Summary: God has established an everlasting covenant with the whole earth that endures to this very day. That promise, that covenant is for you.
Genesis 9: 8 – 17 – An Everlasting covenant
Intro: I once asked an adult Sunday school class to write a job description for Noah. This is what they wrote. Wanted: Person to build, maintain and sail a large ship. Must be civil engineer with experience as a zoologist. Must have experience in public relations, navigation and carpentry. Benefits: free 40-day world cruise – free shovel. Must be able to stand noise and foul odors. Above all, must have patience.
I. We all know the story of Noah and his boat. Even the unchurched know the story of a man who built an arc and took every kind of animal and plant aboard. It is probably the best known and most depicted story of the Old Testament.
A. It could be said of Noah that he endured. He endured the criticism and mockery of his friends and neighbors. / He also endured the 40 days of rain, ten months it took the water to recede and the 2 months it took the earth to dry. He weathered the storm. When we go through difficult times, when we feel we are being tested, if we hold on to our trust in God, we will see the full effect of God’s grace, mercy and love.
B. Noah also obeyed. He did what God told him in spite of the criticism. He took those animals and plants on board. --- How did he feed all those animals for such a long period? – it had to be with God’s help. God’s help is available to us as we sail through the storms of life as well.
C. Because Noah endured and obeyed God provided for his needs. Denn Guptill in his work titled, “Give Us Back Our Rainbow,” wrote of one of his best friends from Louisiana, Mike. Mike would pray, “Lord, you know my needs, I’m broke I have no soap or shampoo or toothpaste and no money for a social life.” The next week he would get a box in the mail with soap, shampoos, toothpaste and $20. Denn thought that was “cool” so he prayed “Lord, you know my needs, I’m broke, I have no soap or shampoo or toothpaste and no money for a social life.” And the next week, sure enough he got . . . a job. For which one did God provide? --- Both, but in different ways.
II. This story is a covenant story. There are 2 kinds of covenants in the bible: conditional which says, “I’ll do this if you do that.” “I will be your God. You will be my people.” And unconditional, of which this is an example.
A. In this covenant, God is the initiator, the keeper and the fulfiller. (Verse 9 – God establishes the covenant / Verse 15 – I will remember / Verse 17 – rainbow as token)
B. The covenant is not only with Noah and his descendants, it is with “every living creature of al flesh.” --- God makes a promise to keep and not destroy every living thing --- God is an “environmentalist”
C. Bob Ogle writes in “A Man of Letters,” “More than half the resources consumed in the entire history of the planet have been used up in my lifetime. Most of the pollution destroying creation has occurred since my father was born. Fifteen billion years of creation destroyed by two generations!” (Winfield, BC; Oakville, ON; Outrement, PQ: Wood Lake and Novalis Books, 1990, pg. 47)
III. In Verses 12 – 16, God gives a visible sign of God’s promise. It is not a reminder for us, it is a reminder for God, so when humanity becomes corrupt, God will see the rainbow and remember his promise to all living things.
A. That “token” or “symbol” is a bow. In Hebrew the word used here can be both a weapon and a rainbow. --- Rainbow show both unity and diversity. Unity in that it is a single arch and diversity in that it is composed of many colors.
B. The thing about a rainbow is that they are born out of the rain as well as the sunshine. Both must be present for the colorful beauty to burst forth. If that is true of a simple rainbow, how much more it is true for our lives. Life is a combination of rain and sunshine. Together they make something beautiful.
C. There is another “symbol” or “token” that does the same thing. It is the cross of Christ Jesus. For Christ is the light of the world that draws all of diverse humanity into the unity of the family of God.
Conclu: I want to share with you an interesting fact about rainbows. The same rainbow can never be seen by different people at the same time. One’s perspective changes the appearance of the rainbow. So, like snowflakes, no two rainbows are ever the same. The same is true of God’s promises in our lives. God’s promises are as unique as the person who receives them. Verse 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.”