The ninth chapter of Genesis brings Noah’s story to a close. He’s safely out of the ark with his family, and after he’s worshiped at the altar, God blesses them. The word behold leads me to the gem for today.
“Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.”Genesis 9:9-13 ESV
This is the first time the word covenant is used in the Bible. I’ve always remembered God’s covenant with Abraham but had forgotten that he’d also made one with Noah. In this covenant, God says he will never again destroy all flesh (man and animals) by the waters of the flood, nor would he destroy the earth by floods.
As we talked about earlier, God was perfectly just to have destroyed all mankind. The sins of man had grown exponentially in the time prior to the flood, yet, we saw even then that Noah’s righteousness, his faith, stopped the Lord from bringing complete destruction. He showed his grace in saving this one family to start things afresh. Now, he wants to make clear to Noah and his descendants, that he is again going to put a limit to his own right for justice. He will never again use a flood to destroy mankind.
God gives himself a reminder of his promise.
As we sometimes tie a string on our finger to remember, God puts his own bow in the sky. God’s wrath was justified. The rainbow is a reminder to him and us that he’s withholding what we deserve. Every time he sees the rainbow, he’s reminded of his covenant to withhold judgment until the proper time.
God’s grace leads him to continue to come alongside man in a covenant relationship.
Though man is still sinful by nature, God is giving him a second chance—a do-over, so to speak. By highlighting the faith of this one man, his sons and future descendants will be reminded as well of what God requires. The consequences of sin were made clear in the flood. Now is the time to live in obedience to the God of all creation.
We know how the story goes. There are ups and downs in man’s ability to live in righteousness, and along the way, God will call out new examples of what a faithful man or woman looks like. Ultimately, he makes a way for righteousness, perfect righteousness to come on all who believe, and through the Spirit, God continues to come alongside man in the relationship of the new covenant.
The rainbow is our glimpse of God on high.
We love spotting rainbows after a rainy day, and we are reminded of God’s promise from long ago. However, that rainbow is also a glimpse of God’s glory we’ll one day see face-to-face. Ezekiel caught sight of it even while he was in exile.
And downward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness around him. Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.Ezekiel 1:27b-28 Emphasis mine
John, during his exile on Patmos, also gives us a taste of what is to come:
At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”Revelation 4:2-8 Emphasis mine
God’s covenant reminder is a part of his heavenly throne and outpouring of his essence. May the sight of it bring us to our knees, exclaiming: Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!
Grace and Peace