Things that I find annoying is something bad being something good. For example: if you get bit by a venomous snake, the anti-venom comes from the venom. Another example: the only cure for the flu virus, is to inject yourself with the dead flu virus. Now, this is not everyday life annoying, but injecting yourself with the thing that can or is hurting you seems ridiculous. Logically, it seems crazy to think the bad thing would be the very precaution or cure for the problem at hand.
Thank God, there are people smarter than me who do think outside the box.
Yet, it gets me thinking. Does this hold true for our faith? Is there something bad that becomes the solution? The answer is yes.
We have been looking at the Tree of Life for the season of Lent. We have been asking the question of what does it look like to be in God's presence. We have then been viewing that question in light of the people and stories connected to the Tree of life theme. We began with Adam and Eve in the Garden and seeing the Tree of Life as a symbol or representative of God's presence. Next, we looked at Noah. The interesting story of Noah is he is presented with a decision by a tree. According to the Bible Project, the choice of Noah to build the ark could be seen as his own testing before the Tree of Knowing Good and Bad. As with Adam and Eve, will Noah listen to God or do his own thing.
Of course, we know that he does listen to God and builds an ark. Tim Mackie scholar and part of the team from The Bible Project noted that there seems to be an intentional situation of storytelling that Noah is made to make a choice and then told to use trees as a response to listening to God. To paraphrase Tim Mackie, it is as if the trees used to make the ark are symbolically cutting down the Tree of Knowing Good and Bad. The Tree of Knowing Good and Bad is cut down and made into the ark, which saves humanity and the creatures as they float on God's waters of justice. A way of dealing with the choice to take from the Tree of Knowing Good and Bad, it becomes the vehicle of Noah's salvation.
Even more interesting is one could view the ark as a type of little Garden of Eden. A place where humans and animals live in peace together. The ark eventually lands on top of a mountain, similar to where the Garden of Eden was located. (Eden is thought to be on a high mountain.) Once on the Mountain, Noah leaves the ark and builds an altar to the Lord. Tim wonders in the Bible Project Podcast, "Where did Noah get the wood to build the altar?" the answer is the ark. How beautiful. The wood from the ark is a physical representation of the choice to listen to God's voice or not, much like the Tree of Knowing Good and Bad was for Adam and Eve. The tree wood that is used to build the ark and save Noah, his family, and the animals now becomes the place and space (the altar) where Noah and God meet just like the Tree of Life was the place and space where Adam and Eve met with God. In fact, altars are built in the Old Testament in places where people encounter and meet God. So in a beautiful way, the wood used symbolically representing the Tree of Knowing Good and Bad becomes the symbol of the presence of God like the Tree of Life.
In the Bible, there is a flu shot or the snake venom story where there is a vaccine or anti-venom. The wood that is used for the ark represents the possible bad choice Noah had before him. Noah's decision could have been to not listen to God, like Adam and Eve, which would have resulted in his death. Instead, the symbolic tree becomes his anti-venom. It saves him and his family from the coming death.
Our choices have an impact on our lives. These choices reveal how we listen to the voice of God. Each choice can lead to moments where we encounter God. Lent is the season about discovering how to be mindful of God's presence in our lives. In what ways have we made poor choices? In what actions do we continue to choose the Tree of Knowing Good and Bad? In what ways can we cut those bad choice trees down so we can find ourselves on the journey of salvation? What choices can we make now big or small to bring us into the presence of the Lord?
Brothers and Sisters, this is the fantastic journey of Lent, and I hope that you join us in pondering the scriptures and the deep questions we are asking at Judson Fellowship.