13And Elohim said to Noah: “The end of all flesh has come before me, because the land is filled with violence because of them, so I’m going to wipe them off the earth. 14Make for yourself an ark of gofer wood, with rooms shall you make it, and cover it inside and out with pitch. — Genesis 6:13-14
Last night my wife and I went on a date. It’s been some time since we were able to arrange such a thing. We watched the movie Evan Almighty, and then went out to dinner.
Now my reflections, as you might guess from the scripture, are about the movie. Quite often we reflect very little on the possible meaning of something God has done, or something someone says God has done, and we seem to miss the point. Without giving away the movie, I think I can tell you that Evan, the main character, misses the point quite a bit as do the people around him. God is making things happen around him.
Now I don’t know the precise history of the flood. The story is often told totally as a scene of God becoming extremely angry, deciding to kill everyone around, and saving only one person he finds righteous. And on the surface, that is the story. But perhaps the surface is not where we’re supposed to look. We know, for example, from 2 Peter 2:5 that Noah preached to the people. Did anyone listen?
There are many things we don’t know about the flood. Just what was it that the people were doing that made God so angry? Is it possible that they would have destroyed themselves completely without divine intervention and taken Noah and his family along with them? It’s quite possible that God wiped them out not by sending a disaster, but by refusing to clean up their mess. What he did was provide a way of escape for them.
What difference would that make? Well, certainly we could think of a God who allows freedom but also demands responsibility. We so frequently wonder why we’re in trouble, whether it’s financially, in our personal lives, in our church lives, or at work. We demand to know why God doesn’t fix things. But God may be thinking that if he cleans up our messes for us, we’ll never learn to behave any better.
As yourself: Is God a heavenly Dad, or a heavenly sugar-daddy? Is God more interested in solving my problems, or in helping me mature into a better person?
One of the key features I notice about the Bible is that God doesn’t grind the rough edges off of the stories. They are there for you in all their glory, and all their horror. The good people are there along with the bad. The good endings mix in with horrific ones. The best ending of all, salvation through Jesus Christ is accomplished at a cost and in a way that horrifies us when we consider it. We don’t understand how it works and so we argue and debate. But there’s a good thing about all that. We’re thinking about it!
People wonder why God doesn’t speak more clearly or act more clearly. Why can’t he just speak with a loud voice out of the sky so there could be no doubt? But the question is this: Is God trying to make you into a robot who executes his commands, or a person who freely lives according to his generous will?
Jesus himself spoke in parables. Parables sometimes help us understand something, but more frequently they challenge us to go beyond the simple answer. People like to get the explanation of a parable. But that’s not the point. The point is to challenge you to face the principles behind the story and apply them.
I hope you’ll go see Evan Almighty. It’s well worth it. The movie will preach just as it is, and it will challenge you to consider more deeply what God is up to in your life.