Sunday, 5 March 2017

Covenant Basics - Gensis 8 & 9

Genesis 6 verse 18 records important words from God to a guy called Noah: "But I will establish my covenant with you ...". Disintegration has permeated society with everyone seemingly rotten to the core. God has cause to lament the very people He has created. Yet there is one - Noah - who found favour with God, seen as righteous and blameless among the people, walking faithfully with God. This is the one with whom God makes a covenant.

Genesis 6:18 is the first time the Hebrew word 'covenant' is found in scripture, yet we can trace the principle back to God Creating. Covenant is not a common word for us, and we should remember that it is surely more than a contract or legal agreement. Marriage gives us our best example. For the God-given covenants, a simple definition is a movement of God towards us that provides for us and deserves(requires) a response. It is God initiated (His idea), done of Himself (His desire, there is no obligation on Him), and therefore another example of God's grace to us.

In Genesis 1 & 2 God moves to us by creating, providing, giving us a vocation and purpose. Sadly humans messed up setting themselves on a course away from God and His purposes. Yet now God re-affirms and re-establishes His covenant to take creation and the people forward, though this will need a clearing away of the bad. Hence the flood, and Noah commanded to build a boat to save himself, his wife, sons and their wives plus the species through it.

We should see the parallel of what God will do hundreds of years later in one man - Jesus - who will lay down his life, die, be buried, yet 3 days later come out of the tomb. All to take away our bad - through him we can be saved.

Note how the first thing that Noah does in dis-embarking from the boat is to worship - and he does so by making an offering, sacrificing some of the animals. You would think they would want to preserve all their resources, but Noah gives up to God in worship. He trusts God and God's covenant to see creation thrive. We would do well to take on this same faith principle. Stop calculating and hoarding for ourselves and instead give up to God in worship, our lives laid down so that we can live.

Through Noah God is achieving His purposes for the whole of creation. Read the end of chapter 8 and into chapter 9 and see how it echoes chapters 1 & 2 (e.g. 'be fruitful, increase, fill the earth'). God is re-stating his original covenant with creation and mankind. The language in 9:8 - 17 can be read as 'I am establishing my covenant', i.e. continuing what was already in place. God adds that never again will there be a destroying flood, and gives the rainbow as a covenant sign.

God's covenants cannot be broken by God, though we might walk away. See v22 says 'as long as earth, day & night', and find parallels, e.g. Jeremiah 33:20 - 21.

Notice also how the covenants radiates out, extending to include others. The covenant here is with Noah, but included his wife, his sons and their wives. It will then extend through their descendants. This is the principle of God working through the one to bless the many. In His Story we see this principle over and over - often with God using the lesser unimportant people! From the one, blessing the many, is the establishment of community - people walking together with God.

And so now, through us, by being in Christ, He is able to reach out to the many. Hence the key question:

Key Qn: [OUT] From this faith community who is God calling you to reach?
Challenge: Tell someone God is good, He cares for all of creation, so He cares for them


As a faith community we gather to scatter, i.e. we come together, form community, support each other and worship together - which propels us out on the firm base of God's covenant promise, promises that God wants to extend outwards. We go on those basic covenant promises of God that remind us that God wants to restore, heal and set free, in other words bring Kingdom Life across His creation.

So we want to see Kingdom Life across the city, not because we are clever, but because we live on the basis and in the power of God's covenant promises. We live as Christ's ambassadors, envoys of His Kingdom. We live lives laid down in worship, with God able to use us even out of our own brokenness, because it is all about Him and His promises. So let us be that people, based on promises of God dating back to His original creation, re-affirmed through Noah and then again and again through covenants with His people, fulfilled and set in completely new terms in Jesus Christ, who we are pleased to follow.

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