"And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in His heart 'I will never curse the ground again because of man, for the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth".
Bob Dylan, of course, got it about right.
Back in the early 80's, there was a song that got a lot of play time in my house.
Slow Train Coming spoke about fools trying to manipulate dark powers, the enemy guised in what appeared to be honorable, of those who empty the soul seeking to supplant religion, of a day when ambition is always encouraged to trump an inner need for something other than consumerism, leading to mass manipulation and despair.
It's a pretty sobering but honest evaluation of our times.
We have, of course, been here on various occasions before.
The Genesis record tells us of a generation which had become consumed by such evil so that there was no longer any respect or reverence for anything of true worth in their minds, their desires and deeds entirely bent in upon themselves |(Genesis 6:5,6).
Mercy sometimes can only really visit us in one form - a shutting down of our own misery.
The flood ends a perished world, but it's a termination cradled in promise and providence.
Think for a moment about the original fall of our race.
When God expels Adam and Eve from Eden so that they didn't eat from a fruit that would have left them eternally divorced from meaningful existence (Genesis 3:22), it was because He wanted them to find, amidst the woe and anguish they had brought upon themselves, the certainty that He was still with them and wanted, more than anything, for them to trust that He alone would bring them once more to the garden and to fulfillment.
The goodness of all that makes life bountiful is indeed meant to point us to the truth (Ecclesiastes 3:11) that what counts isn't concluded in our own selfish, self contained satisfaction (an abyss that is never fathomed) but only in giving is there a truly greater joy, because that reflects something of the nature of the Father, Son and Spirit in whom we were intended to love and live.
As the waters of the great flood subside and Noah and his kin are finally released from the ark, he builds an altar and gives offering to God in thanks for their deliverance (Genesis 8:20). After desolation, Noah understands that his first act must be one of thankfulness for being given what none of us own, and his genuine gratitude is richly rewarded (Genesis 8:21-22).
Christ came, delighted to do the will of His Father - to be born a man, to suffer and be cruelly killed that He might speak to us of the astonishing love that God has for our deeply dislocated race (Romans 5:8). He offered Himself as the sacrifice, that God may show mercy that is as deep as it is wide, but in spite of such clear interventions in our history, our race still chooses to despise to scorn and to reject such love - so deep is the poison that must be drawn from within.
We are, at our deepest point, in need of the greatest aid.
God has come to us, come amongst us, to make us whole once more.
Whilst we were far from Him, He has sought us out and enveloped our dead realm with His full mercy in His Son. The reality of our desolation can only be resolved when that freedom, that reconciliation, becomes our life.