God's Covenant With Noah

The Noahic Covenant is God's promise to never send a flood again. The Rainbow is the sign of the covenant. All was well for Noah after the flood but new rules would now govern mankind.

Yes, there was a covenant between God and Noah. Its not as well known as the covenant with Abraham which established the Hebrews as God's people but it was a promise made to humanity as a whole. God has almost destroyed the whole world. If it were not for one righteous man Noah, God would have destroyed everything. "This race of men whom I have created, I will wipe them off the face of the earth--man and beast, reptiles and birds. I am sorry that I ever made them." (Gen.6: 7)

The flood provides mankind with another chance at life. The world is not as God intended it to be. Humans cannot be trusted to be good to each other without threat of consequences. Eden was a paradise where man and beast lived together and there was no fear between them. Adam and Eve were vegetarians and animals had no need to be afraid of us.

From Adam, through Cain and up to the sorry state of affairs described at the beginning of Genesis 6, the human race is taking advantage of God's patience. God is good and there is no written law, so technically, it's a free for all. Mankind takes advantage of this and does what he pleases. The flood is God's opportunity to start over with new rules.

When the flood was over and Noah and his family left the Ark, Noah offered clean animals as a sacrifice to God. The aroma is soothing and pleasing to God and God declares to himself: "Never again will I curse the ground because of man, however evil his inclinations may be from his youth upwards. I will never again kill every living creature, as I have just done. While the earth lasts seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall never cease" (Gen.8: 21,22)

God gives Noah and his family the go ahead to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. Now, the animals will be afraid of them and animals and fish and birds become a source of food. It may be that man was eating meat before, as Abel was a shepherd, but now the animals will have to be chased, because they will run away. God's original plan in Genesis 1:29, 30 was for all humans and animals to eat vegetables. This original plan is now shelved because man cannot be trusted to share with his fellow creatures.

It is here that God gives some rules about animals and blood. "But you must not eat the flesh with the life, which is the blood, still in it". (Gen.9: 4) This is the basis of kosher law. God also sets new rules to deal with murder; a concept not dealt with previously. There are consequences now for murder: "He that sheds the blood of a man, for that man his blood shall be shed." (Gen.9: 6)

Covenants between God and man usually require some give and take. Abraham was promised descendants like stars in the sky if he would leave Haran and wait for God to give him a son. God's covenant with Noah is a promise to Noah and all of his descendants. This is also a covenant with every living thing: "I now make my covenant with you and with your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, all birds and cattle, all the wild animals with you on earth, all that have come out of the ark." (Gen.9: 9,10)

It's hard to see how Noah is asked to contribute anything to this arrangement. God makes a promise, period. The Noahic covenant is God's promise to never send a flood again. "I will make my covenant with you: never again shall all living creatures be destroyed by the waters of the flood, never again shall there be a flood to lay waste the earth." (Gen.9: 11) Of course, God has kept his promise. The sign of the covenant is visible in the sky: "My bow I set in the cloud, sign of the covenant between myself and earth. When I cloud the sky over the earth, the bow shall be seen in the cloud." (Gen.9: 13,14)

So the promise is made and a flood will never again destroy the earth. But this is not the same world that God created and adaptations have had to be made for man's character. "Then the wolf shall live with the sheep, and the leopard lie down with the kid; the calf and the young lion shall grow up together"¦" (Isaiah 11: 6) This world that Isaiah speaks of is a long way off. Until that day, various covenants will ensure us of God's continued care and grace until God's original design is a reality.

The new post-flood world that Noah and his descendants must negotiate contains animals that are food. Some of these animals are wild and carnivores and threaten man. There is recognition of the problem of murder and there is a new God inspired consequence: capital punishment.

The Noahic covenant is a covenant of love. God recognizes our shortcomings as a race. Because of a few who are righteous, God promises to keep the earth going in continuity from season to season and year to year. The rainbow reminds us of God's promise and His care. No matter how bad things get, God will never destroy us through a flood.

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