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Saturday, 17 June 2017

Angry at God.

Poor Noah! He was pretty well screwed up during the years following the Flood. How just one or two verses can reveal a great deal about a saint's personal life. No matter how faithful a believer can be, God is always patient and accepting.

When I first started to read the Old Testament book of Genesis, three issues had crossed my mind. First this Noah in a large houseboat featuring the long necks of two giraffes peering over the parapet wasn't quite a complete fairy tale after all, since the narrator writes with serious historical intention. Secondly, Noah appears to be alone, rather like an orphan, in a hostile antediluvian society. And thirdly, I assumed that his father Lamech has been dead for decades, and he is the last of his generation, alone with his wife and his three already-married but still childless sons. However, back in those days a question still loomed in my mind, recently asked by a sneering atheist at work, on where Cain had gotten his wife.

Getting stuck into this first book of the Bible, it is the provision of carefully-preserved genealogical records which has thrown much light into the narration. Not only can the question of Cain's wife be adequately answered, but the issue also hints of a massive population explosion not long after the Fall. Adam must have fathered far more than just Cain and Abel before the birth of Seth. Within the first 130 years of his life, an unspecified number of unnamed sons and daughters must have been born from Eve's womb. Not to have done so would have violated the specific commandment given to them by God himself - to procreate and populate the Earth (Genesis 1:26-28).

By the time Noah was born, both his father Lamech, along with his unnamed mother were alive and well, together with his peculiarly-named grandfather Methuselah, and his unnamed grandmother. The name Methuselah might well have raised the curiosity of young Noah, combined with the revelation given at his birth that he is destined to bring relief from the hard toil resulting from the cursed ground. Even from a young age, Noah already knew that the name Methuselah means At my death comes the waters. Combined with his own destiny, he was aware that something drastic will happen later in his life. Just a casual reading of the genealogical records narrated in the fifth chapter will reveal that right up to the start of the Flood, Noah was not the lonely orphan I first perceived him to have been. Here we are told that apart from the birth of Lamech, Methuselah had other sons and daughters, therefore the youngster growing up into a family of aunts and uncles. Then Lamech himself had other sons and daughters, supplying Noah with brothers and sisters, and perhaps nephews and nieces too. Indeed, if cousins are to be included, Noah grew up in a very large family.

The sudden death of Lamech after a comparatively moderate age of 777 years might well have answered Noah's begging question: Would his parents drown in the Flood? With the Ark nearing completion, all eyes were on his grandfather Methuselah. As the white-haired and white bearded grandfather's face displayed more wrinkles by the day, Noah had no option but to ensure the timely completion of his vessel, and that despite the ridicule thrown at him by those he loved, and the shaking of heads by other relatives who had confined him to the realm of lunacy. Then suddenly one morning, Methuselah was found dead in his bed. Noah flew into panic. His ark wasn't quite ready. That was when God revealed to him that seven more days were to elapse before the waters arrived, enough time to cross the t's and dot the i's, five years after the death of his father Lamech.

As the storms raged outside, Noah must have felt very lonely and disturbed as the ark rocked about whilst afloat on the shoreless ocean. It wasn't that long after the door finally closed, sealing them in, when massive earthquakes, roaring rumbles of thunder, water and even volcanic lava gushing out of the ground, that he heard his own panicking brothers and sisters, along with their screaming offspring, grandchildren, and maybe even their great grandchildren, together with his aunts, uncles, and cousins, all calling out his name and begging for the door to be opened. But as fists punched the outside of the hull, Noah knew well enough that the door cannot be opened. Such would jeopardise everyone else within, along with all the livestock. His own wife tried to comfort him, along with attempted encouragement from his three sons and their wives. But as the livestock drifted into hibernation for the duration, a certain stillness ensued, save from the turbulence of the waters outside. If only his relatives believed his message and entered the Ark whilst there was still time, instead of mocking and ridiculing! Now it was too late. 

It was over a year later, after having received reassurance, that Noah, his family, and all preserved livestock disembarked somewhere on a high mountain. But even with the happy announcement of the birth of his first grandson Canaan, sired by Ham, he could not alleviate his sorrows as he looked around the deserted land, bereft of all humans other than his own family. Even though he busied himself farming and harvesting grapes, his combined twist of torrid emotions of loneliness and family loss caused him to drink to excess. Whilst lying drunken in his tent, it was likely that his grandson Canaan sexually molested him, making him believe that it was his wife who was trying to revive the old man, while the boy's father looked on with some amusement before calling in his brothers Shem and Japheth.

Then there was no Government ministers to lay the blame on, no street protests, no media, thus there was nobody to blame. As it was, Noah and his family survived a natural disaster, this one so grand that it wiped out the entire human population. Because of their wickedness. And yet, as God made a covenant of the rainbow with Noah and his descendants, God also makes a statement that although the whole of humanity was given a fresh start, the human heart remains evil from youth (Genesis 8:20-22). It was as if the Flood has failed to reform the heart over the coming generations. So why promise never to bring another deluge, despite the natural heart remaining unreformed? I believe that an invasion of fallen angels interbreeding with antediluvian women had very nearly eliminated the Messianic Line, starting with Adam, through Seth, Noah, and through to Jesus Christ (Genesis 6:1-4). This interbreeding between fallen angels and human women produced a race of Nephilim - giants, and maybe together with those weird, cone-headed offspring who had high, above-average intelligence and greater evil, and therefore grew up to be men of great infamy. If the entire human population became infected with such offspring, the Promise of Genesis 3:15 would not have been fulfilled. Since after the Flood, the birth of such offspring apparently remained restricted to the line of Ham through Canaan, and they were to play a role in the discipline of the fledgling nation of Israel, which eventually eliminated them entirely, particularly from Joshua's day through to King Saul's reign. If all this is true, the need for a global Deluge has played a role towards our salvation. 

Since then, natural disasters as unleashed its powers throughout history, although never again to wipe out the entire human race. The natural phenomenon which demolished the Tower of Babel was a natural disaster, along with the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79, wiping out the cities of Pompeii, Stabiae, Oplontis, and Herculaneum. Then there was that explosive eruption of Mt. Krakatoa in the Sunda Strait, on August 26, 1886, which wiped out at least 36,417 people at surrounding coast-lands. Then not to mention the San Francisco earthquake in 1906, killing around 3,000 people and flattening 80% of the city. Then within our lifetimes there was the tsunami which epicentre took place in the Indian Ocean on Boxing Day 2004, taking up to 280,000 casualties. Then there was the destruction of New Orleans by a tsunami stirred up by Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005. This disaster took at least 1,245 lives.

Here in the UK nature is far less harsh, befitting the gentle rolling hills and pastures green of rural England. Therefore, disasters here tend to be man-made rather than from the pure wrath of nature. Perhaps the worst was the bubonic plague which struck London between the years 1665 and 1666, taking 100,000 lives, about a quarter of London's population. This disease was spread by fleas biting people after being in contact with infected rats. Natural disaster? In a way, yes, but easily avoidable if only a better knowledge of sanitation was in force. The Bible teaches that human excrement, for example, should be buried in a hole already dug in the ground outside the camp, and then covered over with the soil (Deuteronomy 23:12-13). Instead, human excrement, rotting food and other sources of filth were thrown out from the windows to the street below, festering vermin which spread such fatal illnesses. The Great Fire of London of 1666 was, as I see it, an act of God's grace and mercy. This disaster took very few casualties, but destroyed property in abundance - along with the rats which carried the bubonic plague.

However, other than terrorist attacks occurring in America, Europe and Britain alike, the latest disaster now dominate the news bulletins. That is the fire which quickly consumed Grenfell Tower, a residential block occupying the poorer area of London North Kensington, with the wealthy area of Notting Hill just a stone's throw away. Here, the poorer, hard up residents lived cheek by jowl with the mansions owned by the rich. When I read about this, yes I was angry at God himself for allowing the fire to rage the way it did. Why always the poorer people suffer like this? And why such a special favour shown to the better off? Like as in most evangelical churches where the Gospel is shared among the middle classes, graduates and professionals, while at the same time, Islamic and other non-Christian refugees, immigrants, struggling families, and the plebs of society are left to burn alive or die from smoke inhalation without ever a chance to hear the Gospel for themselves. Salt is further rubbed into the wound when I consider that many of the wealthier occupy the pews of Anglican churches - giving the impression that God favours the wealthy and the better educated.

This craziness, this unfairness, this picture of a posh lady praying to God over her choice of a new dress while two to three thousand miles down the road the life of a starving child ebbs away while his mother looks on helplessly. Ditto of another child suffering from malnutrition and AIDS, with no fault of his own, slowly passes away while at that same moment over here, the patriotic Englishman and churchgoer prays and even fast for England to win the World Cup. Something seems rotten here.

Until the full truth comes out.

That is: The fire at Grenfell Tower was the result of cheap flammable cladding covering the outer masonry, so that this 1970's built structure will look more appealing to the nearby wealthy residents. The result of shoddy administration of the authorities plus the sheer greed of the contractors - putting profit above the safety of these pleb residents - extricates any accusation from man's perception of divine unfairness.

Noah had no reason to feel deluded by God's apparent injustice, especially to his wider family. Neither was there a need to harbour and feed those twisted emotions which tormented him. Rather, he should have realised that the terrible catastrophe he was saved from was brought upon antediluvian mankind by their own evil deeds and their own unbelief.


  1. Dear Frank,
    Thank you so much for this illuminating exposition of Noah, the flood, and the events surrounding it. If only mankind would learn from Genesis, and from the Bible as a whole, that we need to trust God and follow His Son before it is too late, rather than mocking Him. The escalating disasters recently, both natural and due to man's negligence or wickedness, seem to signal that the end is near. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!
    Thanks as always for the excellent post, and God bless,

  2. Amen, Frank.
    As you point out, much of the suffering of mankind is the result of humanity's failure to deal with obvious immediate problems such as a failure to get rid of waste, or using inferior materials. They'd rather focus on some future possibility than deal with immediate probabilities.