System Restore

Read: Genesis 6:5-22

The LORD regretted he had made man. (v. 6)

Ancient Israel didn’t do systematic theology. We have theories about God like “immutability” (God cannot change), which tend to make God fixed and static and predictable. In contrast, ancient Israel’s concept of God was more fluid. God was alive, he changed his mind, and God had deep feelings. In this story, God is sorry. The text does not say God was angry, as we often assume, but that God was sorry. He regretted he had made humanity. The evil hearts of humanity (v. 5) troubled the heart of God (v. 6).

The flood narrative is the first of three epic Old Testament stories of life, death, and resurrection. The others are the exodus and exile. The great questions raised in this story are mirrored in those stories: How do God’s judgment and compassion coexist? Will God’s people ever be faithful? Can God’s people survive God’s judgment?

I well remember the first home computer I bought a few decades ago. It was huge and slow and endlessly frustrating. It froze all the time. During one of many calls to tech support, I was instructed to use the “system restore” disc. There was so much wrong with my computer, the best way forward was to reset everything and start over. The flood is the Bible’s first “system restore” story, followed by the exodus and exile. None fully succeeded. Ultimately, a different life, death, and resurrection were needed. —Jeff Munroe

As you pray, contemplate the nature of God.

About the Author

Jeffrey Munroe is the Executive Vice President of Western Theological Seminary and, in addition to being the author of the best-selling book Reading Buechner: Exploring the Work of a Master Memoirist, Novelist, Theologian, and Preacher, is also a poet, blogger, and essayist. His work has appeared in Christianity Today, The Christian Century, US Catholic, and The Reformed Journal.

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