In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, saw it was good, but then he had to destroy everything with a flood because humans messed it up. Right?
Well, nothing is that simple.
In my Bible class, the professor directed us to look closely at the pre-flood world and the post-flood to help us draw conclusions about what significance the great flood in Genesis really had.
As we examined and discussed, the stereotypical idea of God–a powerful deity angry enough to wipe out his unruly creation–started to become increasingly false.
In the pre-world flood, after the expulsion from Eden, what was the first major event? The murder of Abel by his brother, Cain. God responded by saying:
“‘What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. 11Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.’”
Cain complained he would be killed…
“15 But the LORD said to him, ‘Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over.’ Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him.”
According to Jewish law, Cain was not really punished; he should have suffered death for committing murder. And in Genesis 4: 23-24, a similar story takes place, when Cain’s son Lamech was also protected from death after he murdered a man.
But note how God said the earth swallowed up Abel’s blood, and therefore the ground became cursed because of it. In this pre-flood era, God seemed to put less emphasis on personal guilt than on the fact the earth had become defiled through bloodshed. Genesis 6:11-13 follows this concept:
“11Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. 13And God said to Noah, ‘I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth.’”
From these passages, it seems God cared more about the affects of sin rather than sin itself; the people weren’t simply horrible sinners, they were killing each other and defiling the land by the bloodshed. I think that is the real issue God has with sin–as much as we would all like to believe sin is personal, it always ends up affecting another.
Therefore, the rain fell for 40 days and 40 nights.
After the land dried up enough for the inhabitants of the ark to come out, God established a covenant with Noah (Gen 8:20-9:17), saying first:
“I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”
God continued to tell Noah and his descendants to “be fruitful and multiply” the earth, and prohibited them to eat the blood of an animal or commit murder, at penalty of death.
At a close glance of this new covenant, each element favored the human race’s existence; rule 1: have lots of babies, rule 2: don’t eat raw meat, rule 3: don’t kill each other, and if you do, you will die so you can’t kill anyone else.
I don’t know what you’re seeing here, but this is what I see: a God loving enough to be willing to clean out the earth and give it a fresh start to keep his creation from corrupting and destroying itself any further.
End of Part Three.