“The new normal”: the current buzzword describing the changes made in our culture and society by the presence and effect of COVID-19. Wearing masks and gloves, wiping down surfaces which may have been touched. “Social distancing.” “Sheltering at home.” Jobs lost, businesses closed, lives changed. A good portion of our culture and economy destroyed. A tremendous amount of food thrown away or destroyed because the transportation needed to move it to market was closed down – and, I fear, the worst is yet to come from that.
Actually, there is nothing “new” in all this, after all. Oh, perhaps the exact circumstances are unique, but this is not the first time in our world’s sad history that a “new normal” has happened. And it won’t be the last.
The very first time happened very early in that history, and, no, I do not accept the evolutionary idea that everything “just happened.” I do accept Genesis 1-3 as reliable, factual history.
And, in that history, although not a lot of detail is given, “normal” was an innocent and sinless Adam and Eve living in paradise, having fellowship with their God and Creator, Genesis 1-3. The idyllic environment of the earth at that time can be used to explain a lot of things, like dinosaurs, that secular “science,” with its basic assumption that there couldn’t possibly have been a God to create it, has completely misunderstood.
The first “new normal” occurred when Adam and Eve disobeyed a simple command of God and were thrown out of the Garden. They lost fellowship with God and their whole life and future, as well as that of their descendants, was radically changed.
“Normal” then became a sinful race living more or less, mostly more, in disregard of their God and Creator. Romans 1:21-31 is a description of this first rebellion. It’s also applicable to a lot of cultures throughout history, and of ours in this year of our Lord 2020.
The next “new normal” is described in Genesis 6-9, when God determined to judge an increasingly wicked and perverted human race with a great flood. Though unbelief tells us this was just some local overflow of streams or rivers, these four chapters of Scripture record that God told Noah several times that He would destroy the world that then was, Genesis 6:7, 13, 17; 7:4, 11, 12; 17-23; 8:9, 21; 9:11-17.
In Matthew 24:39 and Luke 17:27, the Lord Jesus confirmed the universal scope of the Flood. And Peter, in 2 Peter 3:5, 6, also refers to it, and prophesies of another, yet future total destruction of the earth, this time by fire.
The next “new normal” happened a few hundred years later, in Genesis 11. In Genesis 9:1, 7, God told Noah to, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth,”….”be fruitful and multiply; Bring forth abundantly in the earth And multiply in it.”
In Genesis 11, we read that men migrated from the east to a plain in Shinar [which became known as Babylon], and they dwelt there, v. 2. As they considered their situation, v. 4, they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”
Genesis 10 records the the genealogies of Noah’s three sons, as they indeed began to multiply and fill the earth, and it says that each son fathered descendants according to their families, according to their languages, vs. 5, 15, 31.
Genesis 11:1 tells us that the whole earth had one language and one speech. So, their “normal” was rebellion against God’s command to multiply and fill the earth. They had settled in one place. The chapter tells us the origin of all the different languages of our world.
I do have a different view of the “tower” they built. It’s commonly thought that they were trying to reach and get into heaven. That may be, but if it’s true that there was some sort of atmospheric “canopy” around the earth, Genesis 1:6: “expanse,” then it may be that, prior to the Flood, their view of the heavens was blurred or blocked. After the Flood, this “expanse” was gone, I think, as part of the Flood, then, all of a sudden, there was this whole new world, so to speak, “out there,” and they built this tower to get a better view of it, much like telescopes today are built in higher elevations. No doubt, knowing the perversity of man, what began as wonder and curiosity deteriorated into worship.
As I said, a different view of it all.
But there was a “new normal” associated with it, as well. In Genesis 11:5, we read, the LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the LORD said, “Indeed, the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they nay not understand one another’s speech.”…Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.”
Their “new normal” was that they were scattered all over the place, and some with whom they had worked now spoke what we would call “gobbledy-gook” and they couldn’t understand each other. But there were some who spoke the same new language and so they settled down together and, in effect, started over. What they could have, and should have, done voluntarily was done for them.
I believe Romans 1:18-32 describes the situation that arose out of Babel and became the scene out of which God chose one man – Abraham – through which He would work eventually to reclaim the human race, a race that had turned its back on Him. Abraham was the next “new normal”.
Then, after Abraham, the next “new normal” was that God rescued a bunch of slaves out of the greatest country of its time, and led them to their own country, a country He promised to them and to their descendants “forever:” Genesis 17:8; 48:2-4; Exodus 3:8; 6:4; 13:5, 11; Leviticus 14:34; Number 34 (which gives a detailed list of the boundaries of the Promised Land – the only such listing for any country in the history of the world. Even after all this time, Israel still lives within those boundaries. How many other nations have come and gone in that time?); 1 Chronicles 16:15-19; Isaiah 19:18-24.
Isaiah 19 itself lists a “new normal” for the countries in that part of the world, and describes a situation that cannot be said to have happened yet:
In that day five cities in the land of Egypt will speak the language of Canaan and swear by the LORD of hosts; one will be called the City of Destruction. In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the LORD at its border. And it will be for a sign and for a witness to the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the LORD because of the oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Mighty One, and He will deliver them. Then the LORD will be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the LORD in that day, and will make sacrifice and offering; yes, they will make a vow to the LORD and perform it. And the LORD will strike Egypt, He will strike and heal it; they will return to the LORD, and He will be entreated by them and heal them. In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian will come into Egypt and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians will serve with the Assyrians. In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria – a blessing in the midst of the land, whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance,” vs. 18-25.
That last sentence alone….
And it can’t be said that, because God mentions Assyria, all this has somehow happened already. He was describing the area by the countries the people knew, and even “Assyria” has come down to us as “Syria”.
Two more “new normals”.
One day, a young Jewish man was walking along a shoreline and saw some fishermen. He said to some of them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men,” Matthew 4:19; Mark 1:17. He called some others, as well. From them, He formed what we call, “the church,” and gave them a mission to “preach the Gospel” to all the world.
“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing, And her people a joy, Isaiah 66:17, 18.
“For as the new heavens and the new earth Which I will make shall remain before Me,” says the LORD, “So shall your descendants and your name [spoken to Israel] remain. Isaiah 66:22.
looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells, 2 Peter 3:12.
That will be the last “new normal,” and it will last.
Oh, that the Lord would give us eyes to see. This current situation, this virus, this unsettling, this “sheltering at home,” will not endure. I don’t know what’s coming or how it will all work out, but I know that the Lord is still on the throne and He will work it out. He’s preparing for us a new home, John 14:1-3.
Are you ready?