Earlier this year I was invited to teach a Leadership 215 class in Brisbane on the the Old Testament. As I was working my way quickly through the notes on Genesis, I pointed out to the class the similarities between the creation account and the Flood.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and its perfect until humans rebel and introduce expanding discord and brokenness into what God made universally harmonious. The first son kills his brother and things spiral out of control until even ‘the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them’. Instead of representing God to the rest of creation humans represented the antithesis of God.
So God wipes the slate clean and the earth reverts back to a state not seen since Genesis 1:2. With floodwaters covering the earth it’s essentially formless and void. But a wind is sent from God in Genesis 8 and the waters recede. The Hebrew word for wind is also used for breath and spirit. The author of Genesis draws a clear allusion to the Spirit hovering over the waters in Genesis 1:2 and the wind (Spirit) sent from God over the floodwaters in Genesis 8:1.
The question is why? The author wants to show us that God is not just judging humanity, but he is giving us a second chance. He recreates creation. The ark is essentially a floating (zoological) garden. God gives a covenant to Noah and renews the dominion mandate originally given in Genesis 1:28 in 9:1 and 9:7.
This picture of a God who creates and then recreates is important. God is not interested in getting rid of humans or creation. He is committed to both. Sometimes when things get messed up it’s easier to throw everything away and start over again. Perhaps God should have done that with the universe too since Noah messed up and we continue to do so?
Some Christians think that’s what God will eventually do to the earth. He’ll get rid of it since it’s no good, broken, dirty and sinful. They think we’re just waiting to escape it so we can go to our real home in heaven. I disagree. The world was just as (and arguably more) polluted with rebellion and brokenness in the time of Noah than it is now. He didn’t destroy it then. He remade it. What he did then he is doing now. God is still in the recreating business.
He’s doing it again through his Spirit. The Holy Spirit no longer hovers over a formless void. Instead he inhabits a people. These people are the answer for whatever social, ecological, economical, technological, educational, geopolitical, physiological or psychological problem that faces people and the planet today.
Actually, I have confidence that the world will be flooded again. Not with water but with God’s Spirit. Not a flood that drowns but instead immerses everything in his glory and grace. It just takes a people inspired with the breath of God to believe that Jesus meant us to disciple, teach and baptise the nations. The individuals in the nations and the nations themselves.
‘For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.’