. I feel the sentence should say He announced His death and resurrection to these imprisoned spirits. Perhaps the question is, why? To reassure them that their judgment was not far off.

Who were these spirits who were in prison? They disobeyed God during and just before the days of Noah. Did the offspring of these angels so pervert and endanger the earth that God had to destroy all air-breathing creatures with a flood? Did God then imprison the offending angels so they could not repeat the offense? Were these angels part of Satan's angels or were they some of God's angels who sinned? Was their imprisonment the assurance God needed in order to be able to promise mankind He would never again destroy the earth with a flood? What of the sons of Anak during the days of Joshua and Moses? Was this another case of angels getting out of control? Is that why God ordered these "people" totally destroyed? Were they really people? Do these giants explain some of the questions asked by anthropologists? We have more questions than answers. And what of the visit by Christ to preach to them in prison as we just read in 1 Peter 3? Let's see if we can answer some of these questions.

One often quoted scripture about these angels can be found in 2 Peter 2:4 and 5.

(2 Pet 2:4-5 NASB) For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell [the Greek word is Tartarus] and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; {5} and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly;

Comparing this translation with the Greek text is a little tough. The Greek reads:

For if God angels sinning spared not, but in pits of gloom consigning to Tartarus delivered them to judgment being kept, and the ancient world spared not, but the eighth man Noe of righteousness a herald guarded, a flood a world of impious men bringing on, .....

This is the only place in the Bible where the word "Tartarus" is used. It is almost always translated as the word "hell". But there are other related scriptures we should look at:

(Jude verse 6 NKJV) And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day;

(Jude verses 12-16 NASB) These men are those who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; {13} wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever. {14} And about these also Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, "Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, {15} to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him." {16} These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.

These scriptures seem to be talking about false Christians. But verse 13 seems to show that they have the same destiny as fallen angels. This seems to be the same description we just read in 2 Peter 2:4. Is there a link or some commonality between false Christians and fallen angels?

We see three irruptions (meaning bursting forth suddenly and violently) of these giants. One about the time of Noah, another about the time of Moses, and probably another in the days of David. To trace these giants, we read Numbers 13:33 earlier where we read that the descendants of Anak came from the Nephilim. Let’s read the appropriate verses in the order given in the Bible.

(Num 13:22 NASB) When they had gone up into the Negev, they came to Hebron where Ahiman, Sheshai and Talmai, [where] the descendants of Anak were. (Now Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.)

(Num 13:28 NASB) "Nevertheless, the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; and moreover, we saw the descendants of Anak there.

verse 33 which we read before (NASB) "There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight."

(Josh 15:13-14 NASB) Now he gave to Caleb the son of Jephunneh a portion among the sons of Judah, according to the command of the LORD to Joshua, namely, Kiriath-arba, Arba being the father of Anak (that is, Hebron). {14} And Caleb drove out from there the three sons of Anak: Sheshai and Ahiman and Talmai, the children of Anak.

(Josh 21:11 NASB) Thus they gave them Kiriath-arba, Arba being the father of Anak (that is, Hebron), in the hill country of Judah, with its surrounding pasture lands.

(Judg 1:20 NASB) Then they gave Hebron to Caleb, as Moses had promised; and he drove out from there the three sons of Anak.

It is obvious that Joshua defeated the descendants of Anak wherever they found them and took over their land. It is not impossible that some escaped into surrounding lands, as could be the case in the family of Goliath. Some speculate the descendants of Anak became the Canaanites. Some speculate that, in an earlier period, many of these giants were enslaved by Egypt and were used in the construction of the pyramids. Giant men of renown were also referenced in Greek and Babylonian mythology. The giant cities of Bashan, the future territory of the tribe of Manasseh incidently, are documented in the Old Testament.

We seem to have here several occurrences of these giants showing up in world history. In each case they appeared after an important event in God's plan, events which seriously affected the replacement of satanic angels by God's people. Let's look at some events:

Noah and his family were the only righteous people of his age. All the rest of mankind had to be destroyed by the flood. God's people were limited to only eight people before God stepped in. Satan seems to have attempted to reproduce himself via his giants just as God was doing with His people.

As soon as God disclosed that His Son would be born through the seed of Abraham, Satan tried to deter him by placing the Canaanites in the land and complicating the line of inheritance by inserting Ishmael before the birth of Isaac.

When David's line was selected for the birth of Christ, Satan assailed his royal line via Jehoshaphat, Goliath, and others.

Remember how Haman nearly succeeded in destroying all the Jews? We can read about that in the book of Esther.

Remember how all the male babies of Moses's age and Christ's age were ordered killed?

There are too many examples to list them all. Remember these examples when the future looks dark and foreboding.

So, to answer our first question, it appears that some or many of Satan's angels tried to destroy God's plan for mankind by inserting his own super-people on the earth to destroy God's people. God's reaction was to destroy Satan's people, first by flood, later by the sword. References to these giants are made in the following scriptures: Numbers 18:22; Deut 1:28, 2:11, 2:20, 3:11, 3:13; Joshua 12:4, 13:12, 15:8, 17:15, 18:16, 21:11, and 1 Sam 17. Some verses call them Anakims or Raphaim, but both mean giants. But in all cases Satan seems to have sent his fallen angels to consort with women and produce these giants for the purpose of discouraging Israelites from entering the Promised Land. In-as-much as God gave the land to the Israelites, it seems likely Satan would do whatever he could to discourage the Israelites from occupying the land - sort of like today as Israel’s leaders and the world’s nations conspire to give away God-given land to Israel’s enemies in exchange for promises of peace. Satan's angels who sired these creatures were imprisoned in darkness (probably deep in the earth) until the time of their judgment; - judgment by whom?

(1 Cor 6:2-3 NKJV) Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? {3} Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life!

What an irony. Not only will God's people judge the wayward, imprisoned angels we have been talking about and help govern the land they desired, but remember, there are still a lot more wayward angels out there who are pestering us today. You don't think they are pestering us? How about the influence they have on movies, TV, music, government, the media, strife, morality, personal frustrations ... one could go on and on. They will have to be judged too. But first, we must be accepted by God as His saints.

So there is our goal, there is our task, and there is our reward. I hope you will remember the examples we’ve discussed today to motivate you to seek that reward.

 

 

Sermon given by Wayne Bedwell

22 June 2013

 

 

 

Copyright 2013, Wayne Bedwell

 

 

 

 

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