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The Rainbow Covenant (Genesis 9:8-17)

July 19, 2021 | by: Gregg Hunter | 0 comments

Posted in: Genesis 9

Please read Genesis 9:8-17.

God has now established His covenant with Noah. There are 6 major covenants in Scripture: The Adamic (or Edenic) Covenant, the Noahic Covenant, the Abrahamic Covenant, the Mosaic (or Priestly) Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, and the New Covenant.

In general, a covenant signifies a relationship based on commitment, which includes both promises and obligations. The major covenants of Scripture are between God and man. In nearly all of them, God promises something to mankind (i.e. “I will make you into a great nation,”), and requires something from mankind (i.e., “don’t eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” or “obey the works of the law that I have given you.”).

But the covenant that God makes with Noah is unique because God gives Noah a promise, but doesn’t require anything from Noah in light of this promise. When God made a covenant with Adam, Adam was given one rule; when God made a covenant with Abraham, Abraham was required to follow God. Even when God gave us the New Covenant through the blood of Jesus, we are required to accept it through faith and repentance.

In fact, a covenant is described as “a divine announcement of God’s holy will to extend the benefits of His unmerited grace to those who were willing by faith to receive them, and who by entering into a personal commitment to God bound themselves to him by ties of absolute obligation.” (G.L. Archer, Covenant, in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 2nd Edition, 299-301.)

But Noah is given no such requirement. Noah is not bound in any way to accept the covenant of God. This covenant is entirely one-sided. Granted, all of the covenants are mostly God-sided and we simply need to respond. But Noah doesn’t even have to respond! Noah could have spat in God’s face and God still has already promised that He will never again flood the earth, and He has given assurance of this promise with a rainbow whenever it rains.

I think that God made this covenant unique because it was made, not just with Noah, and not just with Noah’s children and all of their descendants, but with every creature on the earth! This is a unilateral promise with God—a promise that everyone can trust, no matter what.

Even the most evil, vile, wretched person alive still has a promise from God that He will not destroy the entire world with a flood because of his sin. Even the most ravenous pack of wolves who murder an entire village can rest in the promise that God will never again flood the earth in judgment. Until Jesus returns, the world will continue on as usual: there will continue to be springtime and harvest, summer and winter, sunny days and storms. Oh and make no mistake: there will be storms. There will be tornadoes and hurricanes, earthquakes and volcanoes, tsunamis and mudslides. There will be wars and famines and plagues and terrorism. But nothing will destroy the world like the global flood. God has promised.

That ‘nothing,’ by the way includes the coronavirus. This is not some plague that God has sent to destroy our sinful nation; this is not a virus that God is using to judge the wicked; and this will not ultimately destroy the world. We will get back to normal. We will endure. There will once again be Vacation Bible Schools, fall retreats, ladies teas, Sunday evening bible studies, Sunday morning worship, and much, much more.

This is not the end. If you need a reminder of that, then the next time you see a storm, just look for the rainbow.