Yesterday we started the book of Genesis, briefly looking at its dating, structure, themes. We read about creation, God bringing his order to the earth. Along with the earth, we read how Adam and Eve, the were created and given the mandate to spread God’s order across the earth.
They were also given the choice to partner with God to learn what is good, or they can go their own way and decide good for themselves. Unfortunately, they go for the later, are separated from God, and now experience mortal lives that will eventually end in death. We mentioned how this is normally called the fall, and that this fall actually stretches all the way up to Genesis 11. We pick up on this fall today.
And so the fall continues. Because of jealousy, Cain decides to kill Able and is cursed and cast out. We see the ground itself being polluted by Able’s blood.
We then get the descendants of Cain and we’re meant to assume that, like Cain, they are all wicked and evil. This is particularly the when you get to Lamech who manages to twist God’s curse over Cain into protection for himself as he goes round killing whoever he wants and taking as many wives as he wants.
Meanwhile, Adam and Eve have another child called Seth and we then get a list of Seth’s descendants. If you compare the list of Seth’s descendants with the list of Cain’s descendants the names are very similar. We’re meant to contrast the two, as though Cain’s family is an example of humanity at its worst, but Seth’s family are an example of what humanity can be.
Then in Genesis 6 we get our second key moment of the fall. We have a weird story about the sons of God taking wives and then giving birth to Nephalim, giant hero men. There is some debate whether the sons of God are human leaders or whether they are key spiritual beings in God’s heavenly court. However, when we look at how the phrase ‘sons of God’ is used elsewhere in the Bible, we see that it likely refers to these spiritual beings (see Job 1:6; 2:1).
It’s not clear in the English but this story is almost a repeat of Genesis 3. Just as Eve SAW that the fruit was GOOD and TOOK it, these spiritual beings SAW that the women were GOOD (beautiful) and TOOK them as wives (married them). It can be easy to miss this because the English words used are different, but in the original Hebrew these are the same words used again.
This may seem strange to us. Why would these spiritual beings want to sleep with human woman? Well the humans had just lost their immortality, so they turn to this group of shady spiritual beings to try to see if there was a way to restore that immortality by having part-spirit, part-human babies that would be immortal. These babies became known as Nephilim and were much taller than other humans.
This is why God declared that he would limit the age of humans to 120 years. It also explains why God sent the flood. He saw the human race begin to be contaminated by corrupt spiritual beings and so decided this needed dealing with by flooding the earth and destroying the contamination. Just as God splits the waters to create the earth (Genesis 1:6-7), now he is going to let the waters come crashing back together, taking it back to its original form.
So God recruits Noah to be the one through who the human race will continue. He is to build an ark and collect every kind of animal together so that they may survive the flood. In this moment we see a glimpse of God’s ongoing plan for the world. God chooses a small group of people to redeem the world.
Noah builds an arc, and fills it with animals; seven pairs for each clean animal, and a single pair for unclean animals. He and his family join the animals on the ark, and the waters come crashing back in. Just as the splitting of the waters brought order and life, the waters returning meant the destruction of this tainted creation. A return to chaos. To what it was like before God’s order.
This psalm is a Royal Psalm, (see Psalm 18; 45; 72; 110; 144 for examples of other Royal Psalms). Royal Psalms are psalms that are focused on either God as king or on a human king. This psalm was likely read out during the coronation of a new king. It can be broken into four sections.
Psalm 2:1-3 - The foreign nations and rulers rebel against God and his king
Psalm 2:4-6 - God mocks these rulers by establishing his own king
Psalm 2:7-9 - This king is declared God’s son and the earth is his inheritance. He has authority over it
Psalm 2:10-12 - The foreign rulers are warned of the wrath of God for those who rebel against God’s chosen king
God’s chosen king is described as ‘his Anointed’, which is a reference to kings being anointed with oil when they are appointed. For now, it’s just another way of referring to the king, but over time this word will take on new meaning.
In the same way this psalm, at face value, should first be interpreted in light of God’s authority over the nations, and the authority he gives the kings over his people. God is the one with authority, but the king plays the role of his son (Psalm 2:7), his physical representative on earth.
But that doesn’t mean we have to stop our interpretations there. As we read further into our Bible’s we will reach a point where God’s people are waiting for a future king who will redeem God’s people and reunite the nations. An anointed one. Indeed, when we get to the New Testament, those writers begin to interpret Psalm 2 in a whole new light.
And just as Psalm 1 opened the book of psalms by sharing its intent to help people meditate on God’s word, Psalm 2 sets out the hope and promise of the psalms. A future king is coming. One who will provide all the wisdom found in the wisdom psalms, heal all the pain found in the lament psalms, and who is worthy of all the praise found in the praise psalms.
Anything you think I've missed? Maybe you've got a question that still needs answering. Send me a message over on my Instagram (@brynjoslin). I'd love to talk it through with you some more.
Understanding the context of your passage is always important. BibleProject always do an incredible job of breaking down each book so you can see how your passage fits into the wider story.
What is the meaning of the Genesis flood? Tremper Longman III and John H. Walton look at what this story would have meant in its original Ancient Near Eastern context, helping us see the flood as an Ancient Israelite would have.
For a slightly different overview of where we are so far, BibleProject have done an animated recap of Genesis 1-11 to help you fit today's passage into the overarching story of Genesis.
Spoken Gospel outlines the book of Genesis and point out some of the key themes, all in the medium of spoken word.
Spoken Gospel unpack for us how quickly the curse of sin and death has rooted itself in human hearts, through the story of Cain and Able.
Spoken Gospel review the weird story of the nephilim and look at the role of Noah and the flood.
In this class, over the course of 14.5 hours of content, BibleProject study Genesis 2-5. They take a close look at the stories of Adam and Eve, the snake in the garden, Cain and Abel, and more, to see how these early stories prepare readers for the rest of the biblical narrative. You will need to login (accounts are free) to access.
In this class, over the course of 14.5 hours of content, BibleProject focus on Genesis 1-11, the Psalms, and the Wisdom literature to see how these texts portray the architecture of the heavens and the earth. You will need to login (accounts are free) to access.