What’s shocking about the flood tale is not the role of Noah, the ark, the calamity. It’s that we see God as a human, capable of rage and vindictiveness, overreaction, childishness, remorse and contrition.
After putting his creatures through a massive tantrum leading to global destruction, grumpy God is mollified by sweet smell of burnt offerings of clean beasts and fowl:
And Noah builded and altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the alter. And the Lord smelled a sweet savour; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.Genesis 8:20-21
But there were only a handful of animals to repopulate the earth!
Notice that God doesn’t tell Noah of his commitment to the earth: he tells himself.
We have God cast a mighty King of creation, all-powerful yet prey to the same emotional foils of man. On the one hand, he’s populated the earth with his playthings: man. On the other hand, he’s deeply hurt when they get into trouble:
And God saw the wickedness of man was great upon the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart were only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on earth, and it grieved him in his heart.Genesis 6:5-6
I mean, he is all powerful. Why can’t he correct man’s will? Why can’t me pass his omnipotent hand over men’s minds and wash their sinful nature away?
Man’s free will seems to be the one object of creation in which God is powerless.
One is reminded of man’s relationships to dogs. Dogs were the first companion of prehistoric, aiding him in the hunt, herding his flocks, providing protection, warmth, companionship. In exchanges, man gave the dog scraps of food, friendship, and purpose: man brought the feral dog into his clan.
It seems on the surface a lopsided bargain, but how did it altar man, to have this ambassador from the animal kingdom as part of his family? Were the hunter-gatherers “domesticating” the lowly dog, or was the dog domesticating man?
Is God alone in the universe and we are his proudest invention who’ve let him down with our petty agendas and machinations? Are we teaching mighty God to be more human?