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Sunday, April 8, 2018

1: Why did Noah let God Drown the World?

“Don’t return to this church or contact Pastor David ever again,” commanded  the head elder, shaking his head and letting out a sigh.  Jasmine had just been blackballed.  He then “prayed” for her and closed with the last words she heard spoken by anyone at Quail Canyon Community Church:  “You’re just like Eve.”   

Just like Eve.  Jasmine had heard those words before.  She was eleven, and her Sunday school class was studying the story of Noah’s flood.  “You see,” Mr. Casey, the teacher, affectionately known as Mr. C., said, “The entire world was filled with wickedness.  The scripture records that ‘every intent’ of every person on earth – except for one – was full of ‘only evil’ and that every human, except for one, had corrupted the earth.’”  He then asked what may have made Noah different, unique in the human race of his generation as a good man.  One said that maybe he wasn’t selfish; another said that he may have been willing to share his things with his friends; another said that maybe Noah didn’t litter all over the earth and pollute it like the others. 

The teacher nodded at all these responses.  Jasmine was unsure whether Noah really was unique, even whether he really was good.  She couldn’t quite pinpoint why, but somehow felt that he wasn’t good. 

Francine raised her hand and offered another answer: “Noah was obedient.”  To this, Mr. C grew a wide grin, and said, “Exactly, Francine.  The scripture records this is exactly what made Noah so special: He obeyed God.  Let’s look at what the Bible says in Genesis 6:22: ‘Thus Noah did; according to al that God had commanded him, so he did.’  While every other person on earth was disobeying God, Noah obeyed him.”

Mr. C. encouraged the students to obey God and to memorize two scripture verses about Noah for the following week: “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8) and “Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did” (Genesis 6:22).

            It was then that Jasmine understood what disturbed her about Noah: he obeyed God.  That was it!  That’s what disturbed her.  So she raised her hand and asked, “If Noah had found favor with God, why didn’t he use his favor to ask God to save the world?”  Mr. C. looked at her stunned, even disturbed.  She didn’t know she was stepping out into dangerous, inappropriate territory by asking questions in Sunday school.  She didn’t know she was doing anything wrong by wanting to know why Noah obeyed, so when Mr. C. remained silent, she thought she’d better rephrase her question: “Why did Noah let God drown the world?”

            The entire class went silent.  Each student looked at Mr. C. with eager eyes for an answer.  Each wanted to know the same thing: why had Noah let God drown the world?  Mr. C. was flummoxed.  The lesson intended to teach obedience was about to be undermined with its opposite: disobedience.  Jasmine was suggesting that it would have been better if Noah had disobeyed God!  That it would have been better for Noah to supersede God and put forth Noah’s own, human notion that the evil world should remain.  The way she phrased her question dug deep with prickles under Mr. C.’s skin: “Why had Noah let God drown the world?”  The question suggested that little, human Noah had authority over God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth.  How insolent of her to think that Noah “lets” God!

            “Who created the heavens and the earth?” he asked Jasmine.  “God,” she replied.  “Why was Noah special,” he asked Francine. “Because he obeyed God,” replied Francine.  “Right,” he said to the full class.  Then, without answering Jasmine’s question, he turned to her and with tinge of scorn, said, “You want the knowledge of God, and the power of God, and you want to disobey to get it.  You’re just like Eve.” 

He took a deep breath, resolving to salvage the lesson she had fairly well bombed for him and asked the class to recite the memory verses: “Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. . . . Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did” (Genesis 6:8 and 22).  After the class obediently recited the verses, he took another breath to keep as calm as he could and then closed: “Now, everyone, keep reciting these verses for next week, and we’ll begin next Sunday with each of you reciting the verses.  Most of all, remember to be just like Noah and not just like Eve.”

Jasmine felt the pierce into her heart at those words “not just like Eve,” that pierce of condemnation, condemnation she couldn’t grasp or understand.  Why had she been so condemned?  What had she done wrong?

She did not know, but felt fully condemned, and ashamed, and she buried it.  She buried her condemnation, her shame, and her memories of most of fifth grade, especially this moment -- until now.

 © 2018 by karina.  All rights reserved.  Please use with permission or a citation that links to this blog.

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