Re: [asa] rainbow covenant

From: Christine Smith <>
Date: Thu Oct 11 2007 - 18:37:31 EDT


See responses below...

--- wrote:

> Quoting Christine Smith
> <>:
> > Regardless, I think the meaning of the rainbow
> > covenant goes beyond the particular context of a
> > flood. I see it as a promise that God will never
> > (again?) use natural laws and natural phenomenon
> to
> > reign whole-scale destruction on the world (or
> what
> > seemed to Noah to be the world, at the time) as
> > punishment.
> >
> > I suppose if the same story were written in this
> day
> > and age, the same convenant might look something
> like
> > "Never again will I use a hurricane (or tsunami)
> to
> > punish the world". (And no, I am not arguing that
> God
> > was angry w/ or punishing New Orleans or Asia)
> >
> > In Christ,
> > Christine
> >
> The problem with this is that the covenant was very
> specific: never again will
> I destroy the whole world *with a flood*. While
> other prophecies in the Bible
> may speak to whether or not this world survives,
> this covenant alone doesn't
> promise anything of the sort. It just promises that
> it won't happen in this
> particular way.

Taking George's perspective #1 for a minute, in which
Noah's story is not intended strictly as a historical
narrative, then I think it's entirely possible that
the story was written precisely for the purpose of
addressing the larger questions I listed above, and
that the flood was merely a generic or representative
natural disaster with which they were all familiar.
Thus, God's referring to "a flood" in the story would
make sense within the context of the story, but if the
story as a whole was intended to address natural
disasters in general, then I think the covenant would
likewise apply more broadly.

Returning to a more historical narrative point of
view, in which case the story refers to a specific,
particularly severe local flood, I still think it is
entirely possible that the covenant could refer more
broadly to natural disasters in general. Mainly--God
was speaking to an audience who's understanding of the
"whole world" was confined to the region of
Mesopotamia. Flooding is probably the only sort of
natural disaster prone to this region that has this
type of wide-ranging destructive potential, that these
people would have been familiar with. (though I don't
know, maybe they would also have been familiar with
earthquakes??) Thus, when God says that He won't ever
use another flood to punish the whole world, the fact
that He knew "whole world" translates in reality to
Mesopotamia, then likewise I think He would intend
that "flood" would translate to "biggest natural
disaster threat that your region is prone to".

> As George says, it probably means what it says, only
> "whole world" may have
> meant their local "whole world". This may still
> carry some meaning if it was
> merely a "whopper" of a flood. But we all know what
> we would think of someone
> who told us "never again will a tornado cause
> destruction in Kansas", and then
> after another one does -- they clarify: "well, I
> meant never again will another
> F-5 hit Hesston like the one in '87".

Well, what I would think of such a person depends--if
the person's sincere understanding of Hesston was that
it constituted all of Kansas, then I don't think I
would begrudge them the misunderstanding of the
statement if another one happened elsewhere in Kansas
outside of Hesston. :)

I think there's another aspect of this that we should
keep in mind too. The point of the story of Noah was
not about the flood per se, however bad it was. It was
about God's punishment upon humanity; the flood was
merely the instrument. Thus, in your example above,
it's not enough to say that a destructive tornado
won't happen again in Kansas; it's that it won't
happen again for the *purpose of divine punishment*.
Thus, I see this story as showing God's willingness to
set some boundaries on how He will exercise His
sovereignty--such a lesson I think, trascends the
particular instrument He uses. So although the promise
not to use "a flood" may be the letter of
law/covenant, I think "natural disasters" would be
more in keeping with the spirit of the law/covenant,
so to speak.

> Maybe, like Dick is thinking, it was just for
> the Hebrew peoples, but there
> certainly are lots of verses (like 9:16) that make
> it clear the covenant was for
> "all flesh" including animals. It seems a stretch
> to assume that some hominids
> would be excluded from that covenant. George is
> right to say that the science
> is in the drivers' seat behind this certainty. It
> does force some liberties
> with a straightforward reading of this text. Or so
> it still seemeth to me.

I would agree with you--I think the covenant is
inclusive of everyone, not a particular sub-group.

In Christ,

> >
> > --- George Murphy <> wrote:
> > > There are (at least) 2 ways of arguing that
> "Noah's
> > > flood" was local.
> > >
> > > 1) There is no evidence for a worldwide flood a
> few
> > > thousand years ago but
> > > there were large but local floods, especially in
> > > Mesopotamia. These were
> > > one of the sources for the biblical story of a
> > > non-historical global flood.
> > >
> > > 2) The biblical account can be read as a story
> of
> > > an historical local
> > > flood - e.g., the statements that "all flesh"
> will
> > > be destroyed &c are
> > > simply hyperbole.
> > >
> > > Of course there can be combinations of elements
> of
> > > both views but these are
> > > really distinct approaches. IMO the 1st is most
> > > likely. I.e., God's
> > > statement that he will destroy "all flesh" means
> > > just that (in the context
> > > on the story) & not "lots of flesh." But the
> story
> > > is not an historical
> > > narrative, even though there are some historical
> > > roots to it.
> > >
> > > & with this view, the rainbow covenent means
> what it
> > > says - God won't
> > > destroy the whole world with a flood again.
> > >
> > > Shalom
> > > George
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Received on Thu Oct 11 18:38:41 2007

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