God’s Covenant with Noah (3)

Previous article in this series: August 2015, p. 441.  

Only Believers Profit

God’s everlasting covenant is first of all with Christ. Whenever we read in Scripture of God’s everlasting covenant, we must remember this. The promises to Abraham were promises to Christ. The same is true of the promises to Noah. What God promised Noah, He promised to Christ and thus only to those who are in Him.

Many, however, maintain that God’s covenant with Noah and His covenant with Abraham are not the same. They insist that God’s covenant with Noah was a covenant not only with the elect, but also with all those who are outside of Christ. They argue that Noah and his house constituted the entire human race, and that God’s promise not to send another flood benefits all human beings.

Yet such is not the case. First of all, the promise to Noah and his seed is a promise not to all the descendants of Adam, but to the new human race of which Christ is the Head. Noah and his house were the church at this time, and the promise to them is a promise to Christ’s church.

Secondly, what God promised Noah and his house is beneficial not to all human beings, but only to those who believe in Christ. In this article we will consider that point in more detail.

Only believers profit from what God gives them each day

Unbelievers do not benefit from God’s promise not to send another flood. The longer that an unbeliever lives, the greater the punishment that he receives, both in this life and at the final judgment.

Consider, for example, Judas Iscariot. Christ said about him: “but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born” (Matt. 26:24b). Every day that Judas Iscariot lived, the worse it was for him. With each day he became more hardened in his sins, and the punishment he would receive at the final judgment became worse.

This is true not only of Judas Iscariot, but also of all those who hate God and His Son. Every day their judgment becomes heavier: “But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Rom. 2:5). Therefore, it simply is not true that all human beings benefit from the fact that God does not send another flood.

When an unbeliever receives bodily health for another day, he is receiving from God something good, for which he should give thanks to God. But what he receives does not profit him, because he makes use of it only to sin more.

Believers, and believers only, profit from what God gives them each day. They alone are receiving the words that God speaks. And it is only when we receive God’s Word along with His good gifts that we benefit from what He gives to us.

Only believers profit as they see the fulfillment of God’s promise

God’s promises benefit only those who truly believe what He promises. The promises do not benefit the blatant unbeliever, nor do they benefit those who merely acknowledge intellectually that what God says is true. It is only those who genuinely believe that benefit from what God says.

God’s promises always direct us to think about the kingdom of heaven. This is true also of the promises to Noah. Yet only the believer thinks about and embraces what God says about that kingdom, and thus profits from it.

Contrary to what many say, the covenant with Noah is about the kingdom of heaven. Scripture tells us that when we consider what God said to our father Noah, we are to think about how our God in heaven has set the ordinances of heaven and how He directs all things precisely as He has promised, always accomplishing His will.

God said to Noah: “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Gen. 8:22). In the prophecies of Jeremiah, this is referred to as God’s covenant of the day and of the night:

Thus saith the Lord; If ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season; Then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne; and with the Levites the priests, my ministers (Jer. 33:20-21).

When we see that the cycle of day and night continues the same day after day, we are supposed to think about how our heavenly Father has set the ordinances of heaven. What man claims happens by “natural causes” is actually what He is causing to happen in fulfillment of His covenant promise.

Only a believer profits from this promise. Only he looks to the Scriptures to find the explanation of this promise and finds comfort. Unbelieving man thinks he can explain why there is this day/night cycle, and he explains it in such a way that God has nothing to do with it. It happens, says man, due to the laws of nature.

Man prides himself on thinking that he has discovered and now knows the ordinances. But God says the only one who truly knows the ordinances is the one who has set them. Consider the question that our Lord asked of Job: “Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?” Only God knows the ordinances. He alone has set the dominion of them in the earth. Only the child of God believes and humbly confesses this, finding comfort in knowing that his God in heaven is directing all things.

The prophecies of Jeremiah go on to say that when we see the day/night cycle continue just as God has promised, then we are also to be assured that all that God has promised to us in Christ will certainly take place. Notice how the verses below connect the promise to Noah, the promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the promise to Israel, and the promise to David:

Thus saith the Lord; If my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth; Then will I cast away the seed of Jacob, and David my servant, so that I will not take any of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob… (Jer. 33:25-26a).

Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The Lord of hosts is his name: If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever (Jer. 31:35-36).

Throughout history, it is one and the same everlasting covenant that God has made with His people in Christ. When we behold and consider the fulfillment of God’s covenant promise concerning the ongoing cycle of day and night, we are to be assured that the same God who has set these ordinances will certainly fulfill all that He has promised to us in Christ.

Only believers are comforted by this. They alone consider this, confess this, and are drawn by God’s Spirit closer to the living God.

Only believers profit when they see the rainbow

Unbelieving man looks at the rainbow and thinks he can explain it only by “natural causes.” Yet it is God’s rainbow, and He put it there, as He Himself declares: “I do set my bow in the cloud” (Gen. 9:13a). Man has come to understand under what conditions an individual will see a rainbow in the sky, but God is the one who has set the ordinances so that a rainbow appears under those conditions.

When God spoke to Noah, He made a promise about the ordinances of heaven and then gave us a sign that would appear in the heavens. This promise and this sign are to remind us that just as the sun, the moon, and the bow in the clouds appear in the sky precisely as God willed it, so our salvation will be fully accomplished precisely as God has planned.

It is when we hear this promise, see this sign, and believe in our heart, that we profit from what God has said. Then with joy in our heart, we praise God and say: “But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased” (Ps. 115:3). The ones who by faith truly sing this song, these are the ones who have profited from the comforting promises our Lord made unto Noah and to all His people.