Violence and the wrath of God, BUT mercy, love & grace! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marie Bowen   

Fotolia 3333682 XS1I have begun a careful reading of the whole Bible. I've read it before but this time I am reading commentary along the way and pausing to meditate. I am habitually on the lookout for passages related to how God values human life, but I was still surprised by the centrality and strength of the life theme in the early chapters of the Bible. I am seeing with fresh eyes the unfolding of God's wrath in response to human violence and human murder, BUT, also in those first pages of the Holy Bible is the hopeful promise of mercy and love and grace.

At the heart of the Genesis story is the stark contrast between God's generosity and love toward us as beings created in his image and the opposing desire of humankind to rule themselves and control others leading inexorably to violence and murder. God created and blessed Adam and Eve to multiply, be fruitful, and bring order to the earth, but by chapter 4 of Genesis, Cain has murdered Abel.

By chapter six the record reveals the events that set the stage for the Great Flood. Violence and murder are causal elements (Gen 6:11-13). Because of the evil intent of the hearts of men, God's wrath is unleashed in the near destruction of mankind. Yet, there is hope in God's protection for one obedient man and his family. Noah obtains favor and through him God preserves a remnant of humankind and animals and gave explicit instructions for a fresh start.

The Abortion Connection

American society is no stranger to the evil of violence. In the daily news, reports of violence, crime, rape and murder are rising and we have taken violence to a new level by aborting millions of innocent children. Undoubtedly God sees in our world that "the thoughts of our hearts are evil continually" just as he observed mankind in Noah's day. We work to contain the evil, the violence. Consider just the 'awareness' days in this month alone! October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It is also Down Syndrome Awareness Month, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Abortion Awareness Month. These causes are interwoven with a shared connection to abortion, the violent cause of death for approximately 40 million human beings annually around the world. Let me unpack that statement.

Domestic Violence

The Genesis account moves quickly from Adam's declaration about his wife in 2:23, "This is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh" to God's pronouncement to Eve "Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." One simple bite, a declaration of self will in direct disobedience to God's stated boundary, set in motion an ages-old conflict. Unchecked it results in what we now call 'domestic violence.' Too often, the rule of man over woman includes sexual satisfaction without responsibility that reduces her value to a means for self-gratification and ripples outward. In the wake of a violent act of lust, God sometimes creates the blessing of a new human life, an opportunity for redemption, a blessing many reject in a another violent act—abortion.

Down Syndrome

When God favored Abel's animal sacrifice over Cain's gift of grain, Cain allowed his jealous anger to grow and erupt in murder. He allowed sin to master him destroying the image of God both in Abel and within his own spirit. He perceived God's image in Abel to be of no value. Isn't it the same when parents of babies with a pre-natal diagnosis of Down Syndrome perceive them to be of no value based on an extra chromosome? Modern pre-natal testing makes it possible to diagnose genetic anomalies in the womb resulting in a stunning number of abortions. In a recent article, Bethany Goodman stated, "before a child is born, when a baby is diagnosed with a fetal abnormality such as Down Syndrome, or Trisomy 18, Trisomy 13, Spina Bifida or others, the termination rate can be as high as 90 percent." All life is created by God and belongs to him. All are created in his image and have intrinsic value. We are not given permission to evaluate the worth of another human being but are called to master the sin that would cause us to devalue any person and seek their destruction. It is part of our call to give way to God's rule in our own hearts and our own lives.

Breast Cancer

The violent act of abortion and the sins that motivate it are deadly for the child but also have severe consequences for the woman. The weight of her guilt before God in causing the death of her child is heavy, but also her own body bears consequences that include an increased risk of breast cancer. (For validation of that statement go here).

With the rainbow following the flood came a promise, a warning, and an instruction. God promised two things: to never again destroy the earth by a deluge, and that the change of seasons would last as long as the earth. God warned he would require a 'reckoning' for the life of humankind. God instructed Noah and his sons to "be fruitful and multiply, teem on the earth, and multiply in it." The Biblical prohibition against violence and murder is not likely to deter women and men in the secular culture from choosing abortion, but Christians might be expected to take seriously God's warning of a day of reckoning for those who shed human blood. Our nation's complicity in abortion stands at over 56 million. God will not hold us guiltless as a nation. All human life is precious to God. If He rules in us, each life will be precious to us too.

There is Good News!

We are not without hope! God in his infinite mercy has, since the time of Noah, sent a Savior. In love and grace Jesus has taken our penalty and the Holy Spirit has invaded the darkness in our evil hearts. There is forgiveness for sin. While the taking of human life is particularly serious, because we can do nothing to bring that person back to life, we can be forgiven! Our evil hearts can be changed and healing and reconciliation with God and others is possible through Jesus Christ. Thanks be to God for his mercy, love and grace!

 

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