New Beginnings – Flood

Genesis 6-9 NLT

The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil.  Genesis 6:5

“Let’s go ahead and admit it: the world is a messed up place.  Brokenness abounds.  Now, this doesn’t mean we don’t intend to have a positive attitude about it.  There’s a bright side to everything…things could be worse…we should be thankful for what we have…and all that.  But just for the record, let’s be honest about the general state of affairs on our planet.  First of all, we have crime, pollution, erosion, and taxes—all of which seem to be on the increase.  Then there’s unemployment, disease, war, homelessness, and famine.  Even the earth itself gets in on the mayhem, producing earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, and hurricanes on a regular basis.  Each of these disasters forms a stage on which a myriad of stories of human tragedy are played out each day.  No words will ever capture the degree of human suffering that goes on each day in our world.

Innately, each of us recognizes that things are not as they should be. When a child dies an untimely death, we don’t need someone to explain that it’s abnormal.  When someone cuts you off in traffic, instinctively you know that an offense has been committed against you.  It seems we were born with a natural recognition of good and bad, right and wrong.  And as we look around us, something’s definitely not right.

It would be easy to sit around and complain, to cast blame on anyone and everyone for all the problems of this dysfunctional world. But if we’re really honest with ourselves, don’t we have to consider whether we’re part of the problem?  Each time we lose our temper, indulge our desire for control, or simply ignore someone else’s cry for help, we contribute to the crisis.  Somehow it’s in our nature to be selfish—a nature with every decision, and yet one we cannot seem to change.  This is a sad story indeed.

Sin is one of those universal concepts recognized in various cultures around the globe.  Virtually everyone knows what it feels like to tell a lie, enjoy another’s misfortune, or let anger run its course.  In fact, sin is such an everyday occurrence, that it’s hard to imagine what the world would look like without it.  We’ve learned to live with it.  We’ve come to expect it.  Some would even argue that the occasional sin is necessary to function in society.  Sin has blended in.  Which makes us wonder, why is sin such a big deal in the Bible?

God takes sin very seriously because of the statement it makes about our understanding of him.  He is supreme.  We are not.  God is the ultimate authority.  And we choose either submission to him or rebellion against him.  One small sin may not seem like a big deal.  But the nature of sin begs the question of whether we acknowledge God or not.  And that’s a big deal.  In a small way, our sin says, “I’ll be my own god right now.”  By choosing sin, we demote God and put something or someone else in his place instead.  And the brokenness that ensues reverberates throughout our lives and the lives of others.

Ultimately, the Bible says that sin results in death.  The apostle Paul writes that “sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.”  (Romans 5:12)  Sin causes death in our physical bodies and death in our relationship with God.  Sin is a big deal.  The important thing is not so much that we should succeed in avoiding it, but that we acknowledge God as the one worthy of setting our boundaries for us.  The issue of sin, from a practical perspective, is the proving ground on which our loyalties are declared. ” – Andy Stanley from Starting Point

So, in Noah’s day God saw humanity’s evil and violence and decided to allow their consequences to catch up with them and wipe them from the earth.  Then he saw a man who was righteous and instead offered humans a fresh start.

In the same way, God has seen your dark side and thought about giving you the consequences you deserve, but then he saw a man who was righteous who would die in your place.   Do you know him?  Other religions try to make you a better person but this Higher Power knows we must start with step 1:  powerless over our sin.  What better way to help people realize their powerlessness than a flood?  So the sinful world led to a worldwide catastrophe and then a 2nd chance.  The flood must come, but there is a rescue plan involving a man named Noah.

Many in his day laughed at him for building such a big boat on dry land.  Many will laugh at you if you tell them you believe the Flood in the Bible really happened.  Did the Flood really happen?  Archaeological digs and stories from other cultures say yes.

Archeology – In the 1920s Sir Leonard Wooley excavated the city of Ur and discovered a 12-foot-thick layer of flood deposit dating to the middle of the 4th millennium B.C.  The cities of Kish and Shuruppak also has large flood layers from around this time

Compare with Sumerian King’s List.  This ancient document (2000 BC) divides history with the great flood.  The lifetimes of the kings were outrageous, but became more realistic after the flood, much like the Bible

Gilgamesh is a great hero who wants to live forever.  So he goes to Ut-napishtim to find out how.  Ut-napishtim is the “Noah” of this story.  He builds a great boat and took his family along with many animals on a voyage and was rewarded with immortality for his great courage.  After the flood, Ut-napishtim sent a dove and a raven from the boat to check for dry land.

There are parallels, but there are also major differences.  The parallels are close enough to know that there was a tie to these two accounts.  Either one stole the story from the other, or the event actually happened and each civilization told their version of it.  The difference is the interpretation of the event.  Unlike the Mesopotamian story, it is not the whim of the gods, but the wickedness of humanity that is the reason for the flood.  In Noah’s story, God saves humanity because of His mercy and plan for redemption but the other happens because of the gods in the council leaks the plan to a human who saves the day. (Epic of Eden by Sandi Richter)

De-Creation

Just as God said, the floods came, waters burst forth from the earth, and rained poured from the sky, referencing the “waters above and the waters below” of Creation.  The flood is not simply a natural disaster intended to bright God’s judgment on humanity, but a de-creational event.  What is done at creation is undone with the flood.  The world is brought back to its pre-creation state––“formless and void.”  So unlike the fun and cheerful images we often associate with Noah—the decorations in our nurseries and children’s classrooms, the toys and camp songs, “the animals they came on, they came on by twosies, twosies”—the story of Noah is completely terrifying.  Think of the deadly tsunami that hit Asia in December of 2004.  The news reports said that once the earthquake struck, the waves traveled faster than the communications warning system could, 500 miles per hour.  The disaster caught hundreds of thousands of people unaware, wiping out whole towns and villages, killing, injuring, and displacing unimaginable numbers of people.  Put this sort of disaster into the terms one man and his family escaping to start again, and you begin to get a feel for this epoch-dividing event.

Re-Creation – Baptism is a watery grave making way for a new life

 

 

2 Corinthians 5:17 Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!