Who is God — really? How often do we stop and actually consider who He IS? If God were to take Myers-Briggs test, who would He turn out to be? Would He be an INTJ, ISTP, ESFJ, or one (or more!) of the sixteen different personality types that identify/define us?
Now that your curiosity has been piqued, I must confess that I cannot possibly answer that question, nor should I even attempt to. I would venture to guess that God — the Creator of everything and everyone — would be all those different personality types, and probably many more we don’t even know of! Just speculating about “who God is” is the ultimate writer’s hook that can’t possibly be delivered! The first picture we really get of “who God is” is in the early chapters of Genesis, particularly how He destroyed the world with the Flood. And given that a life-size replica of Noah’s ark is opening this week, I thought a post about the subject would be rather appropriate.
In my spare time this year, I’ve been working on my latest book, “Fountains of the Deep”, a novel about the Flood. Often it’s called the “Flood of Noah” but Noah really had nothing to do with it; Noah was merely God’s instrument in preserving a tiny remnant of life upon the earth when God destroyed it. He destroyed it so completely that all we have is a couple of brief accounts, a plethora of fossils, and some strange ancient artifacts here and there embedded in rock and coal (like a beautiful brass-bell, a hammer, and even a doll). There are no ruins of cities, shards of tablets, graveyards, or even human skeletons (that we know of). When God says He was going to “wipe man from the face of the earth”, He meant it!
The problem I’m having with the book is I can’t seem to get much traction with it, between more work (though that’s back to normal now), different writing goals, and new parenting responsibilities. The characters are all mapped out and relatively developed, but the meat of the story just isn’t quite there. Typically when I write a novel, I picture the entire story in my head much like a movie, break it down into scenes, and then write what I see onto the paper (er, laptop screen). But the main problem I’m having with this book in particular is that I can’t quite wrap my head around what that world was like, that it had become so violent, corrupt, and wicked that God had to completely — and I mean COMPLETELY — wipe it from existence.
As someone who interprets the Bible as literally as possible, I can’t help but hold to the “young-earth” creation model of roughly 6,000 years. Yes, that’s extremely unpopular these days, but Truth is Truth.It’s not just the first ten chapters of Genesis that require this, but God’s spoken words through Moses in Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, and of course, Jesus Himself that attest to a literal six-day, young-earth creation. I’ve always loved dinosaurs (known throughout history as “dragons”), and am quite convinced that they were present before the Flood, particularly since they’re described by God in the latter chapters of Job, various historical accounts, as well as the recent discoveries of “fresh” dinosaur bones in which the tissues are still soft and unmineralized.
It’s not merely the challenges of describing a world very, very different than ours in which people lived for nearly a thousand-years in a nearly perfect environment with who-knows-what type of strength and ingenuity, it’s the bigger questions that keep getting dredged up about who God really is. It’s so easy to paint the picture that “mankind was wicked so God had to wipe the entire slate clean”, but there’s much, MUCH more to it than that! To add to the difficulty, I’ve never liked horror books/movies — I don’t like seeing or reading about abject evil, so how am I supposed to write it myself? How can one accurately portray the horrors of that world which is likened to “Jurassic Park” mixed with “Lord of the Flies” and “Alien” all wrapped into one never-ending nightmare? And that’s without throwing in the even creepier topics like the Nephilim, demons, and mutants/hybrids!
Though it is very likely that the fallen “sons of God” (angels) were instrumental in mankind’s downward spiral, God still holds humanity’s inherent depravity responsible for His worst judgment in all history. The key verses about why God sent the Flood are in Genesis 6:5-6 and then amplified in v11-12: “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart…Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.”
Stop and think about it for a moment: “EVERY intention of the thoughts of man’s heart was ONLY evil ALL the time.” (emphasis added). Now, I’m sure there was love, affection, and the wonderful emotions of getting married, having children, and happiness…yet God was horribly grieved over the condition of man’s hearts. It wasn’t merely man’s sin that grieved Him, but that every thought of man’s heart was wicked all the time. Completely corrupt! 100% unredeemable! Man’s wickedness had reached it’s zenith in that he could practically NOT become more evil and wicked? Consider some of the TV shows and horror movies out there — these were far worse, and they were horrifically REAL. How can anyone accurately portray that in any book?!
To add to that difficult picture, not only mankind was corrupt, God says that ALL flesh had become corrupt too! What could that mean? If it was only mankind that was corrupt, He could have merely sent a plague to wipe man out, couldn’t He? Ancient mythology is full of bizarre creatures of half-man, half-animals, creatures that are part one type and part another, huge giants, monsters, hybrids, demi-gods, etc. The question is: what if those monsters (or some form of them) were actually real? In His creation, God set down clear boundaries between male and female and the various “kinds” (not species) of animals, reptiles, birds, and fish. God loves order and hates chaos, while Satan always seeks to corrupt, disrupt, and continually blur order. What if there was far more “corruption” occurring on the earth than what the Bible merely calls wickedness?
Consider our own day and age: as we have become more comfortable and technological, the line between male and female is blurring as it is in the transgender movement, as well as the bizarre genetic experiments underway in some of our laboratories that are mixing different types of animals together and sometimes even human components. Sometimes this is done in the name of medicine or science, but sometimes it’s done simply to see if it can be. The question is: “How far is too far?” Could it be that these sorts of “experiments” were being done on a large-scale before the Flood such that God declared that “all flesh had corrupted their way” and was forced to wipe them out? Not only that, but consider that the more technological we have become, the deadlier we have become — the very notion of being able to kill millions of people in a very short time was unthinkable only seventy years ago!
Despite the horrors of the pre-Flood world, God certainly not intend it to be that way — that was a result of sin. After all, imagine a world that (though cursed) portrayed the incredible handiwork of God in all its glory. Imagine the ground perfectly composed for growing things instead of the couple of inches of topsoil we have today. Imagine mists watering the earth every morning instead of rain which make plants and trees thrive. Imagine most animals being docile and friendly to mankind — even many of the big ones! Imagine a world in which nearly every day was perfect, with no natural disasters, no famines, abundant fresh-water, no disease, incredible plant-life and animal-life, and a nearly perfect environment. Imagine having an almost perfect body, being far stronger, healthier, smarter, and faster than you are. Imagine living for nearly a thousand years!
Yet that nearly perfect world was completely destroyed by God. Why? Because of sin and it’s parasitic, destructive effects. Because that perfect world had become nothing short of Hell on Earth. The pre-Flood world is a perfect picture of why Jesus had to die for our sins before being resurrected and then giving eternal life to us: paradise with long lives but without holiness and love becomes a horrible, terrible place very quickly! Imagine what eternity without holiness would be like? It would be Hell — and it is. God is the ONLY source of goodness in this world, and without His sustaining and restraining Hand, sin would turn everything into Hell.
There have been moments where I’ve felt a certain remorse for the pre-Flood world, that maybe God was too harsh and too cruel — that He was too extreme in His judgment, that maybe there was another way besides the Flood. But is the problem with God or with me in that I don’t know what it was really like and cannot comprehend the full destructive nature of sin? Of course, it’s with me! The more I walk with Him and the more life I experience, the more He surprises me as He is revealed — and sometimes He makes me very uncomfortable. This quote by C.S. Lewis about his walk with God is so fitting for me at times: “Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not ‘So there’s no God after all,’ but ‘So this is what God’s really like. Deceive yourself no longer.’”
When God says ‘I AM who I AM’ in His Word, He’s not being flippant or obscure — He’s being perfectly, brutally honest. After all, God cannot lie and has never been one to sugar-coat the Truth. How can an infinite God be described in human words or even a 1,189-chapter book? He IS who He IS, and it will take eternity for us to learn who He IS (and then some!).
Throughout the Bible, God metes out seemingly disproportional judgments for various infractions. Even with the Fall, one small act of rebellion (a piece of forbidden fruit) has ushered in an unbelievable amount of horror for thousands of years. A couple of days of partying with foreign women cost the lives of 24,000 Israelites, not to mention nearly 15,000 earlier from grumbling in the desert. What about David and his prideful census that cost 70,000 Israelites, or the “sword never leaving his house” because of what he did with Bathsheba? Doesn’t the punishment seem to far outweigh the infraction at times? To me as a fallen creature, yes. But to Him as the perfect Holy One, no!
There’s no denying that God drowned the entire world once — much to everyone’s surprise (including His angels and Satan with his fallen ones). Why the Flood? Because it left evidence of His judgment all over the world buried in stone. Did He enjoy it? Certainly NOT! God had been deeply grieved in His heart for centuries before He drowned the world! And it wasn’t just over a couple people, but everyone on earth, millions if not billions of people. Remember, God created the earth to be inhabited (Isaiah 45:18), filled with people and life of every sort. It’s very likely that the pre-Flood earth was 70% land instead of 70% water. Imagine knowing the minds and hearts of everyone one on earth and only seeing evil continually all the time for hundreds of years and billions of people… it’s amazing that He didn’t hit His limit after the fourth or fifth generation!
The problem isn’t with God, but with us — we are so fallen that we cannot fathom the least bit of His sheer holiness and hatred of sin. If He as the perfect holy God didn’t have unfathomable love and mercy towards us, we would ALL be consumed in His wrath! Even the best of us fall so short of His standard of holiness that we are nearly indistinguishable from the worst of men in His eyes.
Yet this same “God of wrath” loves us with incomprehensible fury and abandon, and proved it by sending His own beloved Son to be mercilessly tortured and crucified as a sacrifice for Himself — so we could be with Him once again.
“The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever. May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace!” — Psalm 29:10-11