While the sin of Adam in the garden was a one-time event, the mudslide into total corruption continues all the way through to Genesis chapter 8, where God brings about a new creation through Noah and his family.
The fall of Adam and Eve meant they were driven out of the garden and settled in the East of Eden (Genesis 3:24). This is quickly followed by the fall of Cain, who is banished from Eden altogether and heads east to the land of Nod (Genesis 4:16).
Turns out, heading east is not a good thing and depicts man’s wandering further and further away from the presence of the Lord (cf. Genesis 11:1, “journeyed eastward” and Genesis 13:11). Conversely, heading west is symbolic of those returning to the Lord and the tree of life (Matthew 2:1).
In the third, “fall”, the “sons of God” intermarry with the daughters of men, and it’s at this point God looks down and decides to bring this old, corrupt world to an end (Genesis 6:5-7).
When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. (Genesis 6:1-2)
The sons of God are the line of Seth. Abel was a righteous Man. Eve tells us that Seth was His replacement (Genesis 4:25-26).
Through Seth’s line, people like Enoch (Genesis 5:24) begin to call upon and worship God for the first time. What follows in Chapter 5 is a list of righteous men, Sons of God, who came from the line of Seth. In this passage and elsewhere, the Sethites are noted by their devotion (4:25), consecration (26), fellowship (5:22), testimony (Hebrews 11:5), service (5:29), and finally their righteousness (6:8), and the righteousness of one man in particular—Noah.
Cain’s descendants, by contrast, are noted for their vengeance, bloodshed and self-exaltation (Genesis 4:23-24).
Some have thought that the “sons of God” going into the “daughters of men” was a reference to some bizarre angelic swingers party. But if they are angels, they are fallen, and the term “sons of God” is never used of fallen angels.
The term sons of God consistently represent the righteous or chosen line of God’s people. Moreover, nowhere are angels mentioned in this passage. They do not marry nor multiply. The concept is totally unrelated to the context, which is focused on man’s fall.
Each time man falls in these opening chapters, God comes down or looks down to see what’s going on. It was God who came to Adam, God who came to Cain, and it was God who looked down and now saw that the whole earth had become polluted.
In an act of de-creation, God steps in to remove the old world. Just as water covered the earth at the beginning of creation, so it would be covered again as a new world emerges.
Noah, who belongs to the line of Seth, is not among those who have corrupted and compromised themselves or their worship. And so, God comes to Noah and commissions a three-storey Ark, the floods come and wash the old world away, making room for the new.
And when we next meet with Noah on dry land, His household has been saved, and what does He do? He worships God and plants a garden.
In these early chapters of Genesis, a few additional things are worth noting that describe man’s descent into corruption.
First, just as God divided and multiplied the world as a blessing, now birth pains, thorns and thistles would be multiplied as a curse.
Secondly, each of man’s attempts to rejoin heaven and earth or regain unity on earth are corrupted. Cain builds cities, pointing to Nimrod’s later attempt to gather at Babel and build the unified city of man (Genesis 11:4).
Later, the line of Seth, that is, the sons of God, will attempt “togetherness” by intermarriage with the line of Cain, that is, the “daughters of man.”
Third, and perhaps most importantly, these early chapters of Genesis teach us that the heart of the problem is not mere obedience. The underlying cause of our mudslide into hell is the failure to worship God rightly, and in particular, to give thanks.
For although they knew God, they did not honour him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened (Romans 1:21)
Throughout scripture, those who give thanks find favour with God (Abel; Genesis 4:4, Sons of God; Genesis 4:26, Noah; Genesis 8:20). Those who remain in the dark don’t.
Giving thanks is at the heart of worship. Nobody appreciates an ungrateful child, and it’s hard to give thanks when you’re doing the wrong thing.
Adam and Eve could not give thanks for the fruit they ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil because man simply cannot give thanks to God while He is sinning.
The tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, along with the rest of creation, was good. The problem was not with the tree.
As we move through the Old Testament and man makes his journey toward maturity, we eventually get to Solomon, the wisest man, outside of Christ, who ever lived.
When Solomon takes the throne, God comes to Him, just as He had come to Adam, Noah, Abraham and Samuel. He offers Solomon anything He wants.
The first thing Solomon does is give thanks,
And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant David my father, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you. And you have kept for him this great and steadfast love and have given him a son to sit on his throne this day. (1 Kings 3:6)
He humbles himself, admits that he is but a child and then asks for knowledge of good and evil,
Give your servant, therefore, an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil… (1 Kings 3:9)
While Solomon would go on to demonstrate that, though a son of David, he was far from a Saviour, he nevertheless shows us what redemption will look like when Jesus, the greater Son of David, turns up.
It will mean breaking bread and giving thanks (Luke 22:19). It will be obedience grounded in worship and driven by gratitude.
Practically, this makes thanksgiving and gratitude one of our most potent weapons against sin.
In the fall of Adam, we learn that man must first learn to give thanks before he takes and before he eats.
The sons of God are those who are learning to give thanks with a grateful heart in all things; a child-like gratitude that begins with giving thanks to God for Jesus.