The Noahic covenant was first based on the promise God made with Noah saying “But with thee will I establish my covenant” (Genesis 6:18). God told Noah he was going to destroy everyone on earth due to their sinfulness, yet, Noah and his family was going to be spared because “Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:9). After the flood Noah builds and altar worships God and He makes a covenant with Noah. Just like with Adam God is specific about the blessings and consequences that will come about due from this covenant.
The Covenant Broken Down
God begins by first giving Noah and his family the same benediction that we find in Genesis with Adam and Eve. Genesis 9:1, “And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.” With Noah there was a restoration of God’s intended purpose for man to be fruitful, multiply, and replenish the earth. Man had stepped outside of his purpose when he sinned in the garden; the flood was God giving man a new and fresh start. “Although the essence of the Noahic covenant consisted in a divine promise, it did impose certain responsibilities on Noah and his posterity” (Diehl). Again, the same mandate given to Adam is referenced, God states they are forbidden to eat blood, importance of human life must be recognized by human justice, and God gives man a sign to remember this everlasting covenant. The covenant God makes with Noah can be summed up in Genesis 9:15-17, “And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. 17 And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.” God made and everlasting promise that no matter how sinful man became he was not going to go to such extremes as to use a great flood to destroy mankind. The sign God gives to Noah and man to this day to signify this truth is the rainbow.
Terms and Blessings of the Covenant
A unique aspect of this covenant is that God gives both terms for man and for Himself to abide by. The first term God references comes from the original covenant between Him and Adam, it was the original invocation God made to be fruitful, etcetera. Noah, his family, and all humanity had a fresh start to this time multiply in the earth and bring glory back to its original creator.
Within the covenant God tells Noah itself there a few different terms that apply to humanity that do not specifically connect to the flood itself. These terms are the implication of not eating blood and sanctity of human life. While they do not directly connect to the flood itself, they are relevant to humanities depravity prior to the flood, and thus the reason for the flood. Genesis 6:5 states, “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” These are some of the very first examples of God beginning to set apart a people that are different from the world around them.
The most notable aspect of the covenant was God’s term for himself that would result in being a blessing for mankind, “…and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.” God gave man the sign of the rainbow that would remind both parties (God and man) of this covenant. God made the promise that he would not destroy man through a flood ever again.
Through New Testament Eyes
This covenant that God established with Noah instituted the law of grace to man. God was telling Noah that despite what man may do there was a limit and God would not allow himself to pass. Unrepentant sin results in judgement, but God was saying he would only allow himself to go so far. “As the old world was ruined to be a monument of justice, so this world remains to this day, a monument of mercy, according to the oath of God, that the waters of Noah should no more return to cover the earth Isaiah 54:9” (Henry, 1994). Grace and mercy were brought into the relationship between God and man through this covenant more than ever before. “ Judgment does strike down man because of sin, yet with the judgment, escape is provided for those who look to God in faith” (Richards, L., & Richards, L. O., 1987). Today, we are able to live in a level of this grace that Noah could have never imagined. Because of Jesus Christ we are able to enjoy an abundance of God’s grace and mercy every single day.