Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 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. 22 As long as the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” – Genesis 8:20-22
They’re some of the most dangerous words to utter in the middle of a project. They can cost thousands of dollars. They can delay the completion of the project. They can frustrate the crew and the homeowner. The words? “While you’re at it…” While you’re at it, could you add a window here? While you’re at it, how about we change the layout of this addition. While you’re at it, let’s add some different finishes. You get the drift.
Those words sound like God’s words here: “…as long as…” But they are way different. For God’s “as long as” implies two very important and far-reaching things. Most important is that things will go on under God’s providential guidance and care until the end he has set. God has not wound up the earth – replete with all its natural laws and consequences – only to let it wind down unattended. God has the whole world in his hand and is actively guiding the course of events from one divine appointment to the next.
I love Martin Luther’s explanation to the First Article of the Apostle’s Creed. For it not only expresses a belief that God created the heavens and the earth, it also confesses a faith that God continues to care for us and all that exists.
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.
What does this mean? I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still takes care of them. He also gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, spouse and children, land, animals, and all I have. He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life. He defends me against all danger and guards and protects me from all evil. All this He does only out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him.
This is most certainly true. – Martin Luther’s Small Catechism, The Apostle’s Creed, Explanation
It is one thing – quite reasonable – to believe that God created the world and all that is in it. This didn’t all happen by accident. It is quite another – and an even more blessed thing – to believe that God still preserves us because of “his fatherly divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me.”
We are on a pathway of God’s providential guidance, for his purposes, and according to his good and wise plan as long as life goes on. I find comfort knowing that “springtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease” as long as God determines. There is One Grand Divine Appointment that has been set. It is the Final Judgment and the Last Day. No one will miss it. As long as we are waiting for that Grand Divine Appointment, let’s be alert to the divine appointments he places along life’s way. For these are surely important. They can be defining moments for our good and blessing, and the good and blessing of others. That’s what it means to live out this as long as blessing of God:
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 2:8-10
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