Athlete, Know The Covenant

Read Genesis 9

The word "covenant" is first mentioned in Scripture in connection with the flood account, including 6:18 and several times in today's chapter.  The importance of covenants in Scripture can hardly be overstated.  We find that God willingly binds himself to his people by making covenants with us and covenant-promises to us, just as a husband and wife bind themselves together by making covenant-promises to each other.  God makes several covenant promises to his people throughout history and we sometimes call these covenant promises by different names (Noahic covenant - covenant with Noah, Abrahamic covenant - covenant with Abraham, etc.).  

Yet when we look at the big picture, we see that in many ways they all form one "covenant of grace," ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ, in what's known as the "new covenant" (e.g. Jeremiah 31:31-34).  By fulfilling all of God's covenant promises, Jesus makes the external signs, symbols, and sacrifices of the old testament covenants obsolete (Hebrews 8:7-13).  But each installment of the covenant grace teaches us different things about the heart and plans of God, and the heart of each one is the same -- in spite of the separation from God that sin brings, God will save a people from every tongue and tribe and nation to be his people, and He will be their God.  

We saw the first promise of the covenant of grace in Genesis 3:15, even though the word "covenant" is not explicitly used.  God's covenant with Noah is sometimes known as the "covenant of stability," as God promises a stable world in which He will fulfill his other promises.  Never again will the world experience a flood like this one!  The rainbow is aimed at heaven, not at earth, perhaps looking forward to the Son of God taking the arrow of God on our behalf.  In this covenant, God also reaffirms the continuing dignity and calling of humanity (9:1-7), in spite of the sin in which Noah and sons themselves actively participate (9:20-22).  

Questions for Reflection and Prayer

1. Have you recently, or ever, pondered the love and mercy of a God who would marry himself to sinful people like us through covenant promises?

2. Perhaps God's covenant with Noah could also be called the "covenant of patience," since God promises to withhold such widespread judgment as long as the earth endures.  Take time to consider the patience of God in withholding the wrath of his good and righteous hatred of violence and evil.

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