Genesis 9:9-18 - "I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants ..."

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: "I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you--the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you--every living creature on earth. 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. This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth. This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth." (Genesis 9:8-17)

Is God forgetful?

This statement attributed to God speaking to Noah seems to indicate that God created the rainbow in order to remember His covenant with Noah. Could this be true? Does the Supreme Being - who owns and controls everything, knows everything and governs everything - need a reminder of a promise ("covenant") that He made? Is the Supreme Being forgetful? Does He need a rainbow to remind Him of a promise?

Perhaps, as many sectarian institutions imagine, God is an old man with gray hair, that God can be senile in His old age? That He could be prone to forgetfulness?

No. The Supreme Being is never forgetful. This shortcoming is a quality of humans and others but not God. The only way God could be forgetful is if He wants to forget something. But even then, He is never controlled by forgetfulness. He can recall any and every event that has ever occurred within every dimension and universe.

Furthermore, is the Supreme Being racist? This is the implications of such a "covenant" with a particular family or heritage of people. Why would God prefer one race over another? This is simply a product of a particular tribe wanting to exert authority.

Did the flood happen?

As discussed previously, this story of Noah was passed down orally for thousands of years before being written down. As this naturally occurs, the accuracy of the story developed features that turned the story into a fable. Yes, it contains various lessons. But it is still a fable.

The reality is that there was no worldwide inundation that covered the entire earth around the time of Noah. This would be obvious from an archeological standpoint. If this were true, there would have been a mass extinction of humanity all at the same time, about 4,000 years ago. That simply did not happen according to archeological science. This includes the ability of geologists to measure earth cores and strata that illustrate the various events and atmospheric catastrophes of the past.

However, archeology has determined that there was a large regional event in the Middle East that occurred between 5,000 and 10,000 years ago according to geological records and ancient shoreline deposits. The archeology appears to show that the Black Sea region was inundated with a wall of water. Prior to this, according to the records, the region now known as the Black Sea had a freshwater lake. Once flooded by the Mediterranean sea, the inland sea became a large saltwater lake according to geological records.

Indeed, such a flood would have covered their entire world back then - as global communications and travel were not so abundant. But the entire planet was not flooded out.

Such extensions of the fable-like quality of many of Genesis events are obvious. For example, Genesis 9:29 says that Noah lived to 950 years, and many others lived three or four hundred years. Genesis also states that The Nephilim were on the earth in those days. (Genesis 6:4)

These and other events open up many areas of speculative discovery, yes. But they also point to a number of mythological portions of the Book of Genesis. Some of these, such as the story of Adam and Eve, contain specific lessons, as handed down through the generations of teachers. Let's look at this aspect closely as we examine the above verses.

Was the covenant about the 'chosen people' of Israel?

Such a "covenant" wasn't about the Israelites being the "chosen people" as many have interpreted these verses to mean. The Supreme Being was not granting to Noah's descendants - supposedly the Israelites - some special right of ownership of lands, as has been taught over the centuries in order to utilize scripture for the purpose of power and authority.

The words being translated to "your descendants after you" are זֶרַע (zera`) and אַחַר ('achar). The first word זֶרַע can relate to one's seed, but also to a person with the same moral quality according to Strong's lexicon. It can mean, "a practitioner of righteousness."

This indicates a completely different context. God wasn't speaking of the descendants of Noah - as though any one of his family members was automatically part of the covenant regardless of what they did or how they felt about God. God was speaking of those who had Noah's moral compass - meaning his devotion to God.

This is confirmed by the next word, אַחַר. This indicates those who follow according to the lexicon. This indicates those who follow in the footsteps of Noah. This relates again to those who assume the same devotional relationship with the Supreme Being as Noah has.

There is actually no justification for claiming that the so-called "chosen people" are specifically those whose temporary physical bodies are of Judean ancestry.

Besides, if we assume that every human other than Noah and his family died in the flood, Noah would effectively be the father of all races and societies of the world. Whether Europeans, Africans, Hawaiians, Chinese, Japanese, Americans or Middle Easterners, we would all be descendants of Noah, and thus have this potential covenant with God.

And not only is God making this covenant with all of humanity. God is also making the covenant with all living creatures:
"I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you--the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you--every living creature on earth."
The covenant, therefore, has nothing to do with any race, nationality or religious preference, as it covers "every living creature on earth."

What is this covenant then?

So what is this "covenant" that the Supreme Being is communicating to Noah here? Is it about never causing a flood and the mass-destruction of populations again?

This is contradicted by history and observation. Every single living creature - whether human, bird, animal or every other form of life on the earth - has already suffered mass destruction. Every living creature on the earth dies within a few years. Whether it be 100 years as the longest humans live, or 10 years as many animals live, or months, weeks or days as the smaller creatures live, every living creature on the earth dies, and every living creature that has ever lived since Noah's time has also died. Is this not equivalent to a mass destruction?

And even within that, we have witnessed many events over the centuries that have killed huge populations of people and animals - from volcanoes to tsunamis and many other disasters. Is this not the breaking of such a covenant - if this was indeed the covenant?

The reality is that God's covenant has nothing to do with a promise to not cause destruction again.

"My covenant" comes from the Hebrew word ברית (bĕriyth), which means, according to the lexicon:

covenant, alliance, pledge
a) between men
1) treaty, alliance, league (man to man)
2) constitution, ordinance (monarch to subjects)
3) agreement, pledge (man to man)
4) alliance (of friendship)
5) alliance (of marriage)
b) between God and man
1) alliance (of friendship)
2) covenant (divine ordinance with signs or pledges)

Consider this carefully. What is this describing? A relationship. Consider a marriage between a man and wife - also a ברית (bĕriyth). Why would a man and wife marry? Is it a wedding of convenience? For many, it might be. But this does not embrace the meaning of the word ברית (bĕriyth). The kind of "alliance" being described is based upon a relationship of trust, friendship, and love.

And while ecclesiastical religious institutions like to paint the relationship between God and man is one of convenience, the scriptures describe a completely different type of relationship.

Isn't a covenant part of a relationship?

Consider the first thing that Noah did after he landed the ark on dry land:
Then Noah built an altar to the LORD (Genesis 8:20)
He followed this by making offerings to the Supreme Being:
he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. (Gen. 8:20)
Why would Noah do this? Because it was a ceremonial rite of passage? Did it come from a rule saying one must build an altar to God whenever they land a boat after a big flood?

While this certainly would not be a bad rite; it was not what was going on. What is being described (and virtually ignored by ecclesiastical teachers) is a devotional relationship between Noah and the Supreme Being.

Noah was devoted to the Supreme Being. He loved the Supreme Being and wanted to worship Him. How did He worship Him? He built an altar to Him, and then made offerings to Him.

What is an offering?

Is it a ceremonial rite to cleanse the sins?

Certainly offering to God can cleanse one's consciousness, but this is not the purpose of offering to God. The purpose is an exchange of a relationship. To express one's love and devotion to another. This is why a person offers a gift to another person: To express their love and care for that person. (And we can also make offerings to God - by offering Him fruits, flowers, a little water, our foods, our possessions.)

And it was just after Noah's building of the altar and his offering to God that the Supreme Being began to speak to Noah regarding a covenant.

The "covenant" then, is based upon a relationship. It is a bond of love. The Supreme Being was pleased with Noah and pleased with his devotion and love towards Him. In such a relationship of love between a devoted servant of God and God, the Supreme Being will grant special benedictions upon those the devoted servant of God cares about. In this case, Noah cared about his family and those animals he saved from the flood.

So the Supreme Being is communicating that He will watch over and care for not only Noah and Noah's family but all the living beings within the bodies of these creatures.

What is the sign of the covenant?

The Supreme Being is also communicating that He will watch over all their ancestors. He says, "This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come."

This again deserves careful understanding, because it is not as if every single creature since Noah's time has not met with death. Every creature has died. Did God fail in such a covenant then?

What is being communicated is that the Supreme Being is pledging that He will always protect His children, especially those related to His devoted servants. The floodwaters are being used here symbolically. Certainly, people and many living creatures will drown in some waters - even periodic floods from time to time. Every year thousands of people die in floods around the world.

But the Supreme Being is utilizing the concept of the floodwaters to symbolize the protection He offers from the onslaught of the physical world. The physical world is full of floodwaters that can capture us, carry us away and drown us spiritually. The Supreme Being offers His protection from these floodwaters in the form of His teachings delivered by His devoted loving servants who show us how to rekindle our relationship with Him and how we can return to Him.

Being saved from the floodwaters of life has nothing to do with physically drowning. The fact is that we are each drowning spiritually in this physical world. We have forgotten our Best Friend, the Supreme Person. We have forgotten the tender loving relationship that we shared in the spiritual realm.

We have forgotten this because we became self-centered. We ate the fruit of self-centeredness and became envious of the Supreme Being. So He sent us to the physical world where we could exercise our self-centeredness within physical bodies that are not us.

Yes, these physical bodies we are so focused upon and so protective of are simply temporary vehicles we drive for a while. They will die within a few decades - or even tomorrow - and we will have to leave them.

The Supreme Being's protection has nothing to do with saving these temporary physical bodies that were designed to die and then decompose back to dirt. His protection relates to allowing us the ability to return to Him. The ability to be forgiven and return to our relationship with Him. Even though we abandoned Him and have virtually ignored Him while we have chased our dreams, He is still here, waiting patiently for us to turn to Him.

This is His promise: This is His covenant. And it is based upon those devoted loving servants who have pleaded with Him on our behalf, to allow us to return to Him. This is a true alliance - a bond of love above any other bond of love that could possibly exist: The love and devotion existing between the devoted loving servant of God and the Supreme Being. And the rainbow is being used here to remind us of this bond and covenant. God does not need a reminder - we do.

And it is this covenant that has brought to us the teachings of Abraham, Moses, David, Samuel, Job, Joshua, John and many others among other monotheistic teachings around the world. And it is this covenant that brought us the teachings of Jesus, who taught the same primary teaching as Moses:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)