The holy season of Lent invites us to reflect on the theological (not scientific) story of God with his faithful servant, Noah, in Genesis 6. When God saw that the wickedness of man had covered the earth like a flood, he regretted having made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.
He resolved to eliminate the entire creation by floods, except, Noah and his family.
The story makes us wonder whether God can make mistakes and whether he can get so angry as to destroy his own work! What moral do we draw from it?
Genesis 1:31 reveals that God neither make mistakes nor regrets. After creating, God surveyed all He had made and pronounced it “very good.” The fact that God did not consider His creation a mistake is proved by the world’s continued existence. God has had a purpose in everything, so, outcomes do not surprise Him.
For God to be grieved in His heart shows that He has feelings and emotions. When mankind had fails to meet the divine standard, God cannot do otherwise than show Himself displeased. So it is a requirement for man to repent and not for God.
The story pronounces a powerful message about judgment and grace; about God’s hatred of sin and his love for the sinner. To deal with the chaos of sin, God returns the Earth to chaos, and then restores order with a renewal of creation.
God’s promise to Noah never to destroy the Earth again was fully realised in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, where God takes the judgment for sin upon Himself rather than humanity.
God’s pity toward man does not imply a lack of foreknowledge, either. Any parent may know that a child will make bad choices, but also that trying to prevent it would not help. Likewise, God sees man’s wickedness as a tender father sees the folly and stubbornness of a rebellious and disobedient child, which grieves him.
God gets angry, but only within His own divine character. Whereas human anger may often be sinful, both in origin and expression, divine anger is always righteous, holy and remedial. Imagine! The water that drowned the world was the same water that carried Noah’s ark to safety! It foreshadowed baptism.
God is angered by the mistreatment of those who are helpless, the strangers, the widows, and the orphans (Exodus 22:21-24). God is angered by people turning from trusting and worshipping Him, to the worship of idols (Exodus 32:10). God is angered by the grumbling and complaining of His people against him (Numbers 11:1- 10). And so on. Godly people are angered by unrighteousness. Jesus was angry at the Pharisees for their hardness of heart (Mark 3:5). When they profaned Temple, Jesus expressed similar anger and cleansed it (John 2:13-22).
Moses was angered at the sacrifice of the golden calf by the Israelites (see Exodus 32:19). Paul was angered when he learned that false teaching had reached the Christians in Galatia, and that some were embracing it (Galatians 3). Because human sin motivates God to redeeming action, He has made covenants with man, especially, the everlasting covenant through Jesus Christ. The covenants teach us to be devoted to God, while using our freedom responsibly. Noah is a good example.
When we experience trials beyond our control, like Covid-19, poverty, family issues, etc, we ought to ask for God’s intervention. Just as God blessed and saved Noah, he will faithfully bless and protect those who obey Him. However, those who persistently reject God’s grievance over sin, and his redeeming action, forfeit their lives (Luke 13:3).
Msgr John Wynand Katende is a priest