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Signs of the Covenant

By Joe Boot/ May 17, 2015

Series  Genesis 1-11: Creation, Covenant and Culture

Context  Westminster Chapel Toronto

Topic  Covenant

Scripture  Genesis 9:8-17

God made the rainbow a sign of his covenant that he would never again flood the Earth. Since this sign is visible to all peoples everywhere and through all times then everyone is included in God's covenant and is subsequently either a covenant-keeper or a covenant-breaker.

Scripture:  Genesis 9:8-17

Sermon Notes:

  1. Noah is being addressed as the new Adam. He bears the effects of the Fall, and yet he points toward the last Adam, Jesus Christ.
  2. God re-establishes a covenant of grace and peace with the human race and gives them the rainbow as the sign that there will be no repetition of the flood events.
  3. This covenant is made with all humanity which means all human beings on the earth are either covenant keepers or covenant breakers as they stand in relation to God. There is no neutral realm in all creation.
  4. The reality of the human condition as seen by God is outlined in Genesis 8:21: man’s heart is evil from his youth. This is why we need God’s gracious covenant provision.
  5. This heart problem is not a metaphysical problem, or something “out there,” or a product of our environment – for then it would have been wiped out by the flood. Rather the problem is in man and it is a moral problem.
  6. Man wants to change everything in the world around him, but not change himself.  By God’s grace our hearts can and must be changed.
  7. When man rejects the essential character of sin and the Bible’s diagnosis of man’s problem, man cannot recognize his need for grace.
  8. Special revelation makes known to us that God is totally free and sovereign, and that God freely enters into covenant with us.
  9. Covenant is the means by which God relates to us as human beings and Scripture is the history of God’s covenant of grace. 
  10. The word covenant comes from the Hebrew word “to cut.” The act of passing between the parts of a slain animal specifies the sanctions (penalty) for violating the covenant.
  11. A covenant is an oath or promise with particular stipulations, it contains sanctions for violators, and its terms are symbolized in a ceremony.
  12. The covenant made between God and humanity is a covenant made between unequals; as such it is an act of grace where God enters into relationship with men and blesses them.
  13. God sets out the terms of the covenant and then obligates Himself to fulfill it, swearing by His own name and honour.
  14. The certainty of the covenant is for us as Christians the glory of our faith. The covenant is not grounded in our works but in God’s mercy.
  15. The formal covenant between God and Noah is rooted in God’s grace.
  16. Though the covenant restrains evil, it is really a “long-suffering” covenant which helps prepare humanity to receive a more restricted special covenant of grace – the one first declared in Genesis 3:15.
  17. God’s covenant with Noah means that human society and government are not completely ruined by ungodly people.  Israel  was called to be a light to the Gentiles.
  18. Christ is the mediator and guarantor of the covenant and He fulfills the covenant of works in our stead by obeying the law perfectly.
  19. In our day, the symbol of the rainbow has most predominantly been associated with the LGBTQ movement. Using the rainbow is a deliberate affront to God and symbolizes how their actions are sacred and embody liberation.
  20. God assures us by the rainbow that He is faithful, He is with us, and He will never leave us or forsake us.
  21. God has placed the rainbow of His forbearing in the heavens, raised Christ from the dead, and given His Holy Spirit to His people.
  22. We are now more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

Application Questions:

  1. Can people be neutral with respect to God? Why?
  2. What is the fundamental condition of human beings?
  3. What are the features and conditions of the covenant God made with Noah and his offspring?
  4. What does the rainbow signify?  How is it now abused?