it's a pregnant phrase that should end with...
I'd like to say: "a spreading goodness" - shouldn't that be true?
But it's concluded instead with violence and evil and wickness from the hearts of humanity.
Sounds like the evening news but it's ancient words from the sixth chapter of the book of Genesis, a book shot through with emotional resonance with the contemporary world.
It's another question to ask whether its historical - and that question is really important. But hear the story.
In a world full of evil what's the God-word?
What are the next three words, or the next six words, or the next eight words...?
"The LORD regretted..."
"...it grieved him to his heart..."
"I am sorry that I have made them..."
Stick that in your theological assumptions pipe and smoke it for a few minutes.
Can such be said of God?
He says it of himself.
He weeps. And acts with Salvation through Judgement.
Death and resurrection.
Destroy and rebuild.
Pluck up and replant.
Always the refrain in the Bible.
Death and then life.
In a world full of evil "But Noah" there is one who trusts the LORD.
Noah hear the prophetic preaching of Enoch that judgement will come. He was raised in the prophetic word of his father than relief must come. He delayed having children, too broken to raise them in such a world, sharing in divine sorrow for the world. Yet he stepped up as judgement was announced and began to raise a family, preaching righteousness as he built a boat in a dry land. And he led his family through judgement to salvation and a renewed world.
The Flood is written in the key of Genesis. Multiplying and filling, male and female, two of each, creatures according to their kinds... And it continues as the rain falls and the world becomes formless again, until the wind (Spirit) blows and leaves a new humanity at the heart of a "new" world waiting to be formed. Beginnings and new beginnings. This world is home and yet there's that nagging sense that it should be a little more beautiful, a little less fractured. It needs to be renewed, re-made, re-created. And so do we.
The LORD shut Noah and his family in an ark. The LORD covered him as judgement came. Grace, like their naked and ashamed ancestors knew as they too were covered. And when wrath was averted, Noah was able to lift the covering off the ark and emerge as a new head for a new people in a new world... a flood-wrecked world in need of cultivation.
His first move was to offer a burnt offering. To de-create an animal with knife and fire to atone for sin (see Leviticus 1). Brutal and messy, like life. The flood washed away sinners but couldn't wash away sin. There was sin in the ark in the hearts of Noah's family. He knew another had to be destroyed in his place. For life is blood and blood is life, and only blood brings forgiveness for those whose life is forfeit.
This is the genesis of Noah, a new Adam but not the second.
This is the genesis of Jesus who walked the earth.
He who set his face to Jerusalem and walked through 10 long chapters of Luke's gospel before shedding tears over Jerusalem. But much more as Sibbes and Howe put it:
"he who shed tears shed his own blood for them."Blood and tears that would bring forgiveness, salvation through judgement and in time a truly renewed creation, new to the very heart.
The Triune God, full of love, full of tears.
The Man of Sorrows at the centre of A World of Sorrows.
The Man whose people are anguished people. God's happy people who weep.
He covers them - not with the roof of a boat but with himself.
And every tear will be wiped away.
Even, in the end, the LORD's tears.
And goodness will fill everything.
Though His scars will remain.