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Genesis 9:8-17 - Covenant Keeper – Part 1

In 9:8-17, God told Noah and his sons that He would preserve life by not flooding the entire earth ever again. “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.”

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.” So, God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”

Before we begin with this message, let me just talk a minute about what exactly a “covenant” is. Wayne Grudem defined a covenant this way: “A covenant is an unchangeable, divinely imposed legal agreement between God and man that stipulates the condition of their relationship.” This includes the word “agreement” in order to show that there are two parties, God and man, who must enter into the provisions of the relationship.

The phrase “Divinely imposed” is included to show that man can NEVER negotiate with God or change the terms of the covenant: he can only accept it or reject it. And they are “unchangeable!” They may be superseded or replaced by a different covenant, but they may not be changed once God establishes them.

I learned something myself about Covenants as I was putting this together. Did ya know that every biblical covenant has an accompanying sign? With Noah it was the rainbow. With Abraham it was circumcision. Moses it was the Sabbath. David the Virgin Birth, and the new Covenant it is the Blood!

So, this passage reveals three important aspects to God’s covenant. This “covenant” is unconditional (9:9), universal (9:9-10, 17), and eternal (9:12, 16). There are a few things we see in the text which point to this:

  1. The recurrence of “I,” “Myself,” and “My” shows the unconditional nature of this covenant. God Himself will ensure that this covenant is carried out. It is not dependent upon man’s work or faithfulness. But this is pretty much how God works, right? There is nothing man can do to earn His favor.
  2. The repetition of the phrase “every living creature” and its equivalents, “all flesh”, and “every living creature of all flesh” —a total of eight times, affirms God’s passionate concern for, and certain commitment to, the preservation and care of all living species on the earth. And since God appreciates both animal and human life, so should we.
  3. God clearly states that this is an “eternal covenant” , “for all successive generations.” Since God is the eternal God who dwells outside of space and time, He can maintain His covenants as long as He sovereignly chooses.

The Bible teaches that God fulfills His covenants and promises. If He failed to fulfill even one covenant or promise, He would cease to be God.

Furthermore, if He failed, or fails sometime in the future, how could we know with any degree of confidence that the Gospel is trustworthy?

Those that suggest the Scripture has errors often overlook this point. Yet, God’s Word must be free of inaccuracies or God is not God and the rest of His Word is suspect, at best.

Next week we will look deeper into what a covenant is and what all is involved in making a covenant. Blessings to you.

 


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