While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and
heat, Winter and Summer, and day and night shall not cease.
This is a surprising promise! God gave it immediately after the flood and just after He said that the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth (v21). If this were true (and unfortunately it is!) you would expect God to immediately announce the next flood and the next, because evil would again increase in the world. Surprisingly, He promises instead that there will never be a global flood again. And an even bigger surprise is that He gives the wicked intention of man’s heart as a reason for His decision! The pitiful condition of man stirs God’s mercy. God therefore promises to care for man. How kind God is to the world!
It’s also an extensive promise! Already at first glance it says that the alternation of day and night and of the seasons will never stop. We don’t need to be afraid that one day, after a long night, there will be no sunrise or after a long winter, no summer or that there will be seedtimes, but never a harvest! No, God promises to the world that He will faithfully provide for it. This is already a lot, but this promise is far more comprehensive! It includes, for example, that “God preserves the dynamics of nature in relative stability and predictability so that science and technology are possible.”1 Science and technology depend on God’s faithfulness to keep the “laws of nature” in place and to guarantee that physical and chemical processes follow their natural course. God has kept His promise. How faithful God is to the world!
But it’s still a temporary promise! While the earth remains… God promises that the earthly order will not end ahead of time. He does not say that the earth will not go through any judgement at all in the future. In fact there will be a future judgement by fire (2 Peter 3:10–12). But God patiently gives mankind time to repent. Only when time is over, He will judge! How patient God is with the world!
The application of the promise is, trust God! Trust God for all you need! If He cares for the world, He will all the more care for you, His child! And don’t be afraid that the God who was able to give food to the few people at Noah’s time and to the 300 million people living at Jesus time and to the 7 billion people at our time, could not also provide food should there be 10 or 20 billion people living on the earth. He can! Trust His promise! And be sure that God will preserve the earth until Christ comes back. God’s providence means that He is on the throne and fully in control, today and also tomorrow!
The second application is, teach this promise to children! Children need to know on whose kindness they rely in order to live and how much they depend on God; that He continues to be merciful towards a godless and rebellious mankind. They should however not mix God’s mercy and patience with Him failing to bring about justice. Judgement on sin will come! Teach children that the only remedy for their sin problem is Christ crucified. God commands them to repent (Acts 17:30). Now it’s still time to believe in Jesus and be saved. Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts (Hebrews 4:7).
1 John MacArthur, Richard Mayhuge, Biblical Doctrine, p. 218
This article first appeared in our Winter 2020 National Newsletter.