Every time we see the rainbow we should remember God’s covenant faithfulness in sending the Redeemer to save a people for himself. Just as God had placed a rainbow in the sky to show his steadfast covenant fidelity, so there is a rainbow around the throne of Jesus Christ in glory (Rev. 4:3). We, like Noah, are beneficiaries of the mercy established in the Noahic Covenant in Jesus Christ.
The Noahic covenant was the first covenantal administration after God’s initial covenant promise to redeem and restore humanity (Gen. 3:15). It is also the first time that the word בְּרִית (Berith, translated Covenant) is used in the Scripture (Gen. 6:18). What has not been frequently observed, however, is how the Noahic covenant falls squarely in the realm of redemptive history.
Consider the following ways in which Noah and the Noahic covenant play a part in redemptive history:
- The Redemptive Role of Noah as a Type of Christ
Noah was a type of Christ. He was a typical second Adam, a typical redeemer, and a typical rest giver. Like Adam, God gave Noah similar instructions with regard to being fruitful and multiplying, filling the earth and subduing it. He was not the second Adam but was a type of the second Adam who pointed to Christ.
Jesus is the second and last (eschatological) Adam who redeems his people and fulfills the creation mandates. Noah was a typical redeemer. Everyone with Noah on the ark was saved. Everyone in Christ is saved. Noah was not “the Redeemer.” He was a typical redeemer, providing typical redemption for all those who descended from him. Jesus came to redeem all those he represented spiritually.
Noah was a typical rest-giver. Noah’s name meant ‘rest.’ His father had named him ‘Rest,’ saying, “This one will give us rest from the ground which the Lord had cursed.” Noah only gives typical rest, as the remainder of the Bible bears witness to the ongoing need for redemptive rest.
Jesus is the one who finally and fully gives rest to the people of God and to the creation that was brought under the curse at the fall. He is the one who said, “Come unto me and I will give you rest for your souls.” He is the one who takes the curse on himself when he wears the crown of thorns—the symbol of the curse on the ground.
- The Redemptive Foreshadowing of the New Creation
The book of Revelation tells us that the “new heavens and the new earth” will be the new Temple where God dwells fully and permanently with the redeemed. Noah and all of creation were together in the ark, as in a typical temple. This was foreshadowing the new creation-temple. Interestingly, the ark and Solomon’s Temple had three levels. It seems that the biblical data substantiates that the ark was a temple where God dwelt with his creation.
Noah also led the way into a typical new creation when he and his family stepped off of the ark and into a world that had been typically cleansed of pollution. Jesus brought about the new creation through his death and resurrection.
Noah knew that the flood had not really made “all things new,” because he sacrificed when he stepped off of the ark. The flood waters could never cleanse the evil out of the heart of man. God had destroyed the earth with a flood because “every intent of the thoughts of man’s heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5).
God promised never to destroy the earth with a flood again because “the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Gen. 8:21). The reason for the latter declaration was that the flood was never meant to deal with man’s real problem—the sinful pollution of his heart.
Noah’s sons would populate the earth along with depraved sinners. Only the blood of Jesus could cleanse the hearts of sinners. The cleansed world onto which Noah and his family stepped when the waters receded was a type of the “new heavens and the new earth in which righteousness dwells.”