The Flood: a reminder throughout all generations of the consequences of sin.
“And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark:” the rain stops, and the waters begin to recede. The term “remembered” is covenantal: God remembers his covenant. Even though all around is wicked, God remembers his love for creation. It’s the love he showed Israel when they constantly defied him. He didn’t give up on them but came in Christ to call them.
When Noah came out of the ark, he offered some of the clean animals and clean birds as burnt offerings to the Lord. This is the first mention in scripture of animal death and of offering animal flesh to the Lord. God did not request this from Noah. It seems to be some human custom Noah was following, as explained in previous chapters. “The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma…” Does this mean the smell of death pleased the Lord, and the smell of cooked flesh, the way we enjoy the smell of cooking? Did God delight in the death of these animals, as though it appeased his wrath, enabling God to remember his covenant?
There are many times we as humans do things in good conscience towards the Lord and God accepts them. Most of the things David did during his tenure as king were foreign to God, but David’s heart, celebrating God’s love for him, pleased God. David’s life was markedly different to Christ’s, yet God accepted him. “Whatever is not of faith is sin.” It’s our acting in good conscience that is pleasing to God. This is the sweet-smelling aroma. What Noah did, he did in faith. This is why we shouldn’t be hasty in finding fault with others. We might condemn them, but God might justify them. God sees the heart. God was pleased with Noah’s faith and obedience in going through the Flood and renewing the earth.
“Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though a 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.”
Some scientists have asked whether this new world was the beginning of the four seasons we see today. Some have shown that before the flood there was more vapour in the atmosphere, with a greenhouse effect and a unified temperature around the world. If something along these lines was the case, then this above statement by God could be the introduction of a new kind of climate, after the upset of the former ecosystem. I don’t know. This is a world in which deforestation, desertification and droughts are more likely.
This promise seems to go beyond never again sending a universal flood. It speaks of any catastrophe that would destroy all life on the planet. This would include a complete nuclear holocaust great enough to destroy all life, I presume. “As long as the earth endures…” Does this mean the earth won’t endure forever? “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall abide forever.” This is a Hebrew phrase, a figure of speech, which compared God’s word to that which seems most enduring to us. God’s word is even more enduring than the universe and the earth itself. This is all the phrase means. It doesn’t mean the universe shall end. Similarly, in Revelation, the heavens and the earth vanished, and a new heaven and new earth appeared. This also is a metaphor for a new eternal era. The earth being destroyed by fire in 2 Peter refers to Jeruslem and the temple (the old creation/ covenant) being burnt by Rome in AD 70.