As we speak, the Fiji islands are being hammered by a tropical cyclone called “Winston” by wind speeds of up to 325 km/h. Such devastating wind power accompanied by torrential rain and flooding (between 200 – 400mm) has never before been experienced by this chain of islands in the Pacific ocean. Most of the 900 000 residents of these islands had to flee to storm shelters built for this purpose. This tropical cyclone is said to be the result of the El Ninõ phenomenon which is currently producing unusually warm water surfaces in the Pacific ocean.
In our morning expositions we are currently considering the biblical account of Noah and the universal flood, which was caused by the sin phenomenon, that stirs up and heats up the minds, hearts and emotions of fallen human to such an extent that they not only begin to destroy one another, but that nothing short of the judgement of the God who made them is needed to call them to a halt. The consequence of Adam and Eve’s sin and disobedience has indeed had devastating effects upon mankind.
Soon after the fall, in Genesis 6:5 we read: "The Lord 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 in vv. 11&12 we take note of the fact that "… 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 upon the earth." God responds to this by pouring out His wrath upon the whole earth in terms of the worst weather ever experienced. There is no shelter upon the whole face of the earth apart from the ark. Why such excessive punishment, you may ask? The answer is that God’s wrath is a necessary response to His holiness. In the Bible, God is revealed to us not only as the Creator (and thus the rightful owner) of this world, but He is also revealed as a pure, perfectly moral Being, untainted by any form of sin. God is "glorious in holiness" (Ex. 15:11). John says : "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all" (1 Jn. 1:5). Habakkuk says : "You are of purer eyes than to see evil, and cannot look at wrong" (Hab. 1:13).
Although God has promised, as we shall see, never to send a universal climatic devastation ever again upon the earth, we ought to recognise that the current patterns of flood and drought are perpetual reminders to us that a day is coming when the earth will be finally judged and when all evil will finally be banished from God’s sight. In the mean time the people of this earth are afraid… very afraid. CNN reported this past week that Russia is planning to modify some of its intercontinental ballistic missiles to destroy asteroids before they hit Earth .
The fact of the matter is that God’s purpose will stand (Isa. 46:10; Jer. 51:12). No one will escape from the coming wrath of God and the Lamb if they have not found shelter in God’s provision. Jesus ALONE is our ark of salvation, and the righteous run into the name of the Lord. It is shocking to see how few did take God at His word in Noah’s day. Of all the people on earth in their day, only Noah and his family escaped the universal flood judgement of God. The writer to the Hebrews explains: “being warned by God concerning events yet as unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.” (Hebr. 11: 7). The story of Noah and the flood and the ark is certainly not a cute children’s story. It is a terrifying account of the wrath of God upon sin, BUT at the same time it is also a wonderful account of the love of God for those people who do trust in God and in His Word in the midst of a mocking generation. God, who always has the last word made an end of that generation.
WHAT HAPPENED DIRECTLY AFTER THE FLOOD
After the universal flood judgment had taken its course, God caused the waters to recede and the earth to dry up and God commanded Noah to get out of the ark. Noah’s first response upon setting foot ondry land was to worship God: “Noah built an altar to the Lord and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings non the altar…” (8:20) and we read that God was pleased with the offering, and God promised that he would never again curse the earth in this way (8:20-22). We shall see in a moment that the Bible confirms this later in 9:12-17. But don’t miss the significance of Noah’s first act on the first day of the existence of the new world: Noah worshipped! Can you make the connection between this and the fact that you too are called to worship God on every first day of the week? I remind you that the early church took the first day of the week as the day of worship , since on this day the Lord Jesus rose from the dead, confirming the fact , “Behold I make all things new!” (Rev.21:5)
Having considered the perfect holiness of God and the universal fact and nature of human sin we must ask, “if all have sinned, what was the difference between Noah and those that perished in the ancient world?”
The first answer is that Noah found favour (or grace) in the eyes of the Lord (6:8). Noah was not without sin. He too was a son of Adam, but He was given grace to see himself from God’s perspective. It takes grace to see ourselves for who we truly are! So, Noah was given grace to see himself for who he was before a holy God and therefore turned from his sin and believed God. It is on this account that God justifies him and declares him righteous. How was this grace manifested in the life of Noah? The next verse indicates that he was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God (6:9) when no one else did. And then we read of God saying to Noah in 6:18 “…but I will establish my covenant with you…”.
This is a key word in the Bible. In fact, it describes the message of the Bible. It explains the way in which God deals with fallen people. May I remind you again that the Bible is a book of Covenants – Old and New Covenant. In 6:18 the word ‘covenant’ (Hebr. berith; Gr. diatheke) appears for the first time, although the idea exists already in earlier chapters of Genesis. And now the word covenant appears again here in 9:9. A covenant is essentially a legal agreement between two parties, but in the case of God’s covenant it is always God who takes the initiative , and God who sticks to the terms of the covenant. People break the terms of the covenant repeatedly. It is this word covenant that governs the story of Noah’s great escape from the wrath of God. It is by way of a covenant that God currently preserves and sustains the earth. Horrendous storms may strike islands in the Pacific but never again shall the whole earth be swallowed up by a flood. So let us learn from this text concerning the nature and outworking of the covenant, particularly as we consider ongoing story of Noah in 9:1-17 in terms of (i) a gracious provision and protection vv 1-7 (ii) a gracious promise vv. 8-11 (iii) a gracious sign vv. 12-17
1.Covenant : God’s gracious provisions ( 1-7)
Here then we have the second "beginning" of Genesis. In the first place God repeats to Noah the original creation commands that had been given to Adam, (procreation, dominion, bearing God’s image). Noah almost looks like a second Adam.
V.3 however deviates from the original creation order. In Gen. 1:29 we read: ”Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of the earth and every tree which has fruit yielding seed. It shall be food to you. This is incidentally also true for the beasts and the birds. Everyone was a vegetarian at that point! But now in Gen. 9:3 we read: "Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants ,I give you everything !” Man is here specifically authorized to use animals for food. This appears to be a new dimension to man’s life on the earth after the flood.
Note however that in v.4 there is a restriction: "But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.” Why is that? We shall learn that blood is symbolic of life and because life belongs to God, man is not allowed to eat that which symbolises life. A specific explanation is given in Leviticus 17:11: "For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls.” The life of a clean animal, under the sacrificial system, was required to make atonement for every sinner. The blood of the animal was sprinkled against the altar , and this act of faith dealt with man’s guilt under the terms of the Old covenant.
The subject of blood continues in v. 5. But with respect to another matter – the shedding of blood as a result of murder . God holds anyone , whether an animal or a man accountable for the taking of human life.
In v.6 the principle of capital punishment is instituted with respect to murder. The principle of capital punishment is linked to the doctrine of man who is made in the image of God. V.6 incidentally also indicates that man is still considered being made in the image of God after the fall! What is God doing here? He is making provision for the protection of man by establishing the rule of the sanctity of life in the post-flood world. The world prior to the flood had been a violent world, and God is here making provisions for the protection of human life in in the post-flood world. This too is a gracious covenant provision.
V.7. This was the renewal of God’s word to Adam (Gen. 1:28). The human family was starting out afresh. There was a new beginning. Noah like Adam became the head of the human race now of only eight people (1 Pet. 3:20).Verse 7 reminds us of the blessing of family. Having a family, having children for the next generation is something which is a pleasing thing in the Lord's eyes. We live in a time where children are often looked upon as an inconvenience. Children are a heritage from the Lord- a covenant blessing, and Genesis 9:1 and 9:7 reiterate that particular truth.
2. Covenant : a gracious promise (8-11)
“…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."
Here we see the confirmation of the original covenant of grace with Noah and his sons in 6:18. This covenant confirmation however includes every animal and even the earth itself. In v. 11 God promises not to destroy the world ever again by a flood. Right now God's goodness extends to all creation in terms of regular seasons. That does not contradict God's particular covenant with Noah. This also does not mean that everyone in the world is saved, but it does mean that God's providential care and common grace currently reaches every man and woman and child on the face of the earth. And that simply makes our condemnation greater if we do not embrace Christ by faith in this era of grace.So, understand then that this covenant is a gracious promise to Noah , and this entire world.
3. Covenant : a gracious sign (vv. 12-17)
This sign is a sign of reassurance given to assure Noah and us of God's mercy. He refers here to the sign of the rainbow. V. 13-15. "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 flesh."
Consider the language here. It is not, “Noah, when you see the rainbow you will remember my covenant”, but “when I see the rainbow , I will remember my covenant.” And today every rainbow reminds us that God spared us and the whole earth from such a great catastrophe as which Noah and the world of his day experienced. It is due to God’s covenantal faithfulness that this earth is not destroyed . It remains a day of grace until the final judgement.
I remind you then that we live in a vast but very sensitive universe. Our earth is precariously balanced in our solar system surrounded by forces of gravity, meteoric missiles and black holes. Don’t presume on the fact that things will always continue as they have. While this is a day where God holds out His hands to a stubborn and rebellious people, remember that there will come a day in which will judge the earth again with a final judgement.
Let the word of 2 Peter 3:1-13 speak to us now as we close.
 Rom 1:18ff
 First mention of ‘ altar’ and ‘ burnt offerings’.
 See also the testimony Abraham
 Gen. 6:9, 7:1
 Some see 7 covenants referred to in Scripture. (i) the Adamic which concerned man’s continued enjoyment of Eden on the condition that he refrained from eating the fruit of the forbidden tree. (ii) the Noahic -Genesis 9. (iii) the Abrahamic -Genesis 15:18 (iv) the Mosaic - Exodus 24:7, 8; Exodus 34:27. (v) the Levitic - Numbers 25:12, 13; Malachi 2:4, 5; Ezekiel 44:15 . (vi) the Davidic - 2 Samuel 23:5; 2 Chronicles 13:5. (vii) the New Covenant - Jeremiah 31:31-34. Covenant theologians interpret the Scriptures generally on the basis of two covenants: the covenant of works and the covenant of grace.