God’s promise to Noah raises some questions for me.Until I read it again just now, I thought that the purpose of the deluge was to wash away human inclination to wickedness. I thought wrong of course. Wrong because (i) the word does not really say so, (ii) because it [the flood] obviously did not.

But there seemed to be no displeasure on God’s part with the flora and fauna which survived the flood, which observation raised the question in my mind.

Was the ground cursed? I have to say ’yes’ because the word says so in the third chapter.

17 You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread
until you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”

Yet the ground itself was sufficiently sensitive to the reality of human sin that after the murder of Abel we read

10 And the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground! 11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you till the ground, it will no longer yield to you its strength; you will be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.”

Did the ground transfer its portion of curse to humans then? For it survives the flood. The olive leaf was waiting to be plucked; and then God said, “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans”,

And the promise to follow is one we love to recite at harvest festivals.

“As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”

Have we got a sense of false confidence based on this promise, which is why we abuse the earth, and will not own up to our part in harming the environment?

Are we taking for granted the promise, “never again will I curse the ground because of humans… And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done”?

Do we not realise how much is at stake?

Or is it that we prefer to leave problems of the future to people of the future, even though the present trends make for a bad future?

Has the ground transferred a portion of its curse or is it redeeming us? That is, if we see viruses as mere dust.

Life is so full of surprises. The pleas of the Greta Tunberg generation, so demanding on the people left over from the twentieth century, have been heard in lockdown. First petroleum down to sub-zero prices. Airline travel dropped way down; and yet people are travelling virtually (ally of virtue here) to such places as they’ve never been! Use of fossil fuels regulated without effort. Many are breathing cleaner air in different places.

Mess up as we will, the truth is that only God has the last say. Only God will call, “Time’s up!”

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