Lesson 4: Consequences of Humanity’s Failure

Genesis maintains when we are not in a proper relationship with God, all other relationships are corrupted. That pertains to humans as well as all other parts of the creation.

The narrative labels violence as the big sin. Humans were vegetarians until Noah’s time when God made allowances for violently killing and eating other living life. Lamesh is cited as the epitome who brags about killing anyone who offends him. (Genesis 4: 17-24) In this context, Jesus’ counseling about turning the other cheek is advocating a return to the design of God’s creation.

Of course, the story usually remembered is Cain and Abel, which illustrates the horrorible violence of brother killing brother. (Genesis 4: 1-16) It blames the break in human relationships on covetousness and in this story extends that to include the rivalry between farmer and shepherd. Again, when Paul counsels sharing spiritual gifts for the common good, he is advocating for a return to the design of the creation. And Jesus does the same when he speaks about being servants who work together, rather than rivals who exploit and even kill each other.

The Babel story (Genesis 11: 1-9 ) moves this to communities, speaking of competition rather than jealousy. In the context of Genesis’ first eleven chapters, you could see competition as a form of violence. Because it leads to communities not being able to communicate with each other, it might be regarded as the basis of warfare.

Babel certainly condemns the cowboy capitalism and the “my country right or wrong” patriotism we see around us today. With the loss of our intimate relationship with God, we also lose brotherly love and a desire to work together for the common good.

It’s also noteworthy that things are never quite as bad as they could be. God always comes through. At this point in the biblical story, it might seem that Satan is right. God always backs down on his threats. Revolt does not mean death. Humans are cast out of his presence, but he still visits and communicates with them. By the time we get to Christ, we realize God’s love will prevail over human sin.

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