In connection with this study it would be wise to review Genesis, chapters six through eight. Consider what is written concerning the cause of the flood. Watch for evidence of Divine Grace -- even in the midst of judgment. Ponder the greatness of power that is able to preserve man and beast through such a catastrophic judgment. And hear the very heartbeat of the Most High God as He works, by His mighty providence, for the glory of His own holy name and the eternal welfare of the creature made in His own image.
Noah's approach to God, following the flood, was by means of a sacrifice offered on an altar which he built for that specific purpose. This is the first mention of an altar in the Scriptures. From the altar the prayers and offerings (sacrificial) of men would ascend toward heaven and the throne of God. (Compare Judges 20:40; and Amos 4:10.) The Lord is said to have "smelled the smell of satisfaction" - graciously accepting Noah's thanksgiving for divine protection and his prayer for divine mercy in time to come.
I. GOD RESTATES HIS PURPOSE AS EXPRESSED IN THE EDENIC COVENANT; HE HAS NOT CANCELLED HIS PLAN TO RULE THE EARTH THROUGH MAN, (vs. 1-2, 7).
- HE BLESSES NOAH AND HIS SONS JUST AS HE HAD BLESSED THE FIRST COUPLE IN THE GARDEN.
- AGAIN THERE IS A COMMAND TO MULTIPLY AND FILL THE EARTH.
- FOR NOAH'S SAKE THE FEAR AND DREAD OF HIM HAS BEEN PUT ON EVERY OTHER EARTHLY CREATURE. He is to have the mastery over them all.
- THE DESTINY OF THE WHOLE EARTHLY CREATION IS WRAPPED UP IN THE DESTINY OF MANKIND, (Isa. 11:6-8; Rom. 8:19-22).
II. NOAH AND HIS DESCENDANTS ARE NOW PERMITTED TO EAT FLESH, (vs. 3-4).
- THIS IS IN ADDITION TO GREEN HERBS AS OFFERED TO ADAM IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN, (Gen. 1:29).
- BUT THEY MUST NOT EAT ANYTHING THAT HAS DIED WITH THE BLOOD IN IT; they must abstain from eating blood, (Lev. 17:10-16; Deut. 12:16; 23-25; Acts 15:28-29).
III. A FOUNDATION IS LAID FOR CIVIL GOVERNMENT AND CAPITAL PUNISHMENT, (vs. 5-6; Ex. 20:13).
- THE LIFE OF MAN, MADE IN THE IMAGE OF GOD, IS TO BE GUARDED VERY CAREFULLY.
- EVERY BEAST THAT SLAYS A MAN WILL BE PUT TO DEATH, (Ex. 21:28-29).
- THE MAN WH0 SLAYS ANOTHER WILL BE PUT TO DEATH, (Ex. 21:12).
- "WHOMSOEVER SHEDS MAN'S BLOOD, BY MAN SHALL HIS BLOOD BE SHED," (Num. 35:33-34).
- This does not sanction revenge by an individual.
- Rather, it lays the foundation for the establishment of civil authority, (Rom. 13:1-7).
- Human government is established on divine authority -- for the good of all mankind.
- Because the divinely appointed judges of Israel represented the authority and majesty of God, they are referred to as "gods," (Psa. 82:6; Jn. 10:34-36).
- Since God has determined never again to destroy mankind, as in the flood, some restraining power is absolutely essential.
- At his very best man is still a sinner; his evil tendencies must be curbed.
- These tendencies may be restrained by fear of punishment. How we do need a vigorous return to, and enforcement of, this principle in our day!
IV. GOD'S COVENANT IS ESTABLISHED WITH ALL THE LIVING - BOTH MEN AND BEASTS, (vs. 9-17).
- NEVER AGAIN WILL HE CUT OFF ALL FLESH BY THE WATERS OF A FLOOD, (8:21).
- NEVER AGAIN WILL THERE BE SUCH A FLOOD TO DESTROY THE EARTH, (Isa. 54:9-10).
- THE BOW IN THE CLOUDS WILL BE A PERPETUAL REMINDER OF GOD'S COVENANT BETWEEN HIMSELF AND THE EARTH - a reminder both to Himself and to man.
- There must be faith in God's promise before there can be any assurance in the sign established as a reminder of that promise.
- When Ezekiel saw a rainbow it reminded him of the glory of God, (Ezek. 1:28).
- John beheld a rainbow round about the throne of God, and upon the head of the heavenly messenger that conversed with him, (Rev. 4:3; 10:1).
- HE PROMISED THAT 14 LAWS OF NATURE SHOULD BE UNIFORM "AS LONG AS THE EARTH REMAINETH," (Gen. 8:22; comp. Deut. 7:9). His faithfulness is evidenced by:
- Seedtime and harvest.
- Cold and heat.
- Summer and Winter, (Psa. 74:17).
- Day and night, (Jer. 33:20-26).
How great is the faithfulness of our God! How marvelous, multiplied and varied are the reminders of His faithfulness we are able to see in nature! The rainbow in the clouds is a beautiful and eloquent testimony of His utter trustworthiness. His promises never fail; His word is true and steadfast. Seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, Summer and Winter, day and night -- each have a testimony to bear. And their testimony is borne without hindrance or deviation.
Each of us who have tasted that the Lord is gracious has a testimony to bear; it is important that we bear it faithfully. Are we doing it?
QUESTIONS FOR REVIEW
- In what ways is this covenant like the one made in the Garden of Eden?
- What is the relationship between the destiny of man and that of the earth?
- What new food is man now permitted to eat?
- What restriction was placed on the eating of flesh?
- On what principle is capital punishment justified in this lesson?
- Is this judgment to be made and enforced by individuals, or by the collective society of men?
- With whom was this covenant established?
- What was the outstanding promise of this covenant?
- What was given as a perpetual reminder of God's promise?
- Should our witness for God be any less persistant than that of day and night?
- Is there any evidence in this covenant that God has changed His purpose?