Scripture: And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” Genesis 8:21-22 ESV
Observation: A predecessor of Abraham by nine generations, God chose Noah and his family to preserve a remnant of humankind and wildlife in anticipation of cleansing the world of its evil inhabitants that showed no regard for their Creator (6:5). Why Noah? Because he found favor in God’s eyes (Genesis 6:8); because he obeyed all God’s commands (Genesis 7:22), starting with building an ark to house his family and two of every creature that dwelled on land and in the air (6:14-21). Then once the flood started, he captained this massive lifeboat for 150 days, supervising the care of thousands of raucous and smelly animals with the aid of family—an impossible task outside of the Lord’s favor.
Takeaway: The theme of redemption permeates this narrative. Through Noah’s faithfulness, God rescues the world from regressing to its origins of chaos. And just as God sacrificed an animal to cover the shame of the first man and woman, so also Noah would offer sacrifices of clean animals to the Lord to cover the transgressions of his surviving family and to express thanksgiving.
In response, God struck a covenant with Noah, promising never again to curse the ground or strike down every living creature (see above verses). God would also reiterate Adam’s creation mandate to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 9:1 and 7) and would ratify his covenant with the sign of a rainbow (Genesis 9:13). Symbolically, the rainbow points toward God in his heavenly realm and represents a unilateral promise that Yahweh would self-inflict the consequences of either party violating the covenant. Indeed, the Noahic Covenant foreshadowed two other critical covenants in our biblical narratives that are unilateral:
- The Abrahamic Covenant, where the spirit of God traversed halved animal sacrifices to animate the gruesome self-inflicted penalty for failing to preserve Abraham’s promised land and lineage and subsequent blessings to all the nations
- The Covenant of Grace, where the Son of God stretched out his body on a cross and suffered an excruciating death sentence to serve the penalty for God’s people failing to uphold his law, thereby revising our means of salvation by faith
So what does this mean to you and me Everything! We worship a God who is unchanging and trustworthy, who keeps his promises, and who loves us so much that he has died for us. And yet, he lives! He has risen and has ascended to his rightful throne as King of the Universe so that we can find rest (the Hebrew meaning of Noah’s name) with the assurance of his provision and protection: that “while the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”
Prayer: Father God, we thank you that your promises in Christ are unfailing and bear the fruit of abundant life. Would you please mature us in a deeper understanding of your goodness and grace that we might rest in the assurance of your provision and protection? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling