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A Covenant with All of Creation
Not maybe the first covenant in the Bible, but the first one that’s clearly identified as a covenant is the Noahic covenant. The Noahic covenant is the covenant that’s unlike the rest of the covenants in the Bible. It is a covenant that’s made with all of creation. After the flood, God essentially re-establishes humanity and it’s very interesting to see that God essentially puts back onto Noah all the original callings and obligations and privileges that were given to Adam. It’s like we’re starting over.
In that context, God promises in covenant form that he will never again judge the world through the flood. This covenant does not establish salvation for anyone, instead, we think of it as a common grace covenant. It essentially guarantees that there will be a playing field, there is going to be time and opportunity for God’s plan of salvation to work itself out. Like all covenants, the covenant with Noah and with all of creation, it has a sign. The sign of that covenant is the rainbow. The rainbow, of course, is associated with rain and water, it appears in the sky, it’s the promise that God is not again going to open the flood gates and judge the entire world through water.
I think what is significant about this sign is that it is a picture of the warrior’s bow at rest. God, who had drawn his bow of judgment, his arrow of judgment, against the world has now set it down for a time so that salvation can be accomplished. I think that is largely what is going on with the Noahic covenant.