God's Covenant With Noah
Topic: Sunday Sermons Passage: Genesis 6:5–6:22, Genesis 7:6–7:13, Genesis 8:15–8:22, Genesis 9:16–9:17, Jeremiah 2:13, Jeremiah 17:4–17:13, John 4:10, Matthew 24:36–24:39
As we’re continuing through the book of Genesis, today we’ll look at chapters 6-9 to understand God’s Covenant with Noah and what that means for us today.
As we think about what we’re coming out of through Genesis; God as Sovereign over his creation, the unique place that humans have as his image bearers on the earth and the falling out of right relationship due to our sin. We begin to understand the depths of the effects of sin. In our original sin, as we’ll see a bit more today, there was not only a lack of trust in God’s good commands but there was a disbelieving that the judgement of God - his Holy response to our sin - is also a very real thing.
Last Sunday we spent a good amount of time on sin, trespass or transgression - I appreciate what Alistair Begg says of sin
The devil may entice you to things, but he can’t make you do it. Every sin is an inside job. Sin will spoil things, that sin will spread, and that sin will separate. - Alistair Begg
Even as God demonstrates how pervasive sin is in the expansion of people and nations, we better understand how it is that grace abounds.
[consider this rough-summary of Gen 4-11)
- Before Cain murders Abel, the Lord warns Cain about the danger of sin (Gen. 4:7)
- After that murder, God protects Cain with a mark even as he is exiled from the presence of the Lord to the land of Nod, east of Eden (4:16)
[as we’ll see today]
- When “the wickedness of man was great in the earth” (6:5)
- God saves Noah in an ark and resolves, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (8:21).
- Even as the LORD confuses human language at Babel and disperses them to cover the face of the earth, he does this largely to protect them from their own sin.
- Most importantly, throughout the downward spiral of sin evident in Genesis 4–11, God actively develops and preserves a line of holy offspring, preparing the way for the account of Abraham beginning in Genesis 12.
ILLUS: it’s elemental - God has given us water as a gift… it sustains our life. In his wisdom, he also chose water to judge and cleanse the world of the spread of evil.
As we’ll see today - water demonstrates his grace and salvation.
God preserves us through his covenant mercy
Sin demands Judgement
in Genesis chapter 6 verses 5 through 7 we see reference to the sin that is pervasive throughout the Earth, wickedness that has spread everywhere that Humanity has gone.
The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.
These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.
There are times in scripture where we will see the term “the World” -or- “the earth”. Oftentimes this can be misunderstood as an ‘us in the church versus them out there in the world’ mentality -but- the way that scripture uses this term is more than the physical planet or the collective human population.
It is actually an active, evil and spiritual Force that stands in direct conflict with God in his kingdom.
We see this in Ephesians 2:2 as well as John 14:30 - that they are under the control of Satan
There is a deceit and a self-centeredness that make up the essence of Satan's character that mark the sin of the world.
Through Christ, we overcome the world of spiritual Evil by face as were told in 1st John 5:4-5 so base level, from the starting point, we have a different understanding of sin from the world.
It is interesting to note in Gen 6:6 we are told that God is grieved by human sinfulness and he intends to end and punish sin because it damages and kills what he created as good.
It's important for us to understand that this does not mean that God in his Holiness or his power or his knowledge has the same type of regret that we experience as humans. God is spirit, God is divine - I note this to simply to help us realize that our understanding of God is limited. to help us understand God’s perspective his spirit inspired Moses to write this text in a way to help us understand the grievous nature of our thoughts, motives and actions.
God hates sin. He hates what it does to his creation, his creatures and especially at says his image Bears. Because of his holy Perfection, God cannot tolerate sin; it requires his judgment.
Derek Kidner says it this way in talking about how God approaches sinfulness:
“[He does not meet sin] with half-measures but with the simultaneous extremes of judgement and salvation.” - Derek Kidner
No half-measures with God, judgement and salvation come in full, together.
Judgement meets Grace
If we consider the verses that we I heard earlier we realize that God saw only wickedness spreading throughout the land there was no one that was good and that would have included Noah.
Noah had not done anything to earn favor with God it was not something he deserved. God simply gave it freely. The righteousness that Noah received was the result of Grace, not the cause of it. Yes, we're told that he walked with God but he was simple just like his parents and just like his peers.
And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch.
For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.” Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.
Noah's salvation or any sense of blamelessness was not because he was able to in his own strength avoid sin. Noah looked by faith, to the God who saves. That was how he received grace rather than judgement.
More than that, God gave instructions of how to live for him. He didn't just leave it up to Noah's innate ability or even his imagination - God provided the way, the instructions and the faith necessary. And he continues to do so for us today.
I would imagine, if I were to think about Noah going about his normal days as he was building the ark, the people called him crazy. They couldn't imagine why he was doing what he was doing but, Noah obeyed by faith. He walked with god, listen to his voice and trusted God's word Above All Else.
This is where we begin to understand that the grace that saves us is also the grace that can sustain us.
Have you ever noticed how detailed scripture is about God's work of salvation? It is explicit about God's role in pursuing us, Christ's work on our behalf, The Holy Spirits heart in softening our hearts and opening our eyes to see our great need.
Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters came upon the earth. And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him went into the ark to escape the waters of the flood.
In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights. On the very same day Noah and his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them entered the ark,
Then God said to Noah, “Go out from the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you.
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. 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. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”
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.” 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.”
Notice how Moses gets very detailed, down to the the day of Noah's life and our passage today, when the Judgment of the flood came. Make no mistake, this is an event that is rooted in history Tyson Christ himself as we will see shortly referenced Noah and the Judgment that was on the people. it's no myth, one day, it started raining, and it didn't stop… for 39 more days and nights. The world was flooded, just as God said it would be.
This is where we begin to understand the covenant that God is going to make with Noah. Where he’ll promise not to flood the earth again. But that doesn’t mean that our sin still deserves judgement - this helps reveal the mercy of God toward us: we deserve punishment, we’re offered peace with God through Jesus.
I came across this definition of Covenant that I thought might be helpful to consider this morning:
“a relational promise marked by faithful love.” It is relational. This means that it is not simply a cold business contract. The parties of the covenant know and care for each other in some meaningful sense. It is also a promise. A covenant is more than just a warm, fuzzy feeling. One person or group actually agrees to something, and another person or group agrees to something else. Finally, it is marked by faithful love. Both parties agree to be faithful to the terms of the covenant because there is a genuine and lasting love commitment between them. - Bruno, Chris. The Whole Message of the Bible in 16 Words
God preserves us through his covenant mercy
Christ: His Mercy Is More
Maker, Keeper, Bearer, Rest, Re-creator
The Noahic covenant is God’s pledge that He will preserve the stability of nature, a stability that will allow His people to flourish and that will provide an arena for Him to enter history and bring salvation.
Moreover, our Creator’s love for all that He has made is seen in the pledge that He will never again destroy the world, which is also an early sign that one day all creation will be renewed.
Return to water illus:
- Washing of the water of the word
- Cleanse us of all unrighteousness - 1 John 1:9
- Jesus is himself the living water that we truly thirst for
Jer 2:13 for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water.
Jer 17:13 O LORD, the hope of Israel,
all who forsake you shall be put to shame;
those who turn away from you shall be written in the earth,
for they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living water.
John 4:10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”
“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” - Matthew 24:36–39
Rest in his Mercy (which is more…)
The ugliness and hopelessness of human sin prompt us to marvel at the even greater depths of God’s love in sending his own Son to suffer on behalf of such hopeless sinners. - Kim, Mitchell M.. Genesis: A 12-Week Study (Knowing the Bible) (p. 31). Crossway.
- The meaning of Noah’s own name is ‘rest’ / Christ calls us to enter into his rest as the author of Hebrews reminds us (Heb 4)
- The ark represents a place of refuge / Christ is our ever-present refuge in times of trouble and his commands rule as sovereign over creation as demonstrated with the wind and the waves with his disciples
- Genesis 9 reveals that the sign of the covenant is a bow in the clouds. It is a rainbow but it’s in the shape of a bow
By this decree, God binds himself to preserve the earth in its present world-order until the time of the consummation. [...] God has come in judgment; but he also has provided a context of preservation in which the grace of redemption may operate. From the covenant with Noah it becomes quite obvious that God’s being “with us” involves not only an outpouring of his grace on his people; it involves also an outpouring of his wrath on the seed of Satan. - Robertson, O. Palmer. The Christ of the Covenants
Pastoral Application: I’d encourage you to carefully read and consider the account of Noah, ready the lineage listed in Genesis 5 through 10.
Moses’ original audience would have, I’m sure by this point in the narrative of Genesis been wondering: How will we survive this relationship with God? Not only in this life, but eternally...
Noah’s life doesn’t end the way you might think - surprisingly left out of the VBS or Sunday School accounts - he ended up with sin still at work in him, drunk and naked… not exactly what I’d call a great place to end a sermon… except... that’s what I’m doing.
Why is that? Because it’s not about us, where we start or where life ends up for us - God’s covenant with us, our life, salvation, the things we overcome or never see the realization of dreams we’ve been given are never about the outcome here on earth.
We’ll see this more in the weeks ahead - these covenants aren’t about today, our children, our finances, our politics, etc. - they’re about the eternal glory of God. and he will sustain us.
- Let that give you hope if you’re here today and you look at life ahead of you, as you’re working to finish college, beginning to establish a home or even a family, etc. and you think about how daunting it may seem to live a life for the Glory of God - God will preserve you.
- Let that challenge you if you’re here today in my season of life - working to multiply out the fruit of your home as your children are growing up, beginning to transition out, graduating into new seasons of their own lives - God will sustain you.
- Let that comfort you if you’re here today and you’re transitioning into a new season of life like retirement with members of your family spread abroad, out of your home - God will eternally keep his covenant - the best days of the blessings of his covenant with you are ahead. You can live with a new abandon to his purposes today knowing. His mercies are more than the sum of things you’ve gotten right or wrong about your life. He does this to glorify himself through your life today and for his great name eternally.
No matter your season -or stage- in life what we learn through Noah’s account in Genesis 5-10 and the focus we’ve given to chapters 6-9 today is simply this: God preserves us through his covenant mercy.