Theme: Owning our frustration can be the first step toward healing.
Purpose: Raise possibilities for those who have been living under the cloud of a grudge for too long.
I’m going to bet that ever since you heard the first four verses of chapter 6 you have been looking for the definitive explanation of this esoteric passage.
Well, after reviewing all the scholarly commentary on these four verses, let me definitively answer the question: what in the world do these verses mean?
The answer: I have no idea!
When I read these passages, I just stand in awe of the distance back into the early days of humankind that the book of Genesis takes us, oral tradition that for all we know may go back to 4, 5, or even 6,000 B.C. A window into a pre-historic era that will fascinate readers for years to come.
I don’t know what God was getting at in verses 1 – 4.
But I have a much better idea of what he was getting at in vss. 5 – 8.
Verses 5 – 8 are much less familiar to Bible readers and yet much more understandable – how ironic.
In fact, I would assert that verses 5 – 8 in chapter 6 of Genesis are the most overlooked verses in all of Scripture.
They will also be the starting point for our series about when we’re wronged.
Here’s the other strange irony: whenever we want to find out what the Bible says about forgiving those who’ve wronged us, we’ll do a word search and cling to certain passages about forgiveness.
· There’s the time Jesus is asked how often one should forgive and he tells them not seven times, but seven times seventy.
· There’s the Lord’s prayer: Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
· There’s the contrast between the one who is forgiven much and thus loves much and the one who is forgiven little and thus loves little.
But all these anecdotal sayings obscure the biggest lesson about forgiveness that the Bible offers.
And it’s easy to figure out where to go to learn about forgiveness.
Logically, the one who can teach us most about forgiveness is the one who has been most wronged, the one who has the most to forgive.
So who in the bible has been the MOST wronged of all the characters in the bible?
Biblically, the Creator of heaven and earth has by far the biggest axe to grind, being the most trashed, abused, neglected, battered, and offended figure throughout Scripture.
If anyone knows anything about forgiveness, it ought to be our Creator. He’s certainly had the most need for it.
And so I thought it would be helpful to trace the Lord’s journey, from His perspective, as the drama of the human story unfolds.
Let’s see what we can learn from the Mother of All Forgiveness.
And it starts here in chapter 6, verse 5 – 8.
Wait! Shouldn’t we start at the Fall, since that’s the first time God was sinned against?
No, the Fall introduces the human predicament. That’s not our focus. Our focus is GOD’S predicament. That begins in chapter 6.
Can someone please read again verse 5 out loud.
Now I’d like you to count how many superlatives are found in verse 5.
A superlative is the highest or ultimate degree or quality of something. The nth degree. How many superlatives can you find in just that one verse. Go ahead and name them.
All describing the degree to which humankind had become evil.
You think the world is getting worse? No. You think with terrorists and wars in the middle east and shootings in malls and the political circus we call a campaign, this world is reaching an all-time low? No. Genesis 6. At least 2,000 B.C. or more. It was all here.
How does God feel about this?
Well, if there was ever a place where we wanted Scripture to REVEAL God to us, it would be here. And it does: Vs. 6
It’s a very sober verse.
In this verse, we see into the very heart of the God of the universe.
What do we find? A broken heart.
If you think there’s nothing broken about God, nothing ‘wrong,’ you are incorrect.
If you come away with nothing else this morning, know this: at the dawn of creation, only a short while after creating his masterpiece, the human being, . . .
God had a problem. A big problem.
Did he cause the problem?
The Garden of Eden had everything, everything Adam & Eve needed, and more.
There was no good reason for all the evil that He saw in the world. No precedent for it.
Sure, you could say his mistake was creating free-will but hey, that’s like a weight watcher blaming the inventor of the cupcake for their temptation!
So here’s the deal:
God has a problem he didn’t start, he didn’t anticipate, he didn’t cause.
But he still has a problem.
He’s hurt. His heart is grieving.
Ex. Filipino landowner George
I know there are those in this room who are grieving losses in your life that you had nothing to do with.
You sometimes WISH it was your fault because then you’d have someone to blame and then the situation would at least make sense.
But you didn’t do anything wrong and so it doesn’t make sense.
Here’s the good news of the gospel: God didn’t cause the problem of Genesis 6, verse 5, but he DID recognize that he had a problem.
You see, usually if we didn’t cause the problem, we don’t think WE have one. It’s the other guy’s fault, it’s nobody’s fault, or maybe it’s God’s fault.
And as long as it’s someone else’s fault, we can’t do anything about it.
It is very liberating, though, to recognize that you have a problem.
Wait! I don’t have a problem: it’s the other guy who crashed into ME! He’s the one with the problem!
No, but YOU still have a problem. It’s not a driving problem, a road problem, or a character problem.
It’s a heart problem. You’re upset. You resent someone. You’re holding a grudge. You’re mad!
That’s a problem.
A problem you didn’t cause, initiate, or anticipate. But it’s stilla problem.
The first step of response to being severely wronged is NOT forgiveness or reconciliation or even communication.
No the first step is OWNING THE PROBLEM.
Our Lord was able to delineate between the human problem and his own.
My creatures, the humans, have a problem. Rebelling against their creator.
That's THEIR problem, not mine.
But I too have a problem. I'm deeply grieved at their actions. I'm heart-broken.
I can't solve their problem for them.
But I CAN take steps to solving my own!
What action does the Lord take?
Whoa! What sort of evil Machiavellian monster did our LOrd just become? Yikes! I don't know if I like this God. He's not loving!
Not loving? Wait a minute: these are HIS OWN creatures.
Ex. Play dough
This is the Creator of the universe: He is breaking no moral code by taking apart one creation and making another. They wouldn't have existed without him in the first place!
But I digress: the point is, God owns His problem and begins to take steps to rectify it. The story of his continued action over time in dealing with an incessantly deviant people reveals the true graciousness of His character. More on that later.
Is your heart broken?
Have you been so offended that you simply cannot get over it?
You've tried forgetting your offender, ignoring him/her, hating him, venting on him, feeling sorry for yourself, pretending you can love him, and still at the end of the day, the bitterness seems to stick to you like glue.
Step #1: Say, I have a problem. It's MY problem. I've got to deal with it. I have a God who majors on dealing with wrongdoing. I need his help.
In the next three Sundays, we'll be looking at next steps after owning the problem which we take toward healing ourselves from the iron grip of resentment.
Meanwhile, let's pray.