Summary: God’s promises are reliable.
It is said that when James Longstreet began his attack on the second day of battle at Gettysburg during the American Civil War without Pickett’s division present he exclaimed, "I feel like I’m going in with only one boot on."
After last week’s sermon, I somewhat felt the same way because in studying only part of Noah and the flood, we go forward "with only one boot on." But, this morning, we put the other boot on, because we need to again hear the rest of the story.
Last week, He said, "I will." "I will completely wipe out the human race. I am sorry that I ever made them." This week, God says, "I promise." "I solemnly promise never to send another flood to kill all living creatures and destroy the earth."
Last week God spoke as Elohim. An Old Testament name for God that tends to emphasize His justice. This week God speaks as Yahweh. Another Old Testament name for God that tends to emphasize His mercy.
God made a promise after the flood. Has He made good on that promise? Yes, He has! God has honored His promise down through the centuries since the flood.
We can trust God’s promises. His promises are reliable. His promises are kept. We can rely on God’s promises. We can build our lives on God’s promises.
But, this promise, made to Noah after a devastating flood, is part of something else. It is part of the covenant or agreement that God makes with Noah. A covenant that William Dumbrell calls "a recall to a basic pattern of creation."
A covenant is a big deal. Today we would call it a contract or agreement. Lawyers would write it down and we would sign it. We make all sorts of covenants today - car and house payments are among the biggest and most common. They are promises, pledges, or agreements to do something - namely honor the contract with the bank or mortgage company to pay what we said that we would pay for what we have just bought.
But the covenant that God establishes with Noah is far more significant and eternal than the covenants that we sign today. The basic nature of the covenant that God makes with Noah and later, with Abraham, then the people of Israel through Moses, then David, and then the New Covenant He makes with all of humanity is God’s relationship to and with us.
Have you ever noticed that God’s statement to Noah and his sons at the beginning of Genesis 9 is almost word for word what He (God) said to Adam when the world was first created? Be fruitful and multiply.
It was a re-creation of the earth. It was a second chance for the human race to get it right. And God promised that He would never again send a flood.
God has kept that promise. And more.
Now there are a couple of things about God’s promises, about His covenants, about His agreements with us that we need to know. They are important because what we will be remembering, as we partake of communion this morning, is the New Covenant that makes possible new life in Christ.
First, God’s promises are based on His character. And how do you describe God’s character? Well, in relation to His promises, consistent, trustworthy, true, and pure.
Let’s face it. Our promises keeping ability is flawed. We do not have a 100% track record in promise making and promise keeping, do we?
That is not true for God. God’s promises that are based on God’s character are solid, reliable, trustworthy, and can be counted on.
Second, the purposes of God’s promises or covenants, is nothing less that the total and complete transformation of the human race by God through salvation by faith in Christ. From the making of this promise/this covenant with Noah, to the making of the promise/covenant with Abraham, then with the people of Israel, then with David, and finally the New Covenant with all of humanity, all of them have one goal in mind, the opportunity for the entire human race to be redeemed by God.
God’s promises are true. They are reliable. We can trust them.
As we come to communion this morning, we come to remember God’s promise of the New Covenant. A covenant that is written not on stone tables but the hearts of people. A covenant not based on keeping rules and regulations but on a relationship with God. A covenant that makes possible the forgiveness of our sins and a new and better life, now.
God promised Noah never to again destroy the earth and all living things by flood. God promised Abraham that he would be the father of all nations. God promised the people of Israel that He would be their God. God promised David that from his linage that the Messiah would come. God has promised us the forgiveness of sins and eternal life with Him forever. And all these promises required two things of each person or group - they required them to believe God and act in faith on those promises.