“God undertook the work of creation in such a way as to hand over the ongoing work to the world itself and to humanity in particular. This theme has growing prominence through the account until it reaches the logical conclusion that God can now stop work. God acts like an executive whose special task is to be creative, to initiate something new. When that is finished, she can move on. Or God works like a car manufacturer whose product will function reliably without needing service every few months.”
Looking at the stories of the Flood and the Tower of Babel in light of the previous chapters in Genesis, it becomes painfully clear what happens to the sin found in chapter 3 when it is left to grow and evolve. God’s description of the scenario during the flood is that everything intention from man was wicked. No longer is it crouching by the door, as it was for Cain. It has been allowed to become something that has penetrated the hearts and minds of men. Humanity, something created to do so much good, has grown into something so perverse. I imagine that the people of Noah’s day did much of the same things we do today, getting married, having kids, working, etc. Scripture doesn’t necessarily indicate that what they were doing was bad in and of itself, but that their intentions were bad. They chose not to be apart of God’s plan and purpose for creation. So we
encounter a very disturbing and troubling text, where we find that God has regret about even created humanity at all. Which is difficult to understand about a God who apparently knows everything. I’m not sure what you do with passages like this that we come across, but sometimes with verses like this there is no tight, clean package that we can wrap it all up and explain God away. However we decide we want to reconcile this mystery, in the end God decides that his best option is to wipe humanity out in a flood and start all over again with Noah and his family. Fast forward to the Tower of Babel and we’re in a similar situation. Humanity has found itself in a cycle. Now, however, humanity has congregated in the middle of a plain and decided that they are going to build a tower to heaven and make a name for themselves. So they are doing the opposite of what God told them to do in the beginning: Fill and subdue the earth. You can’t fill the earth if you’re remaining in one place. The work that God has left for us to take over Him, isn’t getting done.
“Readers may well find the dynamics of their own lives reflected in Adam and Eve’s [and the flood and the Tower of Babel] story. We too decline to fulfill the vocation God sets before us and decline to accept the limits God sets for us. We too prefer the knowledge tree to the life tree. We too yield to strange blandishments and lead one another astray. We too pay a price in our relationships with God and with our work, with our spouses and with our children. No doubt the storytellers’ experience of these realities shaped their telling of their story. But it is here that the image of a once-for-all Fall is of particular significance. These realities are not how it was meant to be and not how it need have been if people at the beginning had
made different choices.”
So we’re left with the reality that we are faced with the same choices everyday. What happened in the fall is that we decided that it we wanted to decide what was good and what was bad. Instead of taking our cues from God about what is good and what is bad. This is still the case today. We can choose what is good or we can learn from God what is good and obey him and do what he says is good. The stories of the flood and the tower of Babel are a sober reminder of what happens when we continue to insist that we can decide what is good and what is not good. Thus we’re faced with the same choices.
So what will we choose?