Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Don't Treat God's Wrath as Something Cute (Genesis 6:11-14, 17-18)

As far as God was concerned, the Earth had become a sewer; there was violence everywhere. God took one look and saw how bad it was, everyone corrupt and corrupting—life itself corrupt to the core. God said to Noah, ‘It’s all over. It’s the end of the human race. The violence is everywhere; I’m making a clean sweep. Build yourself a ship from teakwood. Make rooms in it. Coat it with pitch inside and out… I’m going to bring a flood on the Earth that will destroy everything alive under Heaven. Total destruction. But I’m going to establish a covenant with you: You’ll board the ship, and your sons, your wife and your sons’ wives will come on board with you.”
(Genesis 6:11-14, 17-18, The Message)

Many Sunday school tend to treat Noah’s flood as children’s story. Cute. The ark floats atop the rising waters, a smiling giraffe poking its head through the upper window hole. But the story of the Flood is a story of God’s wrath. Not a cute event, but a disastrous one.

God’s wrath is not an easy or pleasant thing to contemplate. But it expresses itself throughout the Bible – the New and Old Testament. God’s wrath is part of God’s love, not the opposite. In human level, if you love someone, you know how your anger burns against anything that would harm that person. “God’s wrath,” as my colleague once said, “Is reserved for that which seeks to destroy the people he loves.” Sin destroys lives, relationships, and happiness. The anger of God is the anger of surgeons who cut away cancers rather than see them consume their victims.

In Genesis 6, what I learned is this: God pours out His wrath by finally giving people what they want (if you read 2 Thessalonians 2:11, you won’t be too puzzled. See also people’s hard heartedness in John 12:37). The people of Noah’s time wanted to live beyond God’s grace, without God. So God finally lifted His retraining hand – the hand that restrained the floodwaters. In the end, the people got exactly what they wanted, and it was the end of them. Sad.

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