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JUSTICE & GRACE

The teaching the last few weeks on the topic of creation, especially the account of Noah and the flood, has been awesome.  I’ve been fascinated by the depth of information.  Even though I’ve been familiar with the account for a long time, I’ve learned so much the last few weeks.  The idea of a story above the water, and another story below the water has absolutely captivated me, especially the things that led up to that point.


Allow me to briefly remind you of the back story.  In Genesis 6, God looked around and declared that because the people of the earth were corrupt, his spirit would not remain with them.  Therefore, in 120 years, God would destroy creation.


My dad was a preacher, and he had some speaking engagements to do in Wyoming, so we took family vacation around those engagements.  We went through a town in Colorado that had a pottery plant.  While we are on a tour of the plant, we got to see a master potter sitting at a pottery wheel, working a lump of clay that he would hopefully turn into a vase.  


We were completely mesmerized as that lump began to take shape, and before we knew it, there was a beautiful vase sitting on that wheel.  However, we were completely shocked when the potter sat back in his chair for a minute, staring at that vase.  He looked at all sides.  Then, without any warning, took has hands and crushed that vase back into a shapeless lump of clay.  


To say the least, we were shocked.  So, my dad asked the tour guide what had happened.  I will never forget the guide’s response.  He said that the potter had seen a flaw that only a master potter could see.  The potter knew that because of that flaw, the vase would not hold up to the high temperature of the kiln that was used to harden that vase.  So, the only thing to do was to start over.


It seems to me that in verses 5 and 6 of Genesis 6, this is exactly what God meant when he said that human wickedness was widespread on the earth and that every inclination of the human mind was nothing but evil all the time.  God regretted that he had made man on the earth, and he was deeply grieved.  


The thought that God regretted the making of mankind blows my mind.  Because God possesses all knowledge, past, present, and future, He knew when he created mankind that we would regret that decision, yet created mankind without regret.  


All of that led to God coming to a place where he could no longer tolerate the sins of mankind.  So, he decided to start over by destroying mankind with a flood, with only Noah, his family, and 2 of every kind of animals being spared.  


This all leads us to the story above the water, and the story below the water.  The story below the water was all about justice.  Those who had chosen to live apart from the direction of God experienced God’s justice, because God is just!  


However, the story above the water was the exact opposite.  The story above the water is all about grace.  Noah and his family had chosen to live under the direction of God, so God was gracious to them, because God is gracious.


It’s amazing to me to see how justice and grace can live simultaneously.  This co-existence is repeated time and again throughout the Bible, many times in a single person’s life.


God told Jonah to go to Nineveh to preach, but Johan wouldn’t go.  So, God sent a big fish to swallow him up, God’s justice for sinful behavior.  However, God was gracious to him by keeping him alive in the belly of that fish, and eventually, Jonah was given the opportunity to obey again, which he did.


The children of Israel were led out of captivity by Moses, but ended up wondering in the desert because of their disobedience to God, God’s justice.  However, God was gracious to them by providing for their needs, and eventually they made it to the promise land.


Jesus was crucified because God’s justice demanded that there be a sacrifice for sin.  Jesus was that sacrifice.  However, God’s grace is extended to you and me because of that sacrifice.  Justice and grace in the same place, at the same time.


If you are like me, you can look throughout your own life and see where justice and grace were both present.  Grace exists because justice exists.  If justice didn’t exist, we would never know grace.  Justice and grace both exist because God is just and gracious.


One final thought, if I may:  God’s justice is always best coming from him, because it’s always wrapped in his amazing grace.


- Scott Adkins