Out of the Garden, part eleven

I’ve written several times on this blog about things that keep people from God. Many times, the things that keep people away from Him are their perceived ideas of a wrathful, vengeful God who stomped around the old testament wiping out people and places just because He felt like it. I remember being at Starbucks once a few years ago studying the bible and a couple behind me were speaking to a girl who looked like she was probably in her early twenties. And the girl said “I simply can’t believe in a God who would wipe out all of creation with a flood just because some of the people were bad.” I remember really appreciating her heart. I also remember thinking “if she only knew who God was and the actual story of the flood, then she’d understand.” The couple that was speaking to her did a wonderful job sharing with her, so I returned to my study, but many people have said similar things to me. How could a good God do such a destructive thing to His own people?

That question brings us to the first part of today’s blog, as there’s a verse in Genesis that so perfectly tells us why God felt the flood was necessary.

Genesis 6:5 The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil.

I’ve read this verse several times but no translation unlocks it quite the way that the NLT translation does here. When you read this, you realize that it wasn’t just some of the people who had become corrupted, it was all of them. And if you’ve been studying Genesis, you should already have an understanding of God’s love for His people. They are lovingly crafted by Him, He visits with them and spends time with them. If you love something, you don’t destroy it unless you have no other choice. God’s not the villain in moments like these, He’s the victim. The wickedness and stubbornness of His beloved creations forced Him into drastic action. You see more of His heart revealed in the following verses.

Genesis 6:6-7 So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart. 7 And the Lord said, “I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth. Yes, and I will destroy every living thing—all the people, the large animals, the small animals that scurry along the ground, and even the birds of the sky. I am sorry I ever made them.”

Psalm 34:18 speaks about how the Lord is near to the brokenhearted. It’s a feeling He understands because He’s felt it. I think sometimes we get so caught up in the cosmic magnificence of God that we forget that we’re made in His image. Who do you think gave you those emotions that you have? God did, and when you read about Him you come to understand that He feels things how we feel things. He’s heartbroken over the state of the world here in Genesis 6, heartbroken over what their wickedness is forcing Him into doing. These aren’t the reactions of a monster who loves to rain down death and destruction, they’re the reactions of a loving creator who is grieved over having to bring massive correction to His children.

As God prepares to unleash the flood, the Bible delivers to us one of the great short verses of all time.

Genesis 6:8 But Noah found favor with the Lord.

The entire human race and all of the animals were about to get wiped out, but Noah found favor with the Lord, and things changed. It’s important that we realize something here, because the Bible is demonstrating a massively powerful thing for us in this moment.

A single righteous person can change the fate of the world.

If not for Noah, it’s impossible to even fathom how different things would’ve played out. Does God start over with a new world, a new human race, different animals? Maybe He just gets rid of the humanity idea altogether? And yet in a corrupt, wicked world, the presence and steadfastness of one righteous man changed everything. God is bound by His goodness and sense of justice to act when things aren’t right, but we see times in the bible when God relents for the sake of the faithful few. His plans changed when faithful Noah caught His eye.

If you’ve ever felt alone or if you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by the darkness all around you, this biblical truth is for you. A single righteous person can change the fate of the world. You, alone in your family of unbelievers, your faith can change their fate. You, surrounded by worldly, sinful, wicked people at your job, your righteousness can change the entire workplace. No matter where you are and no matter how outnumbered you are, you’ll never be as outnumbered as Noah was. He was the one in the entire world. It was literally him against the world. But that was enough to get God to relent, to shift His plan of action. Yes, He still brought about a massive punishment and correction, but not to the extent He’d originally planned. If God responded to Noah, He will respond to you, too.

I’ve got a theory I’ve been playing around with lately that I really like; Math doesn’t work when it comes to God. He’s an odds breaker. He loves to turn human logic and human understanding upside down and twist it up and make it look silly. This God takes His small armies up against massive enemy forces and gets the victory. This God puts His single prophet up against fifty false prophets and gets the victory. So don’t ever look at the odds of your situation and call them hopeless. I know how lonely it can feel to be the only believer in a workplace, and I have friends who struggle mightily being the only believer in their family. These aren’t easy positions to be in, just like I’m sure it wasn’t easy for Noah to remain holy and pure in a world overrun by sin and evil. But staying true, remaining committed to God and His principles even when you’re surrounded by darkness, that sets the stage for miracles.

Wherever it is in your life where you’re outnumbered, I want to encourage you to start praying mightily over that place or situation. God loves to do the impossible, and just like we saw with Noah, a single person can be the catalyst for the shifting of an entire planet. Pray expectantly, and walk tall in your faith wherever you go. God’s not out of miracles, and He’s still looking for the faithful few who catch His eye and find favor with Him. He can and will act mightily on your behalf.
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I love all of you very much. I’m really loving this study of the book of Genesis and I hope you’re finding some good things in here as we go along. Everyone have a wonderful and safe weekend, and I’ll see you all back here on Monday!

If you have a prayer request or just need someone to talk to, please feel free to email me at freejenkins@gmail.com.

 

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