An Everlasting Covenant
Key Verse: “I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.”
THE ACCOUNT OF NOAH and the Flood is well known beyond those who believe the Bible. Native global flood stories are documented as history or legend in almost every region on earth. However, for those who view the Bible account as God’s Word on this topic, we find important insights related to God’s plan to bless all the families of the earth in his coming kingdom.
We find the record of Noah beginning in chapter six of Genesis. The Scriptures say that during this time some angels left their heavenly estate to marry the daughters of men. The result of this unauthorized action was great chaos and evil. “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.”—Gen. 6:5-7
It was critical during this time that God find a righteous man with whom he could carry on his original human creation. That man was Noah, of whom we read in Genesis 6:8,9: “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. … Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.” Under God’s direction, Noah built an ark large enough to carry his family and a sufficient number of all animal creatures to survive the oncoming flood. Noah followed God’s instructions, which assured the continuation of both human and animal life upon the earth.—Gen. 7:1-3; 8:16-19
Following the flood, to show his appreciation for God’s grace upon himself and his family, Noah built an altar unto the Lord and offered burnt offerings in thanksgiving. God was pleased with Noah’s offering, as recorded in Genesis 8:21: “The Lord smelled a sweet savour; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.”
The earth had been cursed along with the human race when Adam disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. (Gen. 3:17) The unilateral covenant made by God with Noah assured the eventual return of man’s dominion over the earth as a result of the sacrifice Jesus would make when he died on the cross to take away the sins of Adam and the human race. The eternal existence of the earth, as well as the removal of its curse, would be an essential element of setting up the earthly phase of the kingdom. This assurance was given in God’s words to Noah.
What God “said in his heart” he spoke in words to Noah in our Key Verse: “I will establish my covenant with you.” God gave a token of this covenant made to Noah in the form of earth’s first rainbow. (Gen. 9:12-17) This rainbow was a “token” of the unconditional covenant wherein God promised to never again destroy everything upon the earth. This agrees with the testimony that “the earth abideth forever” (Eccles. 1:4), and is another assurance that the earth was created to be mankind’s eternal home.