First Reading: Genesis 9:8-15

Noah's Covenant

8 God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying, 9 “As for me, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your offspring after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you: the birds, the livestock, and every animal of the earth with you, of all that go out of the ship, even every animal of the earth. 11 I will establish my covenant with you: all flesh will not be cut off any more by the waters of the flood, neither will there ever again be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12 God said, “This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: 13 I set my rainbow in the cloud, and it will be for a sign of a covenant between me and the earth. 14 It will happen, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow will be seen in the cloud, 15 and I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh, and the waters will no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.”

World English Bible

[9-11] Noah's covenant marks the second one God made with humanity. The first covenant God made with Adam. The first humans broke that alliance, sin increased in the world, and God turned nature against humanity.

Noah's covenant was the result of the great flood. The flood itself was seen as a re-creation of the cosmos; the new covenant was God's re-alliance with humanity. Since Noah and his family were the only righteous people on earth, God promised Noah (as the representative of humanity) never to destroy humanity by a flood again.

This covenant became the basis for the Jewish belief in the righteous Gentile, a non-Jew who honors the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. There are a few examples of these people in the New Testament. Since all people had a covenant relationship with God through Noah, all could be saved. Even nature was part of God's plan for salvation.

[12-15] The sign of the rainbow. In the flood, the ancient people believed that it was not only a great rain, but that the heavens literally collapsed (and the ark became a submarine). As God re-created the world, the waters in the heavens and those on earth were re-separated by the appearance of dry land. The rainbow acts as a shield to keep the heavens from collapsing again. In this way the rainbow is not only a sign, but a physical barrier.

In the rains of the past few months, how have you seen God working? How have these changes challenged you?