Promises – Genesis 9:8-13

17 04 2012

The Rainbow set as the symbol of the Covenant ...

Regina’ s Note: “You promised!” For some reason, I remember it like it was yesterday. My 4 year old daughter, pouting because she had been promised ice cream after dinner, and the day just did not work out that way. I remember that little face, and her disappointment. I had promised. That sad little face, fallen because she trusted me and I let her down –  has stayed with me to this day.  That same daughter’s imminent wedding has me thinking a lot about promises. Promises I made and never lived up to. My own marriage, the covenant I did not keep. As human beings, we have a choice everyday to live up to those things we made a vow to do. Life, sometimes, gets overwhelming and we lose track of what it was we committed to.  Thankfully each new day brings us an opportunity to do better.

For my daughter and her fiance, I pray that they honor God first, each other always, and therefore stay true to their covenant. And if they mess up one day, and forget the ice cream, that they realize that every day is a new opportunity to live up to one’s promises, to God and to the people around them.

Lord, I pray You will use me to impart knowledge and revelation, not my words but Yours.

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8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: 9 “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”  12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.

A covenant is more than a promise – it is a sacred arrangement entered into by two parties. In the Hebrew, it has divine connotations and involves pledges, and signs. God makes several covenants in the Bible between Himself and His people. This covenant with Noah is the first major one, when He promises to never again destroy the earth, although He has every right to do with the Earth as He pleases. 1 Corinthians 10:26 “For the earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it.” – He instead promises us that He will preserve it for our sakes. 

I do not know what is more astounding – that the Almighty God would think it appropriate to make His creation a covenant promise, or that we seem incapable of accepting so precious a gift. 

Psalm 8:4 Who is man that you should think about him, human beings that you should care for them? We have gotten so familiar with the concept of an all-loving God that we forget the miracle of His love and promises to us. In human terms, when someone has all the power, they generally do not feel moved to make a deal. They do not see the necessity of setting up an arrangement that benefits the people over which they have complete power and authority. No, we have phrases like  “Absolute power corrupts absolutely”. We have cruel tyrants and evil despots. And yet God has seen fit to consider us, to stoop down talk with us, and make us promises when He absolutely does not have to! He vows to us protection, love and blessing if we but follow Him. His love promises us safe passage. 

Seems simple enough.

Lamentations 3:23 “Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.” Not only are the Lord’s mercies new every morning, but throughout the ages He has made promise after promise, covenant after covenant. To Abraham; Genesis 17:2 “I will make a covenant with you, by which I will guarantee to give you countless descendants.”  To Moses, a covenant the terms of which are known worldwide: Exodus 31:18 “When the Lord finished speaking with Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, written by the finger of God.”

Yet over and over, the people rebelled. Hosea 10:4 “They spout empty words and make covenants they don’t intend to keep. So injustice springs up among them like poisonous weeds in a farmer’s field.” We have been taught that God continually forgives us and moves to re-establish His relationship with us, and somehow we have lost the awe that should accompany that thought. Imagine someone whom you loved dearly, breaking promise after promise to you. Would you be so willing, even unto death, to be the one who moved to reconcile – over and over? This quote by Isabelle Adjani perhaps sums up the human condition when it comes to broken promises. “In love, one should simplify, choose persons worthy of their promises and leave them if they don’t keep them.”

It is a very good thing that God never leaves us. The capacity for human rebellion and foolishness is huge, considering the promise He ties to His covenants. Deuteronomy 5:10″ But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love Me and obey my commands”.  

“Lavish unfailing love”. That sound like an amazing deal to me. 

There were definite adverse consequences for not keeping the covenant with God, and yet we still cannot seem to keep our side of the bargain.Deuteronomy 11:26-28 “Look, today I am giving you the choice between a blessing and a curse! You will be blessed if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today. But you will be cursed if you reject the commands of the Lord your God and turn away from Him.”

He offers us abundant blessing if we stay in covenant, and curses if we do not. And yet, we consistently walk off  in our own ways and ignore Him.

But God was orchestrating the unthinkable. Even when His people were far away from Him, God spoke through the prophets of yet another promise in the works, to replace the covenant that we had broken.  Jeremiah 31:31 “The day is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah.”

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Ephesians 2:12-13 “Remember that at that time you were separate, foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.” We as human beings are wholly incapable of keeping God’s law to His standards. That is why the life and death of Jesus Christ, and the new and final covenant which that ushered in, is the centerpiece of human history. Everything prior to Christ’s sacrifice points towards the cross; everything after Christ’s sacrifice looks back to it. The covenants God made in the Old Testament were but foreshadowing of the great and ultimate covenant secured by Christ once and for all – for all time, and for all people. 

Luke 22:20 “After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people–an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.” The new covenant orchestrated by God was sealed by Christ’s death and sacrifice. And this covenant is the most mind-boggling of all.  Not willing to give up on His children, God Himself stepped down from His throne. He becomes the sacrifice,  He becomes the “works” , He becomes the human and divine embodiment of the promise.

He keeps BOTH sides of the promise to ensure our deliverance. 

Hebrews 8:6 “But now Jesus, our High Priest, has been given a ministry that is far superior to the old priesthood, for He is the One who mediates for us a far better covenant with God, based on better promises.” God never breaks a promise. In Jesus, He makes a better promise, that of eternal life obtained through grace and forgiveness. You do not deserve it. But His love for you compels Him. 

Today, Realize: No matter how many times you let God down, He is right by your side waiting to make it right. 

There is nothing you have done that would disqualify you from a relationship with the Lord. His record proves it. Though we have broken promise after promise, He continues to chase us down and give us another chance. There is no earthly relationship that can compare to His faithfulness to you. Therefore, do not learn His words and follow His precepts out of duty or fear; do so out of thankfulness and love for a God who has never lost sight of you, not for a second. Recognize that there is no way that we can hold up our side of the deal, so Jesus came to take our place to ensure that the covenant was kept. Accept the terms of the new covenant, which He has obtained for you. And understand that the only way to not step into the fullness of His promise, is to decide not to.

Hebrews 6:18 So God has given both His promise and His oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to Him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us.

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3 responses

17 04 2012
Rob Barkman

What a wonderful testimony it is to be faithful ot our promises. It is a living example of our Lord’s fatihfulness to His promises. Lord bless you.

20 04 2012
5 Minute Bible

I agree! He is good, all the time. Bless you too!

12 05 2012
Genesis, the beginning of God’s redemptive story | 66 Books of the Bible in 66 days

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