The Noahic Covenant

God has now made an amazing promise to Himself:

I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done. While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, And cold and heat, And summer and winter, And day and night Shall not cease (Genesis 8:21-22).

His promise becomes the hope of Israel, the prophets, historians, poets, and kings. It is heralded by Christ, the Gospel writers, apostles, and the early Christian church. The earth is being made new, and all the people of the earth will be blessed because God will never again destroy the earth or curse the ground. He is good. That was before God’s covenant with Noah, a promise all to Himself that necessitates He wont destroy the earth with water, fire, disaster, or anything else. Now, God blesses Noah.

Genesis 9:1-17

1 וַיְבָ֣רֶךְ אֱלֹהִ֔ים אֶת־נֹ֖חַ וְאֶת־בָּנָ֑יו וַיֹּ֧אמֶר לָהֶ֛ם פְּר֥וּ וּרְב֖וּ וּמִלְא֥וּ אֶת־הָאָֽרֶץ׃

2 וּמוֹרַאֲכֶ֤ם וְחִתְּכֶם֙ יִֽהְיֶ֔ה עַ֚ל כָּל־חַיַּ֣ת הָאָ֔רֶץ וְעַ֖ל כָּל־ע֣וֹף הַשָּׁמָ֑יִם בְּכֹל֩ אֲשֶׁ֨ר תִּרְמֹ֧שׂ הָֽאֲדָמָ֛ה וּֽבְכָל־דְּגֵ֥י הַיָּ֖ם בְּיֶדְכֶ֥ם נִתָּֽנוּ׃

3 כָּל־רֶ֙מֶשׂ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר הוּא־חַ֔י לָכֶ֥ם יִהְיֶ֖ה לְאָכְלָ֑ה כְּיֶ֣רֶק עֵ֔שֶׂב נָתַ֥תִּי לָכֶ֖ם אֶת־כֹּֽל׃

4 אַךְ־בָּשָׂ֕ר בְּנַפְשׁ֥וֹ דָמ֖וֹ לֹ֥א תֹאכֵֽלוּ׃

5 וְאַ֨ךְ אֶת־דִּמְכֶ֤ם לְנַפְשֹֽׁתֵיכֶם֙ אֶדְרֹ֔שׁ מִיַּ֥ד כָּל־חַיָּ֖ה אֶדְרְשֶׁ֑נּוּ וּמִיַּ֣ד הָֽאָדָ֗ם מִיַּד֙ אִ֣ישׁ אָחִ֔יו אֶדְרֹ֖שׁ אֶת־נֶ֥פֶשׁ הָֽאָדָֽם׃

6 שֹׁפֵךְ֙ דַּ֣ם הָֽאָדָ֔ם בָּֽאָדָ֖ם דָּמ֣וֹ יִשָּׁפֵ֑ךְ כִּ֚י בְּצֶ֣לֶם אֱלֹהִ֔ים עָשָׂ֖ה אֶת־הָאָדָֽם׃

7 וְאַתֶּ֖ם פְּר֣וּ וּרְב֑וּ שִׁרְצ֥וּ בָאָ֖רֶץ וּרְבוּ־בָֽהּ׃ ס

8 וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֱלֹהִים֙ אֶל־נֹ֔חַ וְאֶל־בָּנָ֥יו אִתּ֖וֹ לֵאמֹֽר׃

9 וַאֲנִ֕י הִנְנִ֥י מֵקִ֛ים אֶת־בְּרִיתִ֖י אִתְּכֶ֑ם וְאֶֽת־זַרְעֲכֶ֖ם אַֽחֲרֵיכֶֽם׃

10 וְאֵ֨ת כָּל־נֶ֤פֶשׁ הַֽחַיָּה֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר אִתְּכֶ֔ם בָּע֧וֹף בַּבְּהֵמָ֛ה וּֽבְכָל־חַיַּ֥ת הָאָ֖רֶץ אִתְּכֶ֑ם מִכֹּל֙ יֹצְאֵ֣י הַתֵּבָ֔ה לְכֹ֖ל חַיַּ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ׃

11 וַהֲקִמֹתִ֤י אֶת־בְּרִיתִי֙ אִתְּכֶ֔ם וְלֹֽא־יִכָּרֵ֧ת כָּל־בָּשָׂ֛ר ע֖וֹד מִמֵּ֣י הַמַּבּ֑וּל וְלֹֽא־יִהְיֶ֥ה ע֛וֹד מַבּ֖וּל לְשַׁחֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ׃

12 וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֗ים זֹ֤את אֽוֹת־הַבְּרִית֙ אֲשֶׁר־אֲנִ֣י נֹתֵ֗ן בֵּינִי֙ וּבֵ֣ינֵיכֶ֔ם וּבֵ֛ין כָּל־נֶ֥פֶשׁ חַיָּ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר אִתְּכֶ֑ם לְדֹרֹ֖ת עוֹלָֽם׃

13 אֶת־קַשְׁתִּ֕י נָתַ֖תִּי בֶּֽעָנָ֑ן וְהָֽיְתָה֙ לְא֣וֹת בְּרִ֔ית בֵּינִ֖י וּבֵ֥ין הָאָֽרֶץ׃

14 וְהָיָ֕ה בְּעַֽנְנִ֥י עָנָ֖ן עַל־הָאָ֑רֶץ וְנִרְאֲתָ֥ה הַקֶּ֖שֶׁת בֶּעָנָֽן׃

15 וְזָכַרְתִּ֣י אֶת־בְּרִיתִ֗י אֲשֶׁ֤ר בֵּינִי֙ וּבֵ֣ינֵיכֶ֔ם וּבֵ֛ין כָּל־נֶ֥פֶשׁ חַיָּ֖ה בְּכָל־בָּשָׂ֑ר וְלֹֽא־יִֽהְיֶ֨ה ע֤וֹד הַמַּ֙יִם֙ לְמַבּ֔וּל לְשַׁחֵ֖ת כָּל־בָּשָֽׂר׃

16 וְהָיְתָ֥ה הַקֶּ֖שֶׁת בֶּֽעָנָ֑ן וּרְאִיתִ֗יהָ לִזְכֹּר֙ בְּרִ֣ית עוֹלָ֔ם בֵּ֣ין אֱלֹהִ֔ים וּבֵין֙ כָּל־נֶ֣פֶשׁ חַיָּ֔ה בְּכָל־בָּשָׂ֖ר אֲשֶׁ֥ר עַל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃

17 וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֶל־נֹ֑חַ זֹ֤את אֽוֹת־הַבְּרִית֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר הֲקִמֹ֔תִי בֵּינִ֕י וּבֵ֥ין כָּל־בָּשָׂ֖ר אֲשֶׁ֥ר עַל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃ פ

Power in the blood (v. 1-6)

And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. The fear of you and the terror of you will be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given. Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant. Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. Surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. And from every man, from every man’s brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man.

God blesses Noah and reinstitutes his purpose for humankind through him—he and his children. They are to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth like Adam and Eve in Chapters 1-2. God has not changed His purpose for humankind. He has not changed in what He has planned for the earth—that it should be filled with His image.

The fear and terror of Noah will be on every beast, bird, and creeping thing. Why? God is now officially giving animal life as food for humanity. Different teachers will make different claims about why God waited until after the deluge to grant meat.We can’t really even know whether people ate meat prior to Noah. All we know is that God now officially gives it because the lifeblood of every creature is now required by God. God will require Noah’s lifeblood. God will require the lifeblood of every man and every man’s brother. He will require the lifeblood of every beast. Why? I though, in Chapter 8, God declared the curse finished? Indeed, the curse upon the earth through Adam is no more at this juncture. Sin still remains in the human heart. God has done away with the curse but has not yet atoned for sin–that will be done through Christ at Calvary. The consequence for sin is still death (cf. 2:17). As long as sin reigns in the mortal bodies of people, the lifeblood of people and everything under our authority will be required. It is the just end of our sin—our fair wages. This is why Noah was not to consume the lifeblood of the animals–it belongs to God, not Noah. The reason God restricts Noah from consuming blood is not health related like some claim. God wasn’t keeping Noah from contracting a blood-born illness. God’s reason has to do entirely with His Lordship and the continuing consequence of human sin. God requires the life of every living thing. Life is in the blood. Therefore, God requires the blood. It is not Noah’s to have or consume. Pour it out. This concept births the sacrificial system we see in the Law later on. That sacrificial system ultimately points to Christ as the final atonement–the one whose blood is poured out to atone for His people. At that juncture, the blood of animals is no longer restricted because the wrath of God is entirely satisfied.

Not only do we see the first ceremonial law in the pouring out of animal blood before eating it. We see the first instance of civil law. If a man sheds another man’s blood, if he commits murder, he shall be killed by man. This is the death penalty prescribed for anyone who commits murder. God provides His reasoning. He created people in His image. He is just. He pays us fair wages for our works, our sins. The fair wage for taking the life of another is losing ours. People, because they are created in God’s image, are to be just people. No pomp and circumstance, no lengthy precedence, fair and swift justice against those proven guilty. Though Scripture does not teach the concept here, I believe that until someone is truly proven guilty, they are to be considered innocent.

God’s war bow (v. 7-17)

“As for you, be fruitful and multiply; Populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.” Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying, “Now behold, I Myself do establish My covenant with you, and with your descendants after you; and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that comes out of the ark, even every beast of the earth. I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth.”

God reminds Noah of his purpose a second time. Be fruitful and multiply in the earth. He establishes His covenant with Noah, Noah’s descendants, and every living creature that is with Noah out of the ark. This promise reflects God’s promise to Himself in Chapter 8, though it doesn’t encompass the fullness of God’s decision never again to destroy every living thing on the face of the earth. He reveals to Noah that flesh will never again be cut off by a great flood. In fact, there will never again be a great flood to destroy the earth. Noah and his family will not have to fear every time a cloud appears in the sky. No one has to worry or fear that God will destroy the earth by any means because of what has already been revealed in Chapter 8. No flood, no consuming fire, no meteor, no ice age, no eruption, and no earthquake to destroy the earth. Period. That is the full promise of God (cf. Chapter 8). God particular promise to Noah assures Noah that he does not have to fear a flood again. He doesn’t have to live in trauma or suffer from PTSD with each passing cloud. He does not have to keep the ark intact or prep for a future doomsday. Why? God will not do anything like that again. The same is true for us. We do not have to prepare for a future, end-of-the-world kind of doomsday because God does not retract His promises. We don’t have to fear a future apocalyptic event. God has promised renewal. He has insured the earth against any kind of world-wide destruction (cf. Chapter 8). He is powerful and sovereign enough to see His promise through.

God said, “This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations; I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud, and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

God issues the promise. Then he gives a sign of the promise for every generation. He symbolically hangs his bow, a weapon of war, in the clouds. He is no longer using it. When a cloud passes by or when it rains, we can see His bow hanging there. I understand that a rainbow is the refraction of light through moisture. I think the rainbow could probably be seen before God “hung His bow in the sky.” Here, God assigns the bow meaning. When God sees it, He calls His promise to mind. He will never forget His promise. It is the sign of the covenant, which comes out of a previous decision (cf. 8:21-22), God made between Himself and all flesh that is on the earth. Never again will He destroy all life. His bow is not in his hands. He will not draw the string. He will never again release an arrow from it. Hallelujah!!

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