No matter how many times I’ve heard thunder and seen lightning it still makes me jump. Last night as I prepared this podcast, the thunder was thundering, and no matter how many peels I heard, the next one made me jump again.
If you’re like me, when the sights, sounds, and vibrations of thunder, lightning, and rain combine as they did last night, we cannot but think of God’s anger and his judgments. But at least we know each of these summer storms will be over in a few hours at the very worst.
But, imagine if you were Noah and you were in a boat, in the worst storm of divine judgment ever, and it went on for 40 days and 40 nights. Pretty scary, eh?
When it finally passed, Noah must have wondered, “Is there any hope for me. Is there any future for my family? God has been so angry and has executed such awesome judgment, is there any hope for the future? Will God ever stop being angry? Is God ever going to give us peace again? Is it worth building for the future if there’s no guarantee this won’t happen all over again? Is the future going to be just as dark as the past?
God knew Noah’s questions and answered them in such a way that gave him hope of peace and a future. But he also answered them in such a way that he can give us all peace and hope for the future. Let’s look at Genesis 9:12-17 to recover hope and rediscover peace
GOD PROMISES PEACE
After having disrupted nature in such a spectacular way, God promised peace for the natural world with two specific promises.
No more floods: In the ancient Near East, covenant treaties were made after wars between the warring nations as a first step toward embarking on peace. Here, after warring against sin, God made a covenant of peace in which he promised no worldwide flood ever again.
Reliable seasons: God promised a world of regular cycles – seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night (8:22). What a relief! Without this promise, the first cloud or spot of rain would remind Noah of the great deluge and arouse terror in his heart.
God initiated war on the world, but then initiated peace for the world.
Noah might have thought, “These are beautiful words, but they are just words. After all I’ve seen, will God give me something more reassuring than just words?
GOD PICTURES PEACE
God gave a rainbow to seal and picture God’s promise of peace. The rainbow communicated:
- God’s peace is confirmed: Covenants were sealed as proof of completion and commitment
- God’s peace is beautiful: The rainbow is the most beautiful sight in the whole of nature, so beautiful that most artists say the rainbow is impossible to paint.
- God’s peace is varied: It’s not boringly monochrome but spectacularly multi-colored.
- God’s peace is comforting: The same word is used for a battle bow, but here it is hung up and put away after the war, pointing away from earth.
- God’s peace is worldwide: It spans the whole of earth and bridges between heaven and earth.
- God’s peace calls to repentance: The Jews confess their sins when they see a rainbow.
God loves to promise peace and God loves to picture peace. Although we see that in Noah’s story, we see it with even more comfort and clarity in the New Testament, in the cross of Christ. There, in the New Covenant, God promises peace and pictures peace in a way that far transcends the Noahic covenant. The cross promises and pictures something far greater than natural peace between God and nature. It promises and pictures a far greater peace than just no more floods and reliable seasons. It promises and pictures spiritual peace between God and sinners. It promises and pictures no eternal judgment and reliable mercy.
At the cross, we see God’s peace confirmed, God’s peace is beautiful, God’s peace is varied, God’s peace is comforting, God’s peace is extended to the whole world, and God’s peace calls to repentance. God promised peace and pictured peace at the cross.
God initiated war on the Son of man, to offer peace to the sons and daughters of men.
LIVING THE BIBLE
Pray that God’s special gospel promises and pictures will give you peace in this world and peace in the world to come.
This episode of Living the Bible lines up with Expedition 3: Day 6 in Exploring the Bible Together: A 52 Week Family Worship Plan and Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids. You can catch up with previous episodes of the Living the Bible podcast here or subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, and Google Podcast.