Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday, June 13th

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Kings 11-12; Psalm 118; Romans 1
Today's scripture focus is Genesis 8:20-9:17.

God's Covenant with Noah

20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. 22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”
And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man.
“Whoever sheds the blood of man,
    by man shall his blood be shed,
for God made man in his own image.
And you, be fruitful and multiply, increase greatly on the earth and multiply in it.”
Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you,10 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. 11 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.” 12 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:13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”17 God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

Accompanying Bob Deffinbaugh sermon: The Noahic Covenant - A New Beginning
Accompanying John MacArthur sermon: Life and Death in the New World, and God's Rainbow Covenant

God's purposes has always been to save mankind, and in the beginning of our passage today, He reaffirms that purpose.  God also promises to never again destroy all of humanity - until the final judgment.

Deffinbaugh notes: The reason for God’s resolve is based upon the nature of man: “For the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Genesis 8:21).

Righteous Noah (6:9) will soon be found naked in a drunken stupor (9:21). No matter how many times the earth’s slate is wiped clean by a flood, the problem will remain if but one man exists. The problem is within man—it is his sinful nature. His predisposition toward sin is not learned, it is innate—he is “evil from his youth.” As a result, a full restoration must begin with a new man. This is what God historically purposed to accomplish.

Then we move into a new beginning for mankind.  There are similarities and differences between this account and the creation account.

Both Adam and Noah are commanded to be fruitful and multiply.
Both Adam and Noah are given instructions on what they are to eat.

Though God pronounced the original creation "good", He does not do so after the flood because mankind is innately sinful.

Adam was given the responsibility of ruling over the earth and animal kingdom.
Noah is not given this responsibility, rather God instills the fear of man into the animals.

Though mankind appears to have been vegetarians until the time of the flood, after the flood God gives animals to men to eat - with the restriction of not eating the life blood of the animal.

man must be brought to the realization that, because of his sin, he could only live by the death of another. Man lives by the death of animals.
One of the most important things to draw from this passage is that man must reverence life.  The life of man is precious to God and it is His alone to give and take.  This covers everything from murder, (including abortion) to suicide.

God now commands that anyone who sheds the life blood of another human must come under capital punishment and be put to death.  Perhaps the reason God did not execute this judgment on Cain and Lamech and all the others that had gone before, was to demonstrate the consequences of what would happen if we allowed the murderer to go free.  This is the first instance of man acting as government - an agent of God required to execute the murderer to reflect the moral purity of the creator and to punish the evildoer and reward those who do good.

The command concerning capital punishment is, I believe, the cornerstone of any society of sinful men. The animal kingdom is to be controlled, to a great extent, by means of their fear of man (9:2). Man’s sinful tendencies, also, are kept in check by his fear of the consequences. Any society which loses its reverence for life cannot endure long. For this reason, God instituted capital punishment as a gracious restraint upon man’s sinful tendency toward violence. Because of this, mankind can live in relative peace and security until God’s Messiah has dealt the death blow to sin.
This brings us to the Noahic covenant.

The Noahic covenant was initiated and dictated by God.  There was no discussion between Noah and God - God decided on the covenant and informed Noah of the terms.

The covenant was made to Noah as well as all future generations, including ourselves today, and it will remain in effect until the Second Coming.

This is a universal covenant - God will never destroy the entirety of the animal kingdom or the entirety of mankind again, until the Second Coming.

The covenant is unconditional.  We are not required to do anything in order for this covenant to remain in effect.  God would give regularity of seasons and would not destroy the earth by a flood simply because He said so.

This covenant was God’s promise never again to destroy the earth by a flood....God will destroy the earth by fire (II Peter 3:10), but only after salvation has been purchased by the Messiah and the elect are removed, even as Noah was protected from the wrath of God.
The sign of the Noahic covenant is the rainbow.

Every covenant has its accompanying sign. The sign of the Abrahamic Covenant is circumcision (Genesis 17:15-27); that of the Mosaic Covenant is the observance of the Sabbath day (Exodus 20:8-11; 31:12-17).

The “sign” of the rainbow is appropriate. It consists of the reflection of the rays of the sun in the particles of moisture in the clouds. The water which destroyed the earth causes the rainbow. Also, the rainbow appears at the end of a storm. So this sign assures man that the storm of God’s wrath (in a flood) is over.

Most interesting is the fact that the rainbow is not designed so much for man’s benefit (in this text, at least) but for God’s. God said that the rainbow would cause Him to remember His covenant with man. What a comfort to know that God’s faithfulness is our guarantee.

MacArthur also noted that Noah would definitely need reassurance from God that not every rainfall would result in a world wide flood.  Noah had likely not ever experienced rain before the flood, and therefore it would be logical for him to think that a flood was reoccurring the next time it rained!  How gracious of God to reassure Noah that rains and storms would be a new normal in this "new" earth, but that it would not bring world wide devastation.

MacArthur also noted that when v16 refers to the bow in the clouds, this was also likely referring to God putting away His bow of vengeance...
The word "bow" here is not rainbow, it's bow, qesheth in Hebrew. It's the same word for a battle bow, a weapon of death and destruction. In Near Eastern literature there are often deities depicted with a bow, wielding destruction. And the Old Testament pictures God like that. Exodus 15:3says, "The Lord is a warrior." Habakkuk 3:9, "His bow is made bare." Zachariah 9:14, "His arrows are lightning." God is depicted as a warrior with a bow. In the Flood, God the Warrior shot His lightning arrows, pierced the earth, the earth broke open, exploded and then the sky fell, and certainly with it arrows of lightning and destruction. He bent His bow in wrath. But from now on, follow this, God has hung up His bow and He hung it in the sky where everybody can see it. Next time you see a rainbow, that's God's bow. He hung it up because this is not the time of judgment, this is the time of peace. So God hung His bow as a sign of His mercy toward a world of sinners. Every sinner on the planet that sees the bow sees a sign of peace. God has hung up His bow. This is a token of His promise, never to destroy the world again as He did until the very end of human history when the whole universe will be destroyed by fire, as 2 Peter 3 describes it.
There will come a day when the universe will be destroyed and replaced by a new heaven and a new earth where there will be only the righteous and eternal peace and holiness. In the future, God will pick up His bow again. But for now, the bow is the sign of mercy, it's the sign of grace, it's the sign of peace. The great God who is a warrior has hung up His bow.
When you look at the earth's surface and you see rugged, deep sea basins, rugged high mountain ranges, and strata and canyons, and polar caps and fossil-bearing rocks, and the general atmosphere, that's a reminder of the destruction of the Flood. But when you see the rainbow, that's a reminder that it will never happen again. 

The rainbow truly is a symbol of grace.

Monday's scripture focus: Genesis 9:18-29
Saturday's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 2 Kings 13-14
Sunday's passage: 2 Kings 15-16
Monday's passage: 2 Kings 17-18, Psalm 119:1-8, Romans 2

1 comment:

Miriam said...

Wow, I love that last portion about the rainbow.