Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Blogging the Bible: The continued effects of the fall

In the first three chapters of Genesis, we see the first two acts of the four acts of the bible. Creation, fall, redemption, restoration (or consummation). Genesis 1-2 tell us of creation. 3 tells of the fall, it shows how man, who was created to be in relationship with God, rebels against God, and destroys the relationship between God, and each other. From here on out, the fall looms large. Sin, rebellion against God that reared its head at the fall, is the heart of all human problems. As D.A. Carson noted, “The Bible insists that the heart of all human problems is rebellion against the God who is our Maker, whose image we bear, and whose rule we seek to overthrow. All of our problems, without exception, can be traced to this fundamental source: our rebellion and the just curse of God that we have attracted by our rebellion. This must not be (mis)understood in some simplistic sense. It is not necessarily the case that the greatest rebels in this world suffer the greatest pain in this world, on some simple tit-for-tat scheme. But whether we are perpetrators (as in hate, jealousy, lust, or theft) or victims (as in rape, battery, or indiscriminate bombing), our plight is tied to sin — ours or that of others. Further, whether our misery is the result of explicit human malice or the fruit of a “natural” disaster, Genesis 3 insists that this is a disordered world, a broken world — and that this state of affairs has come about because of human rebellion”.

From Genesis 4-11, we see things slide downhill. In Genesis 4, we saw the line of Cain. We saw the good, the creativity. We see that man who is created in the image of God still reflects that inage in creativity and a desire to make and shape, as their maker made and shaped. But we see all it’s brokenness. Murder, polygamy, godlessness. The line of Seth stands apart, because they are calling on the name of the Lord. The line of Seth is marked by people who call on the name of the Lord, Enoch walks with God, and God took him.But notice something. Everyone on the list is marked out with a postscript. And he died. The chatper reminds us of the effects of the fall by reminding us of the punishment for sin… and he died… and so will you. Death comes to all, because of sin.Now, we find ourselves in Genesis 6 and 7. The flood (at least the first part of it). Things are still deteriorating. “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.” 

So you have two things right out of the gate. A population explosion, and a new form of wickedness.
Now, who were these? Sons of God. very briefly. Some believe that this is the line of Seth, marrying into the line of Cain. Some believe that this is kings marrying commoners, and creating harems (Pharaohs were called sons of the God’s). Another answer is one that has been popular through church history. This is Angels marrying people. Gordon Wenham, the author of the Word biblical commentary on Genesis, notes that the term sons of God “refers to spirit beings” He points out that “the Nephilim are the ancient superman supposed to be the offspring of these spirit human unions. Some Nephilim were in Canaan when Israel invaded (numbers 13:33).”

I’m not sure which is the best option, but whatever is going on, wickedness is rampant. Furthermore, we see through these verses a picture of humanity being wicked in everything that they touch. Wickedness rules the day.

The Lord decides to act. He is sorry he decided to make man. They grieved Him, all are corrupt, they had corrupted the earth,and He decides to bring judgement for sin. However, one man is shown grace. Notice the word about Noah, he found favor. All are wicked. Noah is shown favor. The Hebrew word there is CHEN. Grace. Favor. Noah found grace. God shows grace to Noah and his family. He tells Noah to make an ark, basically a floating, incredibly seaworthy barge. Through the Ark, Noah and his family are saved. Everyone else dies, all are judged for sin, but Noah and the family are to be saved. God makes a covenant with Him, and gives him instructions. Noah obeyed, and is saved.

Notice three things here.

First, this is the first time that we first meet the distinction between clean and unclean. This will become a huge theme. Animals are clean and unclean. Sin makes people unclean, and in need of cleansing. It’s pretty clear here that man is unclean. So unclean that God judges. Something clean will be needed to remove uncleanliness.

Second. This is the first time that we meet the number 40 here. This will be a number that caries significance. It signifies completion, fullness, and testing. Israel had been in the wilderness for 40 years for reasons that included proving or testing (Deut. 8:2). We find the 40 years of testing in the book of Judges (3:11; 5:31; 8:28), in which Israel had been given 40 years of peace and prosperity on various occasions, only to drift back into idolatry and rebellion. Sometimes Israel was given 40 years of punishment (Judges 13:1). Certain kings of Israel reigned for 40 years (II Sam. 5:4; I Kings 11:42; II Kings 12:1).

Third, the judgement is total. If you are outside the covenant, and the means of covenant grace, you are judged. The waters fall, judgement comes. Some argue if this was a local or global flood. I don’t know. What we do know is that it is universal in scope. All things that are living fall under it,  “And all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, livestock, beasts, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and all mankind. Everything on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died. He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens. They were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark.”

What a slide. From rebellion at the fall, to total destruction here in Genesis 7. What is highlighted in all of this is wickedness, and more wickedness, and more wickedness, and the effect of sin is that it bring judgement, death. But yet, God shows grace. And the promise that He made is kept intact. The line is alive. The line of the promised one remains. The family from whom the seed that will crush the serpent continues forward. Man’s sin does not thwart God’s promise.

1 comment:

  1. I like that the rainbow is a sign of Gods covenant with Noah