Reader: “I am giving you a sign of my covenant with you . . . “
Response: “and with all living creatures, for all generations to come.”
Scripture: Genesis 9:8-17
Then God told Noah and his sons, “I hereby confirm my covenant with you and your descendants, and with all the animals that were on the boat with you—the birds, the livestock, and all the wild animals—every living creature on earth. Yes, I am confirming my covenant with you. Never again will flood waters kill all living creatures; never again will a flood destroy the earth.”
Then God said, “I am giving you a sign of my covenant with you and with all living creatures, for all generations to come. I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth. When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will appear in the clouds, and I will remember my covenant with you and with all living creatures. Never again will the floodwaters destroy all life. When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth.” Then God said to Noah, “Yes, this rainbow is the sign of the covenant I am confirming with all the creatures on earth.”
Reader: “This is the word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
Something pretty interesting just happened. To begin each day’s devotional, I look in the Revised Common Lectionary Year B for the various scriptural references for that day and choose one to write about. Today’s date had a passage in Ephesians, one in Genesis and a Psalm. I narrowed my choice to Ephesians and Genesis. Ephesians was about God’s grace toward people, and Genesis was about Noah and the covenant of the rainbow. As I was debating which passage to select, I looked up out the window in front of my desk and there it was, a full beautiful rainbow, the one you see in the picture! So, I said thank you Lord . . . Genesis it is!
The first reference in Scripture to a covenant occurs here, right after the great Flood. The concept of a covenant goes throughout the Scriptures. To review, a covenant is a binding relationship between two parties rooted in a commitment to each other which includes promises to one another as well as obligations to each other. An honored faithful covenant brings peace and harmony to the parties involved. In this instance, God took the initiative to make a covenant with Noah, his descendants and all the animals that were in the ark with Noah.
For example, when two people marry and make a covenant to live together in holy matrimony for the rest of their lives, the wedding ring is often a visible reminder, symbol and witness to their vows. It is the covenant they have made to each other. Notice that both husband and wife each wear a ring. When God wrote the Ten Commandments on the two tablets of stone, both copies were put in the Ark of the Covenant. One copy was a reminder for God and the other copy for Moses and the people.
In the instance you just read, God declared the rainbow to be the sign of his covenant with Noah and all living creatures. In God’s own words, “When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant . . .” God saw the rainbow in the picture I took and remembered his covenant. I saw the same rainbow and remembered God’s covenant to Noah’s descendants (me) and all living creatures on the earth. God declared,”I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood.”
Prior to the Flood, God’s heartbreaking words were, “I am sorry I ever made them” (Gen.6:7). But once again, God came after his creation. From God’s perspective, the rainbow is a sign of his covenant and unfailing loving commitment to all people and living creatures. It is ironic, that our world sees the symbol of the rainbow as a defiance, a rebellion and rejection of God’s word with man deciding his own truth just like in the days of Noah! Our world continues to break God’s heart. So the next time you see a rainbow, thank God for his grace and his mercy toward this fallen race.
Music: “Agnus Dei” Vlaams Radiokoor (It wouldn’t be Lent without hearing this glorious setting of a confessional prayer at least once! “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, have mercy on us.”)
I bless Thee, O most holy God, for the unfathomable love whereby Thou hast ordained that spirit with spirit can meet and that I a weak and erring mortal, should have this ready access to the heart of Him who moves the stars. With bitterness and true compunction of heart I acknowledge before Thee the gross and selfish thoughts that I so often allow to enter my mind and to influence my deeds. I confess, O God―that often I let my mind wander down unclean and forbidden ways; that often I deceive myself as to where my plain duty lies; that often, by concealing my real motives, I pretend to be better than I am; that often my honesty is only a matter of policy; that often my affection for my friends is only a refined form of caring for myself; that often I do good deeds only that they may be seen of men, and shun evil ones only because I fear they may be found out. Give me grace, O God, to pray now with pure and sincere desire for all those with whom I have had to do this day. Let me remember now my friends with love and my enemies with forgiveness, entrusting them all as I now entrust my own soul and body, to Thy protecting care; through Jesus Christ. Amen.
―John Baillie, A Diary of Private Prayer, p.75Book Recommendation: A Diary of Private Prayer, John Baillie, Scribners