Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the Book of Genesis. This is study #9 of Genesis, chapter 9 and we are going to read Genesis 9:14-17:
And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.
As we have been going through this passage and looking at the rainbow in the Bible, we have seen that it points to the Lord Jesus Christ and it identifies with the assurance of God that He will never judge His people again after the judgment. That is why we read this promise after the flood or after the waters of judgment came over the earth. After this the bow appeared in the cloud and God established the bow as a sign for His people: “I destroyed the world once with a flood and I will never destroy it again with the waters of a flood.” However, spiritually, it points to the final judgment of God upon all the wicked people of the earth and of their destruction. Then God is absolutely guaranteeing His people that He will have everlasting kindness on us and bestow mercy on us forever. Remember what it said in Psalm 103:17-18:
But the mercy of JEHOVAH is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children; To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.
This is the Word of God and, therefore, He has sworn. It is a promise that God will have mercy to everlasting upon His people. Everlasting kindness will be granted to the former rebels and transgressors of His Law, because their transgressions have been paid for and settled by the Lord Jesus Christ at the foundation of the world. That is why Psalm 103, verse 17 also speaks of God’s mercy being “from everlasting to everlasting” because He first began to display it as Christ bore the names and sins of the children of Israel and paid for their iniquity from the foundation of the world; it is another way of saying that this was done in “eternity past.” It was at that point that God began to show His mercy upon these certain people that had not yet been created.
We have no idea of how “long ago” this was because we do not understand eternity because we think in terms of “movement of time,” but how can we begin to understand this? Because we are creatures of time, we understand movements within time from hour to hour, from day to day or from year to year. Since time did not exist in eternity past and will not exist in eternity future, we have no ability to understand various occurrences taking place in eternity past or how one “event” can be distinguished from another regarding “earlier” or “later.” It is beyond our understanding. Who are we? We are simply creatures of the “dust,” fashioned out of the ground. Yes, we are fearfully and wonderfully made and what God has done with us is mind-boggling in complexity, but in comparison to the Almighty, everlasting God we are as “nothing.” We are insignificant and we have no ability to comprehend the enormity of His Being and the enormity of His spiritual kingdom which exists in a different realm. We exist in this world and we function in the physical realm, but God is Spirit and He functions in the spiritual realm. We only know what God tells us and even when He tells us things, we have only a limited ability to understand things.
However, God in eternity past at the point of the foundation of the world accomplished atonement and He had mercy upon His people that will extend into eternity future when this world comes to an end and we enter that glorious future. We will receive the promise of the covenant to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob regarding the Promised land and the promise of the covenant made to Noah and his seed. It is basically the same promise. Notice it says in Genesis 9:16:
…and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh.
It is an everlasting covenant. That is because it goes back to “eternity past.” Someone might say, “No, no, no. You are saying things that are not so because God means that from this point and forward it is an everlasting covenant.” However, then we must look at Genesis 8, verse 1 which was before the flood waters had receded and Noah and his family stepped off the ark. We read in Genesis 8:1:
And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark…
What is God remembering? Did He just remember that Noah still existed? There was Noah, the other seven people and all the animals on the ark and it was not like God had to remember any other thing with the breath of life because all life was confined to the ark. And, yet, we read that God remembered, as if He had forgotten, but it really has nothing to do with His memory – God does not forget anything. It has to do with God remembering His everlasting covenant. He remembered it then and now in Genesis, chapter 9 God says He is establishing the bow in the cloud and when He looks upon it the bow will be a sign to God as well as to man: “I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh.” God has “attached” the rainbow and His covenant with Noah to His everlasting covenant established from the foundation of the world, the covenant He gave to Noah in Genesis 6:18:
But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee.
The covenant was there already because it is the covenant that identifies with the Gospel that brings the message of God’s salvation plan to mankind. In this relatively early period only about 6,000 years from creation, God attaches the covenant with Noah to the bow in the cloud. Later He will attach His covenant to the sign of circumcision with the covenant given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Was the covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob different from the covenant with Noah? It is the same covenant. It is the covenant of salvation, as Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord and he and his seed were delivered from the destruction of the flood. So, too, God would make a covenant with Abraham and His seed regarding a Promised Land. We see that Noah and his seed are receiving a “new earth,” as far as the time when they were just coming off the ark. There were no wicked cities. There were no wicked people in the world – they were all gone. It was a wonderful new earth and it signified that the covenant made with Noah had come to fruition. There was the “new earth” and God had delivered Noah and his seed from death.
That picture is carried on in the days of Abraham when a different “sign” was given. It would the sign of circumcision that would identify with the covenant throughout the history of the nation of Israel. Again, it was the same covenant and it is always the same covenant throughout the Bible. When the Israelites were oppressed in Egypt and began to groan under it, God “remembered” His covenant, just as He remembered His covenant with Noah and He set the bow in the cloud. God remembered the covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as it says in Genesis 6:18:
And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am JEHOVAH: And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them. And I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers. And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage; and I have remembered my covenant. Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am JEHOVAH, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am JEHOVAH your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am JEHOVAH.
The name “JEHOVAH” is a name that signifies Him as Saviour and it pertains to salvation. God is remembering the covenant.
It also says in the New Testament in Luke, chapter 1 after the Lord appeared to Zacharias and told him that his wife Elisabeth would conceive a child, John the Baptist. It was an indicator that the Lord Jesus Christ would be born into the world to demonstrate all the things that He had already accomplished from the foundation of the world. It says in Luke 1:67-75:
And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.
Again, we see that with the birth of Christ God is remembering His holy covenant. It is another stage or another epoch within God’s overall salvation program. The early stage was with Noah and then in a later stage it was with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and it has been handed down through the centuries. Of course, in the Book of Luke it is in the year 8BC or 7BC when John the Baptist was in the womb. We are reading of an event that took place over 2,000 years ago and about 5,000 years from the flood, but, once again, God is remembering His holy covenant. He always has His covenant in mind as He works out the historical drama and the bringing forth of His Word into the world. We read, again and again, that God remembers His covenant. The covenant is “driving” history and the unfolding of God’s magnificent salvation program that we read about throughout the Bible. Even after the Bible was completed aspects of God’s covenant apply to the New Testament era during the church age and to the Great Tribulation and Judgment Day. And perhaps the most important element of God’s program in fulfilling His holy covenant and the promises to Noah, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was the completion of that Gospel program when He will finally bring the people of God into eternity, giving them their new eternal spiritual bodies and placing them in the Promised land of the new heaven and new earth, where He will shower them with abundant blessings forever. He will demonstrate us the everlasting kindness and mercy of God. The only way God can ultimately fulfill His covenant is by completing our salvation. And when we read the Bible, we cannot help but see how God focuses on that and how incredible and important it is to Him to be faithful in that covenant. Ultimately, the only way God can fulfill that covenant is by ending this world and creating the new heaven and new earth and blessing His people with everlasting life. As He does so into the eternity future, it will be an ongoing fulfillment of His Word and a testimony to His faithfulness to upholding His covenant.
I am mentioning this for your benefit and for my benefit because we are living in a time unlike anything that has come before it. We are not living in the time when God dealt with national Israel in the Old Testament. That is past. We are not living in the time when God established the New Testament church and when He dwelt in the midst of those congregations. That, too is past. We are not living in the time of the Great Tribulation when God was working with individuals, one by one, as He saved people out of all nations. That is past. We are now in the Day of Judgment. We are in that time period the Bible calls a “small moment,” the time that God says He will forsake His people and show a little wrath. If you are under the wrath of God in full, there is no such thing as a “little wrath,” but if you are a true child of God whose sins were paid for, God can forsake you for a small moment for the purpose of testing. This is taking place during the Day of Judgment when He is punishing the unsaved of the world, so it is a “little wrath” that the people of God are experiencing. And, yet, there is the promise, as God said in Isaiah 54, verses 7 through 9. God reminds us of His promise. He reminds us of His covenant and He reminds us of His intention to bestow everlasting kindness and mercy upon us. It is “as the waters of Noah.” It is a reminder to look to His covenant and realize that God will complete it. It will be done.
As it appears to us, many of us are troubled in our trials during these days as we struggle along day after day. The days seem so long now that God has shut the door of heaven. We wonder, “What is the purpose? Oh, Lord, holy and true, how long?” And, yet we must keep in mind that the covenant is the most important thing to God. God will not forget it and He will not forget us. If He could forget us, He could forget His covenant, but He will remember us. He will remember His covenant and He will uphold it. Remember what God said in Hebrews 6:13-14:
For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.
By the way, we have seen God fulfill that promise made to Abraham, because the Bible says that God saved a great multitude. Then it goes on to say in Hebrews 6:15-18:
And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife. Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:
I remember asking Mr. Camping: “Why does it say two immutable things?” God made a promise and that is one immutable thing which He has spoken and cannot change. I remember Mr. Camping said, “The second thing is the character of God.” It is God’s truthfulness, His goodness, His perfection and His justice. He is unable to do wrong and to not keep His Word. These are attributes of His being and the Words He has spoken He is obligated to fulfill. He assures us here and it is because of our frailties that He swears and takes an oath, just like He swore to us by placing the bow in the cloud. He swore that He will not forget. He will remember His covenant.