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Noah – God’s Covenant with Creation

04/02/2018

Noah Lesson 6 – God’s Covenant with Creation

Genesis 8:20-917.

What is a covenant?  It is a binding, legal agreement between two parties, sometimes as the result of a negotiation, but frequently imposed by a stronger power on a weaker state or entity.

Historians like to compare the Biblical covenants with the Hittite Treaties, – but there is a vast difference, in that God created us, he owns us, we are his, and he can do with us as he determines – but in GRACE – out of love and pity for fallen rebellious humanity, he enters into a relationship with us, brings us into his kingdom, and provides us with blessings and benefits.  Like the other covenants, he promises blessings and rewards for obedience and punishment for those who disobey.  The Biblical Covenants are generally divided into two groups:-

  • The Covenant of Works. made with Adam, and characterised by obedience to a law.  Gen 2.
  • The Covenants of Grace (One covenant with different dispensations) characterised by Grace. Covenant with Noah, made with all mankind.  Covenant with Moses, made with Israel. Covenant with David, made with Israel.  The New Covenant.  Made with all God’s people.

In the Covenant with Noah, we see the typical provisions and stipulations of a covenant.   See in it:-

  1. Covenant Security.

One of the aspects of the covenant is a series of provisions, blessings and protections.

  • After the flood, God promised that never again would he curse the ground with water, and that as long as the earth remains, there will be seedtime and harvest, summer and winter.   The idea of ‘cursing the ground’ carries some significance.  8:21 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 cursed the ground after the fall in Genesis 3: 17    That curse is demonstrated in the flood, when the ground was overwhelmed by water.  Now he is saying that he will not curse the ground in that way again.  Look at his reason though, for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.  Isn’t that the reason why God did send the flood in the first place?  Genesis 6:5. So what’s changed?  After the flood the heart of man is still deceitful, still wicked, still sinful, Noah is still a sinner, a sinner spared by the grace of God alone, simul justis et peccator…  Sinner and saint, until the day he dies, but God is looking on his deceitful heart with PITY, with MERCY, allowing him repentance and forgiveness for his sins.  Now God looks at the sinful heart of mankind and is compassionate towards him, – he promises that there will be a continuance
    • Of Nature8:22 While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. Eco promise!
    • Of Mankind. 9:7 And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.
  • Sustenance. Not only has God promised the continuation of the world but that he will sustain his creation! 9:3 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.  Now remember, this earth that they are being given is no paradise.  There has been a vast flood, – the ground is sodden, and the earth like a wilderness, yet it is far more than they deserve!  It is a blessing to them!  (We too have been blessed.  We complain that we do not have more, or that things aren’t as good as they should be – but yet we have more than we ever deserved for we are already greatly blessed of God – like Noah, its more than we deserve!)
  • Confidence. We have great confidence GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER THE UNIVERSE, OVER THE WEATHER AND OUR TIMES ARE IN HIS HANDS! The world will never again be destroyed by flood. We are not to be concerned with global warming scare stories, we are not to be scared by the climate change alarmists, – the weather, and the future of the planet are not in our hands, they are in the hands of the creator. 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.

Now, let us be sure to understand that because God has promised that he will never again destroy the world by flood, that does not mean that he will not destroy the world AT ALL.     Cf 2 Peter 3.

 

 

  1. Covenant Stipulations.

But remember, this covenant with Noah, and in him with all of the postdiluvian race, has stipulations too.  God’s blessings cannot be earned, for Noah was spared only by Grace, but God demands a response from those people he has saved.  He demands repentance, and a humble walk with Him, obedience and trust.  So here he lays down some simple very basic stipulations so that a blessed relationship between God and the peoples of this world can be maintained…

  • Be fruitful. Genesis 9:1 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. It is our responsibility to perpetuate the human race.  One of the reasons we oppose homosexual marriage, (and it is JUST one of those many reasons) is that it defies the natural purpose of marriage, to ‘be fruitful and multiply.’  Jesus tells us what marriage is about.    Matthew 19:4-6   Marriage is not about some modern notion of ‘equality’ – marriage is about a man and a woman ‘coming together’ – uniting as one flesh, and the outcome of that ‘coming together as one flesh’ is to produce children and replenish the earth.  That command is for ALL MANKIND.
  • Dominate the animal kingdom. And 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 of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.  4 But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat
    • The animal kingdom is ours to be used for food or for service. We put bridles on horses and we use them, we lead cattle and sheep into the market and we slaughter them for food.  We are the pinnacle of all of God’s creation and we dominate them by right.
    • They are not to be allowed to overcome us! Any beast that rises against a man is to be put to death, whether it be dog or bull or any other creature.  And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it.  (Exod. 21:28)
    • We are not to be cruel to them. We are to offer them RESPECT.   We are not required to be vegetarians, – but we are required to have respect for the creatures that God has given us for our blessing.  We are not to mistreat them or to subject them to cruel deaths, as do the Muslims.  We are to dominate creation, but also to be good stewards of it.
  • Respect for human race. Murder is condemned by the Bible. Thou shalt not kill, and the recompense for such a crime is to forfeit the life of the killer.  Whether that means capital punishment, or life imprisonment (In the manner of the USA, where life means life), a murder’s life must be ended. … at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. 6 Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he manGod deals with suicide here too.  Man must not take away his own life: Your blood of your lives will I require, Gen. 9:5. Our lives are not so our own as that we may quit them at our own pleasure, but they are God’s and we must resign them at his pleasure; if we in any way hasten our own deaths, we are accountable to God for it.

All of these stipulations are applicable to the whole human race.  How are we doing with them?

 

  1. Covenant Sign. 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

To seal the covenant God gives a sign.  To Abraham the sign is circumcision.  In the new covenant the sign is Baptism, to Noah, the sign is the Rainbow. Remember that God’s covenants are not just with his people but with their children , for perpetual generations.  Peter reminds us of this in Acts 2: 38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

It is a sign that reminds us of the promise of God.  Let’s be careful to avoid two basic errors:

  1. Error one is that the rainbow is just about ‘God is Love!’ We teach the children, ‘Whenever you see a rainbow, remember God is love.”  God IS love – but that’s far too simplistic.  The sign of the covenant reminds us of all the aspects of this covenant, and not just one.  The rainbow reminds us that God is love, and God is just, and God is holy, and God requires a standard from men, and men fall far short, and God punishes unrepentant sinners, and God will one day bring this sinful world to an end by fire.  The rainbow is about the WHOLE OF THE COVENANT WITH MANKIND.
  2. Error two is that the rainbow is all about acceptance of diversity! Rainbows are really popular these days, and for all the wrong reasons.  Do you remember after the gay marriage vote in the Republic of Ireland, there was a rainbow in the sky?  The gay lobby were ecstatic.  They thought that God approves of gay marriage!  I would have thought it was the very opposite.  God was reminding us again of his covenant with all mankind, one of the stipulations of which was to go out and replenish the world, something that the gay marriage lobby can never do.  . 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.

Remember that ultimately the one whom the rainbow points us to is Jesus.  It is he who sealed the covenant in his own blood, and ALL the signs of the covenants, point to him!  Circumcision points to him!  BLOOD, Baptism points to him, WASHING AWAY OUR SINS IN HIS OWN BLOOD, and this rainbow sign points to him too!  How?  Consider this:-

 

… behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.  Revelation 10 And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire: 2 And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth, 3 And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices.

Revelation 4:3

So, after the flood, God has established a new relationship with the human race.  He has delivered Noah and his family by an act of divine mercy and grace, and now, as a response, he has set down the rule.  How will Noah, and the rest of mankind do, as they live in this new covenant relationship?  We shall see in our next study.

From → Bible Study, Genesis

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