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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: What Was the Covenant God Made with Noah?

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Don Stewart
After the Flood God made an unconditional covenant with Noah and his descendants. This is known as the Noahic covenant. There are several specifics of this covenant.

Universal Scope

The scope of the covenant is universal.

Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying: And as for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with You and with your descendants after you, and every living creature with you: the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth (Genesis 9:8-10).

1.Fill The Earth

God gave Noah a similar commandment that he had given Adam and Eve. They were to fill the earth. The same Hebrew word that is used in Genesis 1:28 meaning to fill, not refill or restock. There is no idea of some Pre-Adamic race in the world.

2.Rule Over Animals

The rule over the animals would now be different. Fear and terror would now characterize the relationship of beasts to humanity. God performed a gracious act in giving humankind the rule over the beasts. If the beasts were allowed to multiply without any restraint, they may have eventually wiped humanity off of the face of the earth.

Problems With Wild Beasts

In Leviticus 26:,6,22 the problems with wild beasts are mentioned. In the Book of Revelation wild beasts become a global threat during the tribulation because of lack of food at the time. Without a strong sense of fear and terror, some of them could prey upon humanity.

New Diet?

One of the ways God permitted to help solve this new problem with the animals was a new diet for humankind. Previously, there had been a vegetable diet, now there was a meat diet. The vegetable diet was still in effect after the Fall. If human's ate meat before the Flood, there is no record of it in Scripture. We are not specifically told why God permitted the eating of meat after the Flood, though the keeping down of the animal population is one obvious reason. It has also been suggested that humankind's physical strength was not the same as before the Flood as is evidenced in his decreased life-span. The meat diet was now more necessary to their survival. This also demonstrated God's mercy by this increased provision.

Finally, the fact that humans could eat animals emphasized the gap between humanity and the animal kingdom-only humankind has been made in the image and likeness of God.

Not all agree that this new diet was instituted after the Flood. There is no prohibition of eating meat before the Flood. The Bible is silent on the matter.

Prohibition Of Eating Blood

The Bible says that humanity is not to eat flesh that has not been drained of its blood. The sacredness of the blood is emphasized in this command for it is the life-principle for both humanity and animals.

For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls (Leviticus 17:11).

These prohibitions have nothing to do with blood transfusions. There are some groups who believe that the sacredness of the blood does not allow themselves or others to receive blood transfusions. This, however, is not the intent of Scripture.

3.Capital Punishment

Humankind was allowed to shed the blood of other humans. The death penalty was given for murder.

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 (Genesis 9:6).

Since life was sacred, as represented by the blood in the body, God will require the life of an animal or a human who takes the life of a human being. The taking of a life must be outside the sphere of a proper punishment by a civil authority or legitimate defense of one's self or others. God does not require the death penalty for those who lawfully put another one to death or who kill in self-defense.

Although humankind may shed the blood of beasts for food, they are not allowed to shed the blood of another humans.

4.No More Floods

One of the promises God made to Noah and his descendants is that there would be no more floods like the one that they endured:

Thus shall I establish My covenant with you; Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth (Genesis 9:11).

If the Flood were only local, then the promise has seemingly been broken because there have been many devastating local floods since Noah's time. Those who believe in a local Flood do not think this is the case. There have been devastating floods, but there has not been a flood that has destroyed all of humanity.

5.Sign Of The Rainbow

God gave a sign of the rainbow to Noah and the rest of humanity that He would not destroy the earth again by means of a Flood.

I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth (Genesis 9:13).

Though there may have been rainbows before the Flood, the sign of the rainbow testified that God would never again destroy the world by a Flood.


The covenant God made with Noah include the following:

Like Adam, Noah and his family were commanded to fill the earth.

2.The animal kingdom would now be in fear of humankind.

3.Capital punishment would now be in affect.

4.There would be no more floods like the one God sent.

5.The rainbow would be the sign that God would not send another Flood.

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