Day 5

God’s Covenant with Noah

from the Genesis reading plan

Genesis 9:1-29, Genesis 10:1-32, Isaiah 54:9-10, Hebrews 11:7

BY Sharon Hodde Miller

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.”

Post Comments (51)

51 thoughts on "God’s Covenant with Noah"

  1. K D says:

    So grateful for God’s covenant relationship with us!

  2. Jennifer Anapol says:

    I’m so glad that God is faithful to us even when we aren’t faithful to him. I’m so happy that he loves us that much. I also love the original purpose of the rainbow. It’s about God’s promise. Lately, this symbol has been made to represent something else entirely. It’s nice to be reminded of what it originally symbolized.

  3. Diana Fleenor says:

    Another thought came to mind in regard to the judgment of God on this side of the cross. It seems that the word “judge” or “judgment” is used in the Bible (especially focusing on the NT) in a variety of ways. In Matthew 7:1, Jesus tells us to “Judge not, that you be not judged,” then in John 7:24, he tells us, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” In 1 Corinthians 11:32, Paul writes, “But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.” Peter tells us in 1 Peter 4:17, “For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”

    As I consider each of these references, I see that perhaps what we need is to clarify the difference between God’s “judgment” for his people in order to discipline us in love and the “condemnation” that is on the world who rejects Jesus as Lord and Savior. The grace we have been given is to have “condemnation” taken away from us, but we also have been given the grace of the right judgment of our Father of lights who disciplines to make us holy like he is holy. I desire to use the words of Scripture in a way that is clear and thorough as I think about the Lord’s character in all aspects. Any thoughts about this?

    1. Bethany Mac says:

      I have not done a very thorough word study, but I suspect to get the clearest answer, we would want to look at the original Greek text and the meanings of the words used. Sometimes the English word “judge” or “judgement” is used for Greek words that mean both judgement and condemnation. The judgement is discerning about something – we judge if a situation is safe or unsafe. God judges if our actions and intentions are sinful or not. But condemnation is the negative (albeit sometimes rightful) reaction to the judgement. Thank you Lord that we have been given GRACE over condemnation! ALL have been judged and have been found guilty of sin – none is righteous, no, not one! But whoever believes in Jesus Christ as their savior avoids condemnation – instead we receive GRACE UPON GRACE! Hallelujah!

  4. Carly Newberg says:

    One of the biggest areas of my life I get caught up wondering if I’m doing things right is with my sexuality. I’m 23 and recently started dating someone who is a new believer. Setting boundaries has been hard and navigating a relationship that honors God is even more difficult, but I’ve been praying conviction over myself this week and hope to gain more clarity. I have that lingering fear that I’m disappointing God.

    1. Meredith Lengel says:

      I pray over you that even though it is difficult that it be something that you remain convicted about and know that it will be worth it.

    2. Kirstie Le Lievre says:

      Hey Carly, I encourage you to find a mature couple that can mentor the two of you. Dating should be about seeing if marriage is the direction your relationship is heading and that will mean a lot of stepping up spiritually and growth required by your boyfriend.

      We are made to walk out our faith in community, so I encourage you to find people who will encourage you and challenge you. God cares for you and loves you both. Dating can be a time of peace when you’ve got wisdom guiding you. We’re never going to get everything perfect, but we need to pursue wisdom.

      Blessings x

  5. Diana Fleenor says:

    Oh how I agree that having a solid grasp of God’s judgment against sin and his incredible love and forgiveness is essential for walking on the righteous path with Him in intimate communion. I have discovered the need to know the difference between eternal punishment and the temporal discipline that our loving Father brings to his children. His purpose for those of us who are born-again in Christ is not to condemn us when we sin, Christ took on that condemnation for us; but to conform us into the image of Christ. Oh what a difference believing this truth has made in my life!

    In regard to making “hard” decisions, I, too, have wrestled with them. It is good to be in this struggle, but we need to do it with the stance of trusting that our God is not stingy in giving us wisdom. James says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” And if anyone finds doubt rise in her heart, let’s approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and help for our doubts! I pray this with love for each of us who are in the midst of “hard” decisions.

  6. Deja Gibson says:

    I struggled for a long time with thoughts about God judging me for past sins. I no longer do and hope that others get through to and understand who God is. This reading just reminds me that he is just and that he rescues me and that no matter what he’s with Me. Thank you God, and thank you for sending your son Jesus!

    1. Bessie H says:

      I know exactly what you mean. One time I was praying that God would give me a forgiving heart. I was intending to forgive others. His answer was as clear to me as possible. He said to me, ‘forgive yourself’. I was stunned. My first impulse was to ask Him what I was to forgive myself for. He brought to my mind a sin that was long passed and many, many times confessed and asked for forgiveness.
      I’m glad that you have already understood that God’s forgiveness is complete and final. He separates us from our sins as far as the east is from the west! Praise Him!!

  7. Andrea Lopez says:

    Isaiah 54:10 – For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed,
    but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord who has compassion on you. Such comforting words in such a time we live in today. Thanks be to God.

  8. Allison Sherwood says:

    I was JUST talking about this with my husband last night; about how sometimes I worry if my decisions are in God’s will or not! I grew up believing in a God that loves me, but also punishes me if I take a wrong step, so I always have had this fear that I might hear God incorrectly and make a mistake and live with the consequences. I know that it’s not true now, after speaking with a mentor, but I definitely needed this reminder, and it came at the perfect time! Praise!

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