Genesis 6:5-8 and 8:20-22: Reflecting on Pre- and Post-Flood Humanity

Violence and evil are exponentially increasing.  The consequence of Adam and Eve’s disobedience is most evident in Cain’s murder of Abel.  This violent trend only escalates in Lamech’s killing of a young man.  If remarks: “If Cain is avenged seven times, Lamech will be avenged seventy-seven times.”  Something has gone entirely haywire in God’s good Creation.  In fact, Genesis 6:5-8 tells us that humanity’s wickedness “was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually.”  The Creation has become entropic!

This brings about a change of heart in God.  God looks upon their wickedness and at the way humanity violates God’s boundaries for Creation.  The order that God had ordained had been reduced to chaos.  As a result, God “repents” from having created humanity in the first place!  However, God’s regretting the creation of humanity is not limited to humanity.  Rather, God repents of having created everything.  Something about humanity’s disobedience has seeped into the larger created order!  Sin is communal and impacts everything!

Even in the midst of God’s repenting, something keeps God from acting to fully destroy everything.  Noah is said to have found favor in God’s eyes.  Of course, we know that God provides a space of salvation for Noah and his family and the animals as the waters of chaos collapse in upon themselves and destroy everything not in the Ark.

On the other side of the flood, Noah and his family emerge from the Ark and begin to makes sacrifices to God.  This offering pleased God, prompting God to covenant that the ground would no longer be cursed because of man, despite still having a heart that continually pondered evil from youth!  In other words, natural disasters (such as Hurricane Katrina) were not God’s judgment upon wicked humanity.  The Created order is still simply broken and does not always reflect the order that it was intended to reflect.  Likewise, God will not destroy “every living creature” because of humanity’s wickedness.

The condition of the human heart before and after the flood has not changed.  Despite this fact, God covenants (restricts God’s power) to act in certain ways in the future.  God will not destroy everything.  In other words, God is committed to God’s Creation, despite its broken state.  Rather, God will continue to act in ways that draws the Creation back to its intended purpose.  God will act in ways to save and restore the Creation back to its original “very good.”  God will continue to preserve, sustain, and bless life!

Even though nothing has fundamentally changed about humanity after the flood, God still allows humanity to live and impact the world.  God values human freedom and decisions, even when they are opposed to God.  God does not coerce or force humanity to “love” God or to obey God.  True love and obedience can only be an invitation to respond!  Thus, Noah’s sacrifice to God is pleasing because Noah is righteous, or in right relationship with God.  Noah has freely chosen to worship God as a loving response to the mercy of the Creator!

God is demonstrated in these passages to be a relational Being.  Despite the continuing wickedness of humanity, God still sees something valuable, something worth saving in them and in the larger Creation!  Our decisions, either for or against God have real consequences.  Our wicked inclinations are ever before us and unleash a world of torrent chaos.  We are in desperate need of God’s mercy and grace to save us.  Amazingly, God’s desire is to bless life and to restore that which has been broken.