Our 7-year-old son, Seth, has a strong mischievous streak. Recently, well after bedtime, we heard the sounds of suspicious activity upstairs. I called to Seth in a firm tone, asking what he was doing since he was supposed to be in bed. Silence. Seth’s mind was rapidly sifting through any plausible excuse he could offer. Finally, he simply said, “Oh, Dad, just ground me.”

Genesis provides a litany of humanity’s inexplicable, inexcusable disobedience—a history of human folly:

Disobedience. At the outset, in the most perplexing act, Eve and Adam spurned God, ate forbidden fruit, and lost their place in the Garden (Genesis 3:1-7).

Disobedience. The first children, our first set of brothers, gave us our first violent act—murder (Genesis 4:1-9).

Disobedience. Eventually God recognized “that everything [humanity] thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil” (Genesis 6:5).

Disobedience. Finally, attempting to rival God, humanity built a tower (Babel) to reach the heavens, asserting their will over God’s (Genesis 11:1-4).

Following this bitter list of human rebellion, Genesis 11 closes by recapping the genealogy from Shem to Abram. The lineage ends with these sad words: “Sarai [Abram’s wife] was barren.” And to make certain we get the point, Scripture adds this exclamation point: “Sarai . . . had no children” (Genesis 11:30). Humanity was barren, empty. Humanity had refused God and followed life on its own terms. A world God had intended to flourish was now dry and withering.

The story begged for a rescue, for new life to come again. In time, however, God allowed an old woman—Sarai—to become pregnant; and still later God sent His own Son to infuse new life. Our efforts lead to barrenness, but following God leads to life.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Genesis 6:9-22