The Word on the Week


It was back in the mid 80ies at a lecture to the Insurance Institute on Extreme Weather that I first heard of the seas warming. This produced rising sea levels which caused consternation in places like London where the Thames barrier was installed to protect the city against tidal surge. The lecturer ended with the cryptic advice not to buy a house for your retirement at the seaside!
Since those innocent days we have been fed by a stream of information on ozone holes and the greenhouse gases that cause them. The countries who are the biggest polluters are also those who have shown the least concerned. They are China and the USA although, since ‘Hurricane Harvey’ devastated Houston and half of Texas last week, there may be a change in attitude by the US!
We also received a taste of extreme weather as the storm hit the Inishowen peninsula in Donegal. The flooding destroyed houses, bridges and broke up roads in its path. Our disaster pales into insignificance when compared with the storms that swept across Nepal, Bangladesh and part of India this week killing many in its wake.

We can empathise with poorer countries who contribute little to creating the problem yet, as in Ireland, many of their people live in danger on the coast.

Those who believe the Bible can take some comfort in the fact that all this has happened before. In Noah’s day the 40 days of rain was accompanied by rising tide levels as the ‘fountains of the deep’ were broken up (Genesis Chapter 7 verses 11/12).
After the flood came the recognition that man’s evil heart had not changed but Noah’s altar of atonement created a ‘pleasing aroma’ and formed the basis of the covenant. Now instead of the curse there would be the promises of continuity. We can be sure that the sun will rise tomorrow, not because of the ‘balance of probabilities’ but because of God’s promise “As long as the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease” (Genesis Chapter 8 verses 21/22).
The sign of the covenant is the ‘rainbow’; “I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth”. It is there to reassure all living creatures that there will never be a flood which will destroy all life again. In addition, this is to be an everlasting covenant (Genesis Chapter 9 verses 13/16).

St Peter predicted in the last day’s scoffers would come and cast doubt on the Lord’s return because of this continuity that exists. They choose to forget the flood. But heaven and earth will pass away by fire and St Peter asks in view of this, “what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness?” He concludes, “But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter Chapter 3 verses 3/13).
Climate-change will herald Jesus’ return. We are to be ready.