The Law and Grace. Day twenty...
In the 1950s the Niagara Falls City School District needed to expand, and persuaded a reluctant Hooker Chemical Company to sell them a toxic chemical dump buried in what was once was a mile of canal (never completed) known as the Love Canal. Hooker Chemical had purchased the failed canal project as a place to dispose of its chemical waste.
After draining and lining the waterway with clay, Hooker Chemical had buried 21,000 tons of hazardous chemicals at the site. And Hooker, with full disclosure of the hazards of the canal, sold the site to the school board for $1.
With all due respect to Shakespeare's “Comedy of Errors,” this was more of a “Tragedy of Errors” written over a period of several years by government at all levels. The school district proceeded to build a school facility on top of the landfill. A highway project was responsible for a breech in the clay lining of dump site. And land was sold for development to people who had no knowledge of the hazardous waste in their backyards.
It's easy for us to look back on this tragedy with open eyes and see the foolish risks taken. But it wasn't so easy back then for the parents in the neighborhood to see any reason why their children were being born with birth defects. It wasn't so easy for other residents to see why they were coming down with strange illnesses.
As hard as it is to believe, for many years most of the people made no connection between the buried chemicals and the health issues they faced.
Sin is like buried chemical waste.
It eventually rots its way through its storage containers and contaminates everything around it. It makes people sick (in more ways than one). It makes the culture sick. And nobody seems to know why. Nobody seems to make the connection between the sin hidden away and all of its visible side effects.
The death that God spoke of to Adam was not the punishment for eating forbidden fruit.
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16–17 NKJV)
But it was actually His mercy in sparing all of us who followed Adam from what would have been an earthly eternity in a sub‐standard relationship with Him.
When God told Adam that he would die if he ate the forbidden fruit He was speaking of something different than just a physical death. I am convinced that God was speaking of a kind of death in His and Adam's relationship. Look again at what God said when He removed man from the Garden so there was no access to the tree of life.
Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”—therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life. (Genesis 3:22–24 NKJV)
It appears that God did not want man to live forever after man brought sin into the human existence—and not out of punishment but out of mercy.
Consider the fact that Adam, the very first sinner, lived to be 930 years old. Seven generations later Methuselah lived to be 969 years old. Methuselah was the grandfather of Noah. Noah lived to be 950 years old.
But sin had invaded the human race. And no one could be born in innocence. All of us were born in sin. As David said many years later:
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me. (Psalm 51:5 NKJV)
Those long life spans apparently allowed the breach in man's relationship with God that began with Adam to develop into a wide chasm.
By Noah's day man had moved so far from that initial innocence that only Noah found favor in the sight of the Lord.
When mankind began to multiply on the earth and
were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of mankind
beautiful, and they took any they chose as wives for themselves. And the
said, “My Spirit will not remain with mankind forever, because they are
corrupt. Their days will be 120 years.”
The Nephilim were on the earth both in those days and afterward, when the sons of God came to the daughters of mankind, who bore children to them. They were the powerful men of old, the famous men. When the LORD saw that man's wickedness was widespread on the earth and that every scheme his mind thought of was nothing but evil all the time, the LORD regretted that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.
Then the LORD said, “I will wipe off from the face of the earth mankind, whom I created, together with the animals, creatures that crawl, and birds of the sky—for I regret that I made them.”
Noah, however, found favor in the sight of the LORD. (Genesis 6:1–8 HCSB)
Please understand that God did not want man to live forever after man brought sin into the human existence.
As bad as it was by Noah's time, when men were living to be almost a thousand years old, consider what would have happened if God hadn't allowed natural death to occur by keeping mankind away from the tree of life.
This spread of sin had spoiled God's relationship with man. In His mercy God allowed man to die so he could be reborn into a relationship with Him that could never again be contaminated by sin.
He sent Jesus, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (see Revelation 8:13) to make it possible for any of us who believe to have our relationship with Him restored.
Have a good day,