1 THE NOAHIC COVENANT (Part II) We have looked at the background to God s covenant with Noah. We have seen how He saved Noah and his family out of the period of time stretching from creation to the flood, and then we saw how He brought them through to the second period, following the flood. We now move from the background and the history to something more about the actual covenant itself. These were solemn times when vast multitudes had been swept away in God s terrible judgment upon the world. Yet, God s purposes for His creation continued through Noah and his family. The covenants He instituted, - and would institute, - were each interconnected in His will and plan for His people, the children of Israel. Each of the covenants of the Old Testament contained particular features, appropriate to their times, but also within God s plan and looking forward to the future. They were a progression. They belonged together. They were not to be separated. They were presented in language the recipients would clearly understand, and there was nothing hidden or concealed in any form that would confuse. Indeed, they were made simple enough for even the children, Dt. 6:6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. Indeed, these were the truths Timothy s mother taught him as a little boy, II Tim. 3:14 continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures. Therefore, each of God s covenants was not made in isolation. Neither did they apply to foreign nations, - or the world, in general, - for, throughout, God has His attention fixed upon His purposes for the one nation of Israel, the nation He chose from out of all the others (Dt. 7:1ff.). In Genesis 5:28,29 we see the link between the conditional covenant God and Adam made together in the Garden (the Edenic Covenant), and the Noahic Covenant, Gen. 5:29 And [Lamech, v.28] called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD hath cursed. The first covenant was broken because of Adam s sinfulness, while the second covenant was in recognition of Noah s righteousness (Gen. 6:8 Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. 9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God).
2 2 Noah means rest, and his father Lamech gave him that name in confident expectation of a rest that God would bring, This same [Noah] shall comfort us. The name Noah means rest, so therefore, Lamech gave his son a name that trusted in God to bring rest for us (i.e. his people) at a time yet in the future (shall comfort), - that was God s promise, and Lamech s anticipation. And it was also the continuation of the promise, following on from the Edenic covenant, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD hath cursed. So, when the Flood subsided and Noah and his family walked on the earth again, God made the covenant He had promised previously in 6:18, with thee will I establish my covenant. Gen. 9:8 And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying, 9 And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you; 10 And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth. 11 And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth. 12 And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: 13 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. 14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: 15 And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. 17 And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth. Altogether, the word covenant is mentioned eight times, and I wonder if that has anything to do with the eight people on board the ark, - the covenant was to be personal to each of them, individually God was making a claim upon them. In any case, the great emphasis is upon the Lord making the covenant with Noah without any input or contribution required from Noah. This means God s covenant with Noah was unconditional. God was the initiator and the sole signatory to this covenant with Noah. No matter what would happen, God s Name guaranteed the covenant. Consequently, Noah could rely on God s promise because there was nothing of the covenant that depended upon him, Gen. 8:22 While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease and 9:2 the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes
3 3 of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. 3 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. The latter was the re-establishment of man over God s creation, as previously had been granted to Adam, cf. Gen. 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. So, the covenant made in Eden follows into the covenant God made with Noah God s plan is progressing, and that progression would eventually be fulfilled in the New Covenant. The New Covenant would be fully expressed in Jesus Christ and in His Kingdom, and that is why we are to pray, Thy Kingdom come (Mt. 6:10). This also means we read the Old Testament promises within the context of the Old Testament while at the same time looking for their fulfilment in the New Testament. That does not mean, however, the promises in the New Testament take the place of the promises in the Old Testament but it simply means we take God s Word as a single Book, and seek to understand it as such. The teaching in the New Testament is not separated from the teaching in the Old Testament, - we do not have two Bibles, we only have one! And the thread of God s purpose runs through the people He had chosen out of the nations in the Old Testament. In other words, we study what He covenanted to them while realising, - through the teaching of the New Testament, - we as Gentiles have been added into His plan, through grace. In fact, if you want to, you can very carefully recognise Noah as being a shadow or a type of Christ, i.e. he directs us towards Jesus For instance, since Noah s name means rest you can see how that relates to the words of the Saviour in Mt. 11:28, Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. Through Noah God gave rest for a time but through Christ He has given the eternal Rest, the true Noah, for Jesus is the fulfilment of the covenant because through Him alone, Heb. 4:9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. This takes us even further Yes, God promised never to flood the earth again, - and that is obviously something we very grateful for, - but the covenant He made with Noah also contains a prophetic prospect, Is. 54:5 For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall [notice the tense, so, this is prophetic] he be called. 6 For the LORD hath called thee as a woman forsaken and
4 4 grieved in spirit [Israel], and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God. 7 For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee [what a promise to Israel!]. 8 In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee [future tense], saith the LORD thy Redeemer. 9 For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. 10 For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee. Now, that is another promise committing God to the nation of Israel, forever it is an unconditional promise! God was saying, Whatever happens, you are Mine! That is the covenant God signed with them, and that covenant has been signed in the blood of Christ, as prophesied in the preceding chapter, Is. 53. And the inclusion of God s covenant with Noah is the proof of the continuance of His gracious purpose, even in the midst of His sore chastening. Since God never sent another Flood of worldwide proportions as in the days of Noah, He can be trusted to continue to keep His covenant with Israel. The example of Noah, then, is in anticipation of Christ... Firstly, as the remover of the curse from a corrupted earth, and as the giver of the promised rest, - through Christ we shall enter the eternal rest. Secondly, following the Flood God established Noah in the place of the position of honour He had placed Adam, - but Jesus is Who Noah is really pointing to as the heir to the new earth when He returns in His Second Coming. Thirdly, when we read how Gen. 9:1 God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. 2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth that is how it will be when Jesus reigns on earth, Zech. 14:8 And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem 9 And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one 16 And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts. There is also something more though It has been some four thousand years since the Flood, and in all those years God has faithfully kept His Word, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease and so He will continue to keep it while the earth remaineth for behind the law of nature is the Law of God. How many times during the past four thousand years have the people of this earth provoked God to wrath and yet He has remained faithful to His covenant with Noah for He has never reacted as He did then, even though He would be fully justified if He did. But, such is the abundance of grace that He announced in that covenant.
5 5 God knew this world would return to how it was prior to the Flood, and yet He made this promise and He has kept it. If you like, He bound Himself with a covenant that He would never again destroy this earth by water and had He not committed Himself to that covenant that threat would still be hanging over us! Once again, though, God made the promise to Noah, - tenth in the line of genealogy from Adam, - but today in 2014 the world continues to benefit. We are blessed through Noah, Gen. 8:20 And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done God covenanted with Noah, and Noah confirmed his faithfulness. Yes, God knew that ultimately, - and very soon, for such is the heart of man, - man would return to evil. Nevertheless, through grace, God kept the covenant He unconditionally made with Noah the covenant He promised in 6:18, But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee. In other words, God s grace outrivals man s sin and there is another indication of Calvary, Rom. 5:8 in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. The fact of our sin did not keep God away from saving us! And what about the rainbow? Gen. 9:12 And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: 13 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. 14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: 15 And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. 17 And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth. The rainbow is a token [sign] of the covenant, for the first time it appeared in the sky was as an assurance to Noah concerning God s promise. In the words of Isaiah, God was saying, Is. 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God. God has never abdicated His throne, His power has never been weakened, and the rainbow continues to be the same spectacular announcement to us of that wonderful promise first given to Noah four thousand years ago. And, it is also the gracious assurance of God s confirmation of the covenant that points to an even greater Light the Light of the world shining in the darkness the Light the world can never overcome (Jn. 1:5).
6 6 To see the rainbow, we can also visit the period in which Ezekiel prophesied. The people of God were in captivity in Babylon, with no hope of returning to their beloved Jerusalem. The storm clouds had gathered over them but that was when the Lord spoke and Ezekiel saw the vision of His glory, Ezek. 1:28 And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. 27 And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. 28 As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake. The final occasion the rainbow is mentioned in Scripture is again around the throne of Glory, Rev. 4:2 behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. 3 And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne There is the rainbow again the fulfilment of God s covenant with His people. The rainbow around God s throne is different to the rainbows we see, for the rainbow in Heaven encircles the throne. God s covenant in Glory is complete in its entirety and all of God s people have been gathered home and the rainbow once more speaks of God s unconditional covenant that has triumphed in our eternal salvation. That is what Noah s rainbow anticipates, and that is how the covenant, - through the sign of the rainbow, - has never been abandoned by God, and upon that we can depend, Heb. 6:18 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: 19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast. We are saved by God s unconditional covenant, - we are saved by His grace alone, with no contribution whatsoever from ourselves, salvation is all of God And that is what the Noahic Covenant points us towards towards Christ the perfect Saviour. God s covenant with Noah demonstrated His unfailing faithfulness and His abiding and enduring purpose. Nothing of man can hinder His plans, and surely Noah and his family became certain of this, following the devastation of the flood. This covenant, then, - sealed by the token of the rainbow, - is one of the greatest events in God s dealings with men assuring us that, no matter how the corruption of the world provokes His righteous justice, the purpose of His grace unto His chosen people stands unalterably sure. Amen.