Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Cleansing Flood

An interesting development takes place early in the book of Genesis that often goes unnoticed for its incredible significance: the Flood.

Now, I know what you're thinking. If there's one thing we don't seem to dance around in our churches, it's the flood. If there's one thing even our littlest children know, it's that Noah built an arky-arky. We've all had the play sets, colored the pictures, sung the songs, and told the story, so how can it possibly be that I would argue that the Flood could go unnoticed?

It's not the story that slips by us; it's the significance.

Go back to the beginning. Start at Genesis 1. With delicate care, God creates the entire known universe out of the unknown; He makes the visible out of the invisible; He imposes form on the formless. Over the course of five days, He fills the world with His incredible creation and then, on the sixth day, He crowns His design with His image: man.

And it was very good.

A couple of chapters later, Eve picks a fruit, shares it with Adam, and one of the firstborn sons kills the other in a fit of envy and rage. A few chapters after that, the whole world has gone to Hell in a hand basket, everyone's evil to their very core, and suddenly, what was very good is no good at all.

In the blink of an eye, the entire creation has gone from 'very good' to 'good for nothing,' and because of the failure of the pinnacle of creation, God destroys literally all of it - an essential "uncreating" in the very reverse order of the first six days. First, the men and women are washed away and drown. Then the animals, those along the land and those that swim in the sea, can find no refuge and are destroyed. Birds tire out, for there is no more place to land until they simply fall, and then there's no way to get back up again. The ground's produce is swamped and stops. Then, there's no land at all; only water. As the rain continues to fall, even the heavens are clouded in darkness until, to the very few left in the boat, the whole universe once again seems formless and empty.

When we talk about this, we talk about the God who destroys His own image, the God who seeks such vengeance on His people that He would do such a thing to them. But that's missing the bigger drama of this whole thing. That's missing the incredibly heartbreaking story that's taking place here.

Because the world wasn't evil; men were. Creation wasn't broken; men were. As far as we know, the birds, the animals, the clouds, the sun, the moon, the heavens, the earth...they were all still...good. Not very good any more, but they were at least still good. You could eat the fruit off the trees and trust that it wasn't poison; it was still good fruit. You could plant a crop and harvest it; the land knew what it was doing. The birds woke up every morning with the same song they always sang. The howler monkeys stayed up at night with their choruses. The sun rose in the east and set in the west and when it wasn't daytime, the moon reflected the sun's glory. All in all, creation was still good. It was still working as it was intended.

Except for that pesky little "human" experiment, which was going so terribly wrong that God could do nothing but to undo everything. 

Let that sink in.

No, really. Let that sink in. The trauma of the flood is not what God did to His people; it's what He did to His creation. His entire creation. We don't talk about this enough. Most of us don't talk about this at all. But we should. We have to. 

Because what happens next is breathtaking....

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