A Covenant with Noah

I. Introduction
We’re continuing our study of Genesis, and Chris taught us about the Great Flood last week. Because of the wickedness of man, God sent His wrath in the form of floodwaters to wipe out man’s iniquity. Today, we’re going to talk about a fresh start after the flood, beginning in Genesis 8.

II. A Fresh Start, Genesis 8:15-22
Genesis 8 begins with the floodwaters receding and Noah seeing if it was safe to exit the ark. Then in verse 15, God gives the all-clear signal –

Then God said to Noah, “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you—the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground—so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number on it.”

When God created the heavens and the earth, God’s command to both the animals and then later to man and woman was to multiply and be fruitful. We can see here that God still desires the best for us, despite our sinful nature. He still wants us the be fruitful and multiply. Why did God pick Noah? Out of the vast sea of humanity that lived during that time, why Noah? I think one of Noah’s first actions after leaving the ark demonstrated why God loved him. Noah built an altar to the Lord in verse 20 –

Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.

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Don’t get confused where this sacrifice came from – we remember the story from our childhood that the animals were brought aboard the ark two by two. But if you back up to the beginning of chapter 7, you’ll see that for some animals, more than a single pair were brought on board. For “clean” animals, those that have a split hoof or chew the cud such as cattle, deer, goats and sheep, there were actually 7 pairs of animals brought on board.

So Noah’s gratitude and admirations of God’s greatness led him to offer a sacrifice. A sacrifice, by definition, should cost us something. Noah too what little he had, and with only 7 of each clean animal that was worthy of sacrifice, Noah risked extinction by sacrificing some of the animals.

But costly sacrifice is pleasing to God. It’s not the amount; large quantities don’t please God. Remember Jesus at the temple, watching wealthy people bringing their tithes, when a widow brings two pennies, all she had, to give? God wants our heart, our soul, our mind, our strength. The bible also says (Romans 12:1) that we should present our bodies as a living sacrifice, that giving of our resources is a sacrifice (Philippians 4:18), and that we should give the sacrifice of praise to God (Hebrews 13:15).

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God doesn’t need our sacrifices. God isn’t greedy, God doesn’t want to just take stuff from us. But God sacrificed Himself to us at great cost (Ephesians 5:2, Hebrews 9:26, Hebrews 10:12), and He wants us to be conformed in the image of Jesus Christ who made the ultimate sacrifice. He wants us to learn to give sacrificially. He wants us to learn to give away that which we cannot keep. Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:2, we should be like Jesus in this regard:

And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

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We have an example in David, a man after God’s own heart, who said in 2 Samuel 24:24 that he would never make offerings to God that which costs him nothing. The burnt offerings of Noah risked what little he had after the flood, and the sacrifice pleased the Lord.

III. The Covering of Blood, Genesis 9:4-6
Then in the beginning of Genesis 9, God makes some changes to man’s relationship with nature. In Genesis 9:1-3,

Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth, and on all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.

Up to this point in time, I presume, we were all vegetarians and lived in peace with all animals. And animals will now live in fear of us. It reminds me of the days in the future when animals will all live in peace again. In Isaiah 11, one of the Messianic Prophecies, we read that when Jesus again rules, the wolf will live with the lamb in peace.

Slide16

But God has a restriction; the animals may be eaten, but not the blood of the animals. In the blood is life, and lifeblood is important to man and God. The same restrictions are given in more detail later in Leviticus 17 and Deuteronomy 12.
The importance of blood to the Lord is shown by how often the word is used in the bible. In the New King James version, it is used 424 times in 357 separate verses (in the New King James Version). That blood represents life can be shown in the following passages –

  • Blood was the sign of mercy for Israel at the first Passover (Exodus 12:13)
  • Blood sealed God’s covenant with Israel (Exodus 24:8)
  • Blood sanctified the altar (Exodus 29:12)
  • Blood set aside the priests (Exodus 29:20)
  • Blood made atonement for God’s people (Exodus 30:10)
  • Blood sealed the new covenant (Matthew 26:28)
  • Blood justifies us (Romans 5:9)
  • Blood brings redemption (Ephesians 1:7)
  • Blood brings peace with God (Colossians 1:20)
  • Blood cleanses us (Hebrews 9:14 and 1 John 1:7)
  • Blood gives entrance to God’s holy place (Hebrews 10:19)
  • Blood sanctifies us (Hebrews 13:12)
  • Blood enables us to overcome Satan (Revelation 12:11)

The covering of innocent blood has been given to those who accept the ultimate sacrifice and blood atonement of Christ Jesus.

IV. The Covenant, Genesis 9:8-17
After Noah’s altar and sacrifice, God creates a covenant with Noah. Genesis 9:8-11,
Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him:

“I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you – the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you – every living creature on earth. I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

God established a covenant with mankind (Noah and all of his descendants), and even with the animals. God promised He would never again destroy all life with a flood or cover the earth with a flood to eradicate evil. However, we are approaching what Matthew called “the Days of Noah,” Matthew 24:36-39,

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.”

When we reach the “days of Noah,” and God’s patience reaches its perfection, then God will again destroy earth – but by fire, not by flood (2 Peter 3:3-7) –

Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

Then in Genesis 9:12-17, God provides a sign of His covenant:

And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

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So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.” Every time we see a rainbow, we should remember the faithfulness of God and every one of His promises. He even says His covenant of peace with us is just as sure as His covenant with Noah and all generations. Isaiah 54:9-10,

For this is like the waters of Noah to Me; for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you. For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord, who has mercy on you.

The other mentions of a rainbow in the Bible are set in the context of God’s enthroned glory. Rainbows are mentioned in Ezekiel 1:28, Revelation 4:3, and Revelation 10:1. It is amazing to see God, in His glory, setting so close to Himself a reminder of His promise to man.

What exactly, is a covenant, and why is a covenant important? For people, we think of a covenant as a contract. It is an agreement between two people and involves promises for both people involved in the contract.

The concept of a covenant between God and His people is one of the central themes of the Bible. In the biblical sense, a covenant implies much more than a contract or a simple agreement between two parties. The word for “covenant” comes from a Hebrew word that means “to cut” or “to bind”.

It is remarkable that God is holy, omniscient, and omnipotent, but He consents to enter into covenant with man, who is feeble, sinful, and flawed. How many covenants there are is subject to interpretation; I’m going to describe what I consider to be the Seven Great Covenants of the Bible.

1. The Edenic Covenant: A covenant of innocence and grace, a promise of redemption through the seed of the woman and the eventual destruction and eradication of sin.

We just studied this in Genesis 3:15 just two weeks ago:

And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.”

2. The Noahic Covenant: God will never again destroy the earth with a flood.

Noah lived at a time when the whole earth was filled with evil, yet Noah did not allow the evil standards of his day to rob him of fellowship with God. He stood out as the only one who “walked with God” and the Lord singled out Noah from among all his contemporaries and chose him as the man to accomplish a great work.
Hebrews 11:7 lists Noah among the heroes of faith.

“By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.”

3. Abrahamic Covenant: The promised Seed [developed from the Edenic Covenant] through Abraham and his descendants and indeed the whole world would be blessed.

In this covenant, God promised many things to Abraham. He personally promised that He would make Abraham’s name great (Genesis 12:2), that Abraham would have numerous physical descendants (Genesis 13:16), and that he would be the father of a multitude of nations (Genesis 17:4-5). God also made promises regarding a nation called Israel. In fact, the geographical boundaries of the Abrahamic Covenant are laid out on more than one occasion in the book of Genesis (12:7; 13:14-15; 15:18-21). Another provision in the Abrahamic Covenant is that the families of the world will be blessed through the physical line of Abraham (Genesis 12:3; 22:18). This is a reference to the Messiah, who would come from the line of Abraham.

4. Palestinian (Land) Covenant: This covenant guarantees Israel’s permanent right to the land.

According to the terms of this covenant, if the people disobeyed, God would cause them to be scattered around the world, but He would eventually restore the nation. When the nation is restored, then they will obey Him perfectly, and God will cause them to prosper. This covenant is spelled out in Deuteronomy 30:3-9.

5. Mosaic Covenant: The Ten Commandments

The Mosaic Covenant was a conditional covenant that either brought God’s direct blessing for obedience or God’s direct cursing for disobedience upon the nation of Israel. Part of the Mosaic Covenant was the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) and the rest of the Law, which contained over 600 commands – roughly 300 positive and 300 negative. The history books of the Old Testament (Joshua – Esther) detail how Israel succeeded at obeying the Law or how Israel failed miserably at obeying the Law. Deuteronomy 11:26-28 details the blessings and cursings that came with this covenant.

6. Davidic Covenant: David’s lineage would last forever and that his kingdom would never pass away permanently.

The seed of the woman and the seed of Abraham is more narrowly defined to come from the house of David of the tribe of Judah. Here the seed, or now the Messiah, would be a king to sit on David’s throne forever. The promise to David is one of the key covenant promises in the Bible. It, along with the Abrahamic covenant are the pillars upon which the Gospel rests. It is not for nothing that the opening words of the New Testament refer directly to these covenants: Matthew 1:1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

7. The New Covenant: The new covenant in Christ.

The new covenant in Christ has absorbed all of these other covenants and now stands alone as the only covenant with God which He will accept. We enter into that covenant by faith and baptism and subsequently live our lives according to its teaching. Jesus the suffering servant, the Lamb of God fulfills the Edenic covenant, being wounded by sin but yet destroying the power of sin; he fulfills the Noahic in that he will one day lead the earth to a future when it is filled with the glory of God and no longer need be in fear of divine judgement, realizing the promise of the rainbow; the Mosaic covenant is fulfilled in him in his sacrifice and holy life; the Davidic in his Royal responsibilities in the coming Kingdom of God.

The death of Christ ushered in the new covenant under which we are justified by God’s grace and mercy — it is now possible to have the true forgiveness of sins. Jesus Himself is the Mediator of this better covenant between God and man (Heb. 9:15). Jesus’ sacrificial death served as the blood oath, or pledge, which God made to us to seal this new covenant. Under this new covenant, God would write His Law on human hearts.

V. Conclusion

The covenant with Noah was sealed with a rainbow, a reminder that God would never again flood the earth and destroy every living thing. And the New Covenant was sealed with blood, a reminder that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son so that you and I could live. Noah had a fresh start – the evil that surrounded him, that taunted him while he built the ark was gone. Noah’s heart for the Lord led him to worship and praise.

But you and I have that same fresh start. Like the evil men that surrounded Noah, we too, were once surrounded, unable to escape. Like the flood that destroyed the evil, we are baptized into Christ and our sins are washed away. And every day is a fresh start, a new sunrise, a new beginning with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

A rainbow is a sign of God’s forgiveness, but then again, so are we. We are a sign of God’s forgiveness and grace. Forgive one another as God forgives us. Extend grace to one another as God has given us grace. Love one another as God loves us. Arise and greet the new day every day and approach it with confidence, knowing that we are symbols of God’s grace and mercy to this fallen world.

So what have we learned from our study of Noah? Here are the lessons we’ve learned so far –

All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Noah’s Ark (author unknown):

  • Don’t miss the boat.
  • Don’t forget that we’re all in the same boat together.
  • Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.
  • Stay fit. When you’re 600 years old, someone might ask you to do something REALLY big.
  • Don’t listen to your critics — just get on with what has to be done.
  • Build your future on high ground.
  • For safety, travel in pairs.
  • Two heads are better than one.
  • Speed isn’t always an advantage; the snails got on board with the cheetahs.
  • When you’re stressed out, float for a while.
  • Remember that the ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic was built by professionals.
  • Woodpeckers on the inside are a bigger threat than the storm on the outside.
  • No matter how fierce the storm, if you’re with God there’ll always be a rainbow at the end.

To God be the glory.

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