God Questions His Creation: Genesis 6:11-12 (b)

See:  God Questions His Creation: Genesis 6:11-12 (a)

Genesis 6:11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth.

Note the wickedness of humans is not attributed to Satan – he is not even mentioned in the mess.  Humans are quite capable of evil and cannot blame the devil for their own wickedness.

In the creation account of Genesis 1, God imposes increasing order on the chaotic and formless cosmos.   The suggestion of the text is that by the corruption on earth God’s good order is both threatened and being undone.   God decides He must once again step in and deal with his rebellious humans to restore good order.

“…for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth.”   By declaring that “all flesh” had corrupted its way, the text implies it is not only humans who are corrupt/violent, but rather that all living animals (everything that has flesh) including the humans have become corrupt.   Can animals sin?  Genesis is not limiting itself to looking at conscious choices of evil.  What has happened is that all flesh has become “destroyed” – the original purpose of all creatures that bear flesh has become so distorted as to no longer be recognizable to God.   The cause of the flood is not merely the original sin of Adam and Eve.  What God sees is a corruption of the very nature of the things He has created.  And this corruption/destruction is not limited to our ideas of conscious and willful sinning.  The world is no longer fulfilling the original intentions of the Creator.  This is a “bad to the bone” ontology.   Created things do not have to willfully sin, they obviously can become corrupted, distorted, and destroyed in their very being so as to be unrecognizable to their Creator.  It is no wonder that God is sick in His heart.  It isn’t simply the rational human beings who are using free will for evil.   All flesh has become corrupted.  Genesis is presenting the starkest of images.  God can see in Noah righteousness – since no other being besides humans have free will, no other fleshly creature has the possibility of being redeemable, or of repenting, or of asking forgiveness.  The Genesis story is a story of God’s recreating His world.  God saves the one human in whom He still sees righteousness (goodness?).  Did God imagine that perhaps Noah’s heart was not tainted as is the rest of humanity’s heart with evil?    Perhaps God hopes Noah can somehow be the seminal human of the new creation who will pass along righteousness to his descendents and thus to the entire human race after the flood.  If this was the first effort at genetically modifying humans, it will not accomplish the desired results, to God’s total regret.   Noah is the one being from whom God hopes to be able to recreate the world in which creatures of flesh can repent of their wickedness and try again (for the first time?) to follow God’s way.  The rest of the animal kingdom is not capable of repentance or of cleansing the world of the destruction that has distorted every living being.  Only humans with a heart can repent of wickedness, can decide to choose something other than corruption, have the rational ability to recognize wickedness and triumph over it.   The other creatures lack that dominion over the flesh, over destruction, that humans have been given.  The story of the flood is not just about humans willfully sinning, it is about the corruption of the created order – the malformation, the deformity, and the disfigurement of all flesh.   It is as if evil was winning in the world and completely taking over and dominating God’s good creation.   God steps in to put a stop to this.   God may have brought order to the abyss and the waters in Genesis 1, but a malevolent force was resisting what had happened to the abyss and was now at work in all flesh (Very much like Psalm 91:5-6’s the terror of the night, the pestilence that stalks in darkness, and the destruction that wastes at noonday).  This evil chaos God will endeavor to destroy in the flood with the intention of restoring order to His creation.  The story is highly symbolic.  For Christians it speaks of the waters of baptism – no longer a cataclysmic force of destruction but now empowered by God with order and reason to drown the sin but to save the sinner.     This is certainly why St. Peter saw baptism as corresponding to the flood, and why the flood is mentioned in the baptismal service.   But now the waters of baptism save not just seven people in the ark while destroying thousands, but rather save thousands and bring them into the ark – the Church.   It is also why in the Divine Liturgy when the celebrant lifts up the gifts at the anaphora he proclaims, “On behalf of all (things) and for all (things).”    All of creation is in need of God’s transforming salvation, not just humans.  All things in heaven and earth need to be restored to their original beauty undistorted by the destruction of evil forces.  We need to be saved not only from bad choices but even from all irrational wickedness and evil.  As salvation is defined in Colossians 1:13-14, God “has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”  Salvation is not just a matter of dealing with human sins and misdeeds; it involves God asserting Lordship over ever force and power even the malevolent ones.

“Some were sick through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities suffered affliction; they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress; he sent forth his word, and healed them, and delivered them from destruction. Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to the sons of men! And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!”   (Psalm 107:17-22)

Next:  God Questions His Creation: Genesis 6:13-16 (a)

2 thoughts on “God Questions His Creation: Genesis 6:11-12 (b)

  1. Pingback: God Questions His Creation: Genesis 6:11-12 (a) « Fr. Ted’s Blog

  2. Pingback: God Questions His Creation: Genesis 6:13-16 (a) « Fr. Ted’s Blog

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