The Noahic Covenant

The Promise to Noah

“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, NKJV).

God had told Noah that animal sacrifices would be required of him, so he took extra clean animals to be adequately prepared (Gen. 7:2). Noah lost no time 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 a special meaning that we will focus on when studying 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, NKJV).

Reminding Himself of man’s inherently 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 nor other creatures are to be blamed or held accountable for man’s misdeeds. Mankind alone is responsible for its actions.

“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease” (Gen. 8:22, NKJV).

God declared that ordered seasonal changes would exist as long as the earth remained. Many believe that this verse indicates that there were no seasons before the flood. If the earth’s surface 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 impact of warming caused by 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, NKJV).

It is difficult to miss the similarities between this new beginning and the one experienced by Adam. Then, God blessed mankind and told them to be productive and populate the earth.

But man’s relationship with animals was drastically altered. For the first time, mankind was allowed to eat the flesh of animals.

But once again, certain restrictions were placed upon the freedom given to mankind by their Creator. Therefore, mankind will be continually faced with choices and challenged to make decisions concerning their God.

“But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being. Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind” (Gen. 9:4-6, NIV).

Two ideas are communicated in these verses. Mankind is prohibited from eating or drinking blood, for blood symbolizes life itself. As life and blood are related, man is instructed to protect his fellow man 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, NKJV).

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, NKJV).

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.

First World Kingdom

After the flood, Noah’s sons, Japheth, Shem, and Ham, 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, the grandson of Ham.

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, NKJV).

Shinar has been identified with Sumer and was ruled by Nimrod. Ham begat Cush, and Cush begat Nimrod who began to be mighty on 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. 10:10).

The people gathered around their new leader and selected Babel as 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, NKJV).

Notice the pride in their own accomplishment and their intent to defy God’s command to scatter across the earth (Gen. 9:1). Men once again rebelled directly against the will of God, their Creator.

The Jewish historian, Flavius 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 “Antiquities of the Jews” he states: “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, 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 these people be building a tower to heaven to reach God, their Creator? This is inconceivable because sin results in alienation from God. Sinful man’s nature is to hide from God, not confront Him.

Could it be that the heaven they sought was the sun, moon, planets, and stars? Could we be reading about 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 are. But this magic is not coming from God as the Bible warns against such practice. Therefore, it must be Satanic.

Thanks to the archaeologist’s spade, secular history shows that astrology was 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 into the events.

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, NKJV).

These scriptures reveal the extreme significance of the events 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 worldwide? Imagine the great barrier that still occurs simply because men and nations cannot adequately communicate with each other.

Once again, we see sin’s lasting effects and tremendous price on mankind. And no wonder Satan has tried for so long to convince the world that the tower of Babel and its confusion of tongues is simply a fairy tale or some ancient myth that never really happened. The world groans because of man’s fatal decision on Shinar’s plains long ago.

So the end result is that man spread throughout the world, formed nations ruled by Satan, and rebelled against their 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 historian Josephus’s writings clearly identified the original nations and traced their identities into the nations of the Early Roman Empire. (See “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 China’s Hwang Valley (Yellow River). 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 to the first two cradles of the Tigris-Euphrates and Nile Valley. Present-day Eastern civilization finds its roots in India and China’s Indus and Hwang valleys.

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, NKJV).

A Satanic Kingdom

Interestingly, 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. In Babylon, Satan formalized a reign 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, records 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 left Babel, they scattered, developed, and practiced their pagan religions. From worshipping 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 a substitute for God. Another is the Canaanite goddess Astarte. She was the fertility goddess, and her worship soon led to temple prostitution. A visit to the prostitutes supposedly would appease the goddess and cause her to bless all love, fertility, and maternity processes. Some pagan religions eventually introduced human sacrifices into their worship. So, Babel can also mean a gateway to the entire world of pagan religions.

The apostle Paul later addressed the sin of the Gentile Nations. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are 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” (Rom 1:19-21, NKJV).

“Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like [h]corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things” (Rom. 1:22-23, NKJV).

“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” {Rom. 1:24-25, NKJV).

“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. 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;26-29, NKJV).

Scripture quotations marked NKJV are taken from the New King James Version of the Bible, copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked NIV are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV® 2011 by Zondervan Corporation.  Used by permission. All rights reserved. Used with permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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