The Flood and God's justice...?
Last night in our Storying time we came to the story of the flood and had a rather difficult discussion about this story. We talked about what it shows us about humanity as a whole, and about ourselves as individual parts of humanity and also what it shows us about God. We talked about a lot of different things we see in the story and struggle with from the story. We talked about what things encouraged us in this story as well as what things we found difficult to understand. At one point we were talking about how harsh it seems that God would wipe out humanity like that but about how we couldn’t forget the mercy and hope that God did show in saving Noah and his family.In each of the stories we’ve talked about so far God’s justice always seems to be balanced by his mercy, but his mercy also always seems to be balanced by his justice. And it seems like in each of the stories God’s “just” act in consequence to humanities disobedience and sin seems to get more and more severe… leading to eventually wiping out almost the whole population according to this story. But, amazingly in each of those stories no matter how extreme or severe the consequences he enacts on humanity the justice always seems to come hand in hand with mercy. It’s easy for me to grasp God’s mercy… well, maybe not easy to grasp, but I like the idea of God being merciful… it’s an idea filled with hope and encouragement. But, I struggle with what we call God’s justice sometimes… Last night at one point someone asked what the word just means and I stammered and stumbled to explain it but then realized how little I really understand this word and this concept. So, I looked it up today:
One site I looked at defined just/justice this way: The due reward or punishment for an act. Justice is getting what is deserved. God is merciful but He is also just (Deut. 32:4 - righteous) and must punish sin.
www.thefreedictionary.com defined Just this way:
1. Honorable and fair in one's dealings and actions: a just ruler. See Synonyms at fair1.2. Consistent with what is morally right; righteous: a just cause.3. Properly due or merited: just deserts.4. Law Valid within the law; lawful: just claims.5. Suitable or proper in nature; fitting: a just touch of solemnity.6. Based on fact or sound reason; well-founded: a just appraisal.
Looking at these and thinking again about the story I realize that though I would have (and have) used the word just to describe God’s action in the story of the flood I am not sure that I really think/believe it was a just act. It doesn’t seem just to destroy an entire population no matter how evil/sinful they are… did they really deserve that? Maybe… but it seems so extreme. I wrestle with this and struggle with it. But, I guess I again come back to the same place I was at the end of last night’s discussion… I don’t understand God and I probably never will, His actions (really His very essence) are clothed in mystery… but I choose to follow Him and obey Him anyway. Noah must not have understood either but he still obeyed and followed and faithfully trusted God and it was credited to him as righteousness and resulted in redemption for him and his whole family.
Lord, despite my uncertainties and questions help me to be like Noah.
Rejoicing in the journey - Beth Stedman