Noah sends out ravens and pigeons. Little experiments trying to figure out what’s happening. He could have said, “God shut me up in this ark – I’ll just wait for HIM to open the door”. But he didn’t. Instead, uncovering his ark and peering out, he tried to ascertain his circumstances through the evidence available to him.
Yet, he waited to act. The evidence told him that the earth was drying up. But Noah did not move until the Lord said, “Go out of the ark…”
Perhaps this is the original interplay of faith in God and reason born out of evidence. Noah has a need to know – to ascertain his circumstances, which causes him to experiment. Yet he knows via faith in an entirely different way.
Prima facia one might think of the knowledge born of faith as having a primacy. After all, it was this that caused Noah to build an ark in the first place. But what could faith-knowledge mean in the utter absence of reason and empirical evidence?
Maybe it isn’t a question of the primacy between two ways of knowing as much as an illustration of the balance necessary for an extraordinary life.
“God remembered Noah”. Remember is an interesting word. Like Noah was forgotten. Why not – “in the fullness of time God made the waters recede…”
More like Noah felt forgotten.
Not that I can judge the moral implication of such despondency for Noah – I can feel forgotten and alone in the middle of a crowd of people who love me. Dark night after dark night after dark night.
Yes, Noah didn’t have many choices inside the ark. But it makes me recall Peter on that day when most of Jesus’ disciples left him. Did Peter have any more real options? “Where would I go Lord, You alone have the words of eternal life.” He was as stuck as Noah.
Today feels like one of those days where I just have to keep walking.
Being shut in by God. How strange to be facing an unimaginable unknown, alone. God has shut you in to face the flood. Not with you Noah, but with you in every way.
Outside of time necessarily means outside of narrative. I find God in an indescribable, inexpressible moment. The ultimate paradox of simple, changeless, pure dynamism.
I am really afraid that it might somehow rain today. I will – trust in God.
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.