Monday, October 03, 2005

God in Genesis - Who is this God, really?

Texts: Genesis 6 - 9; Genesis 18:16 - 19; Judges 19 - 21

The God portrayed in each of these stories subverts our image of the character of God. In the flood story, God destroys all flesh because of its corruptness and the evilness of men’s minds, and God regrets having created humanity. With the situation in Sodom and Gomorrah, God hears an outcry and has to descend to earth to investigate. God debates whether or not to clue Abraham in on the plan, and once God does, Abraham bargains God down to not destroying the city for the sake of the righteous within, and yet, God decides to wipe it out anyway. In the Judges text, God doesn’t even speak until the Israelites are battling Gibeah, and then it is only to reassure Israel that they will be victorious over the city, put the people are quick to attribute these actions as God-sanctioned.

This characterization of the divine raises questions about God’s ability to administer justice. God’s willingness to wipe out a whole city due to some injustice without a thought for the innocent in the city causes concern for us who picture a God who deals with sin on an individual basis. God gives little forethought to the destruction of the earth in the flood, saving only one individual, Noah, and his family and all the animals. God’s lack of restraint in curbing God’s violent tendencies is alarming; after the flood, God needs a reminder not to wipe out the earth ever again.

From these texts, it seems like God’s justice is like a WMD, as class discussion on Friday noted. Others suffer innocently at the hand of God’s justice. Furthermore, it’s not clear that those saved are more righteous than those destroyed, as each story is followed by an account of sexual sin. God’s judgment in these cases appears muddy.

Note: Class was great. There were two great comments, the first one being that God's justice is akin to our millitary tactics -- we decive ourselves with our "smart weapons" and while we think we target well, we really aren't that accurate, and innocents die.

Second was a side comment made by a fellow student about Lot and the story after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. We were talking about who is really telling the story here. Are the girls heroes because they truly thought that they were the last people on earth? Or was Lot telling the story and instead of taking the blame for the incest, he blames it on his daughters. The student's reaction to this was...priceless.

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