Saturday, September 29, 2018

Genesis 9:8-17


Walking into a grocery store in Black Mountain, North Carolina, I saw a row of people looking across the parking lot and taking pictures with their phones. Once I realized they were not photographing me, I glanced back to see the fullest, most colorful rainbow I've ever seen. I pulled out my phone to take a picture as well.

The strong rain had subsided to something of a sprinkle, and the sun had emerged. The rainbow marked a new beginning.

Humanity was not created to die, but with sin death entered the world. The nature of sin was so infectious that the Lord determined to destroy the created order (cf. Gen. 6:5-7), only "Noah found grace" (cf. Gen. 6:8).

The covenant with Noah (cf. Gen. 6:18) involves a re-creation act. Soon after this re-creation, just like in the Garden of Eden, we read of Noah's sin and the revelation of his nakedness (cf. Gen. 3:7; Gen. 9:20-22). Notably, then, the grace of God through Noah would not suffice to stem the tide of sin's power. Someone or something greater was needed, and that's why we see rainbows.

The rainbow has the shape of a battle-bow (qeset). It arches in such a manner as if someone intends to shoot an arrow at an enemy or at some prey.

Sally Lloyd-Jones in The Jesus Storybook Bible explains, "God's strong anger against hate and sadness and death would come down once more - but not on His people, or His world. No, God's war bow was not pointing down at His people. It was pointing up, into the heart of Heaven."

The pierced body of Christ is the only remedy for the wrath that humanity's depravity deserves. The flood waters would prove unsuccessful in purifying the earth from sin; such purification could only come by the cleansing blood of Jesus for everyone who believes (cf. Tit. 3:3-7; 1 Pet. 3:18-22).

Robert Lowry's inspirational hymn begins: "What can wash away my sin?/ Nothing but the blood of Jesus;/ What can make me whole again?/ Nothing but the blood of Jesus./ Oh! Precious is the flow/ That makes me white as snow;/ No other fount I know,/ Nothing but the blood of Jesus."

Christians are promised new beginnings because of the atoning blood of Jesus. The old covenant, like the one initiated through Noah, is replaced by a new covenant (cf. Heb. 8:13).

The prophet Isaiah proclaims, "Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, and now it shall spring forth. Shall you know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert" (Isa. 43:18-19).

A number of individuals have gone through a traumatic divorce even though they did not desire it. Often, children must also deal with the pain it causes. The Lord promises to even make a road in this wilderness.

All of us face the sense of helplessness that comes from seeing loved-ones suffer, and all of us suffer when loved-ones leave us behind in this world. The Lord promises to even spring up rivers in this desert.

God will do a new thing. He places rainbows in the sky!

Warren Wiersbe proposes Noah saw the rainbow after the storm, the prophet Ezekiel saw a rainbow during the storm (cf. Ezek. 1:28), and the Apostle John saw a rainbow before the storm (cf. Rev. 4:6-7). He concludes, "The personal lesson for God's people is simply this: in the storms of life, always look for the rainbow of God's covenant promise."

You may see the rainbow before the storm, during the storm, or you may have to wait until well after the storm. Still, if you place your faith in Christ you can rest assured that a glorious rainbow awaits that is far greater than the one I saw in a grocery store parking lot.

Maybe today you need to hear this word from Jesus: "Behold, I make all things new" (Rev. 21:5). Maybe today you need to learn a lesson from the rainbow.


I especially need to be reminded of God's "rainbow promises" to me right now because:



from Best Devotional Commentary - James Montgomery Boice emphasizes the Lord's repetition of the covenant details to Noah in chapters 6-9 of Genesis. "Why this reiteration? It is not for the sake of God, who does not need to repeat things, but for the sake of Noah who needed to hear them. He needed to be reassured. He was wounded in soul. ...
     There is a book by William Styron entitled Sophie's Choice. It tells the story of a young Jewish woman who survived one of the German death camps. She was confronted with a choice as she entered the camp. This choice is not talked about in the early pages of the book. It comes out only in the end. But when you get to it you know that it alone explains the agony of the earlier pages. As Sophie entered the death camp she had two children with her. One of the guards, apparently on a whim, told her she could keep one child but would have to let the other go off to the furnaces to die. This marred the mother irredeemably, and in the end she committed suicide because she was not able to cope with the past. There are people who have wounds like that - people who have suffered loss and tragedy.
     To you I say, God is the God of beauty. God makes signs of beauty to say, 'I know that life is filled with tragedy. Sin is ugly. But I am the God of beauty. I am the God who can overcome these things, and I call you away from them to Myself.' At the end of the Bible, in Revelation, we have a picture of God sitting on His throne around which is a rainbow. Look forward to that and let God's beautiful sign minister to your soul" (Boice).

from Best Preaching/Teaching Commentary - "This passage is completely given over to God's initiative in making a covenant with all humankind. The repetition of the commission given to Adam demonstrates that with Noah there is a new beginning, but one that required a covenant. It was now necessary to have a covenant with obligations for men and women and promises from God because people might begin to wonder whether God held life cheap or whether the taking of life was a small matter. This covenant through Noah declared that God held life sacred and that humankind too must preserve life in the earth" (Ross).

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