"Discipling the Nations Series: Judgment on a Fallen Kosmos"
by Dr. Patti Amsden
Between Genesis 2 and Genesis 11, the scripture presents a story arc containing, in a micro form, the main narrative of scripture. This form will be reused and expanded upon between Genesis 12 and Revelation 22. What is that story arc? It covers the identification of the characters and their role, which includes Adam and Eve in the beginning and their mandate to develop the earth. Next comes the conflict. Adam sins and shifts the plot to a fallen nature and the production of fallen works. The conflict also includes God bringing judgment by removing the first couple from their inherited portion of the earth – The Garden of Eden. In the middle of the conflict, God foreshadows the conflict’s resolution. He covers the couple with the coats of skin. This act is the promise of God’s rescue from the overwhelming flood of death that Adam had released upon himself and the creation due to his actions.
Outside the garden, creation of culture and building of nations begins. God is retelling and continuing the story with a little more detail. Who are the characters? They are the sons and seed line of Adam and Eve. Their role is that same dominion mandate given in the garden to be fruitful and fill the earth with children and with re-creative works. Once the characters and plot are again communicated, the conflict ensues. Jealousy and murder – Cain kills Abel. The plot line follows the murderous son Cain and his family lines that both populate and cultivate the earth. God again foreshadows the story’s redemption by granting Adam and Eve a replacement son named Seth, whose name means ‘to substitute.’ Cain’s story unfolds until the flood of evil requires God to release an overwhelming flood of water, removing the fallen mankind from the face of the earth. God’s rescue is again present. This time it is not coats of skin but an ark coated with pitch that waterproofs the boat and shelters Seth’s lineage of Noah and his family.
After the flood, creation of culture and building of nations begins again. Noah, Noah’s wife, his three sons and their wives – the characters – exit the boat and God restates the dominion mandate – the role – that was originally given to Adam and Eve. Conflict soon ensues as Noah’s son, Ham, commits a sexual trespass again his father and is judged by both God and Noah. Although the verdict and sentence is pronounced immediately, the execution of the penalty does not really occur until the grandson of Ham, Nimrod, leads a city-building campaign to secure his name and his dominance in the earth. This feat of culture formation is done as an attempt to build a city of man in complete independence of and rebellion to God. The plot shifts again. God observes the activities of fallen man and his fallen culture and, once again, releases a flood of judgment. God scatters the people who had gathered in the city. (This judgment did not flood the earth with water but flooded the earth with the scattered people.) God disinherits the story’s bad guys, once again, from their portion of the earth.
The arc of the story that began with one man and his wife in a garden ends with many people in a city. Culture had progressed from the beginning stage of that which God had made to the point of city formation or to that which man had made. The culture makers, the culture, and the city did not measure up to God’s purposes and were, therefore, rejected.
Genesis 12 begins a new story arc that continues throughout the remainder of both the Old and New Testaments and concludes in Revelation 21 and 22. God had already foreshadowed the story within the story several times in the first metanarrative. Adam and Eve’s skin coverings and Noah’s boat covering both foreshadowed that God would bring about provision for man that would cover his failure and provide him protection against judgment. In Seth, God had forecast a substitute son whose lineage would have a different outcome from that of Cain and Nimrod. Genesis 12 restarts the story. This arc will again start with a man and his wife and end in a city. That which was foreshadowed will be fully revealed. In the second arc, the results of the fall will not again bring the earth to a point of obliteration, nor will the culture-building activities of man create a city that must be rejected.
Genesis 12 introduces the reader to a new set of characters – Abram and his wife Sarai. Abram, who is the ninth generation down from Noah’s son Shem, is called to go to a new land where he will begin to exercise the dominion mandate. With characters revealed and role defined, the new story begins.
Learn more about the metanarrative of Genesis 12 though Revelation 22 in the next article.