Have you ever read Romans 1 and wondered why Paul wrote verses 18-32 in the past tense? If you’re like me, you may have thought that he was simply describing our future—now current—condition in that manner simply as a literary convention. But in thinking about this recently, I no longer think that’s the case. I believe he was describing the way things were at a particularly heinous time in mankind’s history.
I’ve spent a lot of time in recent months exploring Genesis 6:1-4, and it’s actually verse 5 that is the ultimate key.
In our typical Christian thinking, because this is what we’ve been taught—and we rarely question it further—it is the sin from the fall of Adam and Eve that is the cause of all the problems in the world. That’s ultimately true, but it’s a limited viewpoint because it doesn’t go far enough. It fails to consider the context of what the ancient Jewish writers knew and communicated to their audience who knew what they referenced.
Not only was sin brought into the world through Adam and Eve’s rebellion, but there were two other incidents in the ancient world that brought us to the point we are today. There are three falls in this Israelite thinking, not just the one. They are:
- Adam and Eve’s rebellion in the garden as seen in Genesis 3.
- The rebellion of God’s divine sons in Genesis 6 that brought depravity into the world.
- Mankind’s rejection in Genesis 11 in the Tower of Babel incident of God’s Plan A to disperse throughout the world to subdue, rule, and multiply. This led to the falling away of all nations, and God calling Israel from nothing unto Himself.
Number 2 in this list is our concern today, so let’s review what the text of Genesis 6:1-5 says:
1 When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 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 man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.
5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
These verses are what we typically describe as the fallen angels coming to earth and procreating with mankind. In reality, these divine beings were part of God’s heavenly host, the sons of God who were spiritual entities of another form, not strictly angels. Just a note: no one in the ancient world—none of the Jewish writers even through the New Testament with Jude and Peter—thought these sons of God were the ungodly sons of Ham marrying the Godly daughters of Seth.
The result of this fall, as we see in verse 5, was the absolute corruption of man because of the influence of these spiritual entities and their offspring, the giant Nephilim. There is a reason that God looked down upon the situation on earth and placed a time limit of no more than 120 years before He acted. Man became so corrupted during this time, probably also having intermarried with the spawn of the Nephilim, that no pure human blood remained on the earth other than in the line of Noah. It is this corruption that we call depravity, which equates with a reprobate mind.
Here’s Paul in Romans 1:18-32:
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
There was no confusion on the earth as to whom God was. All beings, whether fallen divine, their aberrant Nephilim children, humans, or Nephilim-mixed humans knew about God. He had made it plain to all. But they rejected everything that He was and stood for. Men began worshipping the fallen sons as gods themselves. This is why we have the myths of gods in every culture around the entire world. None remained righteous and looked to the One true God. All turned to the gods they could see and who deceived them with their faux glory. These gods encouraged the making of idols as a physical presence and manifestation of what they pretended to be, a replacement for the true Creator God.
It resulted in incredible depravity as these gods made up their own rules. Anything to turn the hearts of the people away from Yahweh. Anything to inspire the sin nature of man. Anything to touch mankind’s inner needs, which if properly manipulated turn to lust, pride, and self that they thought could be satisfied through these other gods.
The earth literally became a hellhole from which mankind could not escape. Had not God intervened with the flood, His plan of redemption with the Seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15) could never come to fruition. These were the days of Noah.
Thus, when Jesus speaks of His return in Matthew 24 and tells us to remember the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37), He was speaking literally of the incredible depravity of that time and how it would be similar in the last days.
Look again at the description in Romans that Paul ascribes to the condition of the world by the time the flood approached.
Is there anything in that commentary that we can say is not present today? And not only present, but with us to such extent that we who love the Lord long for Him to remove us from this place that is not our home.
Do we have to wait 120 years for the Rapture? I pray not. From all appearances, from all the converging signs, we are on the cusp of Jesus’ return in the clouds to snatch us away from this sinful and depraved world.
Jesus is coming again soon to correct—to fix—the remaining issues resulting from all three falls. His death on the cross with the shedding of His blood deals with our sin issue (#1). When He removes His virgin bride from the earth in the Rapture and unbelieving mankind enters the Tribulation, that ultimately addresses and eliminates depravity (#2). The nations of the earth that worship other gods will be punished, as will God’s rebellious sons which currently rule over them. Through God’s blessing of Israel that comes out of the Tribulation, all nations on earth will be blessed. God called Israel for this purpose (#3). Once they turn to Jesus as their Messiah and proclaim, “Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!” (Luke 13:34-35), then God will have dealt with all three falls. There’s still more for Him to work out in the Millennial Kingdom, but God will have accomplished much in the way of the redemption of man by that time.
As strange as its horrors may seem, the Tribulation is a time of cleansing. It brings the final fullness of man to Christ, and it eliminates unbelievers. At its end, only those who love the Lord will stand, while we who answered His call before that awful time will enjoy the wondrous rewards that He has planned for us since all eternity. And all nations will worship the King.
When reading Romans1, remember Ecclesiastes 1:9:
What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.