God’s Covenant with Noah
Open Your Bible
Genesis 9:1-29, Genesis 10:1-32, Isaiah 54:9-10, Hebrews 11:7
Recently, I met with someone who was agonizing over a big life decision. She wanted to make the right choice, and she was terrified of making the wrong one. But her fear was not simply about discerning God’s will. It was about disappointing God. Or worse, failing Him. If she made the wrong decision with the wrong motivation, she worried that God would punish her for it.
This is, not surprisingly, a common fear among Christians. Many followers of Jesus live with the unsettling worry that God will judge us for our sin, despite receiving His gift of grace and salvation. Either consciously or subconsciously, we operate out of a place of fear rather than love, and it’s often because of stories like Noah and the flood.
This fear of judgment would be understandable if the flood—or any judgment from God—were the end of the story, but thankfully, it is not. Instead, the flood is only a chapter in a bigger, redemptive plan.
What we encounter in the chapters following the flood is a second story of creation. It’s as if God wipes the slate clean and begins again. In the same way God directed Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, He commands Noah to do the same (Genesis 9:1). Noah is, in some sense, a new Adam.
However, what is different from that first creation is the presence of sin. Humanity’s relationship with God has fundamentally changed, which makes this story fundamentally different. He explains what it means to be His people and what He expects of them, but He also promises never to rain down this kind of judgment again (v.11).
God calls these commands and His promise a “covenant,” which is significant. What God is offering is not a cold, legal “contract,” but a relational covenant that is instituted and upheld by God, and here is why all of this matters: In these opening chapters of Genesis, we are learning about who God is. God is just and He will not be mocked, and we see this in His judgments. But, God is also a rescuer and a redeemer who gives everything He has to deliver us.
In every story that follows, God affirms these two things: this covenant, and His commitment to preserve His people. And ultimately, He fulfills it in Christ. Jesus receives our judgment and achieves our redemption, and then makes this restoration available to all who enter this covenant through Him.
That is why we can read these stories of God’s wrath without fear. Sin has consequences and God is indeed just—but the judgment has been dispensed. Because of Christ, God looks upon us in all our weakness and mistakes, and promises, “Never again.”