In the last two parts of our study we looked at the beginning and growth of sin. It began in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve sinned against God by disobeying His direct command not to eat from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It grew for centuries through the lineages of Cain and Seth to the point that the world was filled with the wickedness of humanity.
Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lordwas sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the Lord said, ‘I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.’ But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.Genesis 6:5-8
God’s eternal plan was to bring about a new beginning through the man Noah. Why did God do that? We’ll see as we continue our special series, The Great Reveal.
Imagine that you are a member of Noah’s family. After surviving a global Flood the time has come for your family and the animals to leave the Ark and step foot on dry ground for the first time in a year.
Then God spoke to Noah, saying, ‘Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you: birds and cattle and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, so that they may abound on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.’ So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him. Every animal, every creeping thing, every bird, and whatever creeps on the earth, according to their families, went out of the ark.Genesis 8:15-19
You believe what Noah tells you because you’ve witnessed how everything Noah said God told him would happen, did happen. The next thing Noah said God told him to do was to build an altar to the Lord and offer burnt offerings of every clean animal and bird. God then promised that he would never again curse the ground for man’s sake, “although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” God also promised that He would not destroy every destroy every living thing as He had done in the Flood.
If you were part of Noah’s family, you would have witnessed something that God had planned from before the beginning of time, before the creation of the world. What would God’s plan be for this amazing ‘restart’? Would God remove sin from the world and make Noah and his family perfect? Would ‘heaven on earth’ begin with Noah’s family?
Here’s what God told Noah next –
So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man. ‘Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man. And as for you, be fruitful and multiply; Bring forth abundantly in the earth And multiply in it.Genesis 9:1-7
Even though some of God’s language is similar to what He said when He created the heavens and the earth –
- Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth
- For in the image of God He made man
God’s Words demonstrate that He did not remove sin from the world and make Noah and his family perfect. God did not bring ‘heaven to earth’ with Noah and his family. Notice the clues –
- And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea
- Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you
- But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man. ‘Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed’
Sin would continue on earth and impact human families in some ways that were similar to before the Flood (e.g. murder). However, God did introduce some new aspects to His relationship with humans and animals –
- God established a covenant with Noah and his sons and with their descendants after them
- God’s covenant would also relate to every living creature with Noah and his family (e.g. birds, cattle, every beast of the earth)
- God promised to never again cut off all flesh by the waters of a flood – He would never again destroy the earth with a flood
- God established a sign of the covenant with man and every living creature –
And God said: ‘This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.’ And God said to Noah, ‘This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.Genesis 9:12-17
The Noahic Covenant
The covenant God made with Noah and his sons and their descendants and with all living creatures in Genesis 9:8-17 is known as the Noahic Covenant. It is an unconditional covenant because God did not add any conditions to His promise. There was nothing that Noah, his sons or their descendants had to do to fulfill the covenant. God wanted them to do certain things (e.g. be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth, not eat flesh with its lifeblood still in it), but those things had nothing to do with the covenant God made with humans and animals that He would not destroy the earth with a flood again. God placed a rainbow in the cloud as a sign of that unconditional covenant. It’s one of the reasons I love to see a rainbow after rain. What a beautiful reminder of God’s promise.
The covenant God made with Noah and his sons and descendants was always part of God’s great eternal plan. It was not a promise He made because He felt bad about what He had done and wanted to make up for an error in judgment. The destruction of all living beings except for those protected in the Ark was part of God’s eternal plan. The covenant God made with all living beings in the Ark and their descendants not to destroy the earth with a flood again was part of God’s eternal plan. God determined the plan before time began and carried it out one step at a time during time.
Why would God do that? Why would He create humans and other living creatures, then destroy them? Why would that be part of God’s eternal plan?
Keep in mind that God is not making stuff up as He goes. He’s not trying out some ideas to see how they work then moving in a different direction when things don’t work out the way He thought they would. It’s important that we realize God is not like us. He is God. His ways are not our ways. His thought process is far above our way of thinking. Everything God does is part of His eternal plan. He is Eternal, All Powerful, All Knowing, and Everywhere Present at the same time.
So, we return to His eternal plan. Remember what it is?
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began. 2 Timothy 1:8-9
Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior. Titus 1:1-3
… knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. 1 Peter 1:18-21
Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. John 17:24
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. Ephesians 1:3-4
Here’s what God revealed to us about what He did before time began, before the foundation of the world –
- God the Father loved God the Son and the Son loved the Father
- God chose us in Christ
- God saved us and called us with a holy calling according to His own purpose and grace toward us in Christ
- God foreordained Christ’s death and resurrection
- God promised eternal life to us
I don’t want us to miss this point because it is central, foundational, to everything that happened ‘after’ time began, ‘after’ the foundation of the world.
** God determined in unlimited, unbounded eternity that Jesus Christ would die on the Cross, be buried, and rise from the dead. **
Nothing would deter God from completing His eternal purpose and plan. Nothing.
Jesus Christ and His death, resurrection and glorification is the FOCUS of everything we see in the Bible. That includes calling Noah to build the Ark, sending the global Flood to destroy every living creature not in the Ark, and making a covenant with Noah, his sons and their descendants. It’s all about God the Father sending God the Son to earth to be crucified and raised from the dead. It’s all about God giving us eternal life through His Son.
And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.John 17:3
God is on His Mission to give the gift of eternal life to many sons and daughters He has chosen. That’s what He is doing today and will be doing tomorrow and the next day and the next day.
We will take a closer look at what God accomplished through the global Flood and beginning anew with Noah and his family when we continue our special series, The Great Reveal.
[You can read more about the post-flood history in our book A History of Man’s Quest for Immorality.]
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.