Now we come to the first covenant. One of the more important parts of the Bible. Before we get to that there is the long and winding road to getting Noah off the ark. First God must remember Noah and then God sends a great wind that is like a great wind that stops the rains. An echo of the creation story. Instead of God saying let there be light to vanquish the darkness God says let there be wind to vanquish the rain.
After the wind blows the rain away and the waters are unplugged Noah must wait for the waters to recede. Noah has no way of knowing when it is safe to leave the ark and sends out a raven and a dove. The dove returns but not the raven and eventually, after being sent out again, the dove returns with an olive leaf in its beak before it returns no more.
Now that it is safe the ark comes to rest on top of Mount Ararat. Here, Noah and his family leave the ark and go about praising God. After surviving any disaster this might be the first thing we do. Praise the Lord I have survived. Noah is counting his blessings in other words. He is grateful to be alive even if he does lament the death of all humanity and creatures not on his ark.
In his praising of God Noah takes from every clean animal and bird and offers a burnt offering. This is slightly weird. Noah put all these animals on his ark to save them and then once it is safe he slaughters a few of them to offer up to God. To all things their purpose up to heaven, turn, turn. God finds the scent pleasing and descends.
It is here we get the promise. The important part of the flood narrative. God makes a promise that as long as the earth endures the soil will produce, the seasons will change, and the day and night will last.
I think of the first covenant as one of regret. God looks at this man still praising him. A man that has endured much. Not only 40 days nights of rain but the time spent adrift on the tides. A time when God did not remember Noah. Chapter 8 begins with God remembering Noah. It can be presumed then that God had forgotten Noah. The winds blow, the rain ceases, and the waters recede, but there are still many months adrift.
Noah endures much. He watched all of humanity excepting his family wiped out. All life on earth that wasn’t on the ark wiped out. Noah has suffered trauma. Trauma at the hands of God, and Noah praises God. He sends up a burnt offering and that burnt offering pleases God.
God comes down and promises Noah that he will not destroy humanity again. That the seasons will change and the sun and moon will rise as long as the earth endures. God does not make that promise if he is pleased by what he has done. God destroyed his creation. He wiped out everything he called good, in the beginning.
Before making this promise God does say he realizes human nature hasn’t changed. Evil still resides in the hearts of man, and that man will do harm to one another. It is here it must be asked if humanity is created in the image of God by God and there is evil in the hearts of man then who put it there?