Devotional Reading: Isaiah 54:9-14
Lesson Scripture: Genesis 9:8-17
Lesson Aims: To acknowledge the sacredness of life; to appreciate God’s covenant with humanity; and to give God our very best in all that we do.
Background: God expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden at the end of chapter three. The next chapter opens with the birth of Cain and then Abel. Cain followed in his father’s footsteps and became a farmer. Abel, on the other hand, became a shepherd. As time passed, they gave an offering to the Lord. Cain gave some of the fruits of the soil while Abel brought fat portions from his flock.
God accepted Abel’s gifts and rejected Cain’s, and, of course, Cain was angry. The Lord came to him, giving him the opportunity to try again. Cain’s anger was controlling him. Instead of trying again, he used his brother as a scapegoat and killed him! When questioned by God, Cain was callous and indifferent. This deliberate murder was “an act against God and humanity” (Life Application Bible). Can we see how anger and jealousy allowed a situation to get out of hand? Do we recognize how quickly our actions turn into tragedies? God’s punishment was aimed at correction, not revenge. From the 17th verse through chapter five, we get a genealogy of Cain first and then from Adam to Noah. The Noah story is found in chapters 6-9.
Careful study of Genesis reveals another theme in the Old Testament – if natural consequences from sin fail to bring humans back to God (repentance); then God will judge. Judging is not enjoyable for Him, instead it brings pain. He loves humanity so much, but our wickedness (moral choices) forces God’s hand! You see, the gift of freedom (choices) has with it great responsibility. From Cain up to Noah, the people have become more and more wicked, forcing God to judge. Noah is deemed righteous (not sinless) and will be used as the new start for humanity.
Given 120 years to build the boat according to God’s instruction, Noah rounded up the animals – seven clean pairs and two pairs of unclean animals to be housed on the boat. Noah and his family also get on the boat. The rain begins, lasting for 40 days and nights. Everything on earth perished! God’s purpose is accomplished.
Lesson: Once the rains stopped, the flood waters remained for 150 days. Finally, the waters begin to recede, and Noah sends out a raven and then a dove to determine if the land was dry. When the dove returned the second time with an olive branch in its beak, he knew they could leave the boat. Then God told him to exit the boat. First, he showed his devotion to God by building an altar to offer sacrifices to Him. Inhaling the pleasing aroma, God decided to never again destroy the earth by water. God made covenant with Noah. Called the Noahic (NO a ic) Covenant, it is a perpetual agreement between God and humanity. It is unilateral as well because Noah doesn’t have anything to do. This covenant will be in effect as long as the earth endures. There are eight provisions in the covenant.
The first five are found in verses 1-6. Noah and his family are to be fruitful and multiply. God includes His statement in 8:21 and gives a sign (the rainbow) of this covenant. The Scriptures don’t say that the rainbow is created here.
Application: The covenant displays God’s grace! The only act that exceeds this is His Son’s sacrifice. Humanity deserves justice for its sins, but God’s response is unmerited favor!! The rainbow reminds us that the storms of life do end. The rainbow is hope when we can’t see the outcome; it reminds us that “with God,” we can endure because we’re not forsaken; it also gives us comfort and confidence because God keeps His promises!!