The flood in the time of Noah reflects a bleak and dark time in human history but it is also a story of redemption. Noah is granted two clear unconditional promises by God for him and his descendants. The Noahic covenant brought a new beginning with hope for the future. The signs of God’s promises to Noah endure and are visible to all. For those who love the Lord they bring comfort and reassurance that God is in control, He is Sovereign over all of creation.
The Noahic Covenant
Genesis chapters six and seven are often difficult for us to read. We are confronted with the corruption and depravity of human nature and God’s sorrow and regret over sin. Evil was so prevalent that God was moved to bring a radical judgement on His creation.
The wickedness of the human race grieved God greatly to the point that He was sorry that He had created the world. His righteous judgement was to destroy the world, and everything in it, with a flood. But there was a glimmer of hope, there was one righteous man, Noah who walked faithfully with God.
God grieved and mourned over the wickedness of sin which is a challenge to us. It is easy to become immune to immorality, violence, and greed, when we are confronted by it daily in the media. But there are times to grieve over sin. If our hearts are soft we are driven to respond and to intercede for our communities. God promises that when we do, we will receive comfort as He responds to our prayers.
God provided a way out for Noah and his family, along with pairs of the birds and animals. The ark was to be a place of safety, and to preserve their lives, through the storm that was to come. Scripture does not tell us exactly how long it took to prepare and build the ark, but there are hints that it took some time.
Then, suddenly, the countdown began. God instructed Noah to start gathering into the ark, not only his family but the animals too, because in seven days the rain would come.
In all the time of preparation, Noah must have stood out from those around him. Many people must have questioned and mocked what he was doing. Noah, however, listened and did all that God commanded him. Then, God shut him and his family, with all the birds and animals, into the ark. The rain began and continued for forty days and nights. And the earth was engulfed in water for a hundred and fifty days.
Genesis eight and nine are chapters of hope and new beginnings after the grief, regret, and destruction that preceded them. Now there begins a time of redemption which is marked with a covenant between God and mankind, represented by Noah.
God’s Covenant with Noah
But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth and the waters receded.Genesis 8:1
When God ‘remembers’ He takes action. When He remembers His children, it is with favour, to act on our behalf and to show His loving care. Now the springs of the deep and the floodgates of heaven had been closed, and the rain stopped falling. God sent a wind over the earth so that the waters began to recede.
Noah would have been aware of the rain stopping, the wind building up, and then eventually the ark coming to rest on the mountains of Ararat. Although Noah was shut in, and in a safe place, he took steps to discern what the conditions were outside. He used the wisdom that God had given him to test the environment. But he waited for God’s word before he acted.
One year and ten days after God had shut Noah and his family into the ark, God spoke once again to Noah. The land had dried out and it was time for Noah, his family, and all the animals, to leave the ark.
On leaving the ark the first thing that Noah did was to build an altar and offer a sacrifice to the LORD. This was an offering of thanksgiving and praise, an acceptable sacrifice from a grateful heart, which delighted God and brought a promise:
As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.Genesis 8:22
The post flood world was very different to the pre-flood world. There would be dark clouds, it would rain again. There would be seasons and patterns to the weather like they hadn’t experienced before. But God brings re-assurance that the seasons would be a sign of His enduring love and patience. They are a reminder to us, even today, of His promise that they will continue until the end of this world’s history.
Related post: Understanding the seasons in the Bible
The Noahic Covenant Verse
This is a new beginning and God renews and reaffirms His blessing on humanity. The words that He spoke to Adam and Eve, He now repeats to Noah and his family. Mankind would rule over God’s creation. From the beginning He had given every seed-bearing plant for food, now God makes provision, with stipulations, for meat to be included in the diet.
In the Bible a covenant is a sacred agreement made by God with His people, and sometimes the promises are conditional. But, the Noahic covenant was established by God with Noah, his descendants, and with every living creature on earth. This covenant was God’s mercy and grace, an unconditional and perpetual promise.
And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth……..Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.Genesis 9:12-15
What do rainbows symbolise in the Bible?
The sign of God’s covenant between Noah and his descendants would be the rainbow. God’s promise to never destroy life on earth with a flood again. God declared, that whenever a rainbow appears in the clouds He will remember His covenant. The rainbow is a symbol of hope and redemption, as it reminds us too of God’s promise .
For a rainbow to form there must be water, vapour or droplets, and sunlight – two essential elements for the natural world to thrive. God declares His promise to all of Creation, through the elements which bless His Creation!
We can see seven colours in a rainbow, and seven is the symbolic ‘perfect or complete’ number. But those colours are made up of a myriad of shades and hues, the colours are far more complex than is visible to our eyes. A reminder that we see only in part, but God sees the whole.
The colours of the rainbow always appear in the same order, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. The natural consistency of the pattern of the colours reflects our Creator, for God is a God of order.
And did you know that rainbows are actually full circles? We see an arc or semicircle because we are standing on the ground, and the other half of the rainbow is cut off from our sight by the horizon. The full circle of a rainbow is only visible to us from an aeroplane. Our dimension is limited, but God is far above, beyond, and without limits, in the heavenly realms.
For further information: The Beauty of a Rainbow
Rainbow Message from God
I don’t know about you, but I always react to the beauty of a rainbow. They make me stop and pause, even with all our scientific understanding of the phenomenon, they are inspiring. It is as if we get a glimpse of heavenly light, the brilliance and radiance of God.
Ezekiel in his vision of God commented on the brilliant light surrounding Him. The radiance of God was like “the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day” And the apostle John in his vision of the throne in heaven, in Revelation, comments that “A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne.”
Next time you see a rainbow, maybe it will remind you that God’s presence is with you and He is in control….
Noahic Covenant Rainbow
The rainbow is a clear message, to those who know and love God, that our hope is secure in His faithfulness. It reminds us of the mercy of God and that He remembers our weaknesses. God is compassionate and has made a way to redeem and restore our relationship with Him.
We have a new covenant in and through God’s precious Son, Jesus Christ. We are accepted by God, and our heritage is in the LORD, now included into His family and His promises to Israel:
In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you, says the LORD your Redeemer. To me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth. So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again. Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the LORD, who has compassion on you.Isaiah 54:8-10