I was a pretty messed up kid when I was a child.
My parents were constantly getting on my case!!!
It was always one thing after another. My room was dirty. The heavy metal music I listened to was too loud. My school grades were bad. And I was constantly getting into fights with my younger stepbrother and sister.
Can anybody relate?
No matter how hard I tried to be good and walk a straight path, inexorable forces inside me would start spiraling out of control causing me to act out. It got so bad that one night I just took off vowing never to come back. I didn’t get far. If I remember correctly, I think I spent the night inside a Volkswagen parked in the outdoor lot of a used car dealership. I returned home the next day because I didn’t have any money and I had to get something to eat before I could run away again.
I was young, stupid, and full of rebellion.
But eventually I calmed down. Eventually I realized that the constant parental intervention was for my own good. My father loved me and wanted the best for me. (Dad, if you’re reading this, I love you man!) Coming from a divorced family, my childhood was far from perfect but I lacked for nothing and still blew it. Now think about the first two human beings Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Their Father was the perfect God Almighty. They were placed in a perfect environment. And they still blew it.
I want to show you something interesting. In Genesis, there are profound similarities between the way God interacts with mankind and the child rearing process that every parent inevitably goes through with their children.
Let me explain. First, in Judaism, the book of Genesis is traditionally divided up into four parts: primeval history, and the stories of Abraham, Jacob and Joseph. So following this four-part division, let me show you exactly what I mean as we see how God interacts with His creation.
PRIMEVAL HISTORY-The creation of the world up until the birth of Abraham (The first 11 chapters of Genesis)
Just as a child’s early years are filled with all kinds of hog wild stubbornness and rebellion, human wickedness peaked beyond belief during this period of biblical history. God’s parental interventions are at their most intense in this section. Things got so bad that God later decided to destroy the whole world by flood save for Noah and his family.
THE STORY OF ABRAHAM
Whereas God’s relationship to human beings in the primeval history is marked by judgement, destruction, and exile, things take a turn for the better in the figure of Abraham. God finds favor with Abraham and promises to bless him. Although, Abraham has his moments of ugliness, in the final chapter of his life he transforms into the ideal religious person, one who is obedient and faithful to God’s commands.
THE STORY OF JACOB
Jacob, who is the son of Abraham’s son Isaac, is best known for pulling a fast one on his older brother Esau to acquire Esau’s firstborn inheritance rights for himself. This section is filled to the brim with all kinds of scheming and deception and the human dimension plays center stage much more than in the Abrahamic narrative. God speaks less frequently and intervenes less dramatically. Jacob sums it up well when he exclaims “Surely the Lord is present in this place and I did not know it.” 28:16
THE STORY OF JOSEPH (One of the sons of Jacob)
God hardly speaks at all in this final section of Genesis. He communicates through dreams and gifts Joseph with His wisdom to administer effectively resulting in the survival of many people including his own brothers who seething with resentment, once plotted Joseph’s death.
So there you have it. We can see throughout the book of Genesis that God’s interventions are at their most intense during the early stages of mankind’s history and gradually take backstage as His creation matures. However, as we walk through the Bible, we will see his parental anger flare up again and again. This is not surprising given that we human beings have a real tendency to act like a bunch of baboons. Anybody who has ever seen an episode of Jerry Springer will know exactly what I’m talking about.