Reading Through The Bible in 2011, Part 4

What I read today: Genesis 9-11.

What jumped out: Genesis 9: 20-23, “Noah, a man of the soil, began to plant a vineyard. When he drank some of the wine, he got drunk and uncovered himself inside his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father’s nakedness and told his two brothers who were outside. Shem and Japheth took the garment and placed it on their shoulders. Then they walked in backwards and covered up their father’s nakedness. Their faces were turned the other way so they did not see their father’s nakedness.”

And, Genesis 11: 8-9, “So the Lord scattered them from there across the face of the entire earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why its name was called Babel – because there the Lord confused the language of the entire world, and from there the Lord scattered them across the face of the entire earth.”

Random thoughts about what I read:

When I was in college, the political conservatism brought on by president Ronald Reagan was in vogue at my Deep South college campus. In fact, my diploma was signed by the first Republican governor of my state since Reconstruction. He was later indicted on a lot of ethics violations.

See, our parents were likley in college in the 1960’s when the college kids were given to more liberal leanings. Not to get all Forrest Gump, but Martin Luther King & racial integration, the Kennedy assassinations, Woodstock, Vietnam and a host of other social upheavals at the time seemed to foster a passion and activism that my generation, well, didn’t seem all that necessary in our college years.

In one generation leanings changed. Whatever the reason. It went from anti-war protests to “we start bombing at midnight.” I know my aunt, who was a full-throttle Woodstock & protest kind of girl, was flabbergasted at any political thought that I uttered.

It’s hard for one generation to pass their values on to others…there are different contexts.

Which is why I’m amused when I hear the younger generation say things like they want to get back to an “Acts 2 Church.” You know, where people were moving from house to house singing songs and sharing with everyone who had need. It’s a noble goal (and there are reforms that are needed in the suburban American church, that’s for sure). One that’s hard to deny. It’s one they should push for.

But the reality is that even though things were still going well in Acts 4, Annanias & Saphira created a stir with an issue regarding money in Acts 5, persecution would start full-force and by Acts 6 the church was complaining about who was getting food and who wasn’t. A church leader would be killed for his beliefs by the end of that chapter.

So, while it’s nice to have the goal of an Acts 2 church, just know that contexts and situations change. It doesn’t take long for human nature to wreck things.

And God moved the church out of the comforting confines of Jerusalem through persecution. Scattering.

Same for Noah’s children. I mean, here’s Noah and his family, fresh off one of the most horrific disasters of all history, falling victim to human nature. These are people that lost friends in the flood, were well aware of God’s new promises to them and experienced in the reality that they alone were chosen by God to carry on humanity. But things changed. Time passes. New normals are defined.

Noah’s drunk a few years later. Winds up passed out and naked.

His son takes advantage of that…even if we’re not aware of all the details. Discord sets in a few years after the flood. Context was different now. Life was moving on and settling in on a new normal. Plenty of time for human nature to take over. The result: Scattering. Land was given to the brothers who acted honorably. They moved on. Ham’s kids would serve as slaves.

Well, same for a city named Babel. Generations have passed by now, and a city decided to “make a name for itself.” I mean, shouldn’t the point have been to make God’s name great to each successive generation. But now things are different. New context. Economic prosperity. The leadership decided to build a skyscraper and settle in for the long haul.

For their own good, God confuses their languages and scattering occurs.

And there are a couple of things that I’m thinking about this morning:

First, the idea of how quickly we move from “spiritual highs” to serving ourselves. This seems to happen individually as well as corporately.

In my own life, I can go from time in the Word & prayer to barking at the wife or kids in the blink of an eye. I can come back from a ski trip where I saw God work in amazing ways and then live the entire week without so much as saying a prayer or picking up a Bible.

And, corporately, it’s one thing to have the younger generation look at us and say they want candles and acoustic music instead of video screens and polished bands. It’s another for them to say that they don’t need Scripture or Christian fellowship. It’s easy to let go of methods (for me, anyway). It’s hard to pass on values. Too often we fight the wrong battles, wouldn’t you say?

Lastly, note that God will use all sorts of situations to accomplish His purposes. He’ll move whomever He has to move wherever He has to move them to and often use life-situations to do it, too. Could be a life choice that was made and the resulting consequences. Might be full-blown, life-threatening persecution to move your family. Might be you’re simply trying to make a name for yourself and leaving His glory out of the equation.

But it sure is amazing how quickly we can lose that spiritual focus, isn’t it?

(Tomorrow’s reading: Genesis 12-14)