Devotional & Reflection

Week 3, Dec 2001

Genesis 9: Rainbow Connection
By Pang Hee Hung, Director & Trainer, Ezra Resources

Gen 9:11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth. 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.

After the Flood, God established a covenant with Noah. Never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth - even though we are still Fallen people. Every time we see a rainbow, think of the connection between now and way then during Noah's time.

We see this word "covenant" and we wonder what it means and why it is so important.

First, I will start with what it is not. A covenant is not a contract. A contract is a mutual agreement between two or more parties to do or not to do something. It is usually set forth in writing and becomes enforceable by law. A contract is transactional in nature. In exchange of you doing something, I will do something. If you do this work for me, I will pay you $x. A covenant on the other hand is a bond and a commitment. It bonds people - either God or man in an inter-personal relationship and commits people to one another. (O. Palmer Robertson, The Christ Of The Covenants, pp. 5-7). In simple terms, a covenant is a promise and commitment from God that is unilaterally decreed. E.g. God covenants to bless Noah without Noah having to earn that blessing. A covenant desires relationship - a contract seeks expected benefits. A covenant desires loyalty - a contract seeks performance. A covenant is a gift - a contract is negotiated. A covenant is therefore unilateral by grace of God (a gift) - not bilateral and not transactional. However, to continue enjoying God's blessings, God can require the recipient to observe the stipulations of the covenant.

There are usually signs that serve as a token of a covenant e.g. rainbow in Noah's instance, circumcision for Abraham, Sabbath in Creation.

The Rainbow connection is important, as it is a life-long and permanent sign of God's covenantal relationship with us. It is not a contractual relationship. God's grace is a gift to us. This Christmas as we exchange gifts, which sometimes become a ritualistic contract, remember God's covenant and gift. That means we give unilaterally without expecting a gift in return. If we give expecting something in return, it is more of a contract. When we give this Christmas, think of the relationship we build with each other. In our marriage, reflect whether our relationship is a covenantal or contractual one. The rich and famous sign pre-nuptial contracts. But the intention of marriage is covenantal. Employment is in the form of employment contracts. If we own a company, can the employer - employee relationship be a covenantal one (not necessarily life-long compared to marriage) - one that operates out of loyalty to each other?

1.How do I treat my spouse, family, friends, colleagues and subordinates? Is it a contractual, transactional and functional relationship or is it a covenantal relationship?
2. What is God to you? A prayer-answering vending Machine or a Person you relate with?

Tools For Reflection:
Certain words e.g. covenant, righteousness, are loaded with deeper significance.
Use a good bible dictionary to help you gain a brief but broad understanding of the subject. A more detailed study will require specific books and commentaries.