Series = God’s love in the midst of disaster
If I wanted to generate a flood of contradictions I couldn’t do much better than arrange a discussion between an agnostic and a young earth creationist (YEC) on the topic of Noah’s deluge. The agnostic would say, “The fact that there is no archeological evidence for a universal flood proves that the Bible is in error.” The YEC would no doubt respond vehemently with, “On the contrary, the flood was the very reason why the earth appears ancient while the Biblical evidence shows that it is only about six thousand years old.” (They claim that the flood laid down the sedimentary strata that archaeologists mistake for evidence of great age). And so it would continue.
However, I don’t want to dive into the age of the earth debate, I want rather to show how the flood reflects the heart of God. Say what?! Yes, God sent the flood only after a long period of prophetic warning and grace, and then only from a broken heart.
This is how the Bible describes the desperate conditions of that time. ‘The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.’ (Genesis 6:5) The key words are ‘how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become’, and ‘every inclination of the thoughts of his heart’, and ‘only evil all the time’. Great wickedness – every inclination – every thought – only evil – all the time. This is a description of a state of utter corruption and degradation.
Humanity had sunk to such moral depths that redemption was no longer possible. So, because of God’s love for His natural creation and for the few humans who were ‘savable’, He sent the flood. This is how the scriptures describe it, continuing in Genesis 6 from verse 6; ‘The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the Lord said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth — men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air — for I am grieved that I have made them.” But Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord.’
God was grieved and His heart was filled with pain. It broke His heart to destroy the very humanity He had created to be His sons and daughters. Yet, even then, God saved Noah and his family so that they could start again and fulfill God’s desire for a vast human family.
Now, it is important to know what God was doing in the build up to the flood. 1 Peter 3:20 records that in the days of Noah God waited patiently for humanity to repent. 2 Peter 3:20 describes Noah as a ‘preacher of righteousness’. So Noah was not just building the ark, he was also preaching to the people of his day, “Repent, turn to God, or else God will have to purge the earth. Be warned, there is a flood coming!” But unlike Nineveh of a later age they did not repent and turn to God.
The flood was not an act of rage or retribution; it was an act of absolute necessity to preserve the earth’s integrity, human discretion and moral law. It was a heartbreaking decision necessitated by God who is love.
My understanding of how God deals with humanity is as follows; First He sends His messengers to warn, then He gives considerable time and extends much grace, and only then does God pour out His wrath when redemption is no longer possible. Even then He saves the righteous remnant. This was the case in the time of the great flood, and it is the case in our times.
In my next post I will try to briefly address the theology of natural disasters.