The Choice: Plagues & Justice Pt. 4
Updated: Oct 8, 2020
We've been tracing a basic idea that the Biblical authors have been communicating to us in the first several chapters of the Bible: things are not the way they were meant to be and without God things only get worse. In this installment we will focus on the next few chapters of Genesis where things continue to get worse, and leave God with a choice to make about life on our planet.
In the beginning of Genesis 6 we read a strange and short account about the "sons of God" who came down to procreate with the "daughters of man." (see Gen. 6:1-4) If you'd like to be thoroughly confused, go ahead and read that section. (As an added note, there is actually a LOT going on in this portion of scripture that ties into all kinds of other parts of how ancient people saw the world. If you'd like a brilliant read that will totally alter your ideas about God and the Bible, go read The Unseen Realm by Michael Heiser - one of my favorite books of the last decade) But instead of getting bogged down in the details, the point of this part of the story is to tell us that things on earth were starting to get even worse...
Just like how there was a "fall" when Adam and Eve ate the fruit in the garden, here in Genesis 6 there is another "fall" when heavenly beings (known in the ancient world as "Elohim" Click Here for more on this topic) saw what was good - in this case, women - and came and "took" them for themselves. First it was just humans rebelling against God, now it was the spiritual realm as well.
"First it was just humans rebelling against God, now it was the spiritual realm as well."
So lets zoom out and see where we are. In these first 6 chapters of the Bible we read a story about a God who made a good creation and put as the pinnacle of that creation humans - beings who would be wise stewards and caretakers of God's good creation. But the humans rebelled and it turned into murder, rape, lying, and all kinds of other terrible things. But now it's spread to spiritual beings as well.
God saw all of this and saw just how off track things had gotten.
It's at this point we must ask ourselves - "what would I do if I were God?"
"what would I do if I were God?"
No, really. I want you to think about that.
Have you ever had a group project you're working on in class or in a job that just isn't going well? Isn't it frustrating when you do your part of the project but your partner does nothing?
Imagine this story from God's perspective...
He decides to make a group project called life on Earth where he works with humans to make sure things go well. And quite quickly we realize that instead of doing things God's way, humans choose to do it their own way.
So what would you do?
It's this question that we see God answer next...
"The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. " (Gen. 6:5-6)
Another word for "wickedness" would be "injustice." And I want us to hone in here before we come to a close for today...
Realize that injustice is when we look out at the state of the world and we are grieved by the condition of how things are going.
When you look out at the world today what are you grieved by?
Are you grieved by social injustice?
Are you grieved by economic injustice?
Are you grieved by racial injustice?
Any scenario in which unfair privilege has been shown to one person or group at the expense of another is an example of injustice. Genesis 6:5-6 says that God looked out at it all and saw how great it was and he "grieved" - he "regretted that he had made human beings."
"Any scenario in which unfair privilege has been shown to one person or group at the expense of another is an example of injustice."
Think back to your group project - have you ever picked someone to be a group partner because you thought they'd be good, but later regretted it? How about a boyfriend or girlfriend who you thought would be honest, but you later found out they were anything but?
What would your choice be if you were God? Our choice as humans is to breakup with the boyfriend or girlfriend. Or it's to eliminate "toxic" people from influence in our lives. Or it's to "block" or "unfriend" people who don't see the world as we do on social media.
And Genesis 6:6 says that "God's heart was filled with pain."Have you been there?
About a week after George Floyd was killed, I had had enough time to digest everything that had happened. I had time enough to see how the world reacted. I had perspective enough to see how my fellow Christians would respond. And to be quite honest, I was disgusted by it. Like God in Genesis 6 - my heart was filled with pain.
I called my old friend Josiah, and spent about an hour crying and lamenting on the phone about the unjust state of our world and the overarching response of silence and hatred I saw from many in the global Church. (Luckily I was very proud of many of the people in my local congregation - bravo!)
And I, like God in Genesis 6, had a feeling of regret - regret for being a part of a system that could do so much harm. Regret for my fellow partners in the faith who were so blind. And regret over myself - for not doing everything I could have or should have done to help in the fight against injustice.
But reading this passage again helped me. It reminded me that God also laments when the world gets way off track. God laments the sin in the world, and the sin in my life too. God laments when we get it wrong...even regrets making us at times. But God also sticks with us. God finds another way to keep working with us. God picked Noah to covenant with, and to work through, and that covenant to stick with humans is that same one he is faithful to today.
So it's a messed up world full of injustice, but God keeps on loving it. My hope is that each of us would find a way to love it, even when there are so many reasons not to. My hope is that we'd find encouragement to fight and work towards justice in an unjust world.