God: the Covenant Maker

MEMORY SELECTION: “I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh.” —Genesis 9:15


THE first covenant that God made with his creation, man, was with Adam. In Genesis 2:16,17 God said: “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” This was a bilateral covenant, requiring performance by two parties. If Adam were obedient to God’s instructions, God would give him life. If Adam were disobedient, God would cut him off from life. We know the story, of course. Adam was disobedient and was condemned to death; so also was the whole human family, because all received life from an imperfect source.

The other type of covenant that God has made with his servants is a unilateral covenant. That is an agreement, or promise, that requires a performance on God’s part only. Such a covenant was the promise God made to Noah; and, as is usual in cases like this, the covenant was given as a reward for faithfulness.

Because of Adam’s disobedience, God, in effect, turned his face, or favor, from Adam and his offspring, and sin became rampant and uncontrolled in the earth. But in addition to the depravity of man, the Scriptures tell us “when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God [that is, fallen angels] saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.” (Gen. 6:1,2) As a result of these unions a hybrid race was begun. These hybrid beings took control of the earth and their sin knew no bounds. “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (vs. 5) Because of the evil in the earth, God determined to destroy every living being, except Noah and his family, with a flood of waters.

God gave Noah instructions as to how to build an ark, which would save him and his family from the rain of water. This was a great test of faith for Noah, as recounted to us by the Apostle Paul in Hebrews 11:7: “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear [reverence], prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” In Genesis 2:5,6 we read: “The Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth. … But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.” So Noah was asked to believe that water, instead of coming from the ground, would come from the sky, and in such quantities that the earth would be flooded with water.

He was asked to demonstrate this faith by building the ark on dry ground, and this task was to take him approximately one hundred years. In addition to the difficulties of building, we can imagine the scoffing and ridicule he was forced to endure from the evil inhabitants of the earth. The Apostle Paul tells us that this was Noah’s test and that he proved faithful.

The unilateral covenant God made with Noah because of his faithfulness is recorded in Genesis 9:9-13: “Behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you. … Neither shall all flesh be cut off anymore by the waters of a flood; neither shall there anymore be a flood to destroy the earth. … This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you: … I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.” We believe that the real import of this promise is contained in Genesis 8:21: “Neither will I again smite anymore every thing living, as I have done.” (See Matthew 24:21,22.)

Dawn Bible Students Association
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