In recent years, the world has been crying for unity like never before. As long-standing alliances fracture, individual nations disintegrate, and families fragment, our world demands understanding. And yet, the gaps between us seem to widen each day. What does the Bible say about all this? How can we, as members of Christ’s body, resist the division and fulfill God’s call to unite ourselves? In today’s lesson, we’ll address these two themes.
I often refer to the antediluvian world because Jesus predicted that society would be the same just before his return as it was before the Flood. Then as now the world was bitterly divided and the division ended in the planet’s destruction. Let’s take a closer look.
Sons of God & Daughters of Men
A close reading of Genesis 6 shows that two main family groups existed on the earth—sons of God and the daughters of men. There has literally been millennia of debate as to what this term sons of God (literally b’nai Elohim or Sons of Elohim) means in this context. With respect, I disagree with many of the historians—such as Josephus and Philo of Alexandria— who believe that these sons of God were fallen angels. I do this for two reasons:
First: it is unreasonable to think that angelic beings (who are spirits as per Hebrews 1:7) would be enticed into sexual relationships with mortal women. Second: the term sons of God is often used in Judaism to refer to the lineage of Seth. While this became more common in the 2nd century AD, there is definitely a wealth of rabbinic literature dating before Christ as well as Scriptural references that associate the phrase sons of God with human beings (Deut. 14:1, Hos. 2:1, Is. 43:6, Ps. 82:6 etc).
I’d like to point out that Seth’s line had sons while Cain’s line had a multitude of daughters. This is a historic anomaly which is why it’s in the Bible. Historically, globally speaking, there has almost always been a greater number of men on the planet than women. This is part due to the dangers of childbirth and the lower life expectancy for women than men (up until recent times).
To give this some perspective, from 1000-1348 AD, there was a global population increase. Despite this, it was not unusual to have a ratio of 120 men to 100 women in Europe. Most men lived to about 30-35 years while women died, on average, at around 25-30. While we don’t have specific demographics in the Bible era, it is likely that the sex ratio was even higher from looking at the number of men drawn up for battle throughout the Old Testament.
But the reverse was true in the times of Noah (see Gen. 6:1). We don’t know why there was a genetic divide in the times of the Flood but it probably had to do with the scientific slant that Cain’s side adopted. As we know, genetic engineering is a very powerful modern phenomena. It is possible that Cain’s line began to design beautiful women using gene-editing technology similar to CRISPR. If daughters were seen as desirable in Cain’s line, you can imagine what wealth, power, and prestige would be associated with having the most beautiful woman of all.
When you think of our modern Miss Universe, Miss America and other myriads of beauty contests–as well as the incredible amount of wealth the fashion industry generates–this doesn’t seem so outlandish. After all, remember humans never change. And Jesus predicted that the world at the end would be the same as it was before the Flood. I believe that quite literally.
Over time, the incredible beauty of these women became irresistible to the sons of Seth. How could their own natural women compete with the technologically enhanced capabilities of Cain’s line? And so, a great uniting began.
The issue was never one of race. It was one of faith. Today, all the issues that plague our global society come down to one basic problem–doubting God’s Word. No matter how much we try to unite ourselves, if one person doubts God the whole system will fall apart.
For doubt makes us self-seeking. We question God’s promise and try to have a backup plan “just in case.” Because we’re all self-seeking by nature, one person’s solution to a problem actually causes a problem for someone else. This creates conflict and division.
To give a real-world example. During the pandemic, some influential ministries advocated streaming their online ministries as a solution to worried believers. This might have been a blessing to some but it caused immense problems for other ministers who lost segments of their congregation to those with more influence.
Again, one person’s solution is another’s problem.
With this background, we might well wonder how we can ever come into the “unity of the faith” spoken of in our text.
Well, I’m so glad to say that, while we humans can never find a solution to anything, God provides the solution. For Abraham who struggled with finding a sacrifice that could take the place of his son, Jehovah-Jireh–the God who Sees–provided an answer.
For Hagar who staggered alone in the wilderness, God provided an answer.
For Joshua, Martha, Cornelius, Paul and Silas, and myriads of others who could not find a solution to a problem standing in the way—God provides the answer.
The problem of human unity is nothing for Him. For He unites us to HIMSELF and then each other. Let me explain. Christianity was initially intended to be a means of uniting the world. It was a radical religion. For the first time, it didn’t matter if you were rich or poor. Your race didn’t matter. Your gender didn’t matter. Whatever religion you were before, whatever lifestyle you lived, none of it mattered because you could now become a NEW creature in Jesus Christ.
Slave and free were equal. Men and women could both approach God with the same assurance that they would be heard. This was true freedom!
But, in the centuries that followed, the Christian message became twisted into something else. Men and women who hungered for power realized that religion, as always, is a means of controlling the masses. Instead of grace, ritual became common in Christianity. It became complicated to be a Christian. People lived in fear of displeasing God and the ministry dominated the people.
As power became consolidated into the hands of a few, the Christian message of unity became a tool of division. If you didn’t believe like someone else, you were “out of the kingdom.” Over the past 2,000 years, Christianity has been a prime contributor to millions of deaths and suffering. Was this what God intended?
Not at all.
But it is what we choose.
So, as we near the coming of Jesus Christ, something has to change to bring us into a unity that reflects His own oneness with us.
What is the unity of the faith?
The unity that Paul writes about is not a collection of sermons. Nor is it a set teaching. Nor is it a forced unity that follows organizational lines. If we are being honest, these things have served to divide and isolate us from others who don’t believe exactly what we believe.
So what does the Bible mean? Exactly what it says. A unity of faith. Just as doubt is the source of division so faith is the source of unity. Each member of Christ’s body will be united by transforming experience to Jesus Christ.
This uniting time occurs at Christ’s return. At Christ’s return the Elect of God around the world merge into a deeper unity. It is a literal uniting with Him and with each other. It is a uniting with the redeemed who have already gone into His presence. It is a merging of one people, Jew and non-Jew, into a glorious new family.
Then, and only then, will the five-fold ministry that God has initiated be no longer necessary. For the uniting of Bride and Bridegroom will have taken place and the Wedding Supper of the Lamb will begin.
Uniting During the Great Millennium
I mentioned on Sunday that God will have no distinction between Jews and non-Jews in this world that is to come. That those of us who have no families here in Christ will have a husband, wife, and family in the Millennium or the 1,000 year reign of Christ. I’d like to back that up with even more Scripture than I provided on Sunday because I know it probably challenged some of what you’ve believed.
In Romans 11, Paul writes:
But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root[b] of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches.Romans 11:17-18
This is such an important reminder, especially for those of you who may have felt that Israel was a servant to God while you are placed as a son. Let me caution against arrogance and state clearly that Jesus Christ is also referred to as the Servant of God (Isaiah 53:11) and yet He is THE Son of God.
We Gentiles will be grafted into Israel during the Millennium much like Ruth and Rahab were “grafted in” and placed into families. I cannot begin to express how much joy it gives me to know that no one will be alone in that world. So press on and love God with all your heart. A great time of uniting is just ahead.
The scriptures predict that the world will continue to divide as humans continue to be “lovers of their own selves” (2 Tim. 3:2) and the family structure disintegrates (Malachi 3 and 4). Isolationism and estrangement will continue to plague lives even as people become more religious and think they are getting closer to God. But do not let that become your story.
Deepen your connection with Christ and remember that His coming obliterates the divisions of humanity and ushers in a brand new beginning of unity.