Monday, 3 January 2011

Scattering and Gathering

There is a "coming of age" for humanity after the flood. We are given meat to eat, (Hurrah!) and wine (Double hurrah!) Moreover, responsibility for capital punishment is conferred upon us as a means of restraining the spread of sin.

Noah, the new head of the human race, after sampling a bit of his first batch of Chateau D'Ararat (like any home brew probably a little on the potent side) gets drunk and naked, but all in the privacy of his own tent.

The Bible does not condemn him for this and so we should also think twice, if that's what we are tempted to do. There are more nuances to the use of alcohol in the Bible than the legalists want to admit. (That said, careless and/or habitual excess is condemned.)

Rather it is Noah's youngest son Ham, who receives the curse for breaking into his father's tent and broadcasting the nakedness of his father to his brothers, thereby challenging / mocking his father's authority and seeking to make himself look good.

(N.B. In our time, we think it is our democratic right / duty to challenge authority. Do you, like me, have a heart like Ham's more often than you care to admit around those in authority over you?)

In Gen 10, Nimrod looks like a good guy, the kind you'd think would be with David's valiant and mighty men.

Don't be fooled, his name means rebellion and he was the mastermind behind the City of Babel (see next chapter). Think of his "mighty status before the LORD" more as one of presumption (like Adam) than faith (like Christ).

View from the top here
In Gen 11, the people are refusing to spread over the whole earth as God commanded, choosing instead to make a name for themselves by establishing a "civilisation" apart from God. Of course, the tower they built was nothing like as tall as the Burj Khalifa (see left), but the heart was the same.

In order to graciously restrain their presumption, God comes down (goes to show just how small it was - hardly the height of Heaven) confuses and scatters them.

Having spent the Old Testament dividing peoples and kingdoms in order to slow down the strangulating grip that the curse of the Fall would have on creation; in Acts 2 God sends the Spirit to his Church and begins the work of gathering in love, that which was scattered.


Elli said...

I was just rambling around on facebook and saw your latest blog post link. It's weird for some reason I was just thinking about this occasion with Noah in the tent when i was in the tube earlier (and had no connection to any recent reading) and was struggling to make sense of it since it seemed more like Noah was more obviously in the wrong so why should Ham get the blame?

It made me question whether that was a conclusion I drew because i'm pre-disposed to think that way from my upbringing, or whether it was a biblical perspective. I found your observations made me consider it from a different perspective. Cheers for that. And thanks God for a timely response :-)

Richard Walker said...

Glad it helped. It's where we are on the reading plan. :-)