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.
There is nothing so beautiful and precious to us as is the truth of God’s covenant. It is good to be reminded of this glorious truth from time to time.
We see in the context that Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord (v. 8). Noah is in the midst of wickedness as a righteous man. He walks with God, his covenant friend. As the object of God’s favor he received the blessings of grace, which created in him a new heart, delivering him from the power of sin, so that he hated wickedness and sought redemption and forgiveness.
As such, Noah was saved. God was displeased with the world, but He rejoiced in Noah. God continues His covenant in Noah. Chapter 5 ended with the generations of Adam. Chapter 6 verse 9 begins a new section of generations, those of Noah. This shows that the line of the covenant did not end with Noah, but continued on in his generations.
The world was to be typically destroyed in the flood. This was not to be the final destruction. Therefore the church must continue in Noah. In verse 9 the covenant is spoken of in a most beautiful way. God speaks to Noah as Friend to friend and makes known to him the secrets of His covenant, His purpose to save His people and to destroy the wicked world.
A very definite covenant is referred to. God referred to something that Noah knew and understood. It is plain from the entire revelation that the covenant was not unknown or something new. It is not a, but my covenant. There are not all kinds of covenants, but only one, God’s, already known to Noah, which God will establish with him. All the distinct dealings with man in Scripture are so many historical phases, revelations, realizations of the one covenant. This covenant He establishes and realizes throughout history. It shall have its final realization in the new heavens and the new earth. This is important for the history following the flood. The covenant in chapters 6 and 9 are one and the same covenant. This covenant, identified as my covenant, is the same throughout the ages. Always it is the one covenant that God makes.
God’s covenant means that Jehovah is a covenant God in Himself. The triune God, even apart from the creature, lives a covenant life. That life is based on absolute unity of Being, of nature, and of life, on the one hand, and on the threeness of persons, on the other hand. God is one in Being, one in heart and mind and will, one thought, purpose, and desire, all characterized by infinite goodness and perfection. Yet He is three Persons, so that there is distinction and interaction of Persons, fellowship and communion in God. The covenant of God is the most intimate fellowship of love and friendship of the Father, in the Son, and through the Holy Spirit. That, in the deepest sense, is the covenant of God.
God chose to reveal that covenant outside of Himself. He chose to impart it to His people in Christ Jesus, so that they might be taken up into the current of His own covenant life. It was His eternal will to reveal it through Christ in the flesh, Immanuel, who is Head of His elect. The essence of that covenant relation is a relation of fellowship and friendship in Christ, according to which they partake of His own life, dwell with Him, enjoy His favor and blessings, serve and glorify Him as their Friend-Sovereign. For the greater manifestation of the beauty of His covenant He chose the deep way of sin and grace, to reveal light in darkness, as well as election and reprobation. That is why we stand in the midst of a wicked world in an antithetical way fighting the Lord’s battle. That is why we are always redeemed through judgment.
This covenant has a history. It was first revealed to Adam, who, in the state of righteousness, was God’s friend-servant, which was an earthly picture of the better things to come. But Adam falls, and, according to God’s purpose, must fall in order to make room for Christ. God purposed to realize His covenant in Christ along the lines of sin and grace. That is why there is the announcement of the protevangel, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heal.” This at the same time was an announcement of friendship between God and the seed of the woman, for “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” ().
Now the same covenant is given to Noah. The Lord had continued that covenant in the seed of the woman: Abel, Seth, Enoch, Methuselah, and Lamech the righteous, who was Noah’s father. Now the whole world is wicked and ripe for judgment and is to be destroyed. It seems as if God’s purpose must fail; but His promise cannot fail, for Noah is God’s covenant friend by sovereign grace. Therefore: “…with thee will I establish my covenant.”
Literally, “to establish” means “to cause to rise up,” to make something stand, and thus, “to make firm.” We have here, then, “I will cause that relation of friendship between Me and thee to be. And I will cause that relation of friendship to be firm and to abide.” In this particular connection it means, “I will cause that relation of friendship to remain firm even when all the world perishes” (vv. 17, 18). Through judgment, the destruction of the world, God reveals and maintains that covenant of friendship with Noah.
These words look to the future. They speak of continuation, for God’s covenant is not yet fully realized. That shall take place in the Great Seed of the woman, Jesus Christ, of which seed and victory the Lord had spoken to His people immediately after the fall. This victory had not yet been attained, and God was about to destroy the earth. But God singles out Noah and assures him: “With thee will I make firm, with thee will I continue, My covenant.”
We can see that this establishment is strictly a work of God. I will put enmity…. “I will establish My covenant….” God does not ask Noah’s permission to enter into an agreement and say, “Shall we be friends?” No! He simply comes to Noah, His covenant friend, with His own Word, “But with thee will I establish my covenant.” It is all of God, nothing of Noah.
God established His covenant organically. God’s work is personal, but not individualistic. When God created Adam, He did not create him merely as an individual. He created Adam head of an entire human race and king of an entire creation. When Adam fell, the whole race and entire creation fell with him. And when God works His work of salvation, the realization of His everlasting covenant, He does not work individualistically, but He saves an entire church, the glorious body of our Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, He saves a whole world, the church with the creation.
We read, then, that not only Noah must enter the ark, but also his wife, his sons, and his sons’ wives. They constituted the organic church of that day. All creation was included in that covenant. God not only saves a church, but He also provides a place where she may dwell. So when God is to destroy the earth, Noah must take with him animals. After the flood there must be continuity; the earth must be inhabited again. This must be, for the flood is not the final end, but a stage in the realization of God’s final purpose. The final end will be when God takes up His church and provides for her a new heaven and a new earth where all shall be perfect and glorified.
As a result Noah becomes of the party of God. He does not become an antinomian, or a passive stock and block and assume the attitude, “If God does it all, then I can sit down and I have to do nothing but wait until the flood comes.” Through the grace of God, Noah and his family are God’s people, who have a calling that follows from the very fact that they are God’s covenant people. Their calling is to manifest themselves as God’s friend-servants in the midst of the world that lies in darkness.
Therefore, Noah must be busy with the work of the Lord, the work of faith. He must manifest himself over against the world that lies in darkness as believing and obeying and serving the Lord. God commands him to build the ark, whichdescribes as a work of faith. As it was positively a work of faith, so in the negative sense it was an act of condemnation of the world. Noah, in his work, manifested himself as God’s friend antithetically. The building of the ark was a testimony against the wicked world and a testimony that God was a righteous God. In all his ways he manifested that he was of the party of the living God, through the grace of the everlasting covenant.
This speaks to us today. We live in a world that is becoming increasingly similar to the world before the flood. God is giving us all kinds of signs of His coming judgment. In all of this we have the comfort to know that we belong to our faithful Savior Jesus Christ in whom the Lord will finally realize His covenant. So may we also find grace in the eyes of the Lord.