Meditating on the Judgements of God:
3.10 Genesis Recap
Gen 50:20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives
Before we move on into Exodus we need to pause up and reflect on the judgments we have considered so far. At the end of the book we find the above quote from Joseph to his brothers in respect of all that had happened to him. It summarised his life: his brothers had been against him and having been given the opportunity, sold him into slavery. The long-term outworking of that was that he ended up being the second most powerful man in the region and was thus able to save Egypt and also his own family as well as surrounding nations.
As a story it has some pertinent lessons for this subject. First God has to work with sinful human beings. Sometimes He acts against them and disciplines them and brings change in them, sometimes He ends their life where He sees there is never going to be change, and sometimes He allows the sinful working of men to bring about a greater purpose. Allowing Joseph’s brother to move against him was one such example, allowing and even provoking the establishment to move against Jesus (see Acts 2:23) was another. Whatever action God takes is for the good of mankind, So let’s take an overview of the judgements we have observed in Genesis:
|People Involved||Their sin||The judgement|
|Adam & Eve #||Disobeying God and eating the forbidden fruit,||Cast out of the Garden and death|
|Cain #||Murdered his brother Abel||Banished from the community into the world|
|The Flood *||Overflowing wickedness||Destruction by flooding the world.|
|The Tower of Babel #||Pride and growing wickedness||Being scattered across the world|
|Abram and Pharaoh||Pharaoh taking Sarai||Disease spreading through the royal household|
|Sodom and Gomorrah *||Rampant sin, especially casting off sexual restraint||Utter destruction by a massive explosion|
|Er and Onan *||Established sin and dishonouring the family||Both men put to death by God|
|Famine||None mentioned||7 year famine used by God in His long-term plans|
Two of the above differ from the others in terms of cause. The Lord moved against Pharaoh, not so much because of sin but to protect Sarai and Abram. In the case of the Famine sin is not mention; it was simply a tool in God’s long-term plans.
But it is when we come to the judgments that we come across the greatest surprises. Yes, there is utter destruction in respect of the Flood and Sodom and Gomorrah, and in both instances the cause appears rather like a surgeon cutting out diseased organs to stop the disease wiping out the whole body; they were necessary to protect the earth and it’s long-term wellbeing. Er and Onan’s death’s appear to correct and bring to an end ongoing sin which was preventing the development of God’s plans through that family. We have ‘starred’ and ‘hashed’ the ‘judgments’ we have considered in the table above, and you can see that it is in only three of the eight cases that death is involved (the ‘starred’ ones.) In another three banishment or scattering is the method God used for dealing with the situation (the ‘hashed’ ones). Of the remaining two, one was God’s method of bringing about circumstances to fit His overall plans and strategies (the Famine) and the remaining one, the disease in Pharaoh’s court was simply to bring to his attention his wrong behaviour, and the disease went when the behaviour was corrected.
Put aside the three death cases for a moment, and what we are left with are a number judgments that can only be described as definitely restrained. God could have acted very harshly but never did. Adam and Eve were allowed to continue their lives and the human race but in a different location. Cain likewise was allowed to continue his life elsewhere. The people of Babel were likewise allowed to continue their lives elsewhere. Bearing in mind the nature of the sins in each case, these were remarkably limited actions. Pharaoh’s life was temporarily disrupted but that was all. The famine simply brought a great change in circumstances which also involved the chosen family.
With the two major catastrophes they simply reflect the awfulness of the state of mankind involved. With the two men, it would appear that again it was a case of ongoing known sin and refusal to repent. None of these ‘judgments’ appear hasty; in fact they appear to be well thought out and well applied in limited ways to deal with specific circumstances. There is no sense of them being ‘out of control’. They are each an example of a clearly restrained and controlled form of dealing with a problem in the most appropriate manner possible for the long-term wellbeing for the earth,