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Genesis 9:8-17 – Covenant Keeper – Part 2
[Read part one HERE]
A biblical covenant usually involved three things: parties, terms, and promises. Suppose that you were a bike mechanic and I wanted my bike fixed. We could make a covenant together. You and I would be the two parties involved and the terms would include what was mechanically wrong with the bike, what needed to be fixed, the parts and labor involved and when you will have the job done for me.
The promise I made to you would be in the amount of money I was going to pay you when the job was finished. Your promise to me would be that the job would be completed as originally agreed. The agreement that we make concerning these elements: parties, terms, and promises, would be the covenant that we made with each other.
When God makes a covenant with us, it normally involves these three elements. The difference is that God alone determines the terms of the agreement, and that God always comes through on His end of the deal. It’s worth bringing up that this is the covenant which God, in Isa. 54:9 refers to as a parallel to a further covenant He is making with the Jews. “To me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth. So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again.”
Here God is pointing back to the covenant with Noah that He made in history in order to stress the certainty of further promises to the Jews that He is making in history at a later time.
If God is willing to make a covenant with us, and He is willing to bind Himself to that covenant no matter what, what does that say about the relationship God wants to have with us? It says that we can be hopeful about the future, because we worship a God that not only desires our companionship, but who is willing to take the steps necessary to obligate Himself to that relationship.
In fact, this promise of God to never again destroy the world with water was so important that He caused a rainbow to appear in the clouds after a rain to remind GOD HIMSELF of the promise He made to Noah, his descendants, and to the animals of the earth in 9:12-17.
The Hebrew word for rainbow (qeset) is also the word for a battle bow. The point seems to be that the bow is now “put away,” hung in place by the clouds, suggesting that the “battle,” the storm, is over.
Thus the rainbow speaks of peace. As a result, whenever clouds appear over the earth and a rainbow appears, God will “remember” His covenant with man. God said that the rainbow would cause Him to remember His unconditional covenant with man. And God is a faithful God!
And did you know that around the Throne of God in the heavens there is a rainbow! Rev. 4:2-3 - “At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne.” Ezek. 1:28 - “Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around Him.”
Maybe that rainbow is there to mimic the rainbow that God set in the clouds, but more likely the rainbow in the clouds is patterned after the rainbow that is around the throne! Maybe the rainbow tells us something about the nature of God? God clearly intends for us to see something of His power, glory, and divine nature by the things that He has made. Rom 1:20 - “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities - His eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”
There is no doubt the heavens DECLARE and provide KNOWLEDGE through which we are able to sense something of God’s glory: Psalm 19:1-3 - “The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.”
Even the earth itself SPEAKS and the animals TELL us of the marvelous care of our Creator for what He has made: Job 12:7-8 - “”But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky; and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you.”
When God answered Job’s agonizing questions, He posed rhetorical demands about the observable function of the stars, the sunrise, the winds, and the wild animals. So, it could be that there is something about the beautiful rainbow that can give us insight and encouragement beyond the assurance that there will never be another global flood.
God uses the rainbow to remind Himself of His faithful promises. Maybe we should be encouraged by the same understanding:
“Oh Lord, You are my God. I will exalt you. I will praise Your name. You have done wonderful things; Your counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.” (Isa. 25:1).
“If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Tim.2:13).
“For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect?” (Rom. 3:3)
“He who calls you faithful, who will also do it.” (1 Thess. 5:24).
“But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one? (2 Thess 3:3).
God will remember His promise to us when He sees the rainbow. Each of us could benefit from remembering His faithfulness every time we see one!
The rainbow is mentioned again in Rev. 10:1 - “I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon His head.” That Angel will declare that time shall be no longer, but in the midst of that prophecy, God reminds us of His covenant: He will care for His own! And when time, as we know it, is no longer, Christ Himself shall reign over the whole earth!
Let’s end by talking about the The New Covenant (or New Testament) which is the promise that God makes with humanity that He will forgive sin and restore fellowship with those whose hearts are turned toward Him.
Jesus Christ is the mediator of the New Covenant, and His death on the cross is the basis of the promise Luke 22:20: - “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” The New Covenant was predicted while the Old Covenant was still in effect—the prophets Moses, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel all allude to the New Covenant.
Entering the New Covenant is made possible only by faith in Jesus Christ, who shed His blood to take away the sins of the world (John 1:29).
Under the New Covenant, we are all given the opportunity to receive salvation as a free gift: Ephesians 2:8–9 - “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Our responsibility is to exercise faith in Christ, the One who fulfilled the Law on our behalf and brought an end to the Law’s sacrifices through His own sacrificial death.
Through the life-giving Holy Spirit who lives in all believers (Romans 8:9–11), we share in the inheritance of Christ and enjoy a permanent, unbroken relationship with God - Hebrews 9:15 - “Therefore He is the mediatory of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promise of eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.” Jesus’ promise of salvation to those who believe through faith is the best promise of all!