God said to Noah and to Noah’s sons who were with him, “Here’s my deal. It will apply to you, and all your descendants, and to everything that’s still alive with you: birds, domestic animals, wild animals, everything that made it off the ark. My deal with you is that I’ll never again drown every living thing and wipe out the whole world in a flood.” God said, “The sign of my deal between us and everything still living, and for all time, is this: I’ve put my rainbow in the clouds. That’s the sign of my deal with the earth. Whenever rainclouds gather the rainbow will be in the cloud to remind me of my deal with you and everything living. The flood will never rise again to drown every living thing. I’ll see the rainbow in the clouds, and I’ll remember my deal. It’s a deal between me and every living creature on earth.” God told Noah, “This is the sign of the deal I’ve made between myself and everything living.”
God has vowed never to wipe out all life on the planet. Well and good. We no longer need to worry about that.
But God has not vowed to prevent us from wiping it all out. It’s not a thought that likely occurred to the ancient storytellers that humans would one day be the planet’s greatest threat. Nevertheless, that is our reality. God is not nearly so dangerous as people are.
Perhaps if those who professed to believe in a God who’s pledged not to wipe out all living things simply made a commitment to do as their God did and make the same pledge, we’d be well on our way to mitigating the modern threat. What if we did what God did. What if we made ourselves a sign: something that would appear to us in every encounter where we are tempted to behave destructively. A proverbial string tied around our finger.
But more than that, God’s covenant with Noah marks not just a change in a particular moment. It marks a change in the way God will habitually deal with the world. It’s an ongoing behavior modification plan. God repeats it over and over again, like someone trying very hard to learn a new habit. To save the planet, God’s humans are going to need to change a few habits, too. Whatever will be the sign of your new habits, repeat them over and over. See a rainbow. Change your behavior.