The opening chapters of the book of Genesis elegantly depict the creation of all things as God forms the foundations of the world and shares the abundance of His life with creatures. However, our first parents succumbed to the temptation to reject dependence on their Creator, denying the limits for flourishing given by Him and thereby rupturing full communion with Him. Their descendants continued in rebellion, moving God to admit in Himself “for I am sorry that I have made them” (Genesis 6:7). God, who created the world five chapters earlier, moves towards “un-creation,” the narrative seems to close almost as quickly as it opened.
This devastating pronouncement ends, however, with a glimmer of hope: “But Noah found favor in the sight of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8). Noah becomes the instrument of God’s forbearance, a remnant of God’s good creation, and through his faithfulness God begins His covenantal life with humanity. After the destruction of the flood and salvation of Noah’s family, God speaks in Himself as He did before. God resolves that He will never again curse the ground or destroy every living creature on account of humanity: “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22). This declaration of self-giving provides the ground for the proceeding covenant with Noah, his descendants, and all living creatures; a covenant ensuring they know the guarantee of God’s faithfulness forevermore. Here, God articulates to Noah what has always been true – He is the Creator who will sustain all living things on account of His own faithfulness and self-giving, and the stability of His creation will not be subject to human merit.
The flood becomes the occasion of God to again reveal the reality of creation – creatures, including humanity, are utterly dependent on God’s self-giving for their creation and continued preservation. This dependence is the center of our lives as created beings, disobedience, and the search to become independent of God is the fundamental deception of sin (Genesis 3; Romans 1:21-23). Like our first parents, we so often dismiss our dependence on God as Creator and Sustainer, and tend instead toward greed, false security and pride. In Luke 12, Jesus personifies this denial of reality as a rich man whose land produced abundantly. As his harvest increased, the rich man began to forget the source of landed abundance, that is: the faithfulness of God to His self-reliant promise. In his prosperity, the rich man finds comfort and distances himself from the reality of his dependence, which is brought into view only by the word of God to him who calls it foolish to store up things which he can lose so easily. How often do we, like the rich fool, assume the gifted abundance we receive is a result of our own effort and a sure source of security? We position ourselves as masters of our own sustenance through storing all our “grain and goods,” growing comfortable with a security built on the delusion of independence. By forgetting the words of God to Noah, we act as our own “creators,” repeating the trespass of our first parents in the search to “store up treasures for [ourselves]” while remaining impoverished toward God, the source of all abundance (Luke 12:21).
God’s promise following the flood speaks to the rich fool of the parable, and those of us who think like him, reminding us that our very lives are displays of God’s generosity and find their stability in His faithfulness. To know God in this way requires a transformed knowledge of ourselves as created beings who remain dependent on Him for our preservation. This truthful self-knowledge is in fact the best kind of news: our sustenance has never been dependent on our own capacity, but rather on the certain generosity of our Father in heaven who ensures the changing of the seasons and passage from day to night.