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The Noahic Covenant

The Noahic Covenant

“So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him. Every animal, every creeping thing, every bird, and whatever creeps on the earth, according to their families, went out of the ark. Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar” (Gen. 8:18-20).

Apparently God had told Noah that animal sacrifices would be required of him so he took extra clean animals to be properly prepared (Gen. 7:2). Noah lost no time in performing what God had requested. By faith, he claimed the promised substitute for the payment of his sins. For the first time, we see the sacrificial offering referred to as a burnt offering. This term has special meaning that we will focus upon when we study the Mosaic Law.

“And the LORD smelled a soothing aroma. Then the LORD said in His heart, ‘I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done’“ (Gen. 8:21). Reminding Himself of man’s inherent evil nature, God determined that he would never again curse the ground or destroy so much of His living creation in response to man’s wickedness. The descendants of Adam are born sinners; neither the earth not other creatures are to be blamed or held accountable for mans misdeeds. Man alone is responsible for his own actions.

“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease” (Gen. 8:22). God declared that ordered seasonal change would exist as long as the earth remains. Many believe that this verse indicates that there were no seasons before the flood. If the surface of the earth was enclosed in a canopy of water vapor, creating a greenhouse effect, there would have been only one continuous season. Even today we recognize the warming effect caused by a cloud cover on winter nights, and we can mentally project the worldwide impact that a full canopy would create. The collapse of such a canopy could also explain the source of so much rain falling from above the surface during the flood.

“So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs’” (Gen. 9:1-3). It is difficult to miss the similarities between this new beginning and the one experienced by Adam. God put His blessing upon man, and told him to be productive and populate the earth. But man’s relationship with animals was drastically altered. For the first time, man was allowed to eat the flesh of animals. But once again certain restrictions were placed upon the freedom given to man by his Creator. It seems that man is to be continually faced with choices and challenged to make decisions with reference to his God.

“But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man. ‘Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God he made man’” (Gen. 9:4-6). Two ideas are communicated in these verses. Man is not allowed to eat or drink blood for blood is symbolic of life itself. As life and blood are related, man is instructed to be responsible for the protection of his fellowman, and to use capital punishment in response to taking the life of another.

The dispensation of conscience abruptly ended with a terrifying flood and a hint of the nature of things to come – the age of human government. “Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying: ‘And as for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you and with your descendants after you’”. ”’Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth’“ (Gen. 9:8-9,11). This, the Noahic covenant, is the third covenant that God made with man. It is unconditional and remains in effect today and forever.

“And God said: ‘This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow 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; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.’ And God said to Noah, ‘This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth’“ (Gen. 9:12-17).

If Noah had never seen rain before the flood, can you imagine what must have gone through his mind when the first rainstorm began to brew after the flood disappeared? Even with a promise of security, he probably was anxiously searching the sky from horizon to horizon. And then suddenly there was this beautiful rainbow in the clouds. What comfort it must have brought to him and his family! What a great manifestation of the love, grace, wisdom, power, and sovereignty of God, our Creator! How appropriate it is that the rainbow, which forms a complete circle around the throne of God, was chosen to become the symbol of God’s protection for all mankind.

Noah’s Prophecy

“And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. Then he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness.” (Gen. 9:20-23).

How soon we are reminded of the sinful nature of man! Sin is observed even in this saint of God who had walked with God for many years. The Bible only recorded two men as “walking with God”; they were Noah and his great grandfather, Enoch (Gen. 5:24, 6:9). We must not forget that Noah is human, and yielded to temptation through the weakness in his flesh. Noah’s righteousness was imputed to him only because of his faith. His own righteousness was as filthy rags before God. Jesus said: “…There is none good but one, that is, God” (Matt.19:17b, KJV). Is there one among us who would like to be measured against the faithfulness of Noah?

As is so often true, the sin of one man led to the fall of another. Ham dishonored his father and treated the situation lightly. Later, in the Ten Commandments, God repeated the importance of honoring our parents by placing the command to honor them at the top of the list dealing with human relationships. Ham mocked the sin of his father without realizing that sin is against God, and is not to be mocked or taken lightly. Today, comedians make jokes of God and sin as a regular routine; yet, it is still no joke in the sight of God – rebellion is never a joke. Ham’s action revealed that he was more carnally minded than his brothers, Shem and Japheth, and also provided an insight into the future of his descendants.

Amazingly, when Noah awoke, he was moved to prophesy about the future generations to arise from his sons. History has shown the exacting accuracy of the terse statements recorded hundreds of years ago.

Since his son, Ham, dishonored him, Noah cursed Canaan, the son of Ham. Scholars have debated this curse for years, and many views have been suggested. History reveals that Ham’s descendants rose quickly to power in Babylon and Egypt and populated most of Africa. But after a short season, their power was lost and these areas remain weak to this day. The prophecy literally came true with respect to Canaan’s descendants. When the children of Israel conquered the land of Palestine, they made the descendants of Canaan, the Canaanites, their slaves and servants. Israel violated God’s directive will for them because they were told to drive all the inhabitants out of the land of Canaan (Num. 33:50-56). Ironically, it was the influence of these Canaanites that soon led God’s chosen nation into idolatry.

“Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem” (Gen. 9:26b). Apparently Noah saw that Shem’s spiritual strength was greater than that of his brothers. This blessing eventually lead to the coming of the “Seed of Woman” which was promised to Adam many years before. Truly, the God of Shem would deserve praise for sending a descendant of Shem to bruise the head of Satan. History has shown us that a special nation, Israel, was spawned from the lineage of Shem, and that one Israelite, a man called Jesus, lived and died as no other man has ever done.

“May God enlarge Japheth, and may he dwell in the tents of Shem…” (Gen. 9:26a). Since the days of Alexander the Great, the descendants of Japheth have grown in number and in world power. Today they constitute the majority in Europe, North America, South America and Australia. In addition, descendants of Japheth, through the movements of colonialism and communism, have dominated most of the countries of Asia and Africa that were populated by the descendants of Shem and Ham. So, in a physical and political sense, Japheth has been enlarged and dwells in the tents of Shem to some extent.

It is interesting to note that most Bible scholars see a spiritual interpretation of Japheth dwelling in the tents of Shem. The movement that we know as Christianity was first established among the Jewish descendants of Shem. Early Christian writings show that Gentiles were accepted into Christianity soon after the movement began. Amazingly in our time, we find that the majority of people who call themselves Christians are Gentile descendants of Japheth. Most of the descendants of Ham and Shem are still located in Africa and Asia and are historically the converts of other religions.

“And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years. So all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years; and he died” (Gen. 9:28-29). The scriptures are silent on the life of Noah after his prophetic message, but some have speculated that Noah may have written the original manuscripts from which the first ten chapters of Genesis are taken. These chapters may very well be a condensed version of several more detailed accounts that have been lost to us through the passage of time.

First World Kingdom

After the flood, Noah’s sons followed God’s command to have children and the population grew. Secular history places the initial cradle of today’s civilization in the Tigris-Euphrates valley of Iraq. Except for the continued intervention of God in the affairs of men, we might all trace our customs to the Sumerians who lived in this valley, and resisted God’s will for man to move out and fill the earth. Rebellion quickly arose and centered on a mighty man named Nimrod.

“Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there” (Gen. 11:1-2). Shinar has been identified with Sumer, and was ruled by a grandson of Ham. Ham begat Cush and Cush begat Nimrod who began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was referred to as “the mighty hunter before the Lord”. “The beginning of his kingdom was Babel and Erech and Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar” (See Gen. 10:8-10).

The people gathered around their new leader, and selected Babel to be their rallying point. “And they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth’“ (Gen. 11:4). Notice the pride in their own accomplishment, and their intent to defy God’s command that they scatter across the earth (Gen. 9:1). Men once again put themselves in direct rebellion to the will of God, who is their Creator.

The Jewish historian, Flavious Josephus, writing in the first century, having access to old documents no longer available to us, gives us more insight into why the people disobeyed God. In “The Antiquities of the Jew” he states that: “it was Nimrod who excited the people to have such an affront and contempt for God.” Nimrod was “a bold man with great strength of hands, and he persuaded the people that it was their own courage, which procured their happiness.” He persuaded them not to give God, who was their Creator, any credit for their blessings and happiness.

Josephus also said that Nimrod was angry with God, and showed revenge because God had destroyed their forefathers. “He also gradually changed the government into tyranny, and turned the minds of the people from a fear of God to a constant dependence on his own power.” “The multitude were ready to follow the leadership of Nimrod and esteem it a piece of cowardice to submit to God.” They built a tower of burnt brick cemented together with mortar, made of bitumen, that it might be waterproof. (Antiquities of the Jews, Book I, chapter IV).

Could it be that these people are building a tower to heaven to reach God, their Creator? This is inconceivable because sin results in alienation from God. It is the nature of sinful man to hide from God; not to confront Him.

Could it be that the heaven they sought was the sun, moon, planets and stars? Could we be reading of the birth of the occult, astrology, the zodiac, horoscopes, and other forms of idolatrous worship? Astrology is the study of the heavenly bodies in an attempt to foretell future events on earth. Millions of people today study their zodiac signs, and read their horoscopes daily to learn of things to come. It is amazing how accurate some of these predictions can be. But this magic is not coming from God as the Bible warns against such practice, therefore, it must be Satanic.

Thanks to the spade of the archaeologist, secular history now shows that astrology was indeed born in the Tigris-Euphrates valley. The astrological lore of the region is so famous that the very names Chaldean and Babylonian have come to mean “astrologer”. Yet, in our day, astrology is considered an eastern religion. How did it move from its place of origin, and become known around the world? Again, the Biblical record provides a clear insight to the events that took place.

“But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the LORD said, ‘Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.’ So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city“ (Gen. 11:5-8).

These scriptures reveal the extreme significance of the events taking place in the simple statement “Let Us go down and there confuse their language.” God used the phrase “let Us” only twice in all the Scriptures. First, when He said, “Let Us make man in our image” (Gen. 1:26), and then again in the face of man’s rebellion at the tower of Babel. Apparently, the rebellion and the birth of astrology, as an alternative to God’s direction, was so important that all three persons of the Godhead came together to observe and disrupt the rebellion.

And oh what a disruption occurred! What greater group could be found to cause men to stumble over themselves, and seek refuge in small groups throughout the world? Imagine the great barrier that still occurs simply because men and nations cannot adequately communicate with each other. Once again we see the lasting effects and tremendous price that sin exacts from mankind. And no wonder Satan has tried for so long to convince the world that the tower of Babel and its confusion of tongues are simply a fairy tale or some ancient myth that never really happened. The world continues to groan because of man’s fatal decision made on the plains of Shinar a very long time ago.

So the end result is that man did spread throughout the world, and formed nations that were ruled by Satan, and founded with rebellion against the Creator. Genesis chapter 10 summarizes the dispersion of Noah’s descendants, and provides more clear links to secular history than many like to admit. This chapter identifies seventy families that scattered from the Middle East into Europe, Africa, and Asia, and became seventy separate nations. Later, the writings of Josephus, the historian, clearly identified the original nations, and traced their identities into the nations of the Early Roman Empire. (See “The Antiquities of the Jew”).

Secular history shows that the second cradle of civilization developed in the Nile River Valley of Egypt, and is very near the initial Sumerian cradle of Iraq in both time and space. A third cradle is observed to have grown to the east about 500 years later in the Indus River valley in India. Archaeologists have established clear links between the Indus valley cradle, and the initial Sumerian cradle through the evidence provided by relics. A fourth cradle is found in the Hwang valley (Yellow River) of China. This final cradle is even farther east of the first cradle, and is known to have started some 1000 years later. Our own Western civilization traces its roots into the first two cradles of the Tigris-Euphrates and Nile valley. Present day eastern civilization finds its roots in the Indus and Hwang valleys of India and China.

Genesis chapter 10 concludes with the words: “These were the families of the sons of Noah, according to their generations, in their nations; and from these the nations were divided on the earth after the flood” (Gen. 10:32).

A Satanic Kingdom

It is interesting that the Bible records the beginning of Satan’s reign with a one-world government under the control of the dictator, Nimrod, and concludes his reign with a one-world government under the control of a dictator called the Antichrist. Nimrod is considered to be a type of the Antichrist. Secular history shows Nimrod as a mighty leader of the people having later built the cities of Erech, Accad, Calnch, probably Babylon, and Nineveh. “Babylon was long known as the ‘Land of Nimrod.’ ” “He was afterward deified, his name being identical with ‘Merodach’ “ (Halley’s Bible Handbook).

Halley also records that archaeologists believe the tower of Babel was located in the center of Babylon, and may be identified with the ruins north of the great Marduk Temple, Etemcnauki. Halley states: “Smith found an ancient tablet reading: ‘the building of this illustrious tower offended the gods. In a night they threw down what they had built. They scattered them abroad, and made strange their speech.”‘

The Hebrew word for “Babylon” is “Babel” which means “to confuse or confusion”. The word “Babylon” is a Biblical symbol for the reign of Satan, and has a two-dimensional focus –a world system of pagan religions and a world system of government. Beginning in Babylon, Satan formalized a reign that is not concluded until “Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth” is destroyed. The book of Revelation chapters seventeen and eighteen record that destruction.

To the Babylonians, the words Babel or Babylon meant, “gate of God”. But as we have seen, the Babylonian god was not God, their creator, but the creation itself. As the people went out from Babel, they scattered, developed, and practiced their pagan religions. From the worship of heavenly bodies, men soon began to worship the forces of nature, features of land and water, animals and even men. The golden calf of Egypt is a good example of such substitutes for God. Another is the Canaanite goddess, Astarte. She was the goddess of fertility and her worship soon led to temple prostitution. A visit to the prostitutes supposedly would appease the goddess, and cause her to bless all processes relating to love, fertility, and maternity. Some pagan religions eventually introduced human sacrifices into their worship. So it appears that Babel can also mean a gateway to the entire world of pagan religions.

Throughout the Tigris-Euphrates Basin, archaeologists have uncovered some thirty Babylonian temples of worship known as ziggurats. These multi-tiered towers closely resemble the temples of worship built by the Aztec Indians in Mexico. There is also a strong similarity found in the step-pyramids of Egypt and the temples of the Maya Indians of South America. How did this basic form of religious architecture come to be used in these regions, which are separated by thousands of miles and even oceans? Is it really unreasonable to believe that the tower of Babel became a model for these later temples of pagan worship when the people were forced to scatter from the Tigris-Euphrates valley?

The Bible recognizes the events surrounding the tower of Babel as a major turning point in the times of man. Even the New Testament gives us a clear description of the rebellion and God’s reaction to it. In Romans chapter one, the Apostle Paul said men were without excuse, ‘because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things’” (Rom. 1:21-23).

“Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due” (Rom. 1:24-27).

Paul sums it up with these words: ” And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting” (Rom 1:28). In Acts, chapter fourteen Paul put it another way: “Who in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways” (Acts 14:16).

God temporarily set these people aside and allowed Satan to have his way. Looking back from our time, we can see how God eventually called a man from among these Gentiles to become the father of a new nation that would be a “peculiar treasure” to Him. This special nation, which was called Israel, was segregated from the Gentile nations, and provided a channel for God to more fully reveal Himself to us.

Out of the Jewish lineage, God chose to fulfill his promise to Eve, and to bring forth the “Seed of Woman” who would redeem people from their sins and “bruise the head of the serpent”. God promised Abraham, the father of the Jews, that He would invite the Gentile people to share in some of His promises, including the forgiveness of sins. We will later see that many Gentiles will go into the Church. However, history has shown that the Gentile nations were constantly in conflict with the Jews. The Apostle Paul discussed this in the first chapter of Romans, where he said that the Gentile nations were allowed to follow their own desires, and remain under the control of evil beings until Satan’s kingdom is destroyed.

With the introduction of the Jews, the Bible turns its emphasis to the history and role of God’s special people, Israel. For a time, the Gentiles are discussed only in their antagonistic or hostile relationship with Israel. God warned His people not to practice the idolatry of the Gentiles, but the Jews repeatedly conformed to this evil practice. As a result, God brought the Gentiles back into world leadership around 606 BC, and allowed His people to be taken captive into Babylon. From that time until today the Jews have been basically dominated by the Gentile nations.

The Jewish Historian, Flavius Josephus, wrote about Nimrod and gives more insight than we have in the Bible. Click on: “Nimrod” or the “Sons and Grandsons of Noah” for more information.