Read: Genesis 9-11
When compared with the good earth as it came from God’s hand after creation, the “new” earth after the flood presents a stark contrast — and a fruitful opportunity for some searching questions.
Discussion themes and questions:
- God’s promises. At the end of the flood, Genesis 8:20-22 describes God’s intention of never again destroying humankind and Genesis 9:8-17 describes God’s covenant with Noah. Yet Scripture elsewhere describes a final destruction of all living. How would the Bible writers explain the value of God’s promise to Noah in the light of the expectation of judgment in the future?
- Sanctity of Life. Genesis 9:1-7 describes a new world in which humans are allowed to eat the animals. At the same time, however, the sanctity of both animal and human life is stressed: Anyone who takes the life of a person shall be required to give his own life. That is the threat. But how would the Bible writers respond to the question that the death penalty is so irregularly applied?
- Noah: flawed human but the object of grace. From the standpoint of the biblical account, Noah was a great man used of God, yet deeply flawed. What does that tell us about God’s gracious dealings with his children?
- Flawed human memory. In the New Testament, 2 Peter 3:1-11 records the words of the scoffers who claim that all things have continued the same since the beginning. How does this apparent lack of divine intervention affect human thinking in our day?
- Nearly total loss of the knowledge of God. The Tower of Babel follows the story of the flood, one more indication that the ability of humans to follow God has been very erratic. But Joshua 24:2 is one of the more astonishing verses in the Bible, for it says that Abraham’s own family worshiped other gods. Instead of pointing to a world in which the Word of God has always been consistent and present, it suggests a world fallen far from God. Is this the subtle message of Genesis 3-11, or is that making too much of this record of disaster after disaster?Note: Appendix A is relevant to this point here and also to the setting for the next lesson on Abraham. It consists of chapter 2 from Alden Thompson’s Who’s Afraid of the Old Testament God?: “Behold it was very good — and then it all turned sour.”