Old News

Recently, I took one of them online time wasting quizzes for fun. It was a personality quiz, the purpose was to discover which of Jesus disciples I was most like. The answer: Thomas (figures, I am a realist). However in the footnote the result told me the Biblical female character I was most like – Rahab! “Oh great” I thought, “I am either a doubter or a prostitute.”

Early the next morning my thoughts turned to Rahab, but more specifically I wondered why I did not want to be considered like her (even if it was only a piece of fun). I had to admit it was because of her ‘unsavory job description.’ God challenged me about this.

Rahab was indeed a prostitute, but she is so much more. In Joshua 2 we read how she helped save the lives of the Israelite spies by hiding them in the roof of her home before letting them down through a window to escape the persuing guards of Jerico.  Rahab was a wise and discerning lady. The whole city of Jerico had been gripped in tense fear. They knew the Israelite’s were heading their way and that God was with them. But only Rahab had the wisdom to turn to God when she sensed the immanent danger, throwing himself on His mercy. In doing so she saved her own life, and the lives of her family, Rahab said:

I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.                                                                                                               Joshua 2:9-11.

It was because of her acknowledgement of the God of Israel as the God of Heaven and Earth that she was saved. Rahab put her trust in God to rescue her from certain destruction. Rahab’s protection was conditional. As the spies left they told her to hang a scarlet chord from the window, in order to mark her out; with the promise that anyone inside the house with her would be saved but any member of her family who stepped outside would perish.

This marked out protection is similar to Gods earlier command to the people before they left Egypt. They were instructed to mark the tops and sides of their doors with the blood of the Passover lamb and to stay inside the house (Exodus 12). This act of faith ensured the children of Israel would not suffer the same fate as Egypt. This act of faith is how God rescued and liberated his people. A little later on Rahab is being asked to display the same courage in faith by displaying the scarlet chord from her window.

Faith is not passive, it is always active. Faith is life in motion; it is a doing word. Rahab’s faith was recognized as she was rescued from the destruction of the city. Her faith is celebrated further by mentioning her by name in the great ‘heroes of faith’ chapter in Hebrews 11.

By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies                                                                                                Hebrews 11:31

Rahab is also one of five women (all of questionable character) mentioned in Matthews genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1).

Rahab is an incredible woman of strength, courage, character and faith. She is also an ancestor of our Lord and should rightly take her place in the hall of heroes in Hebrews 11.

The Bible is littered with ‘types of Christ’ and this account in Joshua 2 could be viewed as one of them. Rahabs faith in action, her willingness to trust Gods people at their word and display the scarlet chord demonstrates her faith. The chord could be seen as a type of blood (like the Passover lamb, those in the house were safe).

Jesus is our ultimate sacrifice, he shed his real blood in order to welcome people into the house of God where they will be safe. The Bible tells us that faith in the crucified and risen Lord will save us from imminent destruction.

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.                                                                                Romans 10:9

The Bible also tells us that when we place our trust in God, through Jesus we become born again, a new creation.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.                                                                                                                                       1 Corinthians 5:17

If we become a new person then, our past lives, our past mistakes are forgotten by God. If God chooses to remember our sin no more – why should we? When we hold on to things we have done in our past, we are in effect, trying to say we know better than God – which is not only stupid and dangerous, but is also plain rude!

However, I feel perhaps it can be worse than that, remembering someone else as they used to be, rather than how they are now because of Christ is appalling. Casting judgment on another because they used to sleep around, they used to drink alcohol to excess, or take drugs or rob chocolate from the corner store…..denies the power of Christ at work in them but it also limits the work Christ is able to do in us.

Our past mistakes cannot be held against us if we are in Christ Jesus – if we have trusted in God to do as he has said we are indeed a new creation…a liberated human being! So are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Jesus himself said:

Judge not, that you be not judged.                                                                                                                                                                                                        Matthew 7:1

My sense of self righteous indignation at the thought of being compared to someone like Rahab was stupidly short sighted. In actual fact i would be honoured to be considered a person of such faith as Rahab – even if only in a silly quiz!  When we focus our attention on the past we miss out on God’s blessing for the now (and also the future).

Lord – my prayer: help me to love and not to judge… the past is behind us, it is old news.

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Psalm One: Verses four-six (A Bible Study)

I will conclude my Bible Study of Psalm one by looking at the remaining verses (4-6) as a whole:

“the wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgement, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;

for The Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”

The psalmist begun by making a comparison between the wicked and the righteous. The godly and the criminal. The lawbreaker and the law keeper. He highlights the benefits of keeping Gods law. Now he makes a further comparison.

Unlike the righteous who stand as a firm strong unmovable tree – the wicked are like chaff.

Chaff is the dry scaly outer covering of seeds. It protects the nutritious seed. Chaff is inedible to humans.
It is sometimes given to animals as fodder but most likely it is burned because it is useless.

Chaff is also fragile and is easily blown around in the wind. The ungodly are like that, easily blown by life’s circumstances because they have no root. No anchor in God.

The Christian life is a journey, but sometimes we carry baggage with us that is better dropped. We carry ‘chaff’ – the useless stuff with us. Past hurts and disappointments are just two examples of our spiritual ‘chaff’.

Another metaphor for the Holy Spirit is wind (John 3:8), if we submit to the Spirit he will blow the chaff, the rubbish and waste products from our lives. The Spirit breaths fresh life into us, blowing the chaff of yesterday away.

The psalmist continues that the wicked are unable to stand in judgement with the righteous.
The Bible is very clear on this. The ungodly are so because they insist on continuing along a path they, themselves have forged. They choose to be law breakers by wanting things their way or no way.

But Jesus says He alone is the way, the truth and the life. There is no other way to the Father, other than through Him (John 14:6).

Trying to obtain merit in order to stand before God in our own strength. Through our own attempt at clean living, charitable donations, being a good person and so on is futile. Our attempts at righteousness are unacceptable to God (Isaiah 64:6, Romans 3:10) Our righteousness comes from Christ, accepting His sacrificial atoning death and subsequent resurrection (Acts 16:31, Romans 10:9),

Whether we choose to believe something or disregard something. The validity of that thing becomes no less a fact either way. The Bible teaches us that there will be an end to things as we know them, there will be a final judgement (Matthew 25:31-36).

At that judgement the wicked will not stand, because they refused to place their trust in God. When as criminals they sat in their cells condemned, God opened the door and decalred freedom! They refused to walk free..

The psalmist says the wicked will perish. The word is ‘abad and it means to totally destroy. The Bible talks of a second death… (Revelation 2:11 and others) this second death means total separation from God.

We might not be comfortable teaching about Hell, the lake of fire or the second death – nevertheless they remain a spiritual reality.

The psalmist ends stating the way of the wicked will perish. The wicked is the one who has wilfully distanced himself from God. He is the criminal who refuses to accept his pardon – and so must serve his sentence. We understand this in human morality and judicial system but feel uncomfortable when we talk of Gods perfect justice.

The psalmist declares that the godly man need not fear, because God knows his way. The Hebrew word for know is ‘yada, it’s Greek equivalent is Ginosko – both refer to experiential knowledge, or knowledge based on intimacy.

God knows where His people are at, not just because He is omniscient (all knowing) but because He knows us inside and out.

He knows the way (derek) we take. This word means more than a path or a journey. The way we take encompasses the manner, the course, the habit, the moral character – the way we choose to live our lives.

He knows where we are at and where we are going, He plans for us, cares for us, guards us, guides us, leads us but never forces us.

Unlike the criminal, the way of law keeper is life…in Jesus who is the way…the truth … the life.

Psalm One – Verse Three ( A Bible Study)

I would like to continue my Bible study on Psalm One, with a look at verse three as follows:

“he is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields it’s fruit in it’s season, and it’s leaf does not wither. In all that he does he prospers”.

I do not ascribe to any kind of ‘prosperity gospel’ teaching, in the way some recent teaching tries to make credible. I do not believe when a person becomes a Christian, suddenly they become wealthy, with a big house and a nice car parked in the drive.
Nor do I believe that when a person comes to Christ they live a problem free life. In fact the Bible tells us plainly that in this world we will have trouble (John 16:33) but it also goes on to say that Jesus has overcome the world.
I do not ascribe to a prosperity Gospel – but I do accredit the Gospel as prosperous.

To prosper means to to thrive. Jesus said the purpose of his coming was that we ‘might have life, and have it abundantly’ (John 10:10). In other words a life that thrives.

The abundant life promise doesn’t automatically grant a fat bank account. But it dose guarantee us Christ is all we need, and He will meet all our needs according to His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19). God is not stingy, He is more than able to supply all our needs.

The word prospers (tsalach) can also be translated as success. God has granted us success when we choose to walk in His way, walking not as the ungodly or even pious mockers do (verse 1) but to truly walk in His way.

The walk of God can actually be physically understood in the ministry of Jesus, who made himself of no reputation, became an object of scorn (mockery), became despised by men and became a curse for us (Philippians 2:7, psalm 109:25, Isaiah 53:2-3, Galatians 3:13).
Jesus came preaching a Gospel of salvation, restoration and forgiveness – He came to serve and not be served (Matthew 20:28).

He has commissioned us to preach the same Gospel, to show Christ in us, to point others to the way. This ministerial calling on our lives…the preaching of the true Gospel will be successful. It will succeed because it is a Gospel that is prosperous. The word of God never returns void, but always accomplishes what it sets out to do (Isaiah 55:11).

Verse three could be interpreted as a ministerial calling on our lives. ‘Bearing fruit in season.’

For everything there is a time or a season, as the writer of Ecclesiastes points out (Ecclesiastes 3).
In ministry there is a time to sow and a time to reap but God alone determines the harvest. He alone produces growth – we are simply workers in the field (1 Corinthians 1:8).

This is a ministerial calling that includes every believer. Everyone of us, has been commissioned to share the Gospel and has been equipped by God to do so. Maybe not from a platform on a Sunday morning, but perhaps over a coffee in work. A ride on the bus or over the garden fence…we love the Gospel, we live the Gospel…we share the Gospel.

Paul talks about fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) Love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These are characteristics of the Christian life. They take time to cultivate and develop. Some might come easier to us than others …but if we are walking close to God, guided by the Spirit, yielding to the Spirit these fruits will come. They will manifest manifest themselves in our lives…they will be on show for all to see.
The fruits of the spirit displayed in us in season, will minister to others too (this is Gospel ministry). In chapter five of Galatians Paul continues “Against such things there is no law”.

The law of Christ or the Law of the Gospel which is love (verse 2) is not written on stone or parchment … It’s written on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33, Romans 2:15) it must be obvious it is so – because the fruit we manifest testifies to it.

Back to an earlier point I made about verse one…how will we know who to choose to help us on the way in our Christian journey? We will know by the fruits we see manifest in season. In seasons of hardship – do believers display patience? In season of temptations do they display self control? Above all, do followers of Jesus Christ display fruits of love?

Do we?

Jesus said:

“by their fruit you will know them” (Matthew 7:15-20)

To display our fruit in season we must be like the tree planted by the water.

The tree that gets nourishment and so produces life. A tree in a dry and arid place will wither and die. It will not live because it has no sustenance nor will it provide life to those around it.

In nature trees produce fruit, berries, nuts and seeds which go into the food chain of all manner of insects, birds and animals, even humans.

A tree brings life because it lives!

This is a wonderful analogy of a Godly man … He brings life because he himself lives. Life is contagious! when someone is living a powerful God centred abundant life, and is producing fruit from his abundance …this will rub off on others.

Remember, though that the tree cannot sustain itself but must be sustained by the water. Jesus described himself as living Water, inviting all who were thirsty to come and drink and never thirst again (John Chapters 4&7).

The stream of LIVING WATER (the psalmists says the tree is planted by a stream…a stream moves, it is flowing and full of life – it is not stagnant and still.) living water sustains the tree – not the other way around!
Jesus supports us He is our living water.

The message paraphrases verse three as:

‘you are a tree replanted in Eden, bearing fresh fruit every month.’

I like this as it again adds to the idea of God hitting the reset button (verse 2).

In Eden everything was fresh, new, perfect, unspoilt. But the most important factor of the garden was unbroken relationship between God and man. God walked with Adam in the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8).

Walking Gods way not our own way means repenting of our past selfishness of wanting to go our own way, (which is what sin is) and instead trusting in God to walk His way.

Taking Him at His word when He tells us His way is best. Accepting Christ as Saviour. Being born again (John 3:7) means God hits the reset button on us. For God comes where we are and walks with us, like in Eden – in restored relationship.

Verse three also talks about the leaf on our tree never withering.

There are a few evergreens but most trees shut down in autumn and ‘sleep’ through winter.

In our Christian journey we may experience many ‘winters’. Winter in some cases brings imagery of cold, storms, scarcity of life. We envision snow and wrapping up tightly against the elements, staying indoors – we might think of long dark nights.

In a spiritual sense we might experience ‘winter seasons’ times of trial, hardship, temptations and so on. These can take many forms, financial hardships, marital breakdowns, unemployment, illness and so much more. But God will not forget us – He will not abandon us.

We will be that tree that remains green, our leaves will not wither.

We may not be producing the finest apples during winter but the stream of water is nourishing our roots – and we are alive!

The Hebrew word is nabel, meaning to wither or droop. But it also means to be senseless or foolish.
God had given us His Holy Spirit. He is our companion, our guide, our comforter. In fact Jesus refers to Him as ‘another comforter’ (John 14:16 AV, translated ‘helper’ or ‘advocate’ in other versions). The Greek is paraklétos and means primarily one who is called to the aid or comfort of another.

The Holy Spirit therefore, helps us, comforts us and aids us, in our spiritual winters; so we will not do anything foolish, nor will we feel senseless when our winters do not seem to make sense – because we walk with and trust in God to see us through and make sense out of the seemingly senseless.

The tree planted by streams of water cannot be moved. It grows strong and steadfast. It is not easily shaken. It doesn’t easily blow over.

The godly man who is like a tree planted by streams of living water, will not be controlled by circumstance but trust in Him who is above all situations.
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Psalm One – Verse 2 (A Bible Study)

Continuing my study on psalm one, I have the following thoughts on verse two…

: “But his delight is in the Law of The Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”

The psalmist is making a distinction between the ungodly and the godly of verse one. The wicked is the criminal (the one who breaks the law) But the godly man keeps Gods Law.

In Old Testament times keeping the law meant religiously sticking to numerous laws and commands to remain holy (clean) in Gods sight. These laws had Biblical basis but by the time of Jesus had become very meticulous and works orientated. In fact there were 613 laws for the people to worry about keeping.

For the New Testament Church Gods law has been rather simplified and we now have just one law to keep – the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2). Jesus is not rubbing out a bunch of irrelevant stuff but rather resetting things to the original manufacturers setting.

In the beginning (Genesis 2:16) there was one Law – ‘don’t eat from the tree’ (this command wasn’t given out of tyranny but out of benevolence. God loved us…God wanted us safe). Jesus has reset the Law to one in him.

The Law of Christ is a law of love. This is reiterated throughout the Gospels in different ways but it is essentially the same message…Matthew 22:37, Luke 10:27, John 13:34, John 21 all talk about the love for God and each other.

The Law of Christ is a Law of love and can be summed up in one of my favourite scriptures:

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” (1 John 3:16).

The Law of The Lord the psalmist refers to is the Torah (the Books of Moses). We are blessed with the entire Bible …the whole cannon of scripture both old and new testaments combine to make one Law.

Not a list of ‘do’s and don’t’s or legalistic requirements but a love letter. From Father God to His beloved children.

The Bible tells us how to live by transforming or reprogramming our minds to that of Christ (Romans 12:2) but it is so much more…the Bible reveals to us Gods character,who He is,who we are to Him and how we can know Him.

The psalmist writes that the man of God mediates on the Law of The Lord day and night. I still find it amazing that some Christians have difficulty in meditating. Some Christians actually freak out at the thought. Meditation to some conjures up images of some sort of eastern mystical practice. But Biblical meditation is nothing so abstract. On the contrary, Biblical meditation gives substance to our faith.

It is not enough to simply read the Bible – one must meditate on what we read. Think on the verses we read, ask questions of the text, allow the words to sink in to our souls.
Skimming over the Bible while eating our weetabix in the mornings won’t have the same impact as thinking on a text for a day, a few days or several months.

Mediation is conversation – it is allowing God to speak to us through His word. It is an in depth conversation not a quick chat. Ultimately it comes back to love. If we say we love God but don’t spend quality time in His word…we would have to question the depth of that love?

Meditating on Gods word day and night – means keeping God in our thoughts throughout the course of a normal average day. By doing this we will be less likely to sin, and more likely to make a quick response when the Holy Spirits prompts us when we do mess up. We will be quicker to put things right by coming back to the cross (that never loses it’s power) repenting and walking on with God.

A good idea to put into practice Biblical mediation is to start with a small piece of text. A simple verse, write it somewhere it’s easy to see (on your phone or a post it) and make a point of returning to it several times a day. Read it and re-read it, think about it. Ask practical questions of it. Allow God to speak to you through it.

Don’t be surprised if you have a new thought or are inspired differently each time you look.
Likewise if your new to Biblical meditation don’t be put off if you don’t experience an immediate thunderbolt of revelation. Your exercising new muscles and as in a physical sense this takes practice and discipline, it’s the same spiritually.
But I encourage you to persevere because the rewards are most certainly worth it.

Psalm One – Verse One (A Bible Study).

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers.

There are three negative terms in this verse: the wicked, the sinners and the scoffers.

The wicked (A.V ungodly). The Hebrew word the psalmist uses is rasha’, it means criminal – one who is guilty of a crime. The question is what crime? And against whom?
The word wicked means hostility towards God. The man who is not wicked is at peace with God (not behaving in a hostile manner towards Him).

The psalmist also mentions sinners and scoffers: to call a person a sinner these days seems old fashioned, yet the Bible repeatedly tells us that mans state without God is sinful. All mankind are sinners (Romans 3:23) there is no getting away from this fact.

Scoffers, this is interesting – this word means those that speak arrogantly or boastfully or mockingly of another. An arrogant man has faith only in himself!

The psalmist is stating that the man of God would do well to avoid these three types of people, the wicked, the sinful, the scoffer.

I can’t help but notice how the psalmist conveys a sense of movement from one to another – stands, walks, sits. His language conveys a sense of action and gives us the picture that it is easy to move from one to another – the last action denotes a comfortable position (after one has stood a while and walked a while it is far easier to sit and make oneself comfortable for a long while).

The Christian life is a journey and who we choose to stand alongside and walk the journey with will ultimately reflect on who we choose to sit and make ourselves comfortable with. We must choose carefully, after all bad company corrupts good character (1Corinthians 15:33).

Does this mean then as Christians we should confine ourselves to some sort of sterile monastic type bubble where we do not associate with the ‘unclean’ of the world? Of course not! Our primary function as the Church of Jesus Christ is to be a friend to sinners, to mix with, associate with and love those who do not yet know Him in order to make Him known.

The word wicked fascinates me, especially in the understanding that it means criminal. When I think of wicked crimes I have read in the newspaper or have known about throughout history, some will leap to my mind quicker than others. It is easy for me with my moral scale to judge some people as more ‘wicked’ than others. It is easy for us in civilised society to brand some crimes more heinous than others – after all this is why we have a justice system. Some crimes are worthy of a lengthy prison sentences (in many countries even death), while others carry only a fine. Humanity with it’s perverted sense of morality has invented a ‘sin scale’ of course we do not call it that – though that’s what it is. We deem some crimes and therefore some criminals as more ‘wicked’ than others. But our morality (however well intended) is perverted because we live in a sin stricken, fallen world.

21st century ‘morality’ not only varies from culture to culture but also within the same culture. From house to house, family to family… But the psalmist and other Biblical writers understand the word ‘wicked’ to mean ungodly. This includes all criminals who have broken the Law – Gods law. We are all guilty of that, due to our sinful nature we desire to do things our way, not Gods. We are by nature, lawbreakers.

Jesus Christ came to fulfil the law and in him we have a new promise, a new covenant – forgiveness of sin. This is literally a get out of jail free card. By accepting the sacrifice of Jesus when he died on a cross we accept He paid for our sin. He took away our sin…we who were criminals, lawbreakers in Gods sight have now been set free. We have been completely pardoned – not paroled, but made totally free by the pure blood of Christ.

So wicked people (or rather ungodly people) are to be found outside the church? Yes … but also no, or rather not only.
In Matthew 16:4 Jesus condemns his hearers as a ‘wicked and adulterous generation’ this in context, is particularly directed towards the officials and religious leaders who are being rebuked for their demand for a sign.

The ungodly are found both inside and outside the church …religious practice or false piety might impress many, but it won’t impress God as the tale of the Pharisee and the tax collected warn us (Luke 18:13). All the more reason to watch our lives and doctrine closely (1 Timothy 4:16) and to choose carefully whom we choose to stand with, walk with and sit with along our way – remembering that bad company corrupts good character.

So how do we choose? Before we scan the congregation and pick out those that seem the most ‘godly’ to help us along the way. It’s worth remembering that God will bring many people in to our lives, to guide us, lead us, challenge us, refine us…many of these people will come and go – the one companion who is constant with us for our journey is God himself. It is He alone who has promised ‘Never to leave or forsake us’ (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5). If our relationship is right with God finding those to journey with will be easier.

The Nephilim of Noah and Moses: A Bible Study

The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown (Genesis 6:4).

This verse is found toward the beginning of the account of Noah and the global flood. The Nephilim are often given as the primary reason for that flood. But who are the Nephilim?

There has been much debate on this subject[1] but I favour the plain reading of the Genesis text. The Nephilim are the children born as a result of sexual union between the sons of God and women (verse 4). What I am actually saying here is that fallen angels[i] committed sexual sin with women and their offspring were known as Nephilim. Other Biblical texts support my view for example, Peter writes

“For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell,putting them in chains of darknessto be held for judgment” (2 Peter 2:4)”

 

This was written in the context of Noah (Genesis 6) and also of Sodom and Gomorrah (another example of sexual sin with angelic beings – Genesis 19:5). Jude 1:6-7 also supports the view of punishment of angelic beings for sexual sin.

Genesis 6:4 tells us that these Nephilim were heroes of old, men of renown. Much ancient mythology is based on sexual encounters between gods and humans, therefore, producing demi-gods – men with super human characteristics. Hurcules is my favourite childhood example of this, a demi-god, with superhuman strength, born the son of the god Zeus and the mortal Alcmene. A main objection to the Nephilim being the offspring of intercourse between angelic beings and humans is the question of physical possibility. However, we know that at times angels took human form (Genesis 19:1, Genesis 32:1, Judges 6:21 et.al.). To what extent the angelic anthropomorphic qualities were functional is unknown. Could they function as human or simply appear human? It is not beyond them realms of possibility to consider acts of a sexual nature possible.

The Flood

Why would God then consider the genocide of all but a handful of humanity at this time simply because of the Nephilim? The answer to this is in Genesis 3, after Adam and his wife sinned in the Garden, God allowed them forgiveness by covering them with blood (Genesis 3:21) the garments of skin that were used as clothing were taken from innocent animals. This is the first of many biblical examples of blood being offered for the forgiveness of sin, Hebrews 9:22 states “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness”. Blood is valuable, it is literally our life, and sin is serious and therefore demands our life. God is just, a Just God demands recompense for the crime committed. God is also merciful, he knows we must be punished but because he loves us he doesn’t want to punish us; he therefore transferred the punishment for sin onto his son Jesus. God’s wrath demands our blood for our crime, but Gods mercy accepts Jesus on our behalf. All the way back in Genesis 3, before this temporary covering for the guilt of Adam and his wife was made; God already told them that one day he would send his son Jesus to sort out the mess they had made, Genesis 3:15 is the first messianic prophecy

 “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will    crush your head, and you will strike his heel.’.”

From that point in Genesis the Bible shows us Gods plan for the redemption of mankind through relationship with him. Everything we read about regarding sacrifices and offerings in the Old Testament point to the coming Saviour, so

 “…when the fullness of time had come, God [would send] forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons”

(Galatians 4:4-5)

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The plan for redemption was already in motion, but that has not nor will it ever stop the enemy trying to interrupt Gods divine plan. I have heard the suggestion that the Nephilim of Noah’s day were casualties of spiritual warfare; that is they were as the result of illegitimate sexual relationships and a new breed of people. They were in effect hybrid – half human – half angelic beings. Therefore, they could be seen as Satan’s attempt to destroy the divine plan. Jesus came to set humanity free from the curse and mark of sin. Sin the Bible tells us, is something we are born with, marked with, it is in our bloodline. This is why only Jesus offering at Calvary could be acceptable to God. Jesus blood was sinless; therefore his was the only pure, righteous sacrificial offering. The cross is a literal exchange my sinful nature washed away by the sinless blood of Christ.  Back to the Nephilim, if they were allowed to continue as a hybrid race this would be problematic for the children of Adam. Jesus came to pay for Adams sin, to redeem Adams children, to save humanity – not for a hybrid people – therefore from this view point I conclude it logical that a global flood happened at this time to prevent the perversion of the human race. The Ark of Noah in many ways is a type of Christ; however it is not my purpose to explore this type at this time.

The Nephilim after the flood

The only other mention of the Nephilim is Numbers 13:33 – post flood. After being sent to spy out the land of Canaan by Moses; ten of the twelve spies concluded it would be disaster to attack the land because among other reasons – there were Nephilim. Who are these Nephilim? These Nephilim in Numbers 13:33 are not the same Nephilim referred to in Genesis 6. That is, they are not the result of relationships between women and angels. How do we know this? The account of the Genesis flood makes it clear that only Noah and his family survived this catastrophe, everyone else died; 1 Peter 3:20 confirms this. Everyone died means everyone died, including the Nephilim of Noah’s day. Therefore the Nephilim in Numbers cannot be of the same origins (especially if we take into account 2 Peter 2:4 the demonic beings responsible for this perversion are imprisoned so cannot act the same way again).

The Hebrew word for Nephilim is נָפִיל,transliterated nᵉpîlîm, according to Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament[1]  it is traditionally translated giants because of the assumed etymology to the word nāpal, which means ““untimely birth” or “miscarriageas productive of superhuman monstrosities”. They state the translation ‘giants’ or ‘Nephilim’ is often given due to the Vulgates misleading translation of nāpal as ‘giants’. They further state we may never truly have an accurate interpretation of the word and so the Nephilim will remain mysterious. Other branches of the Hebrew word nāpal give us words like “strong” and “mighty”. Reading a passage removed from its original language will always lead to words being chosen at the interpreter’s choice. The true meaning or origin of the Nephilim then should be decided by the context of the passage. A word should never be plucked out of context and used in isolation. The context of Genesis 6 makes it clear these Nephilim (Giants – not necessarily, but certainly ‘people’ of supernatural ability hence the likening to mythological heroes) are the offspring of unnatural relationships between demonic beings and humans! The context of Numbers 13 however suggests the people of the land of Canaan were physically stronger than the Israelite’s; the interpretation here should perhaps be the people of the land were strong and mighty rather than Nephilim. The word Giant is not mentioned it is assumed – due to the influence of the Vulgate that the Nephilim are giants, the text doesn’t say that. Elsewhere (1 Samuel 17:4) we are told about taller than average men, Goliath the champion of the Philistines; however, the word Nephilim is not used to describe him – therefore Nephilim cannot be taken to mean Giant in respect of height alone. Goliath was 9ft (2.47m) tall compared to the average Israelite man of 4ft 8 (1.42m). If anyone was going to be called a giant i.e. a Nephilim it should have been Goliath.

In numbers 13:32 we are told the inhabitants of the land are “of great size”, this still does not mean giants, certainly not all of them, some may have been genetically taller than others – but no more so than what we might expect.  Moses men report back with exaggeration and fear, they name the descendants of Anak, possibly a warrior tribe (in the understanding that Nephilim here more likely means strong or mighty). The point of this passage should not be missed. The majority of spies were in fear, feeling inferior to those that opposed them across the boarder, describing themselves as “grasshoppers in our own eyes.” (verse 33), they were missing the point that in Gods eyes they were Nephilim, – that is they were strong and mighty. Caleb recognized this  when he says,

“we should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”                                                      Numbers 13:30

Conclusion

The same English word has been chosen to describe two entirely separate people, one the result of unnatural union the second spoken of in fear. We could speculate and say the word Nephilim in Numbers 13 conjured up images in the minds of the fearful men, who were facing a spiritual battle of conquest to take Canaan, as much as they were facing a physical battle. In the same way speculating over the reasons of the flood in relation to the Nephilim as I did earlier are also just opinions. What we know for certain, according to the plain reading of the text in context is that the two Nephilim in question are different peoples.

Genesis 6:5 states the reason for the global flood was

“that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time”.

God brought about the flood because of the evil of man’s heart, this verse makes no mention of spiritual entities influencing the heart, it is merely assumed as Nephilim are named in the passage. It is important throughout all our study regarding the Nephilim that we do not lose sight of verse 5.

Matthew 24:36-42 talks about the return of Jesus to the earth. Jesus tells us in that day it will be like in the days of Noah, everyone will be going about their business not paying much attention to the crazy preaching about God they hear, and then suddenly it will be too late. Like Noah, the door will be closed. Verse 37 says “as it was in the days of Noah” it seems to me every time I read a newspaper or watch a television report about another murder, another neglect of a child, another abuse of political power or so on, we are living in the days of Noah, where every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart are evil. Jesus said he will return and it will be as it was in the days of Noah, his return will take people by surprise. Like the door of the ark as it closed leaving many outside, it will be too late. But today it is not too late, Jesus is the door, he says of himself “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved” (John 10:9) and again “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). The door is not closed yet, the gate is still open. But the days are becoming increasingly like those of Noah, we have a responsibility to show people that Jesus alone is the door to salvation.

 

[1] Theological wordbook of the old testament, R laird Harris, Gleson L Archer Jr., Bruce K Waltke moody publishers chicargo, 1980. 587.

 

[1] For further information on a thoroughly detailed analysis of the Nephilim see Who Were the Nephilim? Genesis 6 and Numbers 13 – a fresh look. B. Hodge, AiG-U.S. July 9, 2008.

 

[i] Sons of God (ben ‘elohiym) are often viewed as angels in scripture [Job 1:6, 88:7, Psalm 82:6, Daniel 3:25]. Although it is important to note these references are referring to Angelic beings obedient to God NOT fallen angels at all. Also we must note that Sons of God is a term given to humans too [Luke 3:38, Matthew 5:9, Romans 8:14 et.al.].