Deluge | Genesis 7:6-10
Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters came upon the earth. And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him went into the ark to escape the waters of the flood. Of clean animals, and of animals that are not clean, and of birds, and of everything that creeps on the ground, two and two, male and female, went into the ark with Noah, as God had commanded Noah. And after seven days the waters of the flood came upon the earth. Genesis 7:6-10 | ESV
Mabbul (mah-bull). That’s the Hebrew word translated “flood” or “flood waters.” The Greek Bible of the early church reads katalusmos from which we get our work “cataclysm.” Both words serve as technical terms among the ancients for the “celestial sea” which is untameable, overwhelming (cataclysmic!), and frightening even to the gods. Mabbul is used a total of thirteen times in the Hebrew Bible, twelve of them in Genesis and once beyond the Genesis page in Psalm 29:10 which reads “The LORD sitteth upon the flood; yea, the LORD sitteth King forever.” God frightened by the terrifying Mabbul, the uncontrollable, devastating cosmic sea? Not so much. It’s like his back yard pool and he’s sitting on it in his lounge chair enjoying his cosmic lemonade. Okay, the Psalmist is probably picturing something far more regal, some sort of aquatic kingly throne, but let’s stick with the heavenly lounge chair for a moment. The world was confronted with a mabbul that it couldn’t fight, wish, or strategize away (unlike just about every Hollywood apocalyptic film that has humanity rolling back the threatened Flood). This Flood overwhelmed everyone and everything. The highest points on that violence drenched landscape were covered by twenty feet of water, essentially returning the earth to its primal state of tohu ve-vohu at the dawning of creation. Without form and void. Darkness on the face of the deep. But this time, like a proverbial message in a bottle, there was a big box floating on this immense uncontrollable cosmic sea. Yes, God had a boat floating in his pool.
It’s all perspective, isn’t it? So much of life comes at us like a mabbul, threatening to sweep us and all we hold dear away. We feel powerless. Overwhelmed. Deluged. Mabbuled. Even as we hunker down inside the ark of God’s love and ride out the storm, it can be all we can do to trust in the swirling darkness (just what kind of ride do you imagine Noah and his family – and all those animals – had inside that one-port-holed barge we call “the ark”?). But the mabbul is his, he owns it. And us.
What do you feel is threatening to deluge and swallow you up right now? How can you ride out this storm?
Lord, help me, rather than just mouthing the words, to live like you truly are sovereign; that you are my Shepherd. That you are in control. Through Christ.
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