Covenant of Grace
The God of the Bible is a God of Covenants. One of the best-known stories in the Bible is the account of Noah and the great flood.
Humanity had fallen into great wickedness, and God decided to start over.
So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them." But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. (Genesis 6:7-8 NIV)
God instructed Noah to build an ark - a ship to shelter Noah and his family, along with pairs of animals. Noah did what God commanded. He built the ark and entered it with his family and the animals.
In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights. (Genesis 7:11-12 NIV)
The flood wiped out everyone and everything but those in the ark. When the flood receded and the land dried out, God told Noah to come out of the ark and repopulate the earth. Noah's first act was to build an altar and offer a sacrifice of worship to the God who saved his life. In response to Noah's worship, God made a covenant - a holy agreement with Noah and all humanity:
Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.” (Genesis 9:8-11 NIV)
This covenant was an unconditional covenant. It called for no response from Noah. God promised, by grace and grace alone, he would never again flood the earth. The sign of the covenant was given by God - the rainbow.
And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” (Genesis 9:12-16 NIV)
The ark is a symbol of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer. Those who are "in Christ" are sheltered from the judgment that is deserved for sin, just as those in the ark were sheltered from the flood. This is grace. We cannot earn it and we do not deserve it. God offers shelter from the storm. God offers grace.
Sin deserves judgment. God makes a way of redemption. He comes to us Himself in flesh and blood, and takes the death we deserve on Himself. His longing is to redeem. And God makes covenant - He binds Himself to us - to forestall judgment so we have the opportunity to repent and respond to His covenant of grace.
A greater day of judgment than the flood will come at the end of history. We will all stand before God and give account of our lives. We will all fall short of His glory and His will for our lives, because we have all sinned. Only those in the ark that is Jesus Christ will survive. Because God made a way. God offers grace. We only need to trust Jesus and receive this grace, living for Him instead of ourselves, and we will survive the storm.
Glory to God!