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. Genesis 8:21
God is speaking here as if he is sorry that he punished the earth because of humans. It almost sounds as if he is criticizing himself for dealing so harshly with the world. We shouldn’t take this as meaning that God changed his mind about his creation. Instead, we should take comfort from this passage. God, in effect, blames himself in order to encourage and lift the spirits of his little flock. He tells his people that he wants to be merciful from this point on.
Noah and his family needed comfort. They were terrified by God’s anger, which had just destroyed the world. Because their faith was shaken, God wanted to show himself in a way that would make them expect nothing else but his good will and mercy. So he was present at their sacrifice, talked to them, and told them he was pleased with them. He told them he was displeased about destroying, the human race and promised never to do it again. God wasn’t being inconsistent or changing. No, he wanted these people, who were witnesses of the effects of his anger, to change their attitudes and perception of him.
People who are going through spiritual trials know how important it is to hear words of comfort. They need to be told to hope in God’s good will and dismiss discouraging thoughts of impending doom. A whole day, even an entire month, may not be enough time to comfort them. Recovery from sickness often takes a long time. In the same way, wounded hearts can’t be quickly healed with one little word. Because God is aware of this, he uses a variety of ways—even blaming himself—to show people his good will and mercy.
95 Theses are reproduced in their entirety, with an introduction and explanatory notes to aid readers in discerning the significance of Luther’s call to reformation.
The Ninety-Five Theses is a text that everyone knows, most refer to, but few actually read, writes Stephen Nichols. Nevertheless, it is such a crucial text that it deserves to be read widely. Toward that end, Nichols has prepared this edition with an illuminating introduction, explanatory notes, and several illustrations. Martin Luther has left a legacy that continues to enrich the church through his writings. . ., writes Nichols. All of this may be traced back to the last day in October 1517 and the nailing of the Ninety-Five Theses to the church door.