Gen 9:13                   The Covenant of the Rainbow                            2/04/2018      ßà   

 

 

 

 

#1.      God, the Initiator of His Covenant (Gen 9:9, 6:18)

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2.      An Everlasting Covenant (Gen 9:12-16, 8:22, Heb 1:3)

 

 

 

 

 

 

#3.      The Principle of the Rainbow (Rev 4:3, 10:1, Eze 1:26-28)

 

 

 

 

 

 

#4.      What Is Our Obligation? (Gen 9:4-6, Rom 13:1-2)

 

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Prophecy of Genesis, Gen 8:20 (2X). Last week we have seen that Noah built an altar unto the Lord, and Noah offered burnt offerings upon the altar. This was a sweet savour to the Lord, for it reminded Him of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. This week we want to consider Gen 9 where God speaks of His covenant with Noah and with all creatures that are upon the earth. And we want to know if this is a separate Noachian covenant, or if this is the Covenant of Grace that God speaks about in so many places in the Bible. Therefore the title of the sermon today is The Covenant of the Rainbow (2X). We shall see that it is a magnificent covenant, and it is an everlasting covenant, which means that it will stretch all the way from Noah until the Last Day of this world. Let us now read about this covenant beginning at Gen 8:20,

Ge 8:20 ¶  And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.

Ge 8:21  And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.

Ge 8:22  While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

Ge 9:1-2  And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.         And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.

Ge 9:3-4  Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.       But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.

Ge 9:5-6  And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man.      Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

Ge 9:7  And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.

Ge 9:8 ¶  And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying,

Ge 9:9  And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;

Ge 9:10  And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth.

Ge 9:11  And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.

Ge 9:12-14  And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:                I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.       And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:

Ge 9:15  And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.

Ge 9:16  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.

Ge 9:17  And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.

We can see, in Gen 8:17, and in Gen 9:1, and in Gen 9:7 that God said to Noah, “Be fruitful and multiply upon the earth”. This was a renewal of God’s word to Adam. The human race was starting out afresh. There was a new beginning. Noah stood, like Adam stood, as the head of the human race. And as further proof that Noah stood as the head of the human race and as the ruler of this world, God speaks of the animal world in verse 2, “Into your hand are they delivered”. In this we can see that Noah was a shadow of Christ, for ultimately Christ will receive all authority in heaven and on earth.

#1.      God, the Initiator of His Covenant (Gen 9:9, 6:18)

It is clear from this entire passage that God is the initiator and the finisher of this covenant. No man was required to do anything to make this covenant to come to pass. God does it all. We read in:

Ge 9:9  And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;

And so it goes through this entire passage. The whole passage emphasizes the fact that it was a covenant of God with Noah, and not of Noah with God. God was the giver, man was the receiver. In verse 11 God says, “I will establish My covenant with you”. In verse 12 God says, “This is the token of the covenant which I make”. In verse 15 God says, “I will remember My covenant”. In other words, man had no part in the making or the keeping of this covenant, for God says in verse 13, “I do set My bow in the cloud”. And in verse 15 God says, “I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh”. Paraphrased God says: “I establish My covenant, and I will make these promises, and I will remember, and I will create the token of this covenant”. And so we see that God, early on in the Bible, establishes Himself as the Sovereign God, who works all things out according to the good pleasure of His will.

What strikes me in this passage is the great number of repetitions of the doctrines that God has placed here. Eight times does God mention the word covenant that He will make. The first time was in Gen 6:18, and the other seven times in this chapter. Five of those eight times does God mention that He establishes this covenant first of all with Noah, who we should see as a type of Christ. Five times does God speak about the token of the covenant, or the bow that shall be seen in the cloud, and this rainbow was designed by God. Four times does God refer to the everlasting covenant with the words: “no more”, or “perpetual”, or “everlasting”, for it is God who determines how long this  covenant will be in effect. Five times does God emphasize that this Covenant of the Rainbow includes “every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth”. I am not sure why all these things have to be repeated so many times, but certainly God has His reasons for doing so. Certainly, one reason why God did that was to stress the fact that He is the Sovereign God, the only One who rules this universe. There are no other powers that do their thing independent of God’s approval. Even Satan cannot do anything that God does not approve of. In fact God’s command to be fruitful and multiply also depends on God’s guiding providence, for it is only God who gives conception in the womb. And so we see that God is not only the initiator of this covenant, but God is also the sustainer of this covenant. The providence of God, or the hand of God, is seen all throughout this chapter. Let us now look at the details of this covenant. For it was:

As I have said last week, Chapter 9 should have been started with Gen 8:20. This is the basis of this story, for chapter 9 reads as if it is God’s response to Noah’s offering. Of course we know that God inspired the gratitude of Noah, and God planned ahead of time that Noah would offer clean animals at the end of his journey in the Ark, for God commanded Noah to take 7 of every clean animal into the Ark. And so, the giving of the covenant of the rainbow began with the shedding of blood. It was the blood of the animals on the altar, which was a picture of the shedding of blood of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. We read in Gen 8:20,

Ge 8:20 ¶  And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.

And God said in Gen 6:18, “With thee will I establish My covenant”. We know that the historical meaning of this expression is that God made a covenant with Noah. But let us also look at the spiritual meaning of this expression. Spiritually, with whom did God make this covenant? With Noah? No! The primary beneficiary of this covenant is not Noah himself, but Christ whom he represents. Noah was just the head of the human race in the flesh. But Christ became the head of all those who are in the Spirit. It was Christ who was in view in the burnt offerings on the altar. And it is Christ and all those who are in Christ who are the beneficiaries of this covenant on an everlasting basis. O yes, we read that God mentioned “every living creature of all flesh”, but the majority of all flesh benefits from this covenant only on a temporary basis. The animals benefit from this covenant only while they are alive. Those who never get saved benefit from this covenant only while they are alive.

The principle that God lays out before us is the principle of representation. The benefits of this covenant have been enjoyed by Noah’s posterity, and yet the covenant was not made with them. Favor has been shown to them for Noah’s sake, but actually it is for Christ’s sake. God’s wrath has not come upon all the unsaved while they are still alive, for in the midst of them live the saints of God who are in Christ. And thus for Christ’s sake they are not destroyed by another catastrophe, for Christ protects His saints and keeps them under His care. Likewise the animal world benefits from this covenant, because the saints are still alive on this world. And thus we see that this early in human history God revealed the principle of representation. It is the great principle by which redemption shall be effected by His Son: The One acting for the many, and the many receiving blessings through the One. Favor has been shown to all who are in Christ, for Christ’s sake. And the basis for this covenant with Noah, or with Christ, is the shedding of blood. This covenant then was based upon sacrifice. We need to see the giving of this Covenant of the Rainbow within the context, all the way to Gen 8:20. How blessed it is to learn from these types and figures that every temporal blessing which the earth enjoys, as well as every spiritual blessing which is the portion of the saints, comes to us from the Sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom Noah’s burnt offerings were a picture of. Let us now consider the promises that are contained in this covenant. We read that God promised:

#2.      An Everlasting Covenant (Gen 9:12-16, 8:22, Heb 1:3)

Ge 9:12-14  And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual (lit: everlasting) generations:     I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.          And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:

Ge 9:15  And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.

Ge 9:16  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.

In verse 16 God speaks of an everlasting covenant. And in Gen 8:22 (2X) God said,

Ge 8:22  While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

These promises were given many thousands of years ago, and the unfailing annual fulfillment of them all through the centuries demonstrates the faithfulness of God. Most people consider this as the laws of nature. Men seek to shut God out of His own creation. But when we consider those laws of nature we see that the recurring seasons are not predictable at all. Therefore, in the absence of Divine revelation such as here in Gen 8 and 9, we have no guarantee that the seasons would not radically change. If the laws of nature did not prevent the flood of Noah’s days, why should they prevent that another flood would occur in our time? And thus we see that our daily bread, and the health of our body is not something that we have under control. Instead our daily bread is a gift of God, for without the returning seasons, and God’s renewal of the face of the earth man could produce no grain at all. The returning of the seasons and the renewal of the earth are the fulfillment of the covenant that God made here with Noah. And so, the varying seasons, and the positions of the sun and the moon that rule these seasons, and the interactions that cause annual changes in climates,

are all under the control of Him who upholds all things by the word of His power. We read in Heb 1:3,

Heb 1:3  Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

Christ is presently “upholding all things by the word of His power”. That is the essence of Gen 8:22. Do we believe this, or do we ascribe everything to the laws of nature? The Bible says that we must believe that Christ upholds all things, and that includes the planets and the stars in their course, and it also includes all the life-processes that take place in each cell of the human body and in each cell of any animal or plant alive. That is the meaning of the promise of Gen 8:22, that “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease”. And notice that God made this promise conditional, “While the earth remaineth”. It means that when this earth shall be burnt up on the Last Day this promise also comes to an end.

Let us now consider the token of this covenant.

God shows the rainbow as the token of this covenant. We must conclude from this chapter that in world history prior to Gen 9 no rainbow was visible. God has not disclosed all the reasons for this, so we should not speculate about it. But now the rainbow is visible all over the earth. And the bow in the cloud was not only to assure mankind that no more would the earth be destroyed by a flood, it was also a memorial of the new relationship which God had entered into with His creatures. This was the first time in the Bible that God mentioned a covenant, and God backs this up with a show of light. When we say that God is light (1John 1:5), we should understand that this must be taken spiritually. Likewise, when we read in the Bible that Christ is the Light of the world, we must not interpret this literally but spiritually. We must be careful not to associate God with the light that we can see with our eyes, for the light that we can see consists of electromagnetic waves. It has been shown almost a century ago that electromagnetic waves and matter can be converted into one another anywhere in this universe using the formula E=mc2. But since the fall of Adam this entire universe is subject to decay. In other words, entropy reigns throughout this universe. Therefore nothing from this universe qualifies to be taken into the New Creation that God will lead His saints into after Judgment Day, for there will be no entropy in the New Creation. And thus the light that we can see, including the beauty of the rainbow, is only for this universe. Nevertheless, the glory of God can be seen even in this earthly light. And when we speak of white light we need to understand that white light is a complex mixture of all the colors of the rainbow. These colors are the components from which white light is synthesized. Likewise the glory of God is revealed to us as distinct attributes in partial displays which we are more able to take in. For example, the many-colored gems on the breastplate of the OT high priest whereon the names of His people were engraved, were called the “Urim and Thummim”, meaning the Lights and Perfections, typified the lights and perfections of God Himself. For since His people are identified with the display of those perfections, those spiritual lights in Him are more unchangeable than the gems in the breastplate. And thus the token of the covenant, the rainbow, was a fitting reminder of the glory of God Himself. Let us now take a closer look at the rainbow itself.

#3.      The Principle of the Rainbow (Rev 4:3, 10:1, Eze 1:26-28)

Let me first explain to you what God did in forming a rainbow by using the existing laws of nature. When you visit the East Coast, do not neglect to visit Niagara Falls near Buffalo, New York. When I was there, standing on the Canadian side of the waterfalls, I had the sun in my back, and my face toward the waterfalls, and there I saw a perfect rainbow in between me and the waterfalls. It was a perfect, full circle rainbow, in bright colors, and another fainter second rainbow surrounding it, in different more pale colors. This is what I saw. How did that rainbow come into being?

The waterfalls send up into the air a huge cloud of many tiny droplets. The large droplets fall down quickly, so they are not part of the vertical cloud of tiny droplets. The rays of the sun bounce off these droplets, and each of these droplets becomes an independent source of scattered light. And through a process of mutual extinction and magnification, called interference, we can see rings of scattered colored light which are brighter than the light of day. The diameter of the circle of this rainbow and its brightness depends on the average distance between the droplets and the average size of the droplets. This entire phenomenon is somewhat similar to the circles we get on photographic film when a powder of crystalline material is radiated with X-rays. There the diameters of the circles depend on the distance between atoms in the crystalline material. And this is how the rainbow comes into being.

But let us be clear on the location of the rainbow. The sun is in our back, but our face is toward the rainbow, and beyond the rainbow is the cloud of droplets. The rainbow stands between our face and the cloud. And thus the rainbow is made from backscattered light. The sun shines on the droplets and their backscattered light forms the colors of the rainbow. Why did God use this object as a token for His Covenant? What is that rainbow symbolizing? Please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of Ezekiel, Eze 1:26 (2X). You find Ezekiel right after the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah. While you look this up, let me read to you two verses from the Revelation of Jesus Christ. The first is Rev 4:3 (2X).

Re 4:3  And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow (2X) round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.

Here we see a rainbow round about the throne of God, and thus the rainbow serves to magnify the glory of God. Even though it did not look exactly like a rainbow, for we read that it looked like unto an emerald, God used the word “rainbow” to indicate His glory. Next we look at Rev 10:1 (2X).

Re 10:1  And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow (2X) was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire:

Here we see a rainbow around the head of Christ, for this mighty Angel, which is literally “mighty

Messenger”, is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Again God indicated that He has a “rainbow” around His head, radiating His glory. And so, the question now shifts to: What is His glory? The passage in Eze 1:26-28 again emphasizes that the rainbow serves to magnify His glory. We read in:

Eze 1:26 ¶  And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. (The appearance of a man proves: is speaking about Christ).

Eze 1:27  And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about.

Eze 1:28  As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.

The appearance of His loins downward was like the appearance of fire. This indicates that Christ had to suffer the judgment of Hell-fire for us. But after the judgment God shows the appearance of a rainbow, and God indicates that this sequence of judgment and then the rainbow was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. In other words, after the judgment of Christ on the cross for us follows His mercy and grace to us, and this sequence then is the likeness of the glory of the Lord and it is shown to us in the symbol of the rainbow. Can we get this confirmed by another text of Scripture?

Please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of Exodus, Ex 33:18, (2X). In this passage Moses is talking to God in the Tabernacle in the wilderness. And while the Lord spoke unto Moses face to face (Ex 33:11), Moses asked from God to show him God’s glory. This is exactly what we wanted to know. Does God’s glory mean that He sparkles and shines like heavenly fireworks? Or does God’s glory mean something else? We find the answers here in Ex 33:18,

Ex 33:18  And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.

Ex 33:19  And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.

   Now, this is a surprising answer. God says “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will

shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy”. In other words, God’s grace and God’s mercy are the essence of God’s glory. This is God’s answer to Moses concerning His glory. But notice who is taking all the initiative. Paraphrased God says, “I will do it; I will take all the initiative”. Does this mean that election is in view? Absolutely yes! You may recall having seen this verse in the NT. God says in:

Ro 9:15  For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

Ro 9:16  So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

And thus it is God, not man, who determines to whom God will show mercy. Salvation is 100% God’s action. Please drop down to Ex 34:6 (2X). Moses climbed up on Mount Sinai, and God demonstrated what He said earlier in Ex 33:19. We read here in Ex 34:6,

Ex 34:6  And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,

Ex 34:7  Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

What we see here is the fulfillment of Ex 33:19. God made His goodness pass before Moses, and He proclaimed the name of Jehovah, and He proclaimed that Jehovah God is “merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin”. In other words, here is the answer to Moses’ request, “Show me Thy glory”. God’s mercy and grace for sinners is the main ingredient of the glory of God.

But notice the words in verse 7 that follow His mercy and grace: “And that will by no means clear the guilty”. God is full of mercy and grace, but all sins have to be paid. And then in verse 7 God states the judgment on those who shall continue in their iniquity: “visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation”. In other words, both the mercy and grace to some, and the judgment and condemnation of many, is expressed here in verse 7. For when Christ stood before the judgment throne of God, laden with our sins, He had to pay for those sins the equivalent of what was due to or sins: The equivalent of an eternity in Hell. God will by no means clear the guilty, even when the guilty is His own begotten Son. This is how our sins were paid, and this is how He extended His mercy and grace toward us. But for the many whose sins have not been paid at the cross God will visit their iniquity upon their own heads.

This then is the main ingredient of the glory of God, which in Rev 4 and 10, and in Eze 1 and in Gen 9 is symbolized by the rainbow. The rainbow stands between us and the cloud. The cloud represents the judgment of God on our sins. But the mercy and grace of God which comes to us through the cross of Christ, stands in between us and the judgment of God. This is the magnificent principle of the rainbow. And thus the Covenant of the Rainbow is identical to the Covenant of Grace. The Covenant of Grace is the Last Will and Testament of God, wherein He named the beneficiaries of this testament. These are all the individuals who have been chosen by the Father to become the Bride for His Son. And God chose these individuals before the foundation of the world. In fact, He chose His elect from everlasting past, before He even created the first speck of dust. And God covenanted within Himself that He would send His mercy and grace, He would send His rainbow, to shield us from the judgment that we so righteously deserve. And this shield, symbolized by the rainbow, would be completed by His only begotten Son in the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. And this Covenant of the Rainbow includes the animal world, for God promised that He would not exterminate the animals before the Last Day. But when the Last Day has come, all animals must die, for flesh and blood shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. That is why the saints shall be resurrected with bodies that do not contain flesh and blood. But now we are entering the subject matter of the blood, and God has much to say about the blood in the beginning of Gen 9. Please turn again to the Prophecy of Genesis, Gen 9:4 (2X).

#4.      What Is Our Obligation? (Gen 9:4-6, Rom 13:1-2)

What is our obligation upon the hearing of this covenant? God spells it out precisely in Gen 9:4-6.

Ge 9:4  But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.

Ge 9:5-6  And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man.      Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

There are two commands listed here. The first command concerns the eating of coagulated blood. God forbids us to eat blood, for it comes from animals that were sacrificed, and in their sacrifice they were a picture of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. And so, the blood is a reminder of the blood of Christ. But since the blood of Christ is holy and special to God, we are forbidden to eat anything that is a faint reminder of the blood of Christ.

Secondly, God considers the crime of murder such a heinous crime that God demands that the murderer should be put to death. If anyone was killed by an animal, that animal must be put to death. And if anyone was killed by a murderer, then the brother of the victim, or the nearest kinsman of the victim, shall take the life of the murderer. Such an execution would not be called murder, for the avenger of blood would simply carry out the judgment that God requires. This law has never been rescinded. Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Romans, Rom 13:1 (2X). Today in most countries the task of the avenger of blood has been taken over by the government. This is not what God commanded, and as a result there are many delays, and many murderers go free and commit more murders. Nevertheless God instructs us to obey the government. He says in Rom 13:1,

Ro 13:1-2  Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.                  Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

And so, whether the government is righteous or unrighteous, God commands us to obey those in authority, for God has put them in that position. This is a test for us. But if we fear God we will obey His commandments. And if we love Christ we will obey His commandments, for this is one way how we show our love for Christ. And every believer loves Christ, and loves the brethren, for this is what He commanded.                 AMEN.           Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.