In my last post, I wrote about humanity’s uncanny ability to continue through cataclysm. For thousands and thousands of years, we’ve endured plagues, earthquakes, fires, floods, wars, and worries. And still, somehow, we keep on keeping on because it’s what God made us to do. Our Creator programmed this into us from the beginning of time. From the very first words God spoke to His new Creation: “Be Fruitful and Multiply.“
If you’ve thought about this phrase at all, it makes a lot of sense in the Garden of Eden. God designed us for relationship and reproduction. God spoke those words at the very beginning, before the corruption of His Creation. So of course He wanted more of that. He was planning for Fruitfulness and Multiplication. It explains how we got from an “Adam” and an “Eve” to the 7.9 billion of us that live on Earth today.
But I actually wonder if the more significant recurrence of that refrain is the one from Genesis chapter 9. At least in terms of its relevance to us and this messed-up world around us. The Creation happens in Genesis chapters 1 and 2. The Fall (a.k.a. The Disobedience, the Corruption, the Expulsion from Eden) happens in Genesis chapter 3. Chapter 4 brings the first murder, when Cain kills his brother Abel. The fifth chapter of Genesis introduces us to the complex web of familial relationships that ensue as Adam and Eve get on with being fruitful and multiplying. Chapter 6 describes a “World Gone Wrong,” to the point where it says in Genesis 6:11 that, “God saw that the earth had become corrupt and was filled with violence.”
God decided to destroy it. Reset with one righteous family. The family of Noah. In Genesis chapters 7 and 8, a cataclysmic flood “wiped out every living thing on the earth — people, livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and the birds of the sky. All were destroyed. The only people who survived were Noah and those with him in the boat.”
Now, we know what it’s felt like for our society to start coming out of our “COVID Caves.” We know what it’s been like to experience loss and destruction and a totally-shifted landscape. But can you imagine what Noah and the rest of those people must have felt like as they emerged from the Ark on the mountains of Ararat?!? Talk about environmental chaos! Societal disruption! Starting all over again!
If I was in Noah’s shoes, I wouldn’t have even known where to begin. So it’s really significant to lean in and listen to what God says to Noah and the rest of Noah’s family. He returns to the refrain from Eden.
Then God blessed Noah and his sons and told them, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth…Genesis 9:1
God goes on to provide further instructions, further details about the way that they’re all supposed to find food… and get along with each other… and make a go of life on this renewed earth. But then he comes back to the refrain again just a few verses later.
Now be fruitful and multiply, and repopulate the earth.Genesis 9:7
I think that we’re brought back to that phrase because it’s what God made us to do. When this refrain to “Be Fruitful and Multiply” comes back around again, in Genesis 35, it’s tying fruitfulness and multiplication to spiritual life, not just biological life. God’s commandment to “Be Fruitful and Multiply” is never rescinded. It’s only reiterated and restated.
We always need to be reminding ourselves that God is all about New Beginnings. Rebirth… Renewal… Reconciliation… Redemption… Resurrection… The Good News of Jesus is a story of being restored from a place of estrangement to a place of relationship. And we just need to hear this. Again and again and again.
But especially this year.
As we re-engage with life and ministry here in Kent this school year, we want to remember that God made us to “Be Fruitful and Multiply!” We want to keep ourselves looking forward, not backward. We want more than just getting “back to normal.” We want to expect totally new things! New life, new faith, new hope, new love! We’re praying for opportunities to get outside of our own heads, our own rooms, our own “bubbles” and think outward.
Because God made us to Be Fruitful and Multiply!