Author: Ron Graham
Peter mentions Noah and the flood twice in his epistles...
Note —PRECEDENT: a previous happening that is parallel to one presently being examined. The way matters were handled in the former event (eg the flood in Noah’s time) is a basis for how the new event (eg the end of the present world) will be handled.
The account of Noah and the flood is found in Genesis 6 - 9.
In this first part of our study, we will consider what happened leading up to the flood.
There are two contrasting statements at the beginning of the story. "The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth... but Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord" (Genesis 6:5,8). This reminds us that "no creature is hidden from his sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of him to whom we must give account" (Hebrews 4:13). "The eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that he may strongly support those whose heart is completely his" (2Chronicles 16:9). Thus Noah found grace because God's unfailing eye observed that he was not like the rest.
God is watching us, each one, and we can hide nothing from him nor divert his eyes from moving to and fro. But one thing we can change. We can change what God sees when he looks. We can change our hearts and the way we live, so that when God looks at us he will not be disgusted, but will be pleased. And we, like Noah, will find grace in God's eyes, and God will make provision for us to be saved from his wrath.
Genesis 6:22, Genesis 7:5
Noah was "warned by God about things not yet seen" (Hebrews 11:7) just as we have been warned about the coming destruction of the world by fire. Therefore "knowing this beforehand" we should "be diligent to be found by him in peace, spotless and blameless" (2Peter 3:17,14). Noah made his peace with God by doing "all that God commanded him" (Genesis 6:22) Noah left nothing undone that God had told him to do. This is the mark of one who is ready for the destruction of the world.
The frightening thing about this story, is how few escaped the flood --only "a few, that is eight persons, were saved" (1Peter 3:20) Jesus says of eternal life that "few there be who find it" (Matthew 7:14). Of all the things that concerns us, this fact prays on our minds the most. No doubt Noah must have considered the question too: Why are we so few?
In the remainder of our study, we will consider what happened after the flood receded.
Humans and animals were almost extinct: the world population was four women, four men, and very few of each kind of animal. This time there was no garden of Eden. There was only water everywhere, an inimical environment. The ark was the only haven. How could this vulnerable remnant of life survive? Well "God remembered Noah" (Genesis 8:1). He sent a strong wind to dry the earth for Noah, and called him out of the ark.
Sometimes in our lives there can be such devastation that we wonder how we shall survive. But God remembers us and comes to our aid. Even the dead and buried God will remember. He will send Christ to call them out of the graves (John 5:28-29). If they, like Noah, have obeyed the Lord, God will usher them into a new world 2Peter 3:13.
You would have thought that Noah had more urgent things to do when he, his family, and all the animals went out of the ark. But the first thing he did was build an altar. Then he took of the precious stock of animals, and what he took, he offered upon the altar, sacrificing precious life (Genesis 8:20). Why do such a thing in such circumstances? Well Noah's offering represented the sacrifice that Christ far in the future would make, to save mankind from sin. Noah had to honour Christ, howsoever dire the circumstances. In the same way, we should hasten to honour Christ no matter what.
Even when life is grim and uncertain, and the pressure is on us, we should not only expect God to remember us, but we should also remember God. We should build an altar as it were, and "offer up the sacrifice of praise to God continually" (Hebrews 13:15) and to make it our first priority to serve God "in holy conduct and godliness" (2Peter 3:11, Romans 12:1-2).
When we think of God blessing someone, we usually think of him giving them something tangible. But when we look for how "God blessed Noah" it seems to be all just words and promises. The gospel is like that. It is basically promises. Most of the things that are promised are invisible, intangible —forgiveness, salvation, eternal life, intercession, the gift of the Spirit, and so forth. We are promised an as yet unseen "new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" (2Peter 3:13).
Promises from God are "exceeding great and precious" (2Peter 1:4). One reason they are so precious is that God will unfailingly keep them (Hebrews 6:18). So even if God gives us nothing this week but promises, how truly blessed we are.
The rainbow covenant was not the most important covenant that God ever made with the people of Earth. It is however an excellent example of an important principle in the greater covenants, including the new covenant mediated by Jesus Christ (Hebrews 8:6).
God Covenants with Humanity As He Wills Notice carefully the language God uses. "As for me, I establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you... This is the sign of the covenant which I make... I set my rainbow in the cloud..." (Genesis 9:9,13). Did you observe that it was God making this covenant just as he wills —not asking anyone's permission or consent?
That's the way it was in the time of Moses when God gave him the law at Sinai. Moreover, that's the way it is with the gospel, the new covenant of Christ. There was no negotiation on the part of the recipients of these covenants. God gave the laws and promises entirely of his own counsel. (Ephesians 1:9-11).
Humanity Does Not Know What is Best In his immediate circumstances, I don't think it would have occurred to Noah to ask God for a rainbow, do you? But God didn't wait for Noah to ask. God didn't even ask Noah if he'd like one. God just put the rainbow in the sky, and God just handed down the covenant that the rainbow signified.
Human beings are not equipped to understand how their greatest needs can be satisfied. That is for God their Creator to take care of "—things which have not entered into the heart of man, everything that God has prepared for those who love him" (1Corinthians 2:7-13). The gospel, God's new covenant in Christ, was long promised but nobody, not even the angels, could grasp it fully until Jesus brought it to us from God (1Peter 1:10-12).
No Human Being Should Change God’s Covenant I don't think it would have occured to Noah to criticise God's rainbow, and suggest some changes in its shape or its colors, do you? No, when God hands down his covenant to man, then man should not reject it or wish to change it. God's purpose is immutable, unchangeable, and so are his covenants (Hebrews 6:17-18, James 1:17-18).
Some day, somewhere, someone will be looking at the last rainbow ever to shine in the heavens, because in the next second, they will see Jesus, as promised in his new covenant, coming in the clouds with fire not water, and "the heavens will pass away with a roar... the earth and its works will be burned up" (2Peter 3:10).