3–9 January 2016.
This month we start reading Genesis, the first book of the Bible. Genesis wonderfully weaves together different ancient stories in order to tell us something about how the ancient Jews understood the world’s beginnings. Chapters 5 and 6 are especially mysterious, beginning with a list of the descendants of Adam before giving us a very unusual story at the start of chapter 6 – a story about strange heavenly creatures having children with human women. In the 2 creation stories at the start of Genesis we see how God gives the world a very clear order. But now not only have human beings started destroying that order, even heavenly beings are joining in, mixing heavenly and earthly worlds!
While all this chaos seems terrible, it actually points to an amazing truth: that God’s creation is wonderfully free to grow and move on its own, even in ways that God never expected.
Some people want God to be absolutely in control of every tiny detail in the world, but God isn’t that type of dictator. He gives us the freedom as well as the ability to make our own way, even if that way is not what he intended. This means that God sometimes regrets his decisions (6:6–7) or is surprised by what we do. This also means God has to learn how to deal with this new world of his.
The Noah stories that follow give us a great example of God learning.
In 6:5–8 we hear how human hearts are all full of evil. As a result, God’s heart is full of regret. How did things go so wrong so quickly? In verse 13, God thinks it’s best just to destroy everything and start again. But before the stories are over, God will learn in chapter 8:21 that being full of evil is just the way we people are. The flood didn’t change anything!
But one thing does change: God promises never to treat us with violence again, but to treat us with grace. What wonderful good news to start the year! Despite our evilness, God will always treat us with love and grace!
Pastor Stephen Lakkis