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Read: Mark 3:22-30

If you’re curious about human history and culture, as I am, you probably know that a story of a worldwide flood is told in just about every ancient civilization on Earth. Was there a worldwide flood? Many have some doubts. Scientists say that there is not enough water in Earth’s entire biosphere to flood every land mass at once. Were there floods that covered the entire “known world” of a given culture? Yes.

Did God save Noah, his family and livestock by an “ark”, from a flood? That question looks at the literal, historical fact of the story. God’s people, as campfire storytellers, looked at the spiritual truths of a story. Early Bible stories are believed to have been passed down orally for hundreds of years before being recorded (by Moses?).

Allow me to share one ancient version of a universal flood story. It comes from “The Epic of Gilgamesh” found on ancient Sanskrit clay tablets in Sumaria (the region where Abram and Sarai were from). It is the oldest known work of literature, older even than the Bible. In the story the people were caught between warring gods. There was an evil god who plotted to destroy all humanity with a flood. And there was a good god who warned a righteous family of the coming danger and told them to build an ark and take their animals with them. The terrible flood came, humanity was destroyed, except for the ones the good god had warned. From the ark they send out crows (not doves) that return with fresh foliage: good news, the flood was subsiding and soon they would find dry land. Provocative? Yes. Perhaps this story was the Sumarians way of explaining how and why a huge flood covered their whole known world, and how a good god saved them from it.

We must be very careful never to ascribe evil to God. When Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana and destroyed so many lives, some TV evangelists claimed that it was God’s punishment for all the evils of New Orleans. The same thing happened after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. So-called “Bible believing” preachers sat in judgment, declaring God’s anger and wrath. They blamed the victims, even as people died. Wow.

If I err in faith, and I presume we all do some (thank God we are saved by grace), may I ever err on the side of God’s unconditional love and grace, and never grieve the Holy Spirit (Mark 3:22-30) by attributing evil to the Lord of love, to the Lord of all.

Shalom,
Pastor Rob Nystrom