God’s Covenant Promises to Noah

Genesis 9:8-9 – Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you”…

In Genesis 9, God’s covenant relationship with His people through Noah is often referred to as the Noahic Covenant. After the flood receded, the land appeared out of the water like the days of creation for Adam. In this way, the account of Noah in many ways echoes the account of Adam with a sort of new creation and new humanity and new Fall. The connections between Adam and Noah are many, including:

  • both Adam and Noah are the fathers of all humanity that descend from them
  • both worlds are brought forth out of a watery chaos
  • both men are said to bear the “image of God”
  • both men “walked with God”
  • both men ruled over the animals
  • both men are given the cultural mandate to increase in number and rule the earth
  • both men work the ground
  • both men sin against God
  • both men experience shameful nakedness following their sin
  • both men had their nakedness covered
  • both men were in covenant with God (Adam’s covenant is found in Hosea 6:7)
  • both have three named sons

God entered a covenant with Noah in Genesis 9:1-17 that was intended for all people of the earth. God promised that He would never again send a cataclysmic flood and that the seasons would continue by God’s provision. In this covenant, we see that God’s answer to human sin would be a covenant of grace, beginning with Noah. The sign of the covenant was the rainbow to remind God’s people of His promise to never flood the earth again and may have been a reminder of an ancient warrior who hung up his bow after a war as a sign of peace. Through the covenant, God would restore His intentions to bless people as they are commanded to be fruitful and multiply (1:28, 5:2, 9:1).

The terms of the covenant for human beings include respect for the sanctity of human life and the freedom to eat animals as, at this point in history, meat was added to the human diet. God’s command to protect human life, including capital punishment, is the beginning of rule of law and law enforcement to restrain human sin. This fact is overlooked by people who do not believe in mankind having a sin nature, which explains why we have seen cities in recent years descend quickly into chaos when laws are not enforced.

These commands further build upon teaching in Genesis 1 that, while animal life is to be treated kindly, it is inferior to human life, which alone bears God’s image. This fact is overlooked by radical animal rights activists who believe the myth that people are evolved animals when, in fact, we were created as image-bearers, unlike animals. The effect of the covenant is the renewal of God’s intentions in creation by distinguishing between those people, like Noah, in covenant with God from those who are not.

What other insights can be learned about Noah from 2 Peter 2:1-9a?

To help you study the book of Genesis with us, we have the first of three free e-book study guides here. To learn more about covenants, turn to chapter 6 of the Doctrine book in both English and Spanish.

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