GENESIS Chapter 12
GOD’S COVENANT WITH NOAH – A PICTURE OF GRACE
“And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.“– Genesis 9:11
Noah’s first act, when he came out of the ark, was to build, not a house for himself, but an altar “unto the Lord” on which he offered blood sacrifices as burnt offerings to God. These were received by God as a sweet-smelling savor. Having received these offerings, God declared that he would never again curse the ground for man’s sake and that, as long as the earth remained, its seasons would not cease.
Then we are told, “God blessed Noah and his sons” (9:1). This is the first time we read of God blessing anyone since the fall of our father Adam. The basis of the blessing was the sacrifice God had received. That blood sacrifice was symbolical. It was a picture of Christ, the Lamb of God, for whose sake and through whose merits all the blessings of grace flow to sinners upon the earth.
This is a new beginning. Judgment is over. Old things have passed away. All things are now new. And everything now rests upon a covenant that God made, a covenant of grace, based upon shed blood. Man had forfeited the blessing of God. He had forfeited his position as lord of creation. But grace restores him. Grace reinstates him. God made a covenant with Noah and, in its scope, that covenant reached even to the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea (9:2). This covenant was made to last forever.
Everything about Noah’s salvation by the ark is representative of our salvation by the Lord Jesus Christ. The whole story is full of spiritual suggestions.
The ark is a picture of Christ and our redemption by him.
The salvation of Noah and his family by water is a picture of our salvation by the washing of regeneration. Like Noah, though we are in the world, we are dead to it. As Noah came out of the ark, out of the flood of God’s wrath, so we have come up out of the watery grave to walk with Christ in the newness of life by the power of our resurrected Redeemer.
As Noah came out of the ark to walk abroad in the earth, so the believer in Christ walks in freedom. Noah’s sacrifices to God picture the believer’s employment in this world – The worship and praise of God our Savior.
When the Lord commanded Noah to be fruitful and fill the earth with his fruit, he set forth the fruitfulness of faith. Believer’s bear fruit, the fruit of the Spirit, unto God (Gal. 5:22-23).
And as his witnesses in this world, believing sinners are spiritual parents to immortal souls, travailing in birth until Christ is formed in other chosen sinners by the work of God the Holy Spirit.
Noah’s dominion over the beasts of the earth symbolized the believer’s dominion over the lusts of his own nature. Grace has made us priests and kings in Christ. We are priests to offer up sacrifices to God by Christ. We are kings to rule our own spirits by the Spirit of Christ.
Noah’s security, standing before God upon the ground of God’s own covenant, was a picture of every believer’s security before God upon the basis of God’s covenant.
Before ever the earth was made, before time began, in old eternity, God made a covenant with his Son for the salvation of his elect. We call it the covenant of grace, or the everlasting covenant. That covenant was a solemn compact between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, which guarantees and secures the salvation of God’s elect. It is a covenant ordered in all things and made sure from eternity (Eph. 1:3-6; 2 Tim. 1:9).
It is a covenant ratified by the blood of Christ at Calvary (Heb. 13:20). It is a covenant established and sealed to God’s elect by the Holy Spirit in regeneration through faith (Eph. 1:13-14). It was this blessed covenant of grace that comforted, sustained, and gave satisfaction to David on his deathbed (2 Sam. 23:5). It is this very same covenant which is the comfort and strength of believing sinners today (2 Tim. 1:9-12). The covenant that God made with Noah was a covenant of pure grace and was representative of the covenant of grace which he made for us with Christ before the world began.
WHO MADE THIS COVENANT?
The source of this covenant was God alone. This was a covenant which God made with Noah, not a covenant that Noah made with God (Read vv. 11, 12, and 15). This was God’s covenant with Noah. Man had no part in making it, or in keeping it. And man could not break it. So it is with that everlasting covenant of grace that God has made for us. It is a covenant of pure grace (Rom. 9:11-18). It is a covenant of unconditional, unqualified promise. God says, “I will” and “you shall” (Gal. 4:22-31).
Believers do not stand before God under a covenant that demands anything of us. We live under a covenant of promise. Its’ favors are unconditional. Its’ mercies are unlimited. All its’ blessings are made sure to all the seed by the oath and promise of God. As God kept his covenant with Noah, so the covenant of grace has been faithfully kept to this day (8:22), kept by God himself. Nothing in the covenant depends, in any degree, upon man – God says, “I will remember my covenant,” and he does. The garments of salvation are all garments of God’s providing, garments of grace. None of God’s people wear garments of linen and wool, of works and grace.
C. H. Spurgeon said, “My looking to Jesus brings me joy and peace, but it is God’s looking to Jesus which secures my salvation and that of all his elect; for it is impossible for God to look at Christ, our bleeding Surety, and then be angry with us for sins already punished in him.”
The covenant of grace is an everlasting covenant. Time does not change God or his purpose. David rejoiced to declare on his dying bed, “The Lord hath made with me and everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure.” Every child of God in this world can and should have the same joyful confidence in all his circumstances. Grace is never in jeopardy. Salvation is never in danger. God’s elect cannot, by any means, be lost (Isa. 54:9-10). The covenant of grace is a covenant made by God and kept by God.
WITH WHOM WAS THE COVENANT ESTABLISHED?
The covenant touched everything in God’s creation. The benefits of the covenant were given to all Noah’s posterity. But the covenant was made with only one man – Noah (v. 11). Even so, the covenant of grace was made with one Person – the Lord Jesus Christ; but that one Person was Surety for many (Heb. 7:22). God made his covenant for us with Christ. Our divine Surety met all the stipulations of the covenant for us. In him, only in him, every believer receives all the blessings of the covenant. They are ours in Christ and for his sake (Eph. 1:3-6; 2 Tim. 1:9).
WHAT WAS THE BASIS, OR FOUNDATION, OF THE COVENANT?
This covenant was God’s response to Noah’s sacrifice (Gen. 8:20-22). The covenant which God made with Noah was God’s answer to the “sweet savor” that ascended to him from the altar. All the blessings of the covenant flowed to Noah, because of the sacrifice. And all the blessings of the covenant of grace flow to all of God’s elect through “the blood of the everlasting covenant” (Heb. 13:20), the blood of Christ, “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8).
WHY WAS THIS COVENANT MADE?
We must not pry into the secrets of almighty God. I do not pretend to know all that moved God in the covenant he made with Noah, or in the covenant he made with Christ for us. However, this much he has revealed. God made his covenant to be…
• a wondrous display of his amazing grace (Gen. 8:21; Eph. 1:6, 12, 14).
• a perpetual declaration of his glorious sovereignty (Gen. 8:22; Rom. 9:11-18).
• a solid ground of comfort to his elect (Rom. 8:28-32).
WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE COVENANT?
In a word – Everything! The covenant God made with Noah included all the elements of the world (8:22), all the creatures of the world (9:3, 9, 10), and all the governments of the world (9:6). The covenant of grace includes everything. “All things are of God” (2 Cor. 5:18). “All things are yours” (1 Cor. 3:21; Hos. 2:18; Rom. 8:28). Everything in this world is so absolutely governed by God that nothing happens, nothing is done, nothing moves, nothing lives, nothing dies, except that which God has purposed for the fulfilling of his covenant in his elect.
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THE RAINBOW, THE TOKEN OF THE COVENANT?
Read verses 12 – 16. Here we see the rainbow upon the earth; but when John was caught up to heaven, he saw the rainbow encircling God’s throne (Rev. 4:3), and he saw Christ, our Mediator, ruling all things for the fulfilment of God’s covenant, crowned with a rainbow on his head (Rev. 10:1).
The Lord is ever mindful of his covenant. He does not need a token to remind him of it; but we do. So he gave us the rainbow. It was the symbol to Noah of God’s covenant with him; and it is a symbol to us to remind us of God’s covenant with us in Christ.
When may we expect to see the rainbow, the token of the covenant? The only time the rainbow is seen is when there is a cloud (v. 14). When our blessed Savior died at Calvary, there was a dark cloud over the earth; and there, in the death of our Substitute, we see God’s covenant. The believer’s days in this world are often filled with clouds, clouds hung by our heavenly Father – “When I bring a cloud.”
We read the lines and promises of God’s covenant best when we read them drawn out for us upon the dark and cloudy sky of adversity. You will never see the rainbow until a cloud appears. But, as A. W. Pink wrote, “How blessed to know that the cloud that comes over our sky is of his bringing! And if so, how sure that some way he will reveal his glory in it!”
If we would see the rainbow, there must also be some rain. The cloud itself does not give the rainbow. We will never see a rainbow without the crystal drops of water to reflect the light of the sun. And you cannot see the rainbow unless the sun shines. It is only as Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, shines in our hearts by the Spirit of grace that we are able to see God’s covenant and grace toward us in him.
Shine, O Sun of Righteousness Through all the clouds of time and sense;
Display the rainbow of your grace And rest my soul in covenant peace.
What do we see in the rainbow, the token of the covenant? In the rainbow, we see transcendent beauty and glory. That is what we see revealed in the covenant of God’s grace. In the rainbow, we see a symbol of justice and vengeance satisfied. There is the bow; but it has neither string nor arrow.
God has hung up his bow. The warfare is over (Isa. 40:1-2). That is the covenant fulfilled by our Surety. In the rainbow, we see streamers of joy, a banner of delight, flung across the heavens. That is what the covenant of grace is! (Jer. 31:3; 31-34; 32:37-41).
Donald S. Fortner, Pastor
Grace Baptist Church of Danville
2734 Old Stanford Road
Danville, Kentucky 40422-9438 USA
Taken from http://grace-for-today.com/1504.htm