God Won’t Spare the Rod

God’s not codependent.  That doesn’t mean God doesn’t want us to be happy.  He does.  It’s just not His #1 concern.  What I’m saying is God the Father didn’t send His Son to die on the cross in our place to make us happy.  He did it to make us holy.  A loving but wise parent doesn’t cultivate a codependent relationship with their children and God’s the best parent anyone could ask for.  Think about it.

 

People have several major decisions to make in life.  Foremost is whether or not they accept Christ as their personal savior.  Another one is whether to trust the Bible’s truthful when it delves into the fundamental questions of (1) why the world’s in turmoil and (2) what lies ahead.  In previous essays I’ve shown both questions are answered by God Himself in Genesis 3.  In fact, it’s explained rather simply: Adam & Eve, with encouragement from Satan, rebelled against God’s authority and the consequences of their sinful act are still affecting us today.  God’s innocent of any wrongdoing.  Mankind brought their resulting “history of misery” upon itself.  The first couple opted to listen to the devil instead of the Creator.  Satan promptly bound them and their offspring in chains of sin, a bondage that continues to chafe.  If any of us were God no doubt we would’ve abandoned the human race altogether and gone on to oversee other, less disappointing endeavors.  But God’s bigger, more compassionate and caring than we’ll ever dream of being.  Despite our contrariness, our Heavenly Father’s still concerned about us.  His love has endured the worst of our disrespectful behavior towards Him.  His grace, in a word, is amazing.  Now, bear in mind He didn’t excuse Adam & Eve’s deliberate sin.  God isn’t a codependent enabler.  He’s inherently just.  He told them what was going to happen due to their disobedience and let’s just say it wasn’t an upbeat power-point presentation they had to sit through.  However, He also added that all was not lost.  He would graciously pave the road to redemption.  None of this is “secret knowledge.”  It’s right there for all to read in Genesis 3.

 

But the Bible isn’t a terse pamphlet.  It’s a fascinatingly relevant, thought-provoking and immensely educational tome consisting of 66 divinely-inspired books that doesn’t end with Genesis 3.  Rather it continues to teach mankind an unedited history lesson about how God’s plan of salvation is proceeding right on schedule.  In chapter 4 we see the evil that sin brought into the world manifested in Cain’s brutal murder of his brother Abel.  God doesn’t conceal his anger.  He pronounces a harsh curse on Cain who, of course, whines and cries “foul.”  In chapter 5 ten generations of Adam & Eve’s progeny (spanning approximately 1,100 years) are mapped out in detail.  God stays silent throughout that era, allowing the human race to stew in its own juices without interference.  In chapter 6 we read that God had finally “had it up to here” and it was time for a serious intervention.  While the Holy Word tells us God has stepped into the affairs of this planet on many occasions, what He does in Genesis 6 is indisputably the granddaddy of them all.  He runs Earth through the car wash.

 

A few years back there was yet another attempt to put the Flood saga on the silver screen.  Predictably, “Noah” took liberal liberties with the storyline, devising romantic subplots and stiffly-delivered dialogue to distract the audience while they waited for the spectacular state-of-the-art special effects to engulf their popcorn-sated senses.  Overall the movie was forgettable but in my estimation they did get one part right.  As the Bible indicates, the world had turned into a cesspool of immorality in which the barbarian inhabitants had become unmercifully barbaric.  Their unspoken motto was “do unto others before they do unto you” and the only God the population acknowledged was whichever maniacal thug had ruthlessly fought his way to the top of the local tribe’s heap.  The producers of the flick did a decent job of justifying the uncompromised wrath God was about to unleash upon humankind.  Earth was hellish.

 

But before we move on it’s important to recognize a certain pattern is being revealed to us.  We see that God backs into the shadows for long periods of time, letting things proceed without any meddling and then, when He’s ready, He acts.  That’s something we tend to forget.  Just because sometimes God stays quiet for centuries it doesn’t mean He’s split the scene or that His plan has failed.  The Scriptures reiterate God is ever-faithful to let us exercise our free will but at some point He’ll do something that’ll get our attention focused back on His sovereign will.  These intercessions are recorded in the pages of the Bible.  The Flood.  The annihilation of Sodom and Gomorrah.  The destruction of Jerusalem.  The subjugation and dispersion of God’s Chosen People after the Babylonian takeover.  The Roman occupation.  All boil down to the same thing.  When God steps into history He makes an indelible impression on civilization.  Every time.

 

Some secularists argue that, since scientists have deemed a worldwide flood impossible, it didn’t happen.  Case closed.  Not so fast, brainiacs.  My opinion is that when God’s involved all bets are off.  Logically speaking, the God who invented the laws of physics can suspend them anytime He pleases.  But the main reason I believe the Flood was an authentic event is because Jesus, the Son of God, affirmed it.  Therefore if I was to claim the Flood story nothing more than a fanciful myth I’d be implying my Savior either didn’t know what He was talking about or was lying about His divinity.  What we believers must understand is that science hasn’t proved anything one way or another when it comes to the Flood.  A sizeable percentage of scientists have made clear their opinions on the subject but those are merely theoretical guesses.  Me?  I’m more than satisfied to believe what Christ, the Messiah who ransomed my soul and transformed my life, taught as solid truth.  If the one who was born of a virgin, worked supernatural miracles, voluntarily suffered a criminal’s death, was entombed and then literally rose from the dead said the Flood was real then that’s all the proof I require.

 

Jesus said, Just as it was in the days of Noah, so too it will be in the days of the Son of Man.  People were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage – right up to the day Noah entered the ark.  Then the flood came and destroyed them all (Luke 17:26-27).  Some skeptics will say He was just trying to impress His disciples with His knowledge of the ancient Scriptures.  What a crock!  They’d seen Jesus walk on water and bring deceased people back to life so don’t even try to go there.  If their Master believed it they believed it, too.  The author of Hebrews wrote, By faith Noah, when he was warned about things not yet seen, with reverent regard constructed an ark for the deliverance of his family(11:7).  The apostle Peter also referenced Noah in 1 Peter 3:18-20, implicating faith in Christ is akin to the ark that saved Noah and his clan from the wrath of God.  He brings the Flood up again in 2 Peter 3:4 when he talks about the last days when folks will sarcastically prod Christians with “Where’s Jesus?  And whatever happened to His promised ‘second coming’ extravaganza?”  Peter preached our response should be “That’s the same attitude that prevailed before the Flood.  Understand that Judgment Day is coming.  Bank on it.”  God’s scouring won’t be done the same way next time, though.  It’ll make the Flood look like a dripping faucet. “…The heavens will be burned up and dissolve, and the celestial bodies will melt away in a blaze! (3:12). I take that to mean God’s going to start the entire universe over from scratch.  It’ll be a sight to see.

 

What lessons can we learn from the Flood account?  The main gist is that all horrible disasters and large-scale catastrophes happen because sin was allowed into our world.  That may sound overly-simplistic but it’s the truth.  Look, God made the world perfect.  He then created Adam & Eve and they dwelled peacefully in paradise.  If they would’ve counted God’s blessings instead of coveting His throne nothing would’ve changed.  Heaven and earth would have a lot in common.  There’d be no wars, no diseases, no tsunamis, and no wildfires.  No problems.  But sin turned everything upside down and the planet lost its equilibrium.  Consider, as well, that the Flood was a deliberate act of God.  His wrath is no empty threat.  I know that’s not a politically correct statement to make but one can’t read their Bible and not notice it emphasizes that God judges humanity.  I’m not saying most calamities are a punishment from God but we should never think He couldn’t possibly be the cause of some of them.  He who created everything can run His creation as He sees fit.  It’s true He’ll stay out of our business for millenniums at a time, tolerating our meanness and hatred up to the point where people start postulating He doesn’t exist and then He’ll do something to remind us we’re not in control – He is.  If we start thinking we could do a better job than Him we’re guilty of thinking like Adam & Eve.  If we’re unsure of how high our “intellectual genius” rates, God informs us in Isaiah 55:8-9, Indeed, my plans are not like your plans, and my deeds are not like your deeds, for just as the sky is higher than the earth, so my deeds are superior to your deeds and my plans superior to your plans.”  No one tells God what to do or when to do it.  It’s worth noting the Israelites acted up repeatedly for generation after generation, worshiping idols and ignoring God’s laws right and left yet God let them carry on until 70 A.D. when Jerusalem got totaled and the Chosen were scattered out and away from the Promised Land.  He gave them every chance to repent but there’s a limit to even His patience.

 

What we see in the Flood, in volcano eruptions, in devastating earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes, etc. are mere glimpses of what the end of the world will look like.  This is neither my hypothesis nor my preference.  The Bible says God will punish sin.  This untenable state of affairs will not go unchecked forever.  The Scriptures tell us God’s just, holy, righteous and pure.  Therefore He will not and cannot permit sin to continue to dominate the planet He created indefinitely.  Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote, “God and sin are eternal incompatibilities.  So God pronounces that He must punish sin, and punish it He will.  He’ll punish it in the individual.  He’ll punish it in groups.  He’ll punish the whole world in sin.”  You see, evil grows exponentially until the only power stronger than sin exterminates it completely.  That’s what the Flood was – punishment.  Don’t think God can get mad?  Think again.  “…The LORD saw that the wickedness of human kind had become great on the earth.  Every inclination of the thoughts of their minds was only evil all the time.  The LORD regretted that he had made humankind on the earth, and he was highly offended.  So the LORD said, ‘I will wipe humankind, whom I have created from the face of the earth – everything from humankind to animals, including creatures that move on the ground and birds of the air, for I regret that I have made them (Genesis 6:5-7).  Men and women made God so irate He said He was sorry He’d created them twice.  And then He unleashed His indignant fury.

 

Don’t jump to conclusions about what I’m trying to convey.  I’m not a “chicken little” Christian who runs around shouting the sky’s falling.  Since I wasn’t there pre-Flood I don’t know if the current world situation has matched the Genesis 6 level of corruption and lawlessness that so incensed God or not.  My personal view is that if I complained to God things have gotten so bad believers oughta be donning placards that scream “Repent – The End Is Near!” He’d pat me on the head and say, “Sorry, kid, but you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.  It’s gonna get tons worse before I return.”  I’d venture most Christians can easily identify a host of characteristics/trends in modern culture indicating society’s moving farther and farther away from respecting God’s laws.  But those who love to read the Bible also know God issues warnings before He acts.  He told Noah, “…My spirit will not remain in humankind indefinitely, since they are mortal.  They will remain for 120 more years (Genesis 6:3).  Despite the chaos they’d created, God gave everyone over a century of opportunity to heed Noah’s forecast.  Noah’s described as a preacher of righteousness in 2 Peter 2:5 so it’s doubtful Noah was mum about why he was building an enormous boat.  To say God has patience is an understatement.  Imagine if there was a fellow somewhere who’d been constructing a similar craft since 1896 and he was still at it today.  He’d be the world’s longest-running joke.  Yet aren’t modern-day Christians ridiculed much the same as Noah?

 

I’m not saying any of us are on a par with Noah.  Far from it.  Noah was a godly man; he was blameless among his contemporaries.  He walked with God (Genesis 6:9).  That certainly doesn’t describe me.  Yet all followers of Christ are qualified to speak warnings to our neighbors simply because, like Noah, we believe in the Word of God.  Via the Bible the Lord has spoken to us about what’s on the horizon.  Now, we’re not told Noah’s character was beyond reproach.  (We can assume he had a hankering for the fruit of the vine.  Just sayin’…) We’re only told that, compared to the savages surrounding him, he was Billy Graham.  It was his unshakable trust in God that set him apart from the rabble.  Through faith he [Noah] condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith (Hebrews 11:7).  Noah, as we must, walked with God by faith.  Committed Christians listen to and believe what God tells us in the Scriptures and, because we trust His Holy Word is the truth, we’ll not only be saved but have life everlasting.

 

In the ark a few, that is eight souls, were delivered through water.  And this prefigured baptism, which now saves you – not the washing off of physical dirt but the pledge of a good conscience to God – through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who went into heaven and is at the right hand of God with angels and authorities and powers subject to him (1 Peter 3:20-22).   Because of Jesus there’ll be boatloads more than 8 souls spared the terrors of the end times.  But that’s why the Good News of the Gospel is such an urgent message to spread right now.  As Peter made clear, Christ is our ark, our Savior, our refuge.  The only requirement to enter the ark of the new covenant is to believe.  Jesus might return before lunch today.  He might not come back in the foreseeable future.  It’s not our call.  Now, dear friends, do not let this one thing escape your notice, that a single day is like a thousand years with the Lord and a thousand years are like a single day.  The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some regard slowness, but is being patient toward you, because he does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:8-9).  What we do know is Christ will show up at precisely the right moment and not a nanosecond before.  As the Lord expressed through His servant Peter, His desire is that nobody gets left behind.  Punishment for sin will happen on Judgment Day but God’s putting off its arrival as long as He deems necessary.  Does that sound like a vengeful, unforgiving Father to you?  On the contrary, He loves us all so much He’s willing to put up with Satan’s evil schemes until every soul is given the chance to surrender his/her life to the Son of God and accept that He suffered and died a horrible death in their place.

 

To those unbelievers who snicker and tease, “Where is your Jesus, anyhow?  He’s been gone a long, long time.  If He’s for real why doesn’t He come back now?”, we who’ve been adopted as children of God can only compassionately warn them, “Be careful what you wish for.”

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