Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Lesson 5 Destruction and Renewel

Lesson 5 for October 28 introduces the flood with a supposed conversation that concludes:

"Fine, but why should we believe in something that has never happened before? The scientists say it isn't feasible; the philosophers say it violates natural law. Water rises from the earth each morning as a mist; it doesn't drop out of the sky, right?"

As with the creation story our lesson speculates about the world to fill in the gaps of the Genesis stories. For some reason Ellen White believed that rain had never fallen on earth until the flood. This idea is not presented in the Bible, it is taken from the second creation account which described a world before any plants or animals or life existed.

GE 2:4 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created. When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens-- GE 2:5 and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth n and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth n and there was no man to work the ground, GE 2:6 but streams n came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground—

There is no indication in the flood story that rain had never fallen. In fact if one were to assume that the earth was watered with streams that came up from the earth, flood waters could occur without even the need of rain. (Gen 6:17 NIV) I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish.

Rain is not even mentioned till Gen 7:4:

Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made."

But then the story says nothing about Noah telling the world about the coming flood either. 2 Peter 2:5 calls Noah a preacher of righteousness however as the Expositor’s Bible Commentary says:

5 Peter's second example is the Flood. He has referred to it in his first letter (3:18-22) and will do so again in the next chapter of this one (3:5-6). Noah was the "eighth" (ogdoos) meaning there were seven others saved with him (wife, three sons, and daughters-in-law). They were guarded or protected by God during the Flood that wiped out the ungodly antediluvian civilization. Noah was a herald (keryx) of righteousness. This could refer to his preaching activity not recorded in the OT or to the fact that his lifestyle condemned sin and proclaimed righteousness to his contemporaries (Gen 6:9).

Much of the story at least as Adventists know it, is not consistent with the actual Biblical story. For instance Adventists assume that Noah preached for 120 years. This is based upon a text which occurs before the Noah story even begins.

GE 6:3 Then the LORD said, "My Spirit will not contend with n man forever, for he is mortal n; his days will be a hundred and twenty years."

Then Genesis begins with the aside about the Nephilim a subject filled with speculative interpretations, none of which are really satisfactory for a conclusive view. The story of Noah does not say that it had never rained, or that Noah preached to anyone let alone preached for 120 years, nor does it say that people laughed at Noah or declared that their scientists said that it could never rain. Some other things that are often added by Adventists include the idea that the Garden of Eden still existed and there still was an angel guard at the entrance to Eden. Often Adventists view the antediluvians as highly technologically advanced, again without any Biblical evidence. One rather funny view held by some Adventists is that gold and jewels at that time lay easily accessible on the top of the ground and were buried as the result of the flood. If Ellen White had any idea of how gold and gems stones were formed and how they are mined in veins of volcanic and/or metamorphic rock she would not have produced such an interpretation. She can be excused because in the 1800’s the stories of gold found in western states through panning may have made some people think that the source of gold was other then something found on the ground. See

The lesson spends some time on the Nephilim being the sons of Seth. This is by far the most preferred interpretation but it has problems when we consider the other Nephilim mentioned in the Bible who are referred to as Expositor’s Bible Commentary Footnotes states:

The remark in Num 13:33, which identifies the hannepilim that the spies saw in the land with the "sons of Anak" and the hannepilim in Gen 6:3, is not in the LXX and thus may not have been in the original text. On the face of it, the remark presents a problem to the view that only Noah and his sons survived the Flood, since it suggests that the "sons of Anak" were descendants of the "Nephilim" (min hannepilim lit., "from the Nephilim") who lived before the Flood.

It also presents a problem that the Nephilim were meant to be identified as the sons of Seth, with the idea that Seth’s line are the sons of God and Cain’s line is the daughters of men. This idea may have raised a lot of trouble for the men related to Cain, if they were called the daughters of men; sounds kind of insulting to me anyway.

The Lesson for Wednesday November 1 says:

If you read the Genesis account of Noah and the Flood by itself, you'll notice that nowhere does it teach that anyone else was even offered an opportunity to get into the ark. It sounds as if it were to be built only for Noah, his family, and the animals (Gen. 6:13-22). Other verses, New Testament verses, vaguely hint at something else (Heb. 11:7, 1 Pet. 3:20, 2 Pet. 2:5). Ellen White, of course, is very clear that Noah's work on the boat was to be a witness to the world of what was coming and that Noah "entreated them to seek a refuge while it might be found."—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 97. Considering all that we know about the Lord and His desire for the salvation of all humanity (1 Tim. 2:3, 4), it's not surprising that God was offering people a chance to be saved.

This position raises some really vital questions. Why does not the story of Noah say anything about Noah telling people to seek refuge in the Ark? Would not the story have presented God better had it told of God through his servant Noah preaching to the people to flee the coming destruction? Again as with the Creation story if the idea was to present a literal historical view why are the stories so vague, why the need to speculate to fill in the details of the story. Possibly the most curious of all is why would God wait till the latter half of the 1800’s to fill in these details, well over a thousand years after the time of Christ and many thousands after the establishment of the nation of Israel?

The Lesson on Tuesday October 31 says:

The fact that God distinguished "clean" and "unclean" animals long before the difference was explicitly stated in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 presupposes the clear knowledge of the distinction between "clean" and "unclean" animals from earliest times, certainly long before the Jewish nation was established.

This is really a sad commentary on the lesson study author and editor. The whole of the book of Genesis was written well after any of the supposed events took place. The stories seem to contain elements which were taken from the religious instructions delivered after the Exodus. Abel offers the “fat” portion of an animal as a “sacrifice” those are clearly element from the religious celebrations given in the book of Exodus and Leviticus. The couple in Eden were ashamed of being naked again reflecting a cultural shame involved with nudity, which is again seen in the story of Ham seeing his father lying drunk and naked. The lesson study guide ignores the fact that the book of Genesis was written at least 2000 years after the events if the events are dated by the genealogies. Instead it is assumed that the stories are actually reflecting chronological events and what is revealed in the stories was revealed to man at those earlier dates. What is even more peculiar for SDA’s is that in their view those people did not eat meat. So how was it that Abel know about the “fat” portions?

Doug Batchelor in his lesson recorded last week for lesson 5 said that Abel was a shepherd because sheep were needed to offer as sacrifices and Cain raised fruits and vegetables for food. This to Batchelor began the lines of Seth as mountain people raising animals to be used as sacrifices and Cain’s line living on the plains as farmers. However the line of Seth must have been a hungry lot, raising animals for sacrifices and not using the meat. Further, without eating meat Noah somehow knew about clean and unclean animals to be brought on the Ark and then afterwards to offer them as sacrifices and then after all that God instructs that they can eat meat.

GE 9:3 Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.GE 9:4 "But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.

The flood story completes the picture of the world that we see. The creation story gave us plants and animals and man as ruler. The fall showed the loose of control by man of the plants. The Flood story takes away man’s dominion over the animals that now fear man (Gen 9:2) and become food for man. All this while reinforcing the condition of man whose violence and rebellion have led them into a condition far from the ideal connection of God and man. The stories have presented God as active in attempting to establish a relationship with mankind even when mankind rejected God and soon via the patriarchs will lead to the nation of Israel. Israel will lead us to the messiah and the atonement and finally ultimate reconciliation. (Just a few more stops to explain languages and races of people at Babel and the book of Genesis will complete it’s explanation of the world we see around us.)

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