Genesis 9:8-17 A String on God’s Finger (Donovan) – Bible study – Bible Study

Genesis 9:8-17 A String on God’s Finger (Donovan) – Bible study

Sermon Genesis 9:8-17 A String on God’s Finger

By Richard Niell Donovan

The great flood must have been terrible for Noah. First, he had to build the ark far from any known body of water. His friends and neighbors thought he was crazy. He had to endure their taunts as he sweated in the sun, carrying out God’s instructions to build the world’s largest boat.

Then came the rains. Noah loaded his family and all the animals on the ark, and sealed the doors. As the waters began to rise, neighbors who had once taunted Noah now began to pound on the locked door, pleading for entry to the ark.

At first, Noah must have felt, “Serves them right!” but their cries must finally have melted his heart. Still, he could not open the door. Gradually, he heard fewer and fewer voicesuntil finally there was only silenceand the rain. How terrible to know that you and your family are alone in the worldthat your friends and neighbors are gone forever. That must have been terrible for Noah.

But, for me, the worst part would have been living in the ark with all those people and all those animals for months on end. You know what it is to travel with children. Just imagine travelling in a huge camper for months on endwith your childrenall your in-laws and their childrenand two donkeysand two horsesand two elephantsand two pigsand seven chickensand seven cowsand seven sheepand no bathroomsand no McDonalds. One of the first things Noah did when they finally got to dry land was to get drunk! Can’t say that I blame him!

It was terrible! God saw how terrible it had been, and resolved never to do it again. He called Noah and his family together, and said to them:

I will establish my covenant with you:
all flesh will not be cut off any more by the waters of the flood,
neither will there ever again be a flood to destroy the earth.”
God said, “This is the token of the covenant which I make
between me and you and every living creature that is with you,
for perpetual generations:
I set my rainbow in the cloud,
and it will be for a sign of a covenant between me and the earth.
It will happen, when I bring a cloud over the earth,
that the rainbow will be seen in the cloud,
and I will remember my covenant,
which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh (9:11-15).

Usually, when God established a covenant, he said “If you will do this, I will do that. If you will be faithful, I will bless you.” But on this occasion, God required nothing of the people. His promise was unconditional. He said, “Never again! Never again will I destroy the earth by water.” Then God sealed that promise with a sign. He said:

The rainbow will be in the cloud.
I will look at it,
that I may 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 token of the covenant which I have established
between me and all flesh that is on the earth.” (9:16-17).

Rainbows are one of the loveliest things in nature. They glow with all the colors ofwellof the rainbow! Children especially love rainbowsand the child in each of us loves rainbows. We don’t see rainbows all that often, but when we do, someone always remarks about it. “Look! There’s a rainbow!” And all of us turn to see the special gift that God has placed in the sky for us.

People have tried to find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow but, of course, they never get to the end of the rainbow. As we travel, the rainbow travels just aheadjust out of reachand then it is gone. God’s gift is not a pot of goldit is the rainbow itself. The rainbow reminds us of God’s love and mercy!

But, more importantly, the rainbow reminds Godit reminds God of his promise! God said:

“The rainbow will be in the cloud.
I will look at it,
that I may remember the everlasting covenant (9:16).

“I will look at it, that I may remember!” The rainbow is like a string on God’s fingermore to remind him than usto remind him of his promise never to destroy us by water again.

The rainbow is a sign of hope. Even if we did not know the story of Noah, we would be cheered by the rainbow’s loveliness. But, knowing the story of the flood and God’s promise to Noah gives us special reason to hope. Even when we find ourselves in the midst of life’s storms, we remember that God has given the rainbow as a sign of his love and good will.

That is important, because it often rains on our parade. Life is not usually simpleor easy. People used to say, “A day late and a dollar short!” Now, with inflation, we find ourselves a week late and a thousand dollars short.

Life isn’t easy. When Pepper Rodgers was coaching football at UCLA fifteen or twenty years ago, the team had a terrible season. They lost game after game. Rodgers felt the fans’ disapproval with every loss. It even affected his home life. He said:

“My dog was my only friend.
I told my wife that a man needs at least two friends
so she bought me another dog.”

Most of us have had times like thatthe dark nights of the soulwhen we wonder where God iswhen we wonder if he cares. I read about Saint Theresa, a great Christian of the sixteenth century. On one of her journeys, she found herself in the middle of nowhere, pelted by rain and stuck in the mud. Finally, in her frustration, she cried out to God:

“God, if this is the way you treat your friends,
no wonder you don’t have many!”

Do you ever feel like that? I am sure that Noah must have felt like that after being locked up for months with a boatload of relatives and animals on a boat with no bathroom.

“God, if this is the way you treat your friends,
no wonder you don’t have many!”

And so God gave Noahand usa signa sign of hopea rainbow. We need rainbows. We need rainbows to remind us of God’s love and mercybecause we need his love and mercy.

What does it take to make a rainbow? It takes rain to make a rainbow. If it never rains on our parade, we will never see a rainbow. To see a rainbow, we must first experience a storm.

And, of course, it takes light to make a rainbow. There are no rainbows unless the sun is shining somewhere.

What does it take to see a rainbow? It takes looking in the right direction. When it rains, we tend to stare at the darkness. That can be terribly depressing. But if we look beyond the storm, we can see evidence of God’s love and mercy. We cannot see the rainbow by staring at the darkness, but we can see the rainbow by looking toward the lightand God is the light.

An old poem that bears repeating when we are in the midst of life’s storms. It was written by Annie Johnson Flint, a Christian woman well acquainted with hardship. Her mother died when she was a little girl. She was fortunate to be adopted by the Flints, a wonderful Christian couplebut both Mr. and Mrs. Flint died when Annie was in her late teen years. As a young woman, she was diagnosed with a severe form of arthritis that left her physically incapacitated.

But Annie experienced two saving gracesher talent for poetry and a deep-rooted faith in God.

So in the midst of her hardships Annie was able to write this poemreminding us to look toward the light, even when we are in the midst of a stormreminding us that the rain is followed by the rainbow. This is what she said:

“God hath not promised
Skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways
All our lives through;

God hath not promised
Sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow,
Peace without pain.

But God hath promised
Strength for the day,
Rest for the labor,
Light for the way,

Grace for the trials,
Help from above,
Unfailing sympathy,
Undying love.”

When you find yourself in the midst of the storm, look toward the lightwatch for the rainbowwatch for the evidence of God’s love and mercy.

Scripture quotations from the World English Bible.

Copyright 2006 Richard Niell Donovan