Text: Genesis 9:1-17
In understanding the Bible, the covenants are the bookmarks of the whole unity of the Scripture. Whenever we try to understand certain passages, only through the light of covenantal narratives, themes, or principles can shed deeper knowledge into it. Divine covenantal acts are the EULAs (End User License Agreement) that we need to understand even at least at a fundamental level.
Likewise, after learning God’s covenant of creation last week, wherein we pondered upon God’s gracious act and loving-kindness towards Adam and Eve. Today we will be learning about God’s covenant with Noah and all creation. Yes, this covenant is not merely for Noah and His family but to the whole world including the earth—nature, animals—all living things.
After Adam and Eve were sent outside the garden of Eden, the couple started living their lives away from God’s overflowing provision as a result of their rebellion against God. Despite their consequence, God has provided ways and made sure that His presence was still felt by His creation.
In chapter 6 verses 5, 11, and 12, God saw the wickedness of humanity that even made him grieved deep inside His heart. This shows that our God is personal and able to sympathize God with His creation. As against the Deists who tell that God is a mere sovereign transcendent God who already left His creation or to the Nihilists who say that God is already dead. In here, we are assured that our God sees, feels, and intervenes in His creation.
Despite the overflowing corruption, darkness, and evilness of the world. God responded through His divine justice that He will punish these people accordingly. And we know that God’s just act is to sentence all people to death—the necessary and deserving consequence to all people. Yet, God has been gracious to preserve life.
This makes us realize that our God is covenant-fulfilling. The same to what Anand Mahadevan, He is the one that we listen to in our Bible study series, that God assures His people that He is faithful to His covenants.
As part of these ideas that God fulfills, we can see some parallels in the story of the image of God and Noah’s narrative. In verse 1, we can see that Noah is also called to be fruitful and to multiply like Adam. Verse 2 shows that Noah is also expected to subdue the earth and rule over the bests and all living creatures. Verse 3 portrays God’s provision of food for nourishment. Lastly, God limiting this provision in verses 4-5.
The last thing that I have said shows that God is not just preserving life but God is the Lord of Life. Verses 1 to 7 of chapter 9 is the preamble or prologue to the main establishment of the covenant with Noah. Before we go to that last point, let us dwell more on my second point.
God opposes anything that ends one’s life because life itself is God’s gift despite any challenges and struggles that you are experiencing now. This was a providential thought because when I was interviewed about my view on euthanasia and suicide, I was quickly led to this passage that murder is always wrong.
What is the relationship between assisted suicide and suicide to murder? As I have said, euthanasia is “murdering someone”—assisting someone to death by murdering them. In a definition, murder is a premeditated act of killing a person. Hence, euthanasia is murdering someone. What does God say about murder? Even prior to the Mosaic 10 commandments, God already made it clear that murder is sinful.
This is also the same with suicide, if euthanasia is murdering someone; suicide is “murdering yourself”—and is also wrong in God’s sight. Extending this thought, assisted killing is also evident in abortion. Premeditated, with intention, and taking away someone’s life especially those who are weak, most vulnerable is also murder. And in verse 6, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed.”
Even infants bear the image of God. In Jeremiah 1:5, “before I formed you in the womb I knew you,” next, Psalm 139:13, “You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.”
Finally, God being a covenant fulfilling God and the Lord of Life, He is also a promise-keeper God who remembers His covenant.
After the preamble of verses 1 to 7, in the next verses of our passage, in verses 9, 11, and 15, we can see that this covenant is purely God’s initiative, God’s act of unilateral or unconditional covenant. In those verses, the words “my covenant” signify that this is purely God’s work. That nothing from us is expected, it is just God giving his self to us.
This promise is sealed by giving a rainbow as a sign of His covenantal promise. A promise that God will never destroy the earth by flood. Take note that “four times” God said “never again” (8:21, 9:11 [2x], 9:15).
God is indeed a covenant fulfilling God, the Lord of Life, and a promise-keeper God. “The unmerited favor and kindness of God in preserving his world in the covenant of Noah creates a firm stage of history where God can work out His plan for recusing His fallen world. It also points ahead to the coming deliverance in Jesus Christ.
Finally, this promise of God through the sign of a rainbow should lead us to doxology. Meaning, it ought to draw us to worship God. In verse 15, I was personally comforted in the phrase “I will remember My covenant,” meaning that God truly remembers. And by seeing a rainbow, after the rain, this promise is an “everlasting covenant” (verse 16).
Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
May 30, 2021
*This section is an excerpt only; download the full manuscript here.