Salvation would be through Noah. God is protecting and preserving all the seed of the world in an ark, a container. He is not finished. This is somehow part of the creative process. What will be learned? What will be changed?
What is it like to know that a cataclysm is immanent and yet no one else around you seems to be aware? To be profoundly disbelieved?
Three sons. Where comes the faith to follow a man with disruptive insight?
How could the current of pure love outflow from God result in the abhorrence and revulsion that could somehow make good the plan to destroy all created life from the earth? How am I to make sense of this?
I want to believe that God is equally pleased with everything that comes out of me. My sins and failures are the amusing faux pas of a child learning. They are unavoidable and therefore, somehow, innocent.
It is strange how I can feel empathy for an unworthy character in a dark story of deliberate moral failure, and also be overwhelmed with compassion upon reflecting on the suffering of a good and righteous person.
It is the breath of my generation. No moral claim is valid as such. And yet I find myself surrounded by failure and all that comes with it. I have cast off the moral sensibilities that are somehow intuitive in the depth of my soul – but the shame and guilt cling to my being.
Noah walked with God. I want to walk with God. Today, not to be saved from the tidal flood, but just to be with Him.
For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. 1 Cor 4:3
So, God took Enoch.
In the drone of a thousand years of genealogy, my ears perk up. My imagination is piqued. Enoch did not die.
But cursed is the ground. Dust you are and to dust you shall return. In a moment everything is different. My soul flutters. In Enoch, I begin to see the hope of avoiding the horror and cursedness of death. How did he do it?
It’s a gentle and quiet word.
Enoch walked with God. He wasn’t chasing a salvation he couldn’t have imagined.
I missed it again…
I’ll try once more tomorrow.
The persistent pressure of existence presses through the essence of these people whose total effort of life is entirely creative yet barely translates to a word. I am, a creative outflow from my father and mother, creating an essential portal through which existence rushes into void. And I, in my time, pay it forward with my wife and partner.
There is a temptation to think that a sure plodding has begun. A line from creation through failure to salvation. But Cain to Lamech feel like maybe Hobbes was right. I so don’t want him to be right.
It’s curious that technology and short attention spans seem to grow hand-in-hand. The creative imposition on environment tends to objectify everything and in so doing, calls for all to be made subordinate to a forceful will.
In my life, I admit, I’ve wanted to be the one whose voice thunders and causes fear in the hearts of men. I’ve wanted to be Lamech. Hear me wives of Lamech, I was wrong. Our only hope is in the one who said, “forgive – seventy times seven”.
Cain killed Abel because God accepted Abel’s sacrifice and rejected Cain’s offering. It wasn’t fair.
The difference in the offerings is a source of great speculation. People say things like, “Cain’s offering was inferior because it did not involve blood”, or “Cain’s sacrifice was inferior because he offered less than the best from his harvest” or “he failed to offer the first fruits or because he had to be prodded to offer sacrifice whereas his younger brother willingly offered sacrifice”.
Whatever happened in this day of offering, one result is that Cain perceived himself as a victim. To Cain, God showed himself to be arbitrary – fickle. It was wrong of God to refuse his sacrifice. Cain felt that he did not deserve this. He naturally hated the wrong that had been done against him and so he lashed out in order to even accounts. He was justified, he believed, because he had clearly been wronged.
We all, I suppose, have experienced a similar moment. I have on many occasions since my youth heard myself say, “this isn’t fair!” In the twisted logic of an entitled outlook, every object has been prejudged with respect to how it affects me. Whatever I might encounter in my field, I know this much: the thing – whatever it might be – owes me something. This is the essence of what we call “entitlement”. Whenever I encounter a new thing, before I am even certain of what it is, I am already convinced that it exists to serve me. What’s more, its failure to serve me well is worthy of cursing and death.
Growing past this narrow view of the world takes more than the developed social skill of sharing. Even more than the developed capacity for empathy. Our hope and peace is in listening.
He who gives an answer before he hears, it is a folly and shame Prov 18:13
Cursed ground and clothes made from skin. Adam is dust, and he will once again return to dust. Ejected from the garden and denied the tree of life – the Lord God is just. Immortality would, in some way, further ruin Adam because of his knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve have somehow become like God and in such a state, they must not attend to the tree of life. The stakes were high. An eternal garden of failure, guilt and shame cannot be the outcome of this experiment.
Was the snake wrong?
There is a curious irony about deception that allows the deceiver to be technically correct on a certain level. Evil doesn’t have to a be a bald-faced lie. A subtle “interpretive difference” combined with a distorted motive is enough.
Perhaps even a guide giving honest directions about a road that he has never travelled, or never would travel – that is enough it seems, for evil.
This way might be harder than I originally thought.
“I am creative, but not in the way that God is creative”, he said.
“Really,” the old man responded, “how so?”
“Well, I can be creative by rearranging the material of the world. I can use my imagination to assemble and reassemble ideas. I can take materials and cut them and paint them and write on them and fasten them to other materials and heat them and anything else I can imagine doing to these things. But all of this is really only rearranging. Everything already existed. It is not creative in that it brings something into being that has never been and could never otherwise be without me.”
“Hmmm”, the old man said, “So you’ve never made a promise?”
What if you are more powerful than you ever realized?
You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
There is a distinction between those things living and those things not. Existence seems always to press toward life – though there is no obvious reason that this should be so.
That which never could be construed in the same way as those things that are alive, yet this is the very ground of life. The foundational condition of material existence sets up the pre-condition of those things we experience as alive.
A strange interplay born from the living person of God, who does not need a prior condition. Life proceeds forth and participates in existence mediated through earth, through matter. Like a wave through the ocean, it comes and goes and yet always remains. It generates and regenerates. It is fruitful and multiplies.
God is Subject. There is no object. And then He speaks. And somehow, through His word spoken, participation with His existence is made, is brought into being. This is the power of word spoken out of the subjectivity of God.
But spoken word is followed by separation. God saw that it was good and then separated. What am I to make of that? How should I understand?
My experience and my teachers tell me that I share not only in participation in existence, but also with this power to speak into existence. I do it often, perhaps almost continuously. My words do not have the power of fiat. They are, it seems to me, more like the dull hum of continuous droning. It makes me wonder what would happen if I spoke less often but with increased focus and deliberateness.