Advent: Tuesday Nov 29

Genesis 9:1-17

God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you shall rest on every animal of the earth, and on every bird of the air, on everything that creeps on the ground, and on all the fish of the sea; into your hand they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and just as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. Only, you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. For your own lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning: from every animal I will require it and from human beings, each one for the blood of another, I will require a reckoning for human life. Whoever sheds the blood of a human, by a human shall that person’s blood be shed; for in his own image God made humankind. And you, be fruitful and multiply, abound on the earth and multiply in it.”

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

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: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 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. 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.” 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.”

[The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

Questions:

What does this covenant mean for us?

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10 comments

  1. The account of God making covenant with all creation is a reminder to us of how impoverished our view of redemption is if we think only human beings are included in God’s plan of salvation. All creatures, all living things, all creation will be made new under the reign of God. This is good news for our burdened planet, and even the cosmos!

  2. So thinking more about our conversation from Monday and atonement theology and this verse : -Whoever sheds the blood of a human, by a human shall that person’s blood be shed- what if Jesus’ crucifiction isn’t to atone for us, but to atone for God? God, by causing the flood, has just shed a lot of human blood, and continues to do so. Is the sacrifice of Jesus his atonement?

  3. I am still wrestling with the idea of God being responsible for the flood in the first place. That being said, this part is sticking out to me today: “As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

    I imagine these as words of hope for people and creation coming out of a very dark time. Words that confirm that separation from God will never be again. Then I wonder, was creation ever separated from God in the first place? I bet it felt that way. I think there are many ways we can feel separated from God. To me these are words of hope that floods do not last forever and God is still with us. I don’t mean this in a platitude kind of way, but in a recognition for the courage and scrappiness it takes to hope and hang on, especially in the midst of flood.

    1. I recently saw that some folks are shifting their Advent language usage from “darkness” to “shadows” as a way of recognizing that the light is not gone (God is not absent), but rather that the light is only partially obscured for a time. The light persists, and shadows are not as absolute as darkness. Indeed it takes courage and scrappiness to continually hope and hang on when everything seems to suggest that such efforts are futile.

  4. The last paragraph reminds me of the beautiful stories that native Americans have passed along through generations. Stories about the sun and moon and stars, the trees and the mountains. While I’m fairly certain that the laws of physics applied before the great flood (sunlight passing through falling rain has a prism effect), I much prefer the the covenant story as an explanation for the existence of rainbows.

  5. Thanks for all of your comments. Each one gives me much to ponder. I have re-read Wordsworth’s
    “My heart leaps up when I behold
    a rainbow in the sky” etc.
    it’s only 9 lines I think and worth the read if you’re interested. Stuff about what makes life worth living, memory–maybe a universal one, and “natural piety”.
    Peg

    1. Peg, thanks for sharing! I had to look up that Wordsworth poem — fabulous connection. I love the way it takes the whole of life in stride, and with such a conservation of words!

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