Do You View Violent Ones as God Does?
People have long admired and honored mighty men, those displaying great physical strength and bravery. One such was a mythological hero of ancient Greece, Heracles, or Hercules, as he was known to the Romans.
HERACLES was a superhero of great fame, the mightiest of fighters. According to legend, he was a demigod, the child of the Greek god Zeus, and Alcmene, a human mother. His exploits began while he was yet a babe in the cradle. When a jealous goddess sent two huge serpents to kill him, Heracles strangled them. In later life he fought battles, vanquished monsters, and struggled with death to save a friend. He also destroyed cities, raped women, flung a boy from a tower, and killed his wife and children.
Though not a real person, from remote times the mythical Heracles figured in stories of the ancient lands known to the Greeks. The Romans worshiped him as a god; merchants and travelers prayed to him for prosperity and protection from danger. Stories about his exploits have fascinated people for thousands of years.
The Origin of the Legend
Do the stories of Heracles and other mythological heroes have a basis in reality? In a sense, they may. The Bible tells of a time, early in human history, when “gods” and “demigods” really did walk the earth.
Describing that era, Moses wrote: “Now it came about that when men started to grow in numbers on the surface of the ground and daughters were born to them, then the sons of the true God began to notice the daughters of men, that they were good-looking; and they went taking wives for themselves, namely, all whom they chose.”—Genesis 6:1, 2.
Those “sons of the true God” were not humans; they were angelic sons of God. (Compare Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:4, 7.) The Bible writer Jude relates that some angels “did not keep their original position but forsook their own proper dwelling place.” (Jude 6) In other words, they left their assigned place in God’s heavenly organization because they preferred to live with beautiful women on earth. Jude adds that these rebellious angels were like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, who ‘committed fornication excessively and went out after flesh for unnatural use.’—Jude 7.
The Bible does not provide full details about the activities of these disobedient angels. However, ancient legends of Greece and elsewhere paint a picture of numerous gods and goddesses that moved among humanity, either visibly or invisibly. When taking human form, they had great beauty. They ate, drank, slept, and had sexual intercourse among themselves and with humans. Though supposedly holy and immortal, they lied and deceived, quarreled and fought, seduced and raped. Such mythological accounts may reflect, though in an embellished and distorted form, the actual pre-Flood conditions mentioned in the Bible book of Genesis.
Mighty Ones of Old, Men of Fame
The disobedient materialized angels had sexual relations with women, and the women bore children. These were not ordinary children. They were Nephilim, half human and half angel. The Bible account says: “The Nephilim proved to be in the earth in those days, and also after that, when the sons of the true God continued to have relations with the daughters of men and they bore sons to them, they were the mighty ones who were of old, the men of fame.”—Genesis 6:4.
The Hebrew word “nephilim” literally means “fellers,” those who fell others, or who cause others to fall, through violent acts. Thus, it is not surprising that the Bible account adds: “The earth became filled with violence.” (Genesis 6:11) The mythological demigods, such as Heracles and the Babylonian hero Gilgamesh, strongly resemble Nephilim.
Notice that the Nephilim were called “mighty ones” and “men of fame.” Unlike the righteous man Noah, who lived in the same period, the Nephilim were not interested in promoting the fame of Jehovah. They were interested in their own fame, glory, and reputation. Through mighty acts, which undoubtedly involved violence and bloodshed, they earned the fame they craved from the ungodly world around them. They were the superheroes of their day—feared, respected, and seemingly invincible.
While the Nephilim and their debased angelic fathers may have enjoyed fame in the eyes of their contemporaries, they certainly were not famous in God’s sight. Their way of life was detestable. Consequently, God acted against the fallen angels. The apostle Peter wrote: “God did not hold back from punishing the angels that sinned, but, by throwing them into Tartarus, delivered them to pits of dense darkness to be reserved for judgment; and he did not hold back from punishing an ancient world, but kept Noah, a preacher of righteousness, safe with seven others when he brought a deluge upon a world of ungodly people.”—2 Peter 2:4, 5.
At the global Flood, the rebellious angels dematerialized and returned in disgrace to the spirit realm. God punished them by prohibiting them from again materializing human bodies. The Nephilim, the superhuman offspring of the disobedient angels, all perished. Only Noah and his small family survived the Deluge.
Men of Fame Today
Today, gods and demigods no longer walk the earth. Nevertheless, violence abounds. Today’s men of fame are glorified in books, movies, television, and music. Far be it from them to turn the other cheek, to love their enemies, to seek peace, to forgive, or to walk away from violence. (Matthew 5:39, 44; Romans 12:17; Ephesians 4:32; 1 Peter 3:11) Instead, modern-day mighty ones are admired for their strength and for their ability to fight, to avenge themselves, and to counter violence with superior violence.*
God’s view of such ones has not changed since the days of Noah. Jehovah does not admire lovers of violence, nor is he entertained by their exploits. The psalmist sang: “Jehovah himself examines the righteous one as well as the wicked one, and anyone loving violence His soul certainly hates.”—Psalm 11:5.
A Different Kind of Strength
Standing in direct contrast with the mighty men of violence is the most famous human who ever lived, Jesus Christ, a man of peace. While on earth he did “no violence.” (Isaiah 53:9) When his enemies came to arrest him in the garden of Gethsemane, his followers had some swords. (Luke 22:38, 47-51) They could have formed a fighting mob to try to prevent him from being delivered up to the Jews.—John 18:36.
In fact, the apostle Peter drew his sword to defend Jesus, but Jesus said to him: “Return your sword to its place, for all those who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (Matthew 26:51, 52) Yes, violence begets violence, as human history has repeatedly demonstrated. Apart from the opportunity to defend himself with weapons, Jesus had another means of defense. He next said to Peter: “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father to supply me at this moment more than twelve legions of angels?”—Matthew 26:53.
Rather than resorting to violence or angelic protection, Jesus allowed himself to be seized by those who killed him. Why? One reason was that he knew that the time had not yet arrived for his heavenly Father to end wrongdoing on earth. Instead of taking matters into his own hands, Jesus trusted in Jehovah.
This was not a position of weakness but one of great inner strength. Jesus demonstrated strong faith that Jehovah would put matters right in His own time and way. Because of his obedience, Jesus was exalted to a position of fame second only to Jehovah himself. The apostle Paul wrote concerning Jesus: “He humbled himself and became obedient as far as death, yes, death on a torture stake. For this very reason also God exalted him to a superior position and kindly gave him the name that is above every other name, so that in the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven and those on earth and those under the ground, and every tongue should openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”—Philippians 2:8-11.
God’s Promise to End Violence
True Christians pattern their lives after the example and teachings of Jesus. They do not admire or imitate the worldly men of fame and violence. They know that in God’s due time, such ones will be swept away forever, just as surely as wicked ones were in the days of Noah.
God is the Creator of the earth and of humankind. He is also the rightful Sovereign. (Revelation 4:11) If a human judge has legal authority to render judicial decisions, God has even more authority to do so. His respect for his own righteous principles, as well as his love for those who love him, will compel him to end all wickedness and those practicing it.—Matthew 13:41, 42; Luke 17:26-30.
This will lead to enduring peace on earth, peace solidly founded on justice and righteousness. This was foretold in the well-known prophecy concerning Jesus Christ: “There has been a child born to us, there has been a son given to us; and the princely rule will come to be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. To the abundance of the princely rule and to peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom in order to establish it firmly and to sustain it by means of justice and by means of righteousness, from now on and to time indefinite. The very zeal of Jehovah of armies will do this.”—Isaiah 9:6, 7.
For good reason, then, Christians heed the inspired counsel of long ago: “Do not become envious of the man of violence, nor choose any of his ways. For the devious person is a detestable thing to Jehovah, but His intimacy is with the upright ones.”—Proverbs 3:31, 32.
The violent characters in many video games and science-fiction movies often reflect these bad, violent characteristics more intensely.
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MODERN-DAY MIGHTY ONES ARE ADMIRED FOR THEIR STRENGTH AND FOR THEIR ABILITY TO COUNTER VIOLENCE WITH SUPERVIOLENCE
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Alinari/Art Resource, NY