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What’s the problem?

Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopher wood…..." Genesis 6: 11-14

Is there an overall problem in our world? If you were asked to state, as briefly as possible, what you would wish to put right in this world, what would it be?

The Jewish people have preserved their own Bible. The Book of Genesis is part of that Bible. Genesis is a key part of the national archives of Israel. It contains the earliest part of their story.

On the sixth page (in normal print today) of Genesis – the first book also of the Christian Bible – the writer of Genesis (a man named Moses) recorded the words in bold above. He identified two problems on earth in the days of Noah. Those days were at least 4,300 years ago.

Two problems. Violence. Corruption. What had caused this? People – not animals, nor plants, nor disease, nor “natural disaster”. “The earth ... was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.”

What about today? Is there corruption on earth? Is there violence anywhere?

‘War is the slaughter-house of mankind, and the hell of this present world.’ (John Trapp, Bible commentator, 1601-1669)

Interestingly, Israel remains one of the places on earth where violence is most obvious. In the sentences in bold above the word translated “violence” (twice) is hamas in biblical Hebrew. Strangely, Hamas is the acronym today used by one of the largest, most influential political movements in the Middle East. It is shorthand for the Islamic Resistance Movement which is devoted to the total destruction of all Jews, all Israel.

In Arabic hamas means “zeal”. Strange at first sight, that actually fits well. Israel’s zeal to survive is also violent. My zeal/violence + your violence/zeal = destruction and wilderness for us both. In addition both Israel and Hamas must massage (corrupt) truth in order to be seen always as the victim.

The national archives of Israel contain another book of great interest still today. The book of Isaiah the prophet. That too is included in Christian Bibles because Isaiah wrote of Jesus Christ – the Messiah to come..

Isaiah (probably around BC 700) used the word “violence” (hamas) three times. Here’s one – in which he writes also about cover-up corruption: “Their webs will not serve as clothing; men will not cover themselves with what they make. Their works are works of iniquity, and deeds of violence (hamas) are in their hands.” Violence and corruption remained on earth 2,700 years ago. It still fills the earth.

Here’s another: “By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence (hamas), and there was no deceit in his mouth.” What is this about? A man cut off out of the land of the living. A man who had done no violence whatsoever? A man struck down because of the violence of others? The Suffering Servant. No deceit, no corruption in his mouth.

Here’s the third mention of hamas by Isaiah: “Violence (hamas) shall no more be heard in your land, devastation or destruction within your borders; you shall call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise.”

No more violence? When will that be? To whom did Isaiah promise this? Will it be on earth?

‘Any man who knows the nature of his own heart realises that violence is not another man’s problem.’ (Os Guinness, author and social critic)

Amazingly, Isaiah promised it to a future Israel – in a restored earth. But the people who belong to this future Israel will have come from many different nations, races and places….

What folk have in common in this future Israel (according to Isaiah) is that they will have, whilst on earth (yes, whilst on this earth full (as it still is) of violence and corruption), placed their trust in the Suffering Servant - Jesus Christ the LORD - whom God had provided for them.

He died a violent death after two corrupted court hearings, in order to forgive the violent and corrupt. And to call me away from my own “zeal (hamas).”

Richard Syvret

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