Monday, February 19, 2007

Gen. 4-11: Corruption and Judgment

I'm lumping several things together in this post, since right now I'm in the middle of chapter 18 and I don't want to get too far behind in my blogging. Note: This post has been modified from its original version. It has been formatted to fit the purpose of this blog.

To sum up Genesis 4-11, it's all about people screwing up. First Cain gives the wrong offering, and then he kills his brother. Then everybody becomes wicked, so God sends a huge flood. Then Noah gets drunk and exposes himself. Then a bunch of people rally together to build a tower to heaven, so God mixes up their languages. Throw a few genealogies into the mix and that's what it is.

I'll start with questions.

1. Why didn't God like Cain's offering? I think, personally, that it was a kind of sin offering, and the only thing that can cover sins is blood. I'm sure Cain knew that, and while it was nice of him to offer his grain and stuff, it wasn't what was required. That's what I think, but I don't know. What do you think?

2. How on earth did Noah get all those animals to fit in his boat? Even if they were all babies, and even if he collected them by genus or family or "kind" or common ancestor or whatever, that's a lot of animals, especially the bugs.
***Note: I don't particularly think the Flood had to cover every inch of the earth, since people weren't that spread out. But there is archaeological evidence in many parts of the world for a deluge (in Eastern Washington it's called Dry Falls), and that makes me think that maybe it was that big. But what do you think?

3. Why was the tower of Babel such a bad idea? What about its being built did God oppose? The only thing I can say for sure was that the people were defying God's command to spread out and fill the whole earth (I had another thought last night when I read it, but I forgot what it was. I've since begun taking notes so I don't lose anymore ideas).

So now I think the important part is to find out what we can learn about God from all this. It doesn't actually matter very much whether the Flood was a global phenomenon or how Noah got all the animals into the ark. What matters is what God reveals about Himself in the text.

So here's what I think.

1. God is involved with His creation, and He is concerned about us. He interacts with us.

2. God is a God of judgment, but even His judgment is merciful. He sends Cain out to wander in the world, but He doesn't kill him or allow him to be killed. He destroys the world with a flood, but only after 120 years of waiting. Plus, it's not like people all of a sudden got wicked and God started disliking them. It had to be a long process before people became so bad that every thought in their minds was continually wicked. And with the tower of Babel, all God does is stir things up, making people speak different languages so they have to spread out.

3. God is faithful. Genesis 8:1 says that God remembered Noah when he was in the ark - that doesn't mean He forgot about him and then suddenly went "oh yeah, I've got a guy in a boat to take care of." It means He never stopped remembering Noah. And then God promised that whenever He saw a rainbow, it would remind Him of His covenant not to destroy the earth with a flood again. If you think about it, I bet it's always raining somewhere in the world. So maybe God is always seeing a rainbow somewhere and always remembering His covenant. I think that's cool.

Questions, answers, comments, criticisms, concerns - all are welcome.


prayinmommy said...

Beholding from the circle here

Good post. Couple thoughts: Cain: wasn't his offering rejected because his heart wasn't in the right place? Because God goes on to say, if you do what is right, will you not be accepted? Like maybe Cain was not repentant for a sin. I don't know. Your idea made sense too.

Noah: Sheesh,I have no idea. And imagine the stench!

About the tower of babel, I always thought God broke them up because they were trying to reach him. Be like him, if you will, so he banished them from there like he did in the garden. He said 'nothing they plan to do will be impossible.'

Your insights are beautiful. I've said it other places, but our church is also going through the OT, and it's so cool to see your thoughts on this stuff too. Thanks for starting this blog. Your: it must be raining somewhere on the earth all the time reminded me of a fact: Lightning strikes the earth somewhere about 100 times a second. Crazy, huh? So I bet you're right. I bet there's rain falling somewhere all the time! I love that last thing. God's always seeing a rainbow. Beautiful.

Zoe said...

As far as Cain goes, I think the text implies that something was wrong with the offering itself. I've heard that he just didn't bring the best that he had (since the story says specifically that Abel did bring the first of his flocks), so that could also be it. I don't want to read too much into it, you know?

I've heard that as well about Babel, and it does say they thought they would reach to heaven. Many people believe the building they made was a ziggurat, one of those ancient temple things. So that's certainly possible. I just find it weird that God said "nothing they plan to do will be impossible." I wonder what He meant by that.

Thanks for your comment!

Jeremiah said...

I found a scripture that talks about grain offerings as being acceptable (Isaiah, I think). If you notice, while God notes that Abel's offering is the best of what he had, no such note is made of Cain's. It is my belief that Cain gave an offering that was either below par, or representative of the quality of his crop. When God asks for the best, neither is acceptable. Considering that Cain killed his brother over an offering to the Lord, I'd say that his heart was already in the wrong place. Imagine someone killing a deacon because their tithe check had more zeros attached to the end of it.

Michelle said...

So I know this is a really old post but I was browsing throught your archives and was curious as to what you thought of Genesis Chapter 6, verse 1 "When the human population began to grow rapidly on the earth, the sons of God saw the beautiful women of the human race and took any they wanted as their wives"

Who are the "sons of God?"

Zoe said...

Well, it's possible that it's referring to angels, which become fallen angels by doing this. Later on in Job we see the same phrase, "sons of God," used to refer to them. I don't know if I entirely believe this or not but it might explain why their children were not just normal people, and I think it's consistent with Jewish tradition.

The other possibility is that "sons of God" refers to the descendants of Seth, the ones who have been taught to follow God, and the daughters of men would refer to the descendants of Cain who are worshiping other gods, or something like that. It's a more believable explanation, but I don't know if it explains everything.