God’s Covenant with Noah – Genesis 8:1-9:17

God’s Covenant with Noah – Genesis 8:1-9:17

Covenants and Contracts.

Certainly there are elements of modern-day contracts which reflect the ancient practices of covenants.  And yet, at the same time, there are some significant differences.

For starters, contracts typically exist for the purpose of self-protection.  A contract is a legal transaction that spells out the agreement as well as the consequences. While there are certainly exceptions, contracts often imply a lack of trust between two parties.  For instance, a prenuptial agreement may signify an expectation that the relationship will someday come to an end, so it spells out the terms and consequences of misbehavior in the marriage.

On the other hand, covenants are eternal promises that are not designed to be broken.  They don’t have termination clauses.  They are built upon love and trust, and bind the two parties together.  A covenant isn’t about self-preservation, but about looking out for the interests of others.  And in covenants with God, we often find that God not only makes and keeps the covenant, but that He pays the penalty if we fail to keep the covenant.

In this particular case, the covenant appears to be completely one-sided. Other than the repeated call to “be fruitful and multiply,” God doesn’t lay out expectations of Noah.  This covenant is all about what God promises to do… and not to do.  God loves His creation so much that He binds Himself to it in an everlasting covenant.

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.
                                                      – Thomas O. Chisholm