Yesterday we discussed The Flood narrative in Genesis 6-8. Toward the end I named a pattern that we see over and over again throughout the Bible: God reconciling our relationship with Him, us breaking that reconciled relationship, and then God having to fix whatever we broke to reconcile us all over again. We will see this cycle a number of times throughout the biblical text.
It’s almost as if God has a perfect vision for what he wants a film to look like, but as He’s directing it the actors get wily, so He has to yell, “Take 2!” rearrange the set, and start the shot again.
We see this happen in The Flood narrative. First, “The Lord regretted making human beings on the earth, and he was heartbroken” (Gen. 6:5), so he decides to “wipe off the land” (Gen. 6:7), but “as for Noah, the Lord approved of him” (Gen. 6:8). So Noah builds the ark, and his family and the animals get on it (Gen. 6:13-22), the rains flood the earth and then recedes (Gen. 7:1-8:14), and then Noah and his family exit the ark (Gen. 8:15-19). To summarize: life was good, then the world got wily, so God decided to say “Take 2!” and send the flood.
This story involving Noah parallels the story of Adam. Life was good, then Adam and Eve ate of the tree, so God said “Take 2!” and sent them out of the garden. Just as God places Adam and Eve outside the garden and continues His relationship with them in a new location, God gives Noah and his family a way to survive the flood, and continues His relationship with them in the newly re-started world. Even after the flood the parallels continue:
After Noah exits the ark, he builds an altar to the Lord and places burned animals on it. The Lord smells the “sweet savor” (ruwach nichowach reyach — we’ll see this again), and thinks in His heart, “I will not curse the fertile land anymore because of human beings since the ideas of the human mind are evil from their youth” (Gen. 8:21).
Do you remember our discussion of curses vs. punishments? We learned that in Genesis 3, God didn’t curse Adam and Eve, He merely punished them. God cursed (arar) the ground and the snake. But what we have here in Genesis 8 is God saying that he will never curse (arar) the ground again because of the sin of human beings. God reverses the curse that He imposed on the ground in Genesis 3.
We claimed in The Calling of Genesis 3 that we are meant to strive to restore the perfection of how God originally created us and the world in Genesis 1 and 2. In Genesis 8, God makes that easier for us: He lifts the curse of the ground so that the fertile land will remain fertile, rather than filled with thistles and thorns.
Noah doesn’t replace Adam; rather, Noah is a new iteration of Adam. God uses these individuals to try to establish a reconciled and perfect relationship with humanity. And it doesn’t stop with Noah — soon we will see Abraham, Moses, Ruth, and ultimately Jesus functioning as New Adams.
Romans 5:12-18 describes the biblical relationship between Adam and Jesus, describing Adam as “a type of the one who was coming” (Rom. 5:14). Ultimately, the various iterations of New Adams lead to Christ as the final New Adam. Jesus is the one who, once and for all, defeats the sin that entered into the world in Genesis 3. He breaks the cycle of God reconciling us, us betraying God, and God then needing to reset the system to reconcile us again. Grace through Christ is the final atoning mechanism that allows us to live in abundant and continually reconciled relationship with God.
With Christ there’s no longer a “Take 2.” God has set the stage perfectly so that we can continue accept His grace and love, and spread them throughout the world. May we praise God today for Adam, Noah, and all of the other figures who God used to reconcile humanity to Himself. And may we celebrate the grace, love, and peace God demonstrated to us finally through the sacrifice and life of Christ.