Genesis begins with God creating order out of chaos and establishing the world as it should be. God says it is good and then chaos enters back in through Adam and Eve eating the fruit. God wants Cain and Abel to know that what we do in worship spills out into the rest of our lives. Cain kills Abel and chaos begins to build. We see this in our own lives as well. In our homes paint starts to crack and doors creak and there can be a slow descent into chaos. Weeds grow up in our flower beds. As we look at Genesis there’s a slow progression into chaos and we wonder what God will do. In Genesis 6:5-8 we see chaos in our world because we have moved away from God.
We sometimes move away from God.
5The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
Moving away from God is part of our free will. This is how God made us. We were made with the capacity to make choices. We are not robots and in our rebellion we choose our own way. As we jump into this dark passage the Bible gives us a harsh and realistic view of our world and of our own hearts. Even with the backdrop of chaos there’s still a hint of grace at the end. God tells us where we are so that we can get to where we need to be. God is aware of what’s happening in our world. “Every intention of the thoughts of his heart” is an interesting choice of words here. God sees actions but also knows what’s in our hearts. Our actions begin in our hearts as a thought. The word ‘thoughts’ here is a creative word. It’s the same word used to describe potters as they form clay. We don’t think of this as being a thought process but we are creating in our mind long before we create with our hands.
We have the capacity for good and for evil. God says we are using our brains towards evil instead of towards good. We can do a lot of good things. We can use this same energy to do evil as well.
In Genesis 37 Joseph was a preteen. His brothers saw him coming, wearing his special coat. His brothers could have embraced him but instead they thought this was their chance to get rid of him. His brothers planned evil. Later, in Genesis 50:20, Joseph tells his brothers that what they intended for evil God has used for good. In our chaos we create evil. Destruction enters society. There’s still the possibility to be used for good.
In Genesis 6 we learn about the heart of God. God has emotions. God is affected by what we do. God is affected by us. God cares about what we do. When God sees us destroying one another it hurts God’s heart.
Our downward spiral grieves God’s heart.
7So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.”
8But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.
Here we see God’s emotions. God was sorry. Sorrow is being grieved in our innermost being. Have you ever felt sad? Deeply grieved? This ability to feel comes from God. We are made in God’s image. God grieves our sin because He sees us destroying ourselves and others.
Sometimes we hurt because of our own choices. Other times we hurt because of other people’s sins. God hurts for us in both these situations. We see the heart of God breaking over the pain and suffering we go through. What’s in your life that hurts the heart of God today? It hurts you, but it hurts God too. God sees all this happening. God takes action.
We belong to God.
We are sons and daughters of a King. This is our Father’s world. Whatever loss or grief you may feel, know this is our Father’s world. Our grief and pain will not win. This world and all that’s in it belongs to God. God will take action and reclaim what’s His. In verse 7 we see God’s grief over our sin and choices. God’s judgment is laid out. We are free to make choices, but we are not free from the consequences of our own choices. Everyone wants the freedom to make their own choices. We are always responsible for the choices we make. Responsibility isn’t just for ourselves but we have dominion over the earth, the plants and the animals. God gives us freedom but we are responsible for all God has given us. We are responsible for the people around us and how we treat people. We sometimes think we aren’t hurting anyone else in our choices. Our choices have consequences and really do affect other people. God sees the evil of man. Even the plants and animals pay a price for our choices.
For example, consider the fires we saw recently in Australia. Twenty four people dies and over half a billion animals were affected. Many of these fires were started intentionally to cause harm. Within all of us there’s a great capacity for good, but also for evil and destruction. You may not intend to start a fire but our sins have consequences for the people around us. We think we have a hold on what we’re doing but we are all made for a relationship with God. We are made to attach to the Holy Spirit of God. We can create great art and music when we allow God to do a work in us. When we go our own way we invite destruction that we cannot contain. Here’s a very simple analogy: How many of you enjoy making your own soft serve ice cream cone? How many of you try to test the capacity of the cone to see how much it will hold before it falls over? How do we know you’ve gone too far? We think we know the limit but the only way to find out is when we’ve already messed up. When a child overdoes it, we stop the child. When things reach an awful point we will shut it down. Part of our grief is asking why God isn’t doing something. The truth is that God will intervene, and when God intervenes there will be a major halt! Waiting is part of God’s grace. God will intervene and we will see this in the flood next week.
Hope is always close.
On a smaller scale God intervenes in our lives. In verse 8 we have a glimpse of hope. Favor is grace. When we think about grief in our world God is still working. God provides the way for you and me to be rescued and restored. What God did in Jesus Christ, He looked at our lives and our choices and decided to take our grief upon Him. He took our sin upon Himself. This is what God does! God takes our pain upon Himself and delivers grace to us. How will we ever find relief? We find it in the cross of Christ. We find hope. The cross is our ark. It’s how we are delivered. When we trust in God we find deliverance.