Friday, Feb 8, 2019. What is mankind? What is man? We should know ourselves, we are men and women, we live as humans. We should know! Yet, we strive ourselves to get to know. Sometimes we seem to know. People have ideas about how community works. They have ideas on how to deal with others. Usually, it only works for a very limited time. Or it does not work at all. We seem to be different from our philosophies, our ideas. But who are we? How do we find out?
Reading the biblical stories, we hear about far reaching events. The flood of Noah, for example. With the text from Genesis 8 today we jump into the end of the flood story, when Noah and his family alone survive and inherit the earth, approximately 4500 years ago. There are several exciting things to take up from this story!
Human branch …
Before we go into discussion, let us have a look at the passage itself. We read from Genesis 8:
20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. 22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” (from Genesis 8)
Let us recall the situation as described in the flood story. God just destroyed most of mankind. Just Noah and his family remained. So following this story, we are all descendents from Noah. We are all coming from one origin. You might find the story to be a piece of fiction. But it is quite interesting that modern genetics can analyse the rate of evolution of the human genome, and that this supports a rather short history of the human race (with all details to be discussed, of course).
Never Curse …
The most important remarks in the above text are those about God himself, his promise not to curse the ground again because of man. God promises some things to continue: seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.
You might ask yourself, what image of God is communicated here. God smells the burnt offering, the pleasing aroma. How can God do that? But we might also ask: how should he not do it? He will realize each and any emotion of humans active in the events. God knows exactly, what we feel and smell. He is there - as the bible claims in so many places. We live in him, like a fish in the sea. How should he NOT know all and feel all and hear all?
The next sentence is strange, isn't it? God promises not to curse again, but the argument here whould more support the case against mankind. Man's heart is evil from his youth. This is said about the first generation AFTER the flood. It is said when God promises grace to Noah and his family. Somehow God seems to know that it is not over. The flood is not a new beginning as it would be needed. The problem of evil is NOT solved. The flood is just a step on a longer path!
The problem of the human heart is not solved by a flood. We will learn later, in the New Testament, that it can only be solved by a new birth, a birth in truth and spirit, a birth through the death of the cross. The clear message of both testaments is that reconciliation and renewal, the full healing we all need, will come through Jesus, the Christ. (Roland Potthast) ... further texts