Tuesday, June 6, 2023

God's Response to Our Break with Him

With our ancestors Adam and Eve, we humans broke our relationship with God. When we did this, we created a situation unintended by God. Rather than living with him and one another in a relationship of truth, freedom, love, and vitality, we suddenly found ourselves the inescapable victims and unwitting collaborators of parasitic powers.

These parasitic powers, including the six gods of Olympianity, deceived us into defining the meaning of our lives in terms of politics, war, technology, sex, money, and consumption. These six gods then bullied and bribed us into treating other humans and the rest of creation simply as means of living meaningfully in those terms.

Tower of Babel

Here, in the land of Shinar, we humans want to make a name for ourselves (Genesis 11:4a, English Standard Version here and following). We have no interest in being named by Yahweh and responsible to him. We want to think of ourselves as autonomous in relation to Yahweh, as self-centered rather than theocentric, even if thinking so only binds us more tightly to false Olympian gods.

Nimrod: First Conqueror (Genesis 10:6-12)

Noah cursed his son Ham to live as the lowliest servant to his other two sons (Genesis 9:24-5). To escape the consequences of his grandfather’s curse, Nimrod energetically sought enough power to be instead a curse to others. He was the first on Earth to become a mighty warrior (Genesis 10:8).

Even more interestingly, he was a mighty conqueror before Yahweh (v. 9a). This means that Yahweh was aware of all that he did. It also means that Nimrod knew that his lust for power violated his relationship with Yahweh yet arrogantly dared Yahweh to make his curse effective.

The Curse of Ham (Genesis 9:18-28)

After the Flood, Noah plants a vineyard and then makes some wine, gets drunk, and falls asleep naked. This is the way his youngest son Ham finds him. The next morning Noah curses Ham for seeing him naked: “Cursed be Canaan [son of Ham]; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers” (Genesis 9:25, English Standard Version).
Two responses to being cursed are possible. First, one may seek reconciliation with the one who pronounced the curse and be blessed instead. Two, one may seek enough power to keep the curse from having its intended effect (Jacques Ellul, The Meaning of the City, pp. 9-20).