The rainbow is the sign that the world will not be damaged by man-made climate change. Those who see no inconsistency between climate change faith and the faith of the Holy Scriptures often make the argument that God promised in His covenant with Noah that he would not destroy the earth. That does not preclude us from screwing it up. This argument is based on a misreading of Scripture. Genesis 8:22 states: “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”
This passage needs very little explanation to reach the objective conclusion that God was promising that the established cycles of seasons would not change as long as God permitted the world to continue. The sovereign God was declaring an immutable principle of His recreation after the flood, not His desire that could be thwarted by his sinful creatures.
At the risk of being accused of not being able to leave well enough alone, there are at least four arguments that God was declaring an immutable principle of HIS climate change, unchangeable by His sinful creatures. The first is logical, the second literary, the third, one of syntax, and the fourth a legal argument.
The first argument I already alluded to above. God is omnipotent. He is all powerful. He can do all things. He oversees and administers all things. He is sovereign. In the flood narrative, he superintends the winds and the rains. If an omnipotent God declares that certain cycles will not cease, the only logical conclusion is that the promise will be fulfilled.
The second argument is founded in the flow of the story itself. God himself declares the cause of the flood judgement: that man had become wicked, “every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” It was man, through his wickedness, that caused the destruction of the earth. He had become an affront to an all holy God. It was only Noah’s righteousness that redeemed the entire human race. In light of this narrative, the promise would have been worthless. If man could once again destroy the world despite God’s promise, God would not have advanced His story in any way by making the promise. The entire story would have been of no effect.
The third is based on Hebrew syntax. Hebrew narrative utilizes a pattern which relies heavily on one particular verbal connector, the waw. Verses in a sequence of narrative start with this “and” connector. Verse 21 starts with the waw connector: “And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.” Verse 21 is part of the narrative. Verse 22 breaks this narrative chain, declaring the conclusion of the story. The NIV is right to format this passage as a poem. Verse 22 is a liturgical expression of what God would do for his sinful creatures. He would protect them from their own wickedness in the future. This is the quintessential expression of God’s common grace to man.
Finally, there is the legal argument. The legal argument is that every expression of a law giver must be given effect. In verse 21, God declared His new covenant law that He would not strike down every living creature as he had done. Verse 22 must then be given effect. As a summary of the story, its effect is that God will do more than simply protect man from Himself. Its effect is that He will protect man from himself.
God made provision to protect man from himself in giving his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. God has made this world to be conducive to that message, and He will protect that creation to fulfill his purposes. Man cannot thwart God. He said so in Genesis 8 and I believe it. His promise has stood the test of at least 7 thousand years, and that is despite massive carbon dioxide emission of many different varieties. The climate will continue to accomplish God’s purposes until the end of time.