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Genesis 9 English Standard Version (ESV)
1 And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. 2 The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered. 3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. 4 But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. 5 And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man.
6 “Whoever sheds the blood of man,
by man shall his blood be shed,
for God made man in his own image.
7 And you, be fruitful and multiply, increase greatly on the earth and multiply in it.”
8 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.”
After the flood, at this new beginning of the human family, God again commanded Noah and his sons to fill the earth with their descendants (v. 1; cf. 1:28; 9:7). As with Adam, He also gave them dominion over the animals and permission to eat food with only one prohibition, not to eat animal blood. This is to instill in them respect for the sacredness of life, since blood is a symbol of life.
God also established a covenant with Noah and his descendants. “Covenant” is a vitally important Old Testament word which indicates a formal, legally binding commitment. In fact, this is a pure promise that God promised to bless humanity with faithfulness, and He prohibited murder. He also promised with a sign that He would never to destroy all flesh with a flood of water again. God appointed rainbow as the sign to remind and guarantee people of this promise.
God makes this first covenant with man as unconditional as it is undeserved. It is pure promise! There is no “ifs”. Instead God simply said, “I now make a commitment to you and your descendants. Never again. Never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.” Whatever humanity may do, God remains committed to this promise made to Noah.
The rainbow is a reminder to God of this specific covenant promise. But the rainbow reminds us of the character of God and the nature of our relationship with Him.
Each time we see a rainbow, we are reminded that God is the God of promise, the God of grace. The rainbow reminds us that God comes to us with promises, not demands; that God in grace makes commitments to us that do not depend on our performance. We may fail God, but God will never fail us.
Father, thank you for your promises that you have made through Jesus Christ. Even though I know that I continue to make mistakes and at times unfaithful, I pray that you will forgive me and that I will have strength through Jesus to live in a worthy manner to your calling.