The Noahic Covenant
By Shawn Tomlin
The third covenant that comes to us in the story of redemption is the one God made with Noah. Before we get into the meat and potatoes of this covenant, let’s look into why this covenant was made to begin with.
After the Fall, sin multiplied and its corruption spread like a cancer over creation. Genesis 6:5 says, “When the LORD saw that human wickedness was widespread on the earth and that every inclination of the human mind was nothing but evil all the time, the LORD regretted that He had made man on the earth, and He was deeply grieved.” So the Flood happened and God had every right to have made it happen. But… Noah found favor with God.
Favor could be thought of as another word that has deep meaning to Christians, grace. Now the Noahic Covenant has two basic parts that we will go over. First before the flood, God says in Genesis 6:18, “But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark with your sons, your wife, and your sons wives.” Not to mention all the animals. God entered into covenant with Noah to save him and his family from the Flood. Noah had to build an ark and that only happened because God favored Noah, gave him faith, and because of that faith Noah built the ark. Faith, not obedience, saved Noah, first spiritually, then physically. Not only was humanity corrupted with the cancer of sin, but all creation was. Sin has consequences that ripple out into the cosmos, affecting every aspect of creation. This is why even animals had to be saved. They were also, in a sense, corrupted by Adam’s sin.
Sin has consequences that ripple out into the cosmos, affecting every aspect of creation
Now after the Flood the covenant was elaborated even more by God. Genesis 9:9 says, “Understand that I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you…” not only that but with every animal. God, in His infinite wisdom knew the fallen state of Noah and established His grace as the backdrop to His covenant with him. Since this covenant was for all creation, the sign of it was something displayed for all creation to witness, the rainbow. Upon seeing it, we are to be reminded of God’s grace.
The Noahic Covenant repeats the ideas of the Adamic Covenant, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28; Genesis 9:1). Since the animals, day and night, the image of God, and Noah is set up as the new steward of it all, Noah is a new Adam on a recreated earth.
This covenant gives us the idea of “common grace” because it’s not just all humanity that receives it, but all of creation. This is a continuation of the Covenant of Works, but built upon a foundation of grace. The covenant of Works continues this way in the story of our redemption and eventually this covenant would be fulfilled perfectly. Not by us, but by Christ.
To sum this up Douglas Van Dorn says in his book Covenant Theology: A Reformed Baptist Primer that, “God is reestablishing with mankind that He still expects mankind to still carry out the covenantal obligations made with Adam in Eden, even though the testing of the tree is no longer in place.”
“The LORD bless you, and keep you;
The LORD make His face shine on you,
And be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance on you,
And give you peace.”