As Africans, we are no strangers to crime and violence.
We have had our fair share of invaders, dictators, warlords and freedom fighters who have then turned on their own people. Not only that, we constantly hear of assault, murder, rape, abuse and many other violent crimes.
South Africa is reeling as we are confronted on a daily basis with news of another woman or child being rape and killed.
A UCT student was raped and killed in the last week by a postal worker, in a Post Office, in the southern suburbs of Cape Town.
Many people in Africa live with this as their daily reality.
When will enough be enough? Is God concerned? When will God do something?
These are good questions that Genesis 6 helps us answer.
In desperate times, many people turn to desperate measures.
It was April 1945 – near the end of World War 2. The telephone rang in Adolf Hitler’s bunker. It was the Minister of Propaganda on the line, Joseph Goebbels.
He spoke to Hitler and he was ecstatic. Although the Allies were pressing from the West, the Russians from the East and soon Berlin itself would fall – none of that mattered.
He told Hitler that the stars foretold that the last half of April would be better than the first, and indeed a turning point.
Unfortunately for Goebbels’ horoscope, Hitler committed suicide on 30 April and Germany surrendered. Goebbels succeeded Hitler as Chancellor. He served one day in this post. The following day, Goebbels and his wife committed suicide, after poisoning their six children with cyanide.
Facing ruin, people will sometimes turn in their desperation to any resource that they think will give them hope.
Goebbels turned to the horoscopes.*
In 1 Samuel Ch. 28 King Saul turned to a medium to consult the dead.
1 Samuel Ch. 13 is a fascinating account of blame-shifting.
Saul is king and has 3000 fighting men, according to v2.
In v3, Jonathan, Saul’s son – the crown prince – defeats a Philistine garrison and the Philistines gather to march on Israel.
The Philistines, however, have 30 000 chariots (the equivalent of having tanks in World War I), 6000 horsemen and infantry that number like the sand on the seashore.
Not only that, things are worse than they seem.
According to v19-21, the Philistines have been so powerful that they have not allowed any blacksmiths in Israel. Israel has no swords or spears. If an Israelite wanted their farming implements sharpened they had to pay the a Philistine to do it.
Saul is at the town of Gilgal, vastly outnumbered and facing massive odds.
However, if you read your Bible, you will know that’s not a massive problem.
A number of years ago I spent a couple of days with a hiking club in the rural Eastern Cape province of South Africa.
On the first night of the back-breaking, blister-producing trip, a few of us sat around the fire and a sangoma joined us – one of SA’s few white witchdoctors.
He was dressed in typical traditional garb and wore amulets and charms to ward off various spirits. He asked us if he could throw some herbs into the fire to cleanse the air of evil spirits.
Most people around the fire were very keen as (I guess) they thought that any kind of cleansing from any kind of spirit could only be a good thing.
Apparently, he then purified the air of evil spirits.
A number of things interested me about that evening:
1. The witchdoctor, unlike so many people today, acknowledged (like the Bible does) the existence of the spiritual world
2. The witchdoctor naively thought that some strange smelling smoke could drive away evil spirits
The Bible teaches that Satan and the demons are powerful beings and couldn’t care less about which herbs you throw on the fire. One needs someone more powerful than Satan to bind him or overcome him.Cf. Mark 3:27
3. The witchdoctor gave me insight into the typical, worldly religious worldview
Many people think that they, like the witchdoctor, can control or manipulate the spiritual realm by performing certain rituals, saying certain words or wearing certain charms. This is the essence of religion.