Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jan 11 2019 - Genesis 8:13-9:17 – A New beginning

Noah's first act when he and the animals were safe on dry ground was to build an altar and present burnt offerings to the Lord. The smoke of the burnt offering ascended to the Lord and he was pleased. God said, "Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done. As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease." (8:21-22). God recognises that nothing has changed; the human heart is still inclined towards rebellion and evil. Nevertheless God promises that he will never again destroy every living thing; there is an atoning sacrifice by which the world is saved from judgment.

In response to this sacrifice, God renews his covenant promise saying, "I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you – the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you – every living creature on earth. I establish my covenant with you: never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth." (9:9-11).

Throughout this section we are continually reminded that humankind, made in the image of God, remains very much part of the created order. The animal creation is condemned to judgment along with humankind and is saved along with humankind. God's promise of mercy encompasses trees and fields and the changing seasons. God's covenant is made not only with Noah but with every living creature.

When we read that God loves the world and is intent upon its salvation we really must not narrow down his love to the 'salvation of the soul'. God loves every part of the world that he has made.

Having renewed his covenant promise to Noah, God declared, "This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." (9:12-16).

Here is another detail that for years I had failed to notice. I always thought that the rainbow was designated by God as a sign of his covenant to remind us of his promise. But that is not what God says. Twice he declares that it is a reminder to him of his covenant promise. God remembers not in the sense that he is in danger of forgetting but rather in that he acts to fulfil his covenant promise and to save his people. Dare we suggest that New Testament signs of the covenant, such as baptism and the Lord's Supper, are not only reminders for us of all that God has done for us in Christ and promised us in him, they are means through which God himself remembers his covenant?

Faithful God, thank you that you continually remember your covenant promises and act to save your people. More than that, we thank you that in Jesus Christ you purpose to save the world and to bring all creation under his dominion. Gladly we bring you our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, and we pledge ourselves afresh to your great project of making all things new.

Peter Misselbrook