First Sunday of Lent - Signs and Wonders: "A Sign In The Sky"




The Season of Lent - Signs and Wonders

The Scriptures help us paint a picture of Lent filled with signs and wonders for those willing to see them.  They help tell the story of how far God is willing to go to rescue those whom God loves.  

This is the First Sunday of the Season of Lent.  Lent is a word that is connected to the Latin word for "40" which reflects the roughly forty days that we spend symbolically following Jesus to the Cross.  

Forty is a significant number in the Bible that speaks of preparation.  Here are a few examples: 

Rained 40 days and nights in the Great Flood
Moses was 40 when he went into the Wilderness out of Egypt, where he remained for 40 years and then spent another 40 years with the Israelites (symbolic meaning)
Psalm 40 is about being in the midst of trial and tribulation and being lifted up by God. 
Jesus spent 40 days in the Wilderness before he started his ministry. 

Today, we’re going to go all the way back to a story in the first book of the Hebrew Scriptures—the story of Noah and the story of a promise. 

Here’s Your Sign — How do you know a sign from God when you see it?

Let’s see how churches have tried to convey this… 

But what if... the signs we seek are all around us, but we can't or won't see them?  

SIGNS OF A GOD WHO GIVES LIFE AND HOPE ARE ALL AROUND US

Genesis 9:8-17

Let's set the stage for this particular passage with some background. 

The Account of the Great Flood contains multiple authors from different times in Israel's history.  There are at least three reasons that God gives in Genesis 6 as to why God wanted to destroy the earth, each reflecting different ages of understanding. 
11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. 13 So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth  
There's also weird stuff in this story about angels having children with humans, which brings rise to the Nephilim.  

There are also a lot of problems with the story of Noah and the Flood. 

The size of the ark, and how it fits all the animals. 
What the animals ate. 
The ridiculousness of what happened to dinosaurs. 
Not to mention the highly symbolic nature of the entire account. 

Clearly, there was a cataclysmic event because other accounts of a flood stemmed from that same time period.  But there has never been any evidence that it was worldwide. 

But all of this sets the stage for a different reading of this narrative.  In other accounts, the flood is caused by gods who cause the same kind of disaster just for the fun of it, so to speak. 

Humans are pawns.  They have no real relationship with the gods, who are always angry.  So let's read a bit from the end of this story in Genesis 9:8-17

8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: 9 “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

Interestingly, this narrative leaves open the idea that God just might destroy the earth some other way.  Just not by water.  

12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”
17 So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”

Question: So, did rainbows not exist before this?  Of course, they did because that happens when light passes through water in the air.  Literal readings lead you down the primrose path to ignorance and obscure the story's truth. 

Despite the pretty terrible way God is depicted in this story, there is a difference between God and the gods of the Mesopotamian world.  This God repents what God did and puts a rainbow in the sky.  

The beauty of the rainbow taught an important lesson to the ancients about a different kind of God and how this God communicates life and hope. 

Is this a perfect depiction?  Absolutely not.  This is why we have to read these metaphorical stories within their context so we can see that even in a primitive way of thinking, revelations about God being different than other gods were changing people.  

So how do we take the truth of this story, which is deeply spiritual and applicable to our time, and look for signs all around us? 

1. Creation’s a sacramental nature if we are open to it. 
2. Some are clearer than others—and some can be downright miraculous. 
3. A sign doesn’t work until we acknowledge and act upon it. 

SIGNS OF A GOD WHO GIVES LIFE AND HOPE ARE ALL AROUND US




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