Genesis 8:21-22; 9:8-17 – God Takes a New Way with the World
SummaryIn the wake of the disastrous experience of the flood, God commits the divine self to the future of creation by announcing an unconditional promise (8:21-22; 9:8-17).
This grieving response of God, as well as the divine reversal of the decision to "blot out" every living creature, prepares the way for God's decision at the end of the flood never again to "destroy every living creature" (8:21). Never again will God do this, not by any means, even though sin and evil will continue apace. God is as good as God's word, and God proceeds to express this promise in terms of an unconditional and eternal covenant (9:8-17). This covenant undergirds all other biblical covenants.
God's promise not to do something again entails an eternal divine self-limitation regarding the exercise of divine freedom and power. God thereby limits the divine options in dealing with evil in the life of the world. The route of world annihilation has been set aside as a divine possibility. Divine judgment there will be, but it will be limited in scope (for example, Sodom and Gomorrah). The creation and its orders are trustworthy in perpetuity, for God will not suspend this commitment to the continuance of the world for shorter or longer periods of time.