Verse 22. "While the earth remaineth, seed-time and harvest, &c." - There is something very expressive in the original, ymy lk d[ Årah od col yemey haarets, until all the DAYS of the earth; for God does not reckon its duration by centuries, and the words themselves afford a strong presumption that the earth shall not have an endless duration.
Seed-time and harvest.
- It is very probable that the seasons, which were distinctly marked immediately after the deluge, are mentioned in this place; but it is difficult to ascertain them. Most European nations divide the year into four distinct parts, called quarters or seasons; but there are six divisions in the text, and probably all intended to describe the seasons in one of these postdiluvian years, particularly in that part of the globe, Armenia, where Noah was when God gave him, and mankind through him, this gracious promise. From the Targum of Jonathan on this verse we learn that in Palestine their seed-time was in September, at the autumnal equinox; their harvest in March, at the vernal equinox; that their winter began in December, at the solstice; and their summer at the solstice in June.
The Copts begin their autumn on the 15th of September, and extend it to the 15th of December. Their winter on the 15th of December, and extend it to the 15th of March. Their spring on the 15th of March, and extend it to the 15th of June. Their summer on the 15th of June, and extend it to the 15th of September, assigning to each season three complete months.Calmet.
There are certainly regions of the earth to which neither this nor our own mode of division can apply: there are some where summer and winter appear to divide the whole year, and others where, besides summer, winter, autumn, and spring, there are distinct seasons that may be denominated the hot season, the cold season, the rainy season, &c., &c.
This is a very merciful promise to the inhabitants of the earth. There may be a variety in the seasons, but no season essentially necessary to vegetation shall utterly fail. The times which are of greatest consequence to the preservation of man are distinctly noted; there shall be both seed-time and harvest - a proper time to deposit the different grain in the earth, and a proper time to reap the produce of this seed.
Thus ends the account of the general deluge, its cause, circumstances, and consequences. An account that seems to say to us, Behold the goodness and severity of God! Both his justice and long-suffering are particularly marked in this astonishing event. His justice, in the punishment of the incorrigibly wicked, and his mercy, in giving them so fair and full a warning, and in waiting so long to extend his grace to all who might seek him. Such a convincing proof has the destruction of the world by water given of the Divine justice, such convincing testimony of the truth of the sacred writings, that not only every part of the earth gives testimony of this extraordinary revolution, but also every nation of the universe has preserved records or traditions of this awful display of the justice of God.
A multitude of testimonies, collected from the most authentic sources in the heathen world, I had intended for insertion in this place, but want of room obliges me to lay them aside. But the state of the earth itself is a sufficient proof. Every part of it bears unequivocal evidence of disruption and violence. From the hand of the God of order it never could have proceeded in its present state. In every part we see marks of the crimes of men, and of the justice of God. And shall not the living lay this to heart? Surely God is not mocked; that which a man soweth he shall reap. He who soweth to the flesh shall of it reap destruction; and though the plague of water shall no more destroy the earth, yet an equal if not sorer punishment awaits the world of the ungodly, in the threatened destruction by fire.
In ancient times almost every thing was typical, and no doubt the ark among the rest; but of what and in what way farther than revelation guides, it is both difficult and unsafe to say. It has been considered a type of our blessed Lord; and hence it has been observed, that "as all those who were out of the ark perished by the flood, so those who take not refuge in the meritorious atonement of Christ Jesus must perish everlastingly." Of all those who, having the opportunity of hearing the Gospel, refuse to accept of the sacrifice it offers them, this saying is true; but the parallel is not good. Myriads of those who perished during the flood probably repented, implored mercy, and found forgiveness; for God ever delights to save, and Jesus was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. And though, generally, the people continued in carnal security and sensual gratifications till the flood came, there is much reason to believe that those who during the forty days' rain would naturally flee to the high lands and tops of the highest mountains, would earnestly implore that mercy which has never been denied, even to the most profligate, when under deep humiliation of heart they have returned to God. And who can say that this was not done by multitudes while they beheld the increasing flood; or that God, in this last extremity, had rendered it impossible?
St. Peter, 1 Pet. iii. 21, makes the ark a figure of baptism, and intimates that we are saved by this, as the eight souls were saved by the ark. But let us not mistake the apostle by supposing that the mere ceremony itself saves any person; he tells us that the salvation conveyed through this sacred rite is not the putting away the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God; i.e. remission of sins and regeneration by the Holy Spirit, which are signified by this baptism. A good conscience never existed where remission of sins had not taken place; and every person knows that it is God's prerogative to forgive sins, and that no ordinance can confer it, though ordinances may be the means to convey it when piously and believingly used.