Summary: God did not abandon his creation after the fall in the Garden and the flood, but rather initiated a covenant through Abraham that would one day save the world.
A New Hope—Act #3
Gen. 12:1-3 and various others
Intro: A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
Most of you have seen this (PP or Youtube of Star Wars Opening). I am sure that George Lucas must have had reasonable confidences that audiences would love his story, but could he have ever imagined that Star Wars would be an international sensation and would forever become a part of our cultural conscious? Even the vastly inferior second set of movies, made around the turn of the century, were blockbuster hits because of the power of his story. If you get your story right, the rest takes care of itself.
There are documentaries on the making of Star Wars, the elaborate sets, costumes, and, what was then, cutting edge computer graphics. Star Wars defined the science fiction genre of movies and even transcended its genre. Yet, I imagine it all started a long time ago with a pen and a notebook. The story writer has the power in his/her story. He or she conceives ideas, characters, plots, and themes. The audience or readers will judge the worthiness of the story, but either way they are just along for the ride.
So, we come to Act 3 of telling the biblical story and it is act that poses a critical question: Is God still writing this story? We have seen clearly how God had to start the story when he created the world, because after all he was the only one there to write it. But then in our second act we encountered a disturbing reality: Satan enticed humans into try to write the story themselves, to play their part as gods, and the story seemingly went off script. The entire creation fell into crisis. Had God lost control of the story he started?
That’s a critical question because many see the world today as far removed from God the Creator. Even if they believe there is a God, he has little or no involvement with this world. He created it; we ruined it; he washed his hands of it. Is that the state of the story? It is in understanding Act 3 of the story that prepares us for the world changing events of Act 4. In knowing this part of the story, we can answer what God’s relation to the story is today. We don’t have to go to a galaxy far, far away, but we are going back to a time that was a long time ago.
Trouble in the Text: It looks like the pen is in someone else’s hand.
Act 2 is basically covered in Gen. 3-11 and we looked at much of this last week. In these chapters we have the banishment of Adam and Eve, the murder of Abel, and a flood that destroys all human life except Noah and his family. The earth is repopulated, but humans are still intent on being their own gods when they try to build a tower to reach the heavens against the will of God. So, God confuses their languages and spreads them throughout the world. Undoubtedly, God is still in the center of all of these events, but is he still controlling the story? Does he still have the pen in his hands?
Fiction author Ted Dekker imagines a collection of books that have recorded everything that has happened in the past. But there is also a book with blank pages. If you can get your pen on those pages you can literally write history that hasn’t happened yet. Anything you write will become true for good or for worse. Is that what has happened to God’s story so to speak? Did someone sneak into his office and pocket his pen and slide the book into the arms before sneaking off? These terrible things that keep happening, the fall in the garden, murder, the flood, and the Tower of Babel, they couldn’t have been the plans of God, right?
Consider the implications, if God is not in control. That means the story is in the hands of sinister forces that plot the ruin of the human race. That means the end of hope for the human race and all of creation. If you stopped reading in Gen. 11, you could easily get this picture. But we don’t; we read on, and we come to one of the most pivotal passages in the entire Bible. We might say that is the dawn of a new hope. Read Gen. 12:1-3
Grace in the Text: The call of Abram confirms who is writing the story.
God writes a story much different than George Lucas. When Lucas writes the story every character will do exactly as he writes it. But God’s story isn’t fiction, but intersects with real human beings all along the way. It is a story that invites risk even to its author. God has given human beings free will to choose to love him, to follow him, to stay a part of his story, or to completely walk away from him. And because of this dynamic of free will, it can give the impression that God isn’t really in charge of the story, but that impression is false. Humans will make their choices of whether or not they will be willing participants of God’s story, but either way, God’s story moves forward.