8 Then God said to Noah and his sons with him, 9 “Understand that I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you—birds, livestock, and all wildlife of the earth that are with you—all the animals of the earth that came out of the ark. 11 I establish my covenant with you that never again will every creature be wiped out by floodwaters; there will never again be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all future generations: 13 I have placed my bow in the clouds, and it will be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I form clouds over the earth and the bow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all the living creatures: water will never again become a flood to destroy every creature. 16 The bow will be in the clouds, and I will look at it and remember the permanent covenant between God and all the living creatures on earth.” 17 God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and every creature on earth.” — Genesis 9:8-17
God’s Covenant with Noah
by Melissa Hayes
West Franklin Campus
My dad remembers his grandmother shooing him out of her garden so he wouldn't trample her medicine for the townspeople. She was a Choctaw Medicine Woman. Because of my heritage, the difference between covenant and contract was instilled in me. The Native Americans made a covenant with the government, while the government held a contract—a huge difference in belief-systems, which inevitably led to the American Indian Wars.
A contract is a legally binding paper signed by two parties, although sometimes one of those parties may not consent as willingly as the other. Also, it is based on works or on what they promise to uphold. If one reneges, it can be legally cancelled by the other party, making their agreement null.
By contrast, a covenant is freely entered by both parties and is binding in life and in death. No matter the circumstances or the unfaithfulness of the other party, the covenant stands, binding the two together, not just during their life, but for all their future generations. It provides a confident, faithful, permanent, and exclusive place for protection and relationship.
Have you ever wondered why Scottish missionary David Livingstone survived in Africa for so long? He understood the terms of covenant and made a covenant with the tribal leaders he encountered. The result? If anyone threatened or harmed Dr. Livingstone, all covenant tribes would defend and protect him. No one wanted to bring on a siege, so he was left alone. Not only was the covenant for protection, but also for provision. Dr. Livingstone and his friends were welcomed and physically cared for as he built relationships with the tribes, showing many the way to Christ.
There are a number of covenants in the Bible. The first covenant was between Adam, Eve and God—the reason we have grace and a relationship with God today. Another important covenant was made by God and Moses, and it was the reason the death angel passed over the blood-yielding doorposts in Egypt. The Davidic covenant promised that the Christ Child would be from David’s lineage. Today, in the eyes of God, the marriage covenant is considered sacred. It’s the reason Jesus said, “What God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matthew 19:6). But the ultimate covenant was the one established between God and mankind, in which—through His Son’s sacrifice—our sins have been covered. The reason we practice communion is to remind us of our covenant with God.
In today’s passage, we see the covenant between God and Noah. This is a beautiful picture of God’s protection and the deep relationship He had with Noah. We enjoy the benefits of this covenant today. After a storm or standing next to a powerful waterfall, we see God’s quiet promise of protection over the earth, that He will never destroy the earth again through a flood. The promise, given to us in grand beauty, reminds us of His presence and the relationship He desires to have with us.
- Are you miserable in your relationship with Christ? If so, reflect on whether you’ve been keeping up your end of the covenant with Him. He's promised to redeem the time wasted.
- If you do not have a relationship with God, are you willing to step into a covenant with Him? He’s provided His part for you to freely accept. Click here to find out more.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.