God?s Covenant With the Earth

“The Lord smelled the soothing aroma; and the Lord said to himself, ‘I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease'” (Genesis 8:21,22).
While watching one of the many year-end summations on television news programs, I noticed this comment: “The number one story of the year 2005 was Mother Nature.” Going back to the last week of 2004 with the tsunami in Asia, through the earthquake in Pakistan and the hurricanes in the United States, the great natural disasters of this past year certainly overshadowed any other news items. Rarely have we seen such destructive and terrible events, far less so many in so short a time. We are reminded of our own small and feeble nature compared to the God of creation and the universe which he has made.
Yet as terrible as these were, they pale beside one great natural disaster of the ancient past — the Flood. With the exception of the tiny group aboard the ark, made by God’s grace, all life on the earth was destroyed by the waters which arose when “all the fountains of the deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened” (Genesis 7:11). As terrible as were our storms, God can bring upon us much greater damage.
We are comforted, however, by the promise that God has restrained his power to punish. Never again will all life be destroyed from the earth, so long as the earth remains. Floods and earthquakes and blizzards and tornadoes and hurricanes will come, but they will be localized and limited. Some, perhaps many, will suffer. But far more will be spared. The earth will continue in its normal pattern, with seasons, rain and harvest. Life on earth can be very good.
God’s restraint is not because of our righteousness. He acknowledges that man’s thoughts and intents are towards sin from very early in his life. (Though not from birth or the womb as the false doctrines of original sin and total depravity would have it -? note Genesis 8:21 above). He limits his power for our sakes because of his love for us and his own gracious mercy. “God is not slow about his promise (to punish), as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
This grace has provided a means of salvation, and it continues to provide opportunity. Let us be thankful and let us use both means and opportunity for our own salvation and also to seek the salvation of others. God is good!

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