In Genesis 6. 8 – 9, we have the following:
“But Noah found favor in the sight of the Lord. These are the descendants of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God.”
As we learn from Genesis 6 – 9, the exalted status of Noah was not to last long, as he would emerge from the Ark and soon thereafter plant a vineyard and . . . get drunk. His inebriation would provide the background to his curse of Ham’s son (Canaan). The Bible would then essentially dismiss the remainder of Noah’s life with the words, “After the flood Noah lived three hundred fifty years” (9.28); that is, there is nothing else to say.
So, with the story of Noah, we have a human being who is blameless, righteous, and who walks with God (clean sweep) at the beginning, but who falters at the end. It was through him that humanity was supposed to be given a second chance, so what is God to do now? In Genesis 9, God backstops himself from repeating the Flood, with an everlasting covenant sealed by a rainbow. God cannot wash his hands clean and forget about it all, since through his promise he has committed to humanity.
In Genesis 11 – 12, we are introduced to Abram (i.e., “exalted human being”), a city dweller with . . . many slaves. In chapter 12 we encounter an arrogant, entitled, and selfish human being, who places his wife’s life in jeopardy just to save his own skin. He gets richer through deceit and ends up with . . . more slaves.
By chapter 15, his trust will be accounted to him as righteousness, and in chapter 17, God will command him to “walk before me, and be blameless” (17.1).
So, what is going on?
Well, God will not again begin with the perfect, only to see them falter at the end. He begins with a
typical, self-entitled human being, and reforms that human to walk before God and to be blameless. He begins with a broken vessel and fixes it. He teaches him how to walk before God and how to be blameless. It takes time.
Abram is us — exalted in our thinking, entitled, possessive, and all too relatable.
Jesus later on will explain this when he says that those who are high will be brought low, and the humble will be exalted (Matthew 23. 12). It is not how you begin life, but how you end.