Genesis 8: 15-22 15 Then God spoke to Noah, 16 “Come out of the ship with your wife, your sons, and your sons’ wives. 17 Bring out every animal that’s with you: birds, domestic animals, and every creature that crawls on the earth. Be fertile, increase in number, and spread over the earth.” 18 So Noah came out with his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives. 19 Every animal, crawling creature, and bird–everything that moves on the earth–came out of the ship, one kind after another.
20 Noah built an altar to the LORD. On it he made a burnt offering of each type of clean animal and clean bird. 21 The LORD smelled the soothing aroma. He said to himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of humans, even though from birth their hearts are set on nothing but evil. I will never again kill every living creature as I have just done. 22 As long as the earth exists, planting and harvesting, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never stop.”
The last two verses, 21-22, are really what I want to focus on. We saw previously God’s frustration with the evil and violence of humanity. We puzzled over God’s inclusion of the animals in the destruction of the earth. Here is God’s ultimate answer and promise. God promises never to curse the ground again. This means that the ground is still cursed. Creation still longs and groans to be redeemed (Rom 8: 18-23). God promises not to go further because of our sinfulness. Already we see the seeds of grace.
I hadn’t thought of something previously concerning God’s destruction of the animals. I pointed out in the creation narratives that it highlights the connectedness of humanity to the rest of creation. Perhaps the Flood also points out that the evil and violence of humanity is not isolated from the ret of creation. As humanity goes so goes creation. Maybe the destruction of the creatures is a reminder that creation is a package deal.
So God promises not to curse the ground and never kill every living creature again. The flip side of this promise is that “As long as the earth exists planting and harvesting, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never stop.” The seasons will continue and the earth will produce what we need for life and sustenance. This is still true today. Even with the recent food crisis, some have pointed out that the problem is still not that we don’t produce enough food. We will look more at this when we get into Leviticus and the way the Bible deals with justice and economic inequality.