Throughout this year we are exploring the New Covenant. Last week, we learned my working definition of biblical covenant. Working, because I will continue tweaking it as we move deeper in the new covenant.
A biblical covenant is a binding agreement between a superior and an inferior declaring blessings. It is instituted with a sacrifice; guaranteed with an oath; remembered with a symbol.
We also learned that there are seven general elements involved in a covenant. Not all covenants have all seven. But most do.
1) Some crisis instigates the covenant. There is usually something wrong that causes the need of a covenant. Something is wrong. The covenant fixes the problem.
2) The parties are named; one superior and one inferior.
3) There is a blessing granted. There is a benefit given. There are blessings with each covenant.
4) The covenant is stated legally. It is usually stated in a binding way. Witness; judge; swearing of oaths. It is written in legalese.
5) There is a sacrifice. The shedding of blood, typically, accompanies the initiation of a covenant. To “cut a covenant” refers to the offering of a sacrifice. When a covenant was formed in the Bible, it typically involves... blood. Blood, in the Old Testament, was considered sacred. Most covenants we find in the Bible were cut with blood. Blood was the binding agent.
6) Some visual symbol. There is a sign of the covenant. There are things that remind the participants of the covenant.
7) Oaths are spoken by the superior person. Oaths are spoken by the superior to the inferior.
The third thing we learned last week was... there are five major covenants in scripture. I might have to make this six. There may be another major covenant.
Here are, at least, the five major covenants in the Bible.
1) Noah’s Covenant
Genesis 9:9-11 "Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth."
2) Abraham’s Covenant
Genesis 12:1-4 Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." So, Abram went...
3) Mosaic Covenant
Exodus 19:5-6 “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation."
4) David’s Covenant
2 Samuel 7:11-13 Moreover, the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.”
5) The New Covenant.
Jeremiah 31:33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
This morning let’s explore the first of these... Noah’s Covenant.
Here is the first thing we need to learn about Noah’s covenant. It is not a covenant, there are two covenants with Noah. Seriously... listen.
Genesis 6:5-8 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So, the LORD said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them." But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.
Noah saves humanity.... without the favor of Noah, it may have all come to an end, right then. I could have been that God forgets the whole thing.
Genesis 6:9-17 Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. And God said to Noah, "I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopher wood... For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die.
God has decided to reboot the humanity. But Noah is saved.
Here comes the first covenant...
I will establish my covenant with
you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons'
wives with you. And of every
living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to
keep them alive with you... Noah did this; he did all that God
The seven elements in Noah’s first covenant...
1) Some crisis instigates the covenant. God is going to end humanity.
2) The parties are named; one superior and one inferior. Noah and his family are the inferior. God is superior.
3) There is something granted. Noah’s family gets to live
4) The covenant is stated legally. It is.
5) There is a sacrifice. There is no mention of sacrifice... except everyone who drowns.
6) Some visual symbol. There is a sign of the covenant; the ark. Remembering.
7) Oaths are spoken by the superior person.
The flood happens. From the beginning of the rain until the leaving the ark was about a year.
Genesis 8:1 But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided.
God remembers his covenant and saves Noah and his family. Remembering is perhaps another element of a covenant.
That was the first covenant. A Covenant of blessing... life was given to Noah and his family.
Notice these unique elements of this first covenant.
--It is with a limited group of people... The eight members of Noah’s family.
--It seems to have a limited scope... The covenant was to build a big boat to survive the flood.
--It is for a limited time... It lasted until Noah got off the boat.
--This covenant had requirements; conditions... Noah had to do all the LORD commanded.
That’s the first covenant. Now, listen to the second, more famous covenant... the rainbow covenant.
Genesis 8:20-22 Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, "I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease."
Genesis 9:8-17 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, "Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth." And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth." God said to Noah, "This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth."
Notice how the seven elements are in the Rainbow Covenant.
1) Some crisis instigates the covenant. God promises never again to destroy with a flood.
2) The parties are named; one superior and one inferior. God and Humans and all the animals.
3) There is something granted. The promise of never wiping out the world with water.
4) The covenant is stated legally. It is written in legalese.
5) There is a sacrifice. Noah’s sacrifice instigates it.
6) A symbol to remember. There is a sign of the covenant, the rainbow. I’m going to add remembering as a function of the symbol.
7) Oaths are spoken by the superior person. By God to the living.
Here is the fun part of the sermon. Notice the differences in Noah’s two covenants...
Two kinds of covenants...
1) A specific group vs. everyone; All humanity and even the animals.
2) Conditional, Noah had to build an ark – Unconditional; there are no requirements in the Rainbow covenant.
3) Limited time... during the construction and time on the ark – A permanent; everlasting covenant.
Here is the fun part. All the biblical covenants fall into these two categories. All covenants are either... Specific or Universal.
Specific Covenants are to a select group, with specific conditions for a limited time.
Universal Covenants are to all, with no conditions and are permanent.
Isn’t that a fun discovery? This will become more important over the next few weeks as we learn to differentiate the other four or five major covenants. They all will be either Specific or Universal.
Let’s end this sermon with a fun word-play of sorts.
The word for bow in the covenant... is the same Hebrew word for a bow, as in bow and arrow. The bow in the sky is God’s weapon. God has put up his weapons. God has placed his bow in the sky instead of using his bow to destroy humanity. Never again will God use his bow to destroy humanity.
Genesis 9:13-16 I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. "It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud, and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth."
Here is where it gets preacher fun.
Zechariah 9:9-11 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem; and the bow of war will be cut off. And He will speak peace to the nations; And His dominion will be from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth. As for you also, because of the blood of My covenant with you!”
The one who rides into Jerusalem on a donkey will destroy the bow! His peace will be over all the earth because of the blood which cuts the New Covenant!
March 10, 2019
Los Alamos Church of Christ