Week 4, Day 5
READ: Genesis 7-9:17
BACKGROUND: This is the incredible story of Noah’s Ark and the worldwide flood. What is crazy is that modern science proves that at one point the entire earth was under water. This is almost universally accepted. The Bible isn’t just full of mythological stories. It’s full of truth!
7:1 – Noah had warned people, but they didn’t listen. Now, it was too late.
2 – Why 7 of all the “clean” animals and only 2 of the “unclean.” Unclean animals needed only 2 to propagate the species after the flood. Clean animals were the ones acceptable for eating and for sacrifice. Noah brought more of them for food and offering purposes.
16 – It is fascinating here that 2 different names for God are used – Elohim and Yahweh. Notice in English translations it says “as God has commanded” & then “the LORD (all-caps) shut him in.” Why? There are different opinions. It could be to emphasize the holiness and justice of God (which necessitated the flood), and then the personal, redemptive mission of Yahweh, the personal name of the God of Israel (which led him to shut the door and save Noah).
22 – “The breath of life” was God’s gift to creation in Genesis 1. Now it has been taken away.
8:1 – We’ve seen judgment up to this point, but from here on out it is a story of redemption. God remembered Noah!
11 – The olive branch meant the that the waters had receded significantly since olives only grow at low altitude.
17 – This reflects the words of Genesis 1:22 at creation
21 – That God “smelled the pleasing aroma” illustrates the joy he takes when we worship him. He makes an important promise here: that he will never again bring this destruction even though humans deserve it.
9:1 – Again this reflects the language at creation where God provides for his people.
8 – God made a covenant with Noah. Covenants were incredibly important in that culture and they are incredibly important in the Bible. And Biblical covenants always had a symbol. In this case: the rainbow.
THINK: Rainbows are among the most incredible and beautiful things that occur in nature. And it’s always exciting to see one. Maybe it’s just because we don’t see them every day, but I think there is something more to it than that. There is something incredible and transcendent about them. Something divine. Rainbows signify a promise. They symbolize a covenant. They draw our eyes heavenward toward the Creator and remind us that in his great love he has promised to spare us from the destruction we deserve.
And one of the cool things about the covenant that God made with Noah is that it’s a Royal Grant Covenant and not a Suzerain-Vassal Covenant which was the more typical type in the Ancient Near East. So what in the world does that mean? Put simply, a Suzerain-Vassal covenant was an agreement between two unequal parties or kings – the great king (suzerain) and the lesser king (vassal) – whereby each party would perform a set of obligations or duties to the other. And the covenant was dependent on the work and performance of both members. If either failed, the covenant was broken and there were serious penalties to be paid for its violation. A Royal Grant Covenant, though, is totally different. It is a declaration by a king that something will be granted to an individual unconditionally. The king simply declares that he will give (usually in response to faithful service) and the gift is not dependent upon the ongoing performance or service of the recipient.
This is such an amazing thing for us to think about during Easter week! God made a covenant with Noah that he would spare humanity the punishment we deserved, and the rainbow symbolizes that. And it continues to appear in the sky despite our failures because it’s about God’s character and promise and not our performance. That covenant and the beauty of its symbol pale in comparison to the New Covenant (Luke 22:20) and its symbol, the cross. This covenant, too, is not dependent upon our performance or our good works. It is a promise that all people, no matter how messed up and unworthy, can be forgiven and restored, healed and made new because of the incredible, indescribable love of God – a love that was made manifest when Jesus gave his life for us on the cross. The new covenant in Christ’s blood is a covenant based upon the character and the amazing love of the God who created us, and it is his free gift to us by grace through faith!
ASK: Have I ever felt like I needed to earn God’s love or earn my salvation – like I wasn’t good enough to receive it? How does it change my perspective to know that I’m not worthy, but God has covenanted to save me anyway?