Last week we looked at four attributes of God found in Genesis 6–9. This week we want to look at how those attributes are incorporated into the first covenant. As a means of review, here are the four attributes we discussed:
- God is Holy. If you start with the holiness of God and understand that He alone is holy, along with the angels that are with Him, you quickly realize everything else is not.
- God is Sovereign. God is sovereign over mankind whether they accept His sovereignty or not. This is not a decision people make–to put themselves under God’s authority. They find themselves under His authority whether they recognize it or not.
- God is Gracious. God makes grace possible but it’s never automatic–it’s never something that just happens as a by-product.
- God is Faithful. The second that God declares there will be a flood, it’s going to happen. He is faithful to His Word even when it means judgment. If he ever doesn’t do what He says He will do, He is no longer a faithful God.
Genesis 6–9 is about more than just a flood.
When we think of the early chapters of Genesis several events come to mind: the Creation, the Fall, the first Murder, and the Flood. These are some of the top Sunday school flannel-board lessons of all time.
But also found in these chapters is a ground-breaking event that we often over-look–God’s first covenant with man. I do believe most of us are familiar with the rainbow and the promise never to destroy the earth again with water, but this Noahic Covenant also sets the base for every other covenant God will make with man.
God not only promises to never again destroy the earth with water, but He also preserves the seed lineage that will lead to the coming head-crusher He guaranteed in Genesis 3. This is a promised descendancy. In Luke 3, the genealogy of Jesus, you’ll find Noah and you’ll find Shem, Noah’s son. This is one of the reasons Satan does not want you to believe in Genesis 1–11. If he can disprove the Noah account, he can disprove the lineage of Jesus.
The Flood didn’t fix the curse.
In Genesis 8.20, Noah still had to build an altar and make sacrifices to God. God reminded him (and us) in 8.21 that man’s heart is still utterly sinful–even from his youth. This reminds us that God is still holy, even after destroying every living thing on earth except for Noah’s family, and it reminds us that man is still sinful, even after the earth had been wiped clean of wicked men.
The rainbow isn’t our only natural reminder of God’s graciousness.
The rainbow is the sign given for the Noahic Covenant in Genesis 9.13 but there is another natural promise God lays out in this account that we must not overlook. Look at what he says in Genesis 8.22,
While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,
And cold and heat,
And summer and winter,
And day and night
Shall not cease.
Prior to the Flood, man had not experienced seasonal climate change and yet this is something God implements as part of His promise. He promises that until the day the earth is no more, we will see changes between seedtime and harvest time, between summer and winter, and even between day and night. The cycle will continue uninterrupted.
So even if you rarely see a rainbow in the sky, or perhaps have never seen one, every time you witness a sunset or a change in season, you are witnessing the graciousness of God. The natural cycle we witness on a daily basis is a promise of His staying hand.
The Noahic Covenant is established.
In Genesis 9 the covenant is established. Next week we will begin looking at the specifics of the covenant in detail but for now there are a few things I want to point out. He gives a sign for the covenant–the rainbow. A sign is typically given with covenants so this is of no surprise.
What we must understand, however, is that Goes does not place the bow in the sky because He needs a reminder, but rather it is we who need the reminder. This is an everlasting covenant. God emphasizes that this is His covenant.
You want to know something interesting about covenants? The one who goes into the covenant, the one who ratifies it, is the one who has the responsibility for bringing it about. God never said, “Noah you do your part and I’ll do mine.” This is a one way covenant–a unilateral covenant. This covenant was completely God’s idea because God is holy and He alone defines what is right, and what is wrong.
Looking at ourselves…
We could spend a lifetime talking about God’s attributes but at some point you have to ask, “What about you? Are you holy?” The question is interesting because there’s a part biblically where positionally I’m holy, and there’s another part biblically where I’m not holy.
A positional truth is something that is true because God has put us in that position. In Ephesians 2.6 we are currently seated in the heavenly places. I can’t wait for the fullness of that, and yet there is a part of us that stays here until we go home to be with the Lord.
If you are a sinner, the only way you can be holy is if God gives you His holiness. The only way He gives you His holiness is as a grace gift through the Lord Jesus Christ. Why doesn’t God ever save any holy people? Because there are no holy people to save.
If you think you are good enough on your own to enter into the presence of a holy God, you are deceiving yourself. It would be a shame to claim the holiness of God and it not show up in your lifestyle. I bet there were a lot of people in Noah’s day who considered themselves good.
If we talk about the holiness of God and leave it at that…if we don’t look at our own lives and examine our own hearts then we are hearers of the Word of God and not doers. God calls us to be a doer.
We trust God that if we enter into His presence we will be saved through the blood of Jesus Christ but we have a hard time believing in the sovereignty of God in our every day lives–that He will provide as He says he will provide and that he will make our paths straight if we walk with Him.
Do you live your life as if God is really in absolute control? If you put the focus on the circumstances you take the focus away from the sovereignty of God. If you put the focus on the sovereignty of God, He knows…He understands… you no longer focus on the circumstances. Our responsibility is to walk by faith WITH him–never to walk by ourselves.
If you want to walk with God, it should show up in your behavior and it should also show up in your activity before Him.
One day, if you are a believer, when you translate from this world to the next, God is going to ask, “What did you do with the life I gave you?” Do not show up empty-handed.
Dr. Greg Harris
Church: Teaching Pastor at Lake Hills Community Church
Education: B.A. Campbell University
M.A. NC Central University
M.Div Talbot Theological Seminary
Th.M Talbot Theological Seminary
Th.D Dallas Theological Seminary
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Author: The Cup and the Glory, The Darkness and the Glory, and The Stone and the Glory