No justice

“I know all of this already,” Job said, cutting Bildad’s rant short. “But how can we, mere mortals, be justified before God? If I wanted to grapple or debate with him, I’d stand no chance. He’s almighty and all wise. Do you know of anyone who’s won a case in his court? Who has the power to summon the Judge?

“In his wrath, God levels mountains, and the hills don’t even know what hit them. If he told the sun not to rise, it wouldn’t. He’s the one who assembled the stars into the Zodiac and placed them in the empty spaces he created.

“I marvel at his works. He’s here right now, and we can’t see him. He moves about my camp, but my eyes are laughably weak. He leaves my presence, and I can’t detain him.

“No one was with God at the beginning to question his actions or supervise his work. Even Rahab, the spirit of the raging flood, bowed before him as he vanquished Chaos in the beginning.

“Therefore, how can I argue with God? Even though I’m innocent, his reasons are beyond me. All I can think to do is beg for mercy, but he’s more likely to add more time to my sentence than to listen to my case.

“I’m becoming bitter by all of this. Although I’ve done nothing wrong, my complaints sentence me. God has proven me guilty even in my innocence. I am blameless, but it doesn’t matter! God kills the good and the evil. When the innocent die and the wicked rule and judges are corrupt, who else but God allows all of it?

“Life is short, but if I forgive and forget and get on with my life, I’d still be terrified because of what my suffering means. It means I’m damned. It doesn’t matter if I scrub my body with soap, God will knock me back into the dirt. So, what’s the use in trying?

“God’s not flesh and blood, so I can’t plead in a court of law and have a fighting chance. There’s no mediator between us to stay his hand. It’s me against him. If he would stop punishing me and filling me with terror, I’d tell him, without fear, what I know to be true: I’m not guilty!”

Inspiration: Job 9

Sea sick

Noah let fly a raven through an access hatch, but the waters continued to swell for another five months. Finding no place to land, it returned.

Seven months later, the large vessel and its living cargo lodged itself in a cleft on Mount Ararat, and for three months the waters continued to drain outward into the seas.

After spending about a year on the boat, Noah released a dove, but it too returned. He rereleased the dove seven days later, this time returning with an olive leaf in its beak. After another seven days, he released the dove for the third time. Noah never saw the dove again.

Noah and his family decided it was safe to disembark. They had lived in the floating house for a year and two months, and by that time, their claustrophobia was full blown.

Noah gathered the seven pairs of split-hooved animals, as well as the seven pairs of birds. Instead of using them for clothing or some other resource, he built an altar and incinerated them as a sacrifice.

This gesture so pleased God that he said, “I’ll never again curse the earth or destroy all creatures because of humankind. The human heart is hell-bent from an early age and needs saving. May the seasons endure. I’ll provide a way of promise, hope, and salvation.”

Then God made a new promise between himself and humankind. “Multiply yourselves and populate the whole earth. From this day, the animal kingdom will fear you, for they are now yours for food. I gave Adam and Eve the gardens; I now provide you with everything. However, don’t eat the blood of animals. Blood is life. For that matter, whoever causes human bloodshed will pay with his blood. I have encoded My image in human blood.”

Then God ordained a sign of his promise. “Whenever you see a rainbow,” he said, “remember that I’ll never again destroy the earth because of human evil.”

Inspiration: Genesis 7-9

Hard reboot

From Enoch’s family tree came a man called Noah, at a time when the average human life still extended for hundreds of years, and humanity spread across the regions of Asia, Turkey, and Egypt.

Humankind’s rebellion against God seemed genetic, and population growth brought a gradual rise in violence and corruption.

The crisis reached its zenith when a band of fallen angels lusted after the women of humanity. Two hundred spirit creatures descended, took on human flesh, and defiled the daughters of men, bringing forth a race of giants, titans of renown called the Nephilim.

“I’m cutting them off,” God swore, sorely distressed by humanity’s evil. “People will live no more than a hundred and twenty years.”

Even so, he regretted ever creating such an insurgent breed. He decided that shortening their lives wasn’t enough.

I’ll eradicate them, he thought. People, pets, wild animals, birds, nothing would survive. If it creeps, crawls, or twitches, they’re going to be relics.

Except for Noah.

Noah was perfect compared to any other individual, so God brought him into his confidence with the holy angels.

“I’ve decided to destroy the earth and its inhabitants with a catastrophic flood,” God told Noah. “Make a three-story vessel from cypress wood and waterproof it. When the waters appear around you, everything outside the vessel will drown.”

He further instructed Noah, “Bring a male and a female of every living thing onto the vessel, keeping them alive. Also, bring seven pairs of all split-hooved grazers and birds. Finally, store up plenty of food for your family and the animals.”

With shoulders back and hammer in hand, Noah went to work.

He was six hundred years old when he and his family, with all the animals and provisions, boarded the vessel. Just as promised, the pipes burst from deep beneath the seas, and torrential rains emptied themselves from the sky. It rained for forty days, and when the highest mountain peaks submerged in a sea of foaming floodwaters, every living thing outside God’s lifeboat perished.

Inspiration: Genesis 6-7