Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him,9 “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, 10 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. 11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations:13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.” – Genesis 9:8-17
She seemed so sincere. “You bring your bike so I can ride it and I’ll let you ride my horse.” She didn’t say, “I promise,” but I don’t think it would have made a difference. She was part of a very poor family, living on a nearby farm, and in a shack without indoor plumbing. She didn’t have any right to offer me a ride on “her horse.” It wasn’t hers to begin with. All she wanted was to ride my bike. I went home later that afternoon without bitterness, but with some degree of disappointment. I was really looking forward to riding that horse!
Maybe you’ve made a promise you intended to keep, but didn’t. Maybe life got in the way and you weren’t able to get to the ballgame. Or you ran out of money before you could repay a debt. Perhaps you wanted to deliver but time ran out before you could. Sometimes the promise goes unclaimed and you’re left holding a gift you can and would give but which is simply not wanted.
If ever God’s promises are not received it is only because of that last reason. Too many people despise the gifts of God. He has the blessings of forgiveness, life, salvation, and eternal joy to give. But too many people refuse his offer. They don’t think they need it. They don’t want to come under his authority to receive it. They don’t recognize how precious it truly is. They consider the Giver to be evil or at best an uninvited guest into their lives. Little do they know: the invitation is from the Creator of the Universe, the One to whom they will give an account. They are being invited into life that is life from God.
God promises the blessings of forgiveness, life, salvation, and eternal joy. But he does more than promise them. He makes a covenant with Noah – and all who will believe. But God goes beyond a mere promise. He makes a covenant with Noah and every living creature that is with [him], for all future generations. Covenants may be much like peace treaties when they are between two equal parties. But this is no equal party treaty. God is making a promise that is between himself and Noah and all creatures for all future generations.
In other words this is not simply a promise. It is a promise to be lived out in relationship. God promises blessings to us and we receive those promises in a relationship of faith. God’s promises – his word – is immutable. It will never pass away. It will accomplish his purposes. It will do as he says. (cf. Matthew 24:35; 1 Peter 1:22-25; Isaiah 55:10-11)
Better than even a promise of God is a promise of God believed, trusted, and lived-out. It’s one thing to know God’s promises. It’s another thing to believe God’s promises. But when we actually trust God’s promises and live them out is the best thing of all.
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