Summary: 1) The Stipulations of the Covenant (Genesis 9:8-11), 2) The Sign of the Covenant (Genesis 9:12-16), 3) The Summary of the Covenant (Genesis 9:17)
One of the most extraordinary and beautiful natural wonders is the rainbow. It intrigues everybody. And rainbows have fascinated people throughout the ages. There are many things you could consider about rainbows. A rainbow is a bent or curved line in the sky composed or consisting of seven colors...red, orange, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Kids were sometimes taught to remember those colors by the name Roy G Biv, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. Since only one color of light is observed from each raindrop because the sun hits each different raindrop at a different angle, an incredible number of raindrops is required to produce the magnificent spectrum of color as big as it is that is characteristic of a rainbow. Usually a rainbow is seen when part of the sky is dark and there is rain in one part of the sky and the sun is shining in the other. And for the rainbow to be visible, the sun has to be behind the observer who is, in effect, facing the rainbow.
For Noah and his family the tragedy of the flood is behind them, they are facing God and Genesis 9 presents a beautiful picture of God’s grace. In effect, God’s Son is behind the elements of the covenant promise that God gives. In Genesis 9:1-7, we see that the Flood is over. All around Noah and the inhabitants or the ark are the vestiges of a changed earth and death everywhere, of course, drowning all of humanity with the exception of eight people, and all the animals except those that were on the ark, devastating the earth. Noah comes out of the ark. He enters into the new world at the beginning of chapter 9. And in verses 1 to 7 of this chapter, Noah and his family are told what they were to do. They were to reproduce. They were to rule. They were to eat. And they were to execute those who took life, capital punishment. Now in verses 8 to 17, God says what He’s going to do. The exhortation to Noah now becomes promise from God.
We read Genesis 9:8–17 in the context of a culture that leads us to believe that the world is mostly the result of our decisions, our actions, and our choices. We have the world and its future in our hands. It is up to us to make human history come out right, or right will not be done. God help us if this is our situation, for we have proved time and again that our hands are bloody and we cannot do the right, no matter how hard we try (Van Harn, R. (2001). The lectionary commentary : Theological exegesis for Sunday’s texts (17). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans)
In Genesis 9:8-17 God offers "The Covenant of Grace". In it we see: 1) The Stipulations of the Covenant (Genesis 9:8-11), 2) The Sign of the Covenant (Genesis 9:12-16), 3) The Summary of the Covenant (Genesis 9:17)
1) The Stipulations of the Covenant (Genesis 9:8-11)
Genesis 9:8-11 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, "Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth." (ESV)
Apparently before the Flood there was no rain. Remember the earth was protected by a water-vapor canopy that made the entire planet uniform in its sort of semi-tropical climate. And they had not known rain and that made a very benign kind of weather in a very protected kind of environment where the ultra-violet rays of the sun were filtered out and so men lived to be almost a thousand years old and animals lived to be very, very old, hence reptiles, the animals that grow all their life, became dinosaurs.
At the Flood it rained for the first time. The earth exploded. Gas and material went into the sky, broke up the canopy, it came down as water and deluged the earth for 40 days and 40 nights until literally with that and the fountains of the deep underneath the great reservoirs of water in the belly of the earth belching forward literally covering the entire planet. But now in the new world, rain is going to be common. In the new world it’s going to rain regularly all over the planet as God moves the water in the hydrological cycle, it’s evaporated up out of the ocean, goes into the clouds, carried across the land, deposited on the land, falls on the land, runs into streams, runs into rivers, runs back into the sea and the hydrological cycle works like that. Water is absolutely critical to man’s life since, I suppose, somewhere around 90-plus percent of us is water. It’s very important for us. So this rain is going to fall from God as a blessing on the just and the unjust. It’s going to make things grow. It’s necessary for life, providing beauty on the earth and food. Rain is going to be common.