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  • Writer's pictureLES HENSON

The Spread of Sin, Spread of Grace

Les Henson

In reading Genesis 1-11, we are made aware of a two-fold movement: First, God's good and well-ordered creation; and then the fragmenting and destructive work of sin. After the fall of humankind, sin continued to escalate and penetrate all society sectors, causing humanity to become radically compromised and seriously alienated from God. Consequently, human beings were forever subject to sin. Gradually the resonant effects of sin became more and more apparent. Thus, Adam and Eve's sin found further expression in Cain's murder of his brother Abel, Lamech's killing spree, and the lust of the sons of God with the daughters of men. Increasingly, the whole of society became more and more wicked and decadent with each generation, overflowing in undreamed of violence and total corruption before the flood, and finally taking the entire human race to the point of wide-ranging disruption at Babel.

Subsequently, God's overarching reaction to this continuously deteriorating situation was exceedingly difficult but always tempered with mercy and grace. However, before God acting in judgement, the theme of deliverance is always present Non Rad speaks of "the spread of sin, spread of grace" as a central theme of Genesis 1-11. As the earth became inundated by one disaster after another, God's grace was constantly at work in the events of the fall of Adam and Eve, the flood, and the tower of Babel.

After humanity's fall in the Garden, God's curse upon humanity involved the whole created order, including the serpent, the woman, Adam, and the ground itself. Life itself became much more difficult. However, in his grace and mercy, God both pronounced sentence on humanity and planned their rescue. He immediately replaced Adam and Eve fig leaves with coats of skin—the breathtaking first dramatitised illustration of God ultimate solution to the problem of sin. As humanity became so hopelessly corrupt (Gen 6:3, 5), their wickedness increased to mammoth proportions, leading to a world defined by apostasy, godlessness, and anarchy. Thus, God determined that re-creation was the only feasible and workable solution.

Even in such an abysmal situation, when all had rejected him, God still allowed humankind 120 years before the coming of the flood, allowing for the repentance of some (1 Pet 3:20; 2 Pet 2:9). Likewise, the flood wasn't God's ultimate provision of a new beginning for the human race.

After the flood, the following significant human failure was the Tower of Babel, a project designed to promote unity and bring all humanity under a single government. It was humanity's initial endeavour to create a society that excluded God. The result was the moral and spiritual deterioration of Nimrod, and his followers, who made a polytheist system of idolatry, which became the origin of all forms of paganism.

The result was that God confounds their language, causing them to be scattered over "all the face of the earth". Ironically allowing them to fulfil God's specific command. On each of these crucial occasions, the 'spread of sin, spread of grace' pattern was in effect, and God's judgment was always tempered with mercy and grace.

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