January 25, 2016

A Winter's Covenant

While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,
And cold and heat,
And summer and winter,
And day and night
Shall not cease.
Genesis 8:22

Here is the most poetic portion of God’s promise never again to destroy the earth by the waters of a flood. The weather will never go so out of whack again, says the Lord in Genesis chapters 8-9! On the contrary, as long as the earth exists, there will be fall and spring, summer and winter, cold and heat … such that the changing of the seasons is a four-times-yearly reminder that God is still doing what He said He would do; still sparing and upholding the earth just as He promised in His covenant with Noah.

That’s a wonderful thought, isn’t it? That when the daffodils begin to sprout from their winter sleep, God is being faithful to His promise. And when the long days of summer sun are upon us, God is being true to His word. And when the greens of summer flame into the crimson, gold, and pumpkin of autumn, God is keeping His covenant! The seasons are not spinning all out of whack, but marching in time to the rhythm of God’s covenant faithfulness.

But do we think that way even when winter comes on – with all of its biting cold, and its grey days, and its dead branches, and the wrenches it sometimes throws into our pace? I wrote last winter that we aren’t necessarily meant to see the dead shades of winter brown as beautiful. But they do serve a purpose in the sermons that God preaches to us in His creation. And one of the purposes of winter is the same as the springing flowers of spring and the falling leaves of fall – to remind us that God is keeping His covenant; that the earth is still rotating around the Sun and the keeping up its customary routine just as God promised that it would. “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (emphasis added).

That doesn’t mean that there won’t be catastrophes, or that nature isn’t also under the curse. It is (witness the deaths from the recent blizzard on the East Coast). But what Genesis 8 is telling us is that the weather, while it may rage locally from time to time, will never wreak havoc on the whole world like it did in the days of Noah. And the fact that we still have spring, summer, fall, and winter every successive year confirms that God is faithful to that covenant!

So think of that when the crocuses blossom, and when the days grow long and warm, and when the forest is ablaze with the colors of autumn. And think of it, too, when the skies grow murky, and the nights grow long, and the mercury rests deep in the glass like a hibernating bear, not to arise until April! Winter may not be the most comfortable reminder that God is keeping the earth in orbit just according to plan. But it is a reminder just the same! And it’s better than the alternative that our sins deserve!

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