The snake first challenges God on earth, beginning the Cycle. The first step is temptation – to seek the knowledge of good and evil outside of the all-encompassing love of God contained in his commandments to us. Temptation leads to disobedience, which leads to clear warning by God and ultimately judgment, sooner or later. The result is disunity – disconnection with God and with each other.
Cain is the first to show jealousy leading to the first murder.
Lamech takes two wives, violating God’s command to Adam and denigrating a woman’s unique partnership as man’s helper.
Only Enoch and Noah walk with God and are considered righteous before God. Judgment comes with vengeance of the flood. Only Noah and his family survive to start the Cycle anew.
Ham becomes the first reported purveyor of vice, intentionally getting his father drunk, shaming him, and bringing down a curse on his brother. Noah’s sons defy God’s direct command and build a great tower so they will not have to disperse across the earth and populate it.
Abram’s faith turns to fear of the enemy, lying and endangering Sarai’s life to save his own. Abram is far from perfect, but he keeps returning to God. Here God’s unending love comes into view. Abram finally becomes a man of God, who declares him righteous, and makes a covenant with him that his people would return after 400 years of judgment and oppression.
The Cycle begins anew as Abram and Sarai takes matters into her own hands, allowing Abram to have a son by her maid, producing major abuse and disunity. But God patiently commands Abraham that his mission is to teach his children to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice.
The sin in Sodom is so great that God himself in the form of three angels needs to see it to believe the depravity of homosexuality and gang rape.
Lots daughters, left with no fiancés, do not trust God, but trick their father Lot with wine and bear children with him to preserve their family.
The Cycle goes on and on. Abraham lies to Abimelech and once again endangers Sarah to save himself. In this case, God even uses a non-believer to protect the fallen human decisions of his children. But to depend on this deliverance is foolish; it is cheap grace.
In the sacrifice of Isaac, God tests his chosen ones, even severely. Abraham and Isaac both obey and are blessed.
Yet the cycle continues with Isaac and Rebekah; Jacob and Esau; and on to the twelve sons of Jacob.
But in the story of Joseph, we see what God intends for us, if only we will stop the Cycle by our own repentance. Joseph’s brothers hate him decide to kill him. Temptation, disobedience, disunity, warnings, and judgment – this story has it all.
But it also has repentance, the unending love of God, and tear-jerking restoration.
Humanity means it for evil, but God intends it for good.
If only my people…..