Dear church,

Water is necessary for life. The scientists are searching for it on other planets. If they can find water, they can find life. 

And this is true. At the outset of God’s creative activities, we see water in abundance. Even in the darkness, water was present (Genesis 1:2). One of God’s first actions was to separate the waters, above and below (Genesis 1:6). And then God gathered the water into seas (1:9-10).

The presence of water is central to the story of creation. 

And the value of water is lost on no one. We need it to survive. We need it for our crops and for every piece of vegetation we see. A lot of people worry all winter about water, hoping for big snows, because they know the value of the water that will be released from the snowpack during the spring. 

Water is fundamental to physical life on earth. And God chose to use water to destroy.

“The waters prevailed above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep. And all flesh died that moved on the earth …”

That’s a lot of water. The separated waters in the opening scenes of Genesis – the waters below and above (1:6-7; 7:11) – exploded onto the scene and swallowed up life. 

This is interesting because God used one of the most important components of physical life on earth to destroy physical life on earth. It is a fitting punishment for sin, after all. Adam and Eve were grasping for more physical life when they took up the forbidden fruit. They wanted the fruit that was pleasing to the eye, that was good for food, that would make them more like God, and that would have no negative effect on their length of life. “You will not surely die,” the serpent said.

Adam and Eve were doing nothing more than striving for more – more of this sensuous, pride-filled life. More food for the belly. More wisdom for the mind. And more years on the earth. They were no different than people today.

At the end, as Adam and Eve took that bite, the sum of life for them was physical. There was nothing else to it. It was flesh. And God had so much more planned for humanity than that. 

Life is not simply about what we find in the here and now. It is not simply about food and drink and sex and recreation and leisure and work and wealth. Life, as God intended it, is about more than that. Really, it is about Him.

And that is why the flood was so fitting as a punishment for human sin. If human striving – which inevitably resulted in human competition and violence – was all about the physical things of this created world, then God gave humanity a mouthful of it. Actually, he gave humanity a world-ful of it.

Like money and sex and food, water is something we want – obviously. Things don’t happen here without it. Of the physical world, water is the highest need, the most important good. 

God seemed to be saying, “If you want a purely physical life – if you want more and more and more of this world – here it is.” And that physical thing that people desire so much, if given to them in abundance, can destroy them. 

I wonder if this is another manifestation of God’s giving people over to their sins – of letting them go their own way. “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity …” (Romans 1:24). If we desire physical things for ourselves, if we choose that over our obedience to God, then God will let us go. He will step out of the way.

But he knows those things lead nowhere. They lead to nothingness and emptiness. Read Psalm 115 when you get a chance.

God punished humans by deluging them with what they were pursuing – more of a physical life without God. What they thought brought only life could actually bring death.

And we might learn the lesson: Nothing on this earth can satisfy us like God can.

Instead of this lust and craving for physical things of this created world, God desires our hearts to be like the psalmist in Psalm 42: “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.”

There is a water that does more than nourish our bodies. If we only long for and receive physical water, we too will suffer destruction in the end. Jesus was sitting beside a famous water well in Samaria and told a woman about it: “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14).

I suppose the question we might ask as we read about the flood – and understanding the flood as a literal event that happened long ago, but also an event that points toward the final judgment of God – is a question about our desires. Yes, we all sin. We will struggle with sin until the day we die. But we never will give up the good fight. We will stive to obey God, and to follow Christ as his disciples. 

But the question is this: Do I desire Him more than I desire anything else on this earth – whether it is my possessions, my family, my children, my vocation, my reputation, my legacy? Does God come first for me? Do I thirst for him, for his living water?

This brings up another interesting question for me, and it’s kind of a tangent to Genesis 7, but not really. As parents, we love our children. We labor for them. We cry over them. We rejoice with them. We see it as our sacred duty to raise them and to raise them well. We want to protect them and then see them succeed in life. We want them to be happy and to live as godly adults. (And we hope they’ll take care of us when we’re old!)

This is what parents ought to do. I think God ordained this for us.

But at the same time, we ought never to lose sight of why we do all these things for our kids. These are his kids, not ours. He is the Creator. Everything that has breath belongs to him. Our duty in raising our kids – even as it comes to us with this primal instinct to protect and teach – is a duty that we have to Him.

We raise our kids for the glory of God. We don’t do it for our own glory, our own pride, our own security. We do it because we desire Him.

That’s it for today. Thanks, as always, for reading!


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