As with a pessimistic eye I read the book of Genesis, God appears as an intractable failure. Although, He creates a perfect garden for perfect people, a short conversation with a snake turns them against Him. The couple’s first born son is an arrogant murderer and before long, God looks on the scene of pitiful humanity with regret. Dejected in His failure, he launders his failed project and reboots it with just eight survivors.
The eight survivors are far from perfect and soon after God presses the “reset” button, a son with a twisted sense of humour finds himself cursed by a father with a hangover. A few centuries down the line and God is still struggling (I thought He was supposed to be the Almighty): He promises Abraham the land of Canaan but at his death, the only piece of land that Abraham owns is a grave. Of course, Abraham is hardly a shining example to live up to (ask Hagar and Abimelech) and fathers a line of crooks (Jacob, Simeon and Levi) and arrogant showoffs (Joseph). Incest (Judah and his daughter in law) is even found in this sordid tale.
Things hardly go God’s way… He just seems like a failure. As far as first impressions go, Genesis is a poor introduction to the Bible. If God is so powerful and loving, how do we go from a great start to God’s people living as refugees in Egypt? Surely, if we are to believe in God, his brand management team should delete Genesis from every Bible! Yet, something keeps drawing me back to the book. Something about the book enthralls me.
So I blink the pessimism from my eye and try to be balanced and a new picture emerges. Yes, things still don’t always go God’s way but He always achieves his objectives.
If God is to have people love Him, they must choose to do so. Humanity chooses to distrust God and so evil grips the heart and makes monsters out of us. The problem isn’t really on the outside but it lurks dangerously on the inside. On the outside, Abel seems the more hardened of the two; his sacrifice is much bloodier than Cain’s (think bleeding lamb versus fruit salad). On the inside, though, Abel is as meek as the lamb he’s sacrificed (and the one God will sacrifice in the future) while Cain is a fratricidal murderer.
God is not an unfeeling algorithm that blesses the good and annihilates the bad people. He is a loving God who is unfathomably grieved when the creatures He loves so deeply turn against Him. However, his grief doesn’t make Him vindictive; even though he is rebooting with a flood, He offers a way out to all who will choose it.
Why should He send a flood anyway? From the perspective of the Great Controversy, sin has spread quickly through the earth but the only thing that’s evident about it is its results and not its nature (remember Cain and Abel). God resets because the entire intelligent universe must see not only sin’s results (external – easy to see) but its very nature (internal attitude – hard to see) as well. If God is to eradicate sin, we must not only loathe its results but understand and shun its very nature as well.
When read in the light of the conflict between God and His enemy (revealed in chapter 3), Genesis reveals a God of immeasurable love and patience. Sin hasn’t changed how His government functions… it hasn’t changed Him. He created Adam and Eve and gave them the opportunity to return love to Him in a dynamic relationship and God continues to offer that relationship to sinful man.
The pain in Genesis is not a failure on God’s part but on man’s part. God continues to pursue mankind (In spite of the pain that sin causes Him) and maintains a community of intelligent moral beings who serve Him despite their imperfections. The fact that Abraham continues his relationship with God despite only owning a grave shows that Abraham loves God for who He is and not what He can give.
Thus, although things don’t always go His way, God still achieves His objective. He is going to show that love is the foundation of His government. He still has people who love Him for who He is. Through this dynamic relationship with them, He is going to save all who choose Him and win the war.