Studies in Genesis I-XI: The Gracious God Makes a New Beginning (17)

Scripture: Genesis 8:18–9:17

Often we hear people say that they wish they could begin life all over. Aware of their mistakes, they suppose that by receiving a new opportunity they would be able to correct their conversation and conduct. To many their past is a burden from which they long to be released. What is too glibly ignored is the undeniable fact that we, with the dawn of every new day, always take ourselves with us. Not a change in circumstances or conditions but a radical change of heart is what all men need. And this change can be and is wrought alone by the God of all grace.

Never did humanity receive more precious opportunities to make a new beginning than in the days immediately following the deluge.

Not a house was standing; not a field was plowed; not a book or tool or musical instrument remained. Civilization which had risen to great heights before the flood had perished. Only its remembrance lingered in the minds of Noah and his family. The Almighty had destroyed the old order because of its corruption. One family alone remained, a family which had in such rich measure experienced the mercy of the Lord. Yet God’s purpose of grace and salvation had not yet been attained. The promised victory through the seed of the woman still lay in the future. And apart from that Savior there was no answer to the problem of man’s sinful heart and life. Thus God Himself makes a new beginning with the race immediately after its release from the ark which had borne them safely through the swirling storms of the deluge. It is not man but God who makes the new beginning. He unfolds His purpose to the man who walked with Him. He takes a giant step in dealing with the sons of men to secure the sure coming of the Savior. This is the establishment of His covenant with all flesh that is upon the earth.

How richly and royally God made room for these covenant dealings—much too frequently overlooked by many who claim to take the Bible seriously—is the burden of the inspired author here.

The purpose of the Lord

After one year and ten days in the ark God gives permission to Noah and his family to leave the ark. Not until the command is heard does Noah go forth. Here is evidence of that true godliness which ventures nothing on its own hut has learned to wait upon the revelation of God’s will. Even as the Lord had shut him in (7:16), so too the Lord is to direct him in his going out. The scene seems like a repetition of what took place at the creation. God wants His world to be replenished. Thus He orders that all the living things in the ark with Noah shall be released. in order that they may breed. abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply 0n the earth. It should not escape our attention that there was an order in this strange procession from the ark. Noah is to arrange this, for God commands him to bring forth these creatures of so many different kinds. To this is added the phrase that they went forth after their families. Each apparently, sought and found its mate.

Immediately thereupon Noah builded an altar unto Jehovah. At once we note that the name “Jehovah” is ascribed to God in this section. Here we have the man of God aspiring to fellowship with the One who had saved him and his family from destruction. There is no need whatever to ascribe this section, therefore, to another source than that from which the previous verses were drawn. Rather, the aspect from which God is regarded is different. Not only His majesty and power but also His faithfulness to those who seek his face must be underscored. He is the personal God who enters into personal communion with His people.

For the first time we read in Scripture of an altar, a term which means strictly “a place of slaughter.” Whether men erected such distinct places For worship in the days before the Hood we have no way of knowing. To suggest, as some commentators have done, that altars were unnecessary in those centuries because God’s presence was still manifest in Paradise (destroyed, then, in the deluge) is reading too much into the account. Now Noah took of every clean beast and bird and offered burnt offerings. Again, there is no reason for holding that the distinction between clean and unclean animals is a reading into the story by the writer something which was not known until his own day. On the nature of this offering nothing is said, whether it was one of propitiation or of thanksgiving. Such sharp distinctions seemingly were not made among the true worshippers, until God Himself regulated the sacrifices in the days of Moses. In the notion of burnt-offerings, however, there comes to clear expression the whole-hearted devotion and consecration and thanksgiving of the worshipper to God. And surely Noah and his family had great reasons for gratitude.

With this sacrifice the Lord was well-pleased. He smelled the sweet savor. In picturesque language the phrase tells us that God delighted in it, indeed not so much in the actual smell of the burning flesh but rather in the devotion which was therein expressed by the one who brought the offering.

The rest of this chapter details the response of the Lord. It speaks of what Jehovah said in his heart. Here the resolve of God is presented as an answer to the prayer of Noah who recognized his dependence on and need of God’s favor in the strange new world which would become the home of himself and his descendants.

The Lord purposes that He will not again curse the earth . . . for man’s sake. Here broad perspectives are presented for our reflection. The Creator is deeply concerned with the created order. For generations it had become a scene filled with cruelty and violence of every sort in consequence of man’s sin. So fearful had been the apostasy with its attendant results that it repented. Jehovah that He had made man (6:6). Thus the deluge was a manifestation of His displeasure aroused by man’s trampling underfoot of all His righteous ordinances. In His just judgment He withdrew His favor. That curse fell upon the entire order of creation. Now, however, God decrees within Himself not to visit the world with such a catastrophe again. Calvin rightly remarks that “the expression . . . is to be but generally understood; because we know how much the earth has lost of its fertility since it has been corrupted by man’s sin, and we feel daily that it is cursed in various ways.” What God pledges is that no universal destruction (everything living) will come upon the earth. This is further hedged about with the comment on while the earth remaineth.

To be sure, there will come a day of final judgment. But this will be attended as both Old and especially New Testament prophecy announce by means of lire. And at that time, when Christ appears on the clouds as Judge, the heavens and the earth which now are shall be “dissolved” (II Peter 3:7, 10, 11). Until that great day seed-time and harvest, etc., shall continue.

A strange hut significant explanation is added, which has perplexed readers from time to time. The reason given by God for this resolve of His reads: for that the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth. At first glance this may seem to contradict what we read in chapter 6. Then God declared that the world had to be destroyed because of its desperate and deadly iniquity. And knowing that sin does not cease to offend Him, we would expect a series of destructive acts on his part. Here. however. we do well to read and reflect carefully. It is God’s holy purpose to bring about the saving victory through the seed promised to our first parents. Thus it was His will that a society of men, born of woman, should inhabit, the earth. To secure this He will now deal with mankind in a manner different than He dealt with men before the flood. Yet He will do this without in any way effecting a change within Himself, which is impossible. His truth and holiness and righteousness will still shine forth undimmed, yet so that He binds himself in a covenant with Noah and his descendants. Nor must we overlook the fact that this statement in this chapter is not a simple repetition of what He said about man before the flood. Then He spoke about the conditions which prevailed in consequence of man’s unrestrained sinning. For the sake of achieving His purposes of salvation He therefore saved believing Noah and his family by snatching them out of a world which threatened to efface the last vestiges of godliness. Here He speaks, instead, of man’s inherent tendency or propensity towards such sinning. The heart of mankind by nature has not been changed and cleansed by the deluge. But God will now enter into a new relationship with Noah and his descendants to hold sin and its consequences so in check, that the way is prepared for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. This section, then, which speaks so eloquently of the resolve of God, prepares the way for the establishment of His covenant with all that lives upon the face of the earth.

The provisions of the Lord

As with Adam so now with Noah and his descend· ants God begins by bestowing His blessing. He is above all else the God of mercy, love, and tender compassion towards man whom He has created in His image. Without this blessing, upon which all the rest of God’s self-revelation rests, human life could not flourish. To be sure, this blessing was not dependent upon the heartfelt thanksgiving and adoration which Noah expressed in the sacrifice which he offered. The clear teaching of Scripture is that man’s gratitude is always awakened by the prior gracious acts of the Lord. The blessing, however, comes in the form of fellowshiping with man. God speaks, and the sound of the divine voice provides encouragement, peace and a sense of security. Noah is by no means alone in that strange new world.

Here, as we reflect upon what God spoke, the interrelationship between promise and command may not escape us. To use a word borrowed from the church father, Augustine: “God commands what He promises and promises what’ He commands.” By walking in His ways and thus fulfilling the divine ordinances in dependence on the Lord’s blessing, man comes to experience and enjoy the fulfillment of the promises.

The design of the Almighty, who works towards the fulfillment of the promise of salvation through the promised seed, is similar to that made known to Adam and Eve in the beginning. Noah and his family are to replenish the earth. Such fruitfulness in their generations, however, is not simply an order from on high; it is a blessed privilege. Animals reproduce by responding to the law of their own nature on an instinctive level; God’s covenant partners bring forth offspring by a deliberate choice and action on their part which should reflect an awareness of being created in the image of God.

How tender God’s concern is for this family we learn from what follows. Here mention is made of man’s relation to the other living things upon earth. Fear and dread of man is placed upon them by God. Indeed, the pristine conditions for this relationship which existed before Adam fell into sin are not restored. This will await the time of the new heavens and the new earth, when the lion shall lie down with the lamb and none shall hurt in all God’s holy mountain. At the fall this relationship was deeply disturbed. Even today we see consequences of this, when beasts turn violently upon men to tear and rend them. Surely Noah and his family must have been aware of such dangers threatening them upon the release of the animals from the ark. But God graciously provides by placing a sense of restraint and fear within those creatures. And echoes of the original dominion of man over them are again heard: into your hand are they delivered. How different the Christian perspective on the world and all things that it contains, when truly nurtured by the plain teachings of Holy Writ, than that of persons who simply ascribe the fear of animals to some inscrutable and impersonal law of nature. Also here let us praise the Lord for the goodness which He shows each day anew to the sons of men.

To this is added another great gift of God. Man receives from God permission to make use of every moving thing that liveth to nourish himself. This is in addition to the green herb which had been given from the beginning. From this we are not to infer that men had not eaten animal flesh before the flood. We know that animals were slain both to provide man with garments and to supply suitable offerings to the Lord. Calvin even goes so far as to offer as his opinion that God here is not bestowing any more than he had previously given. Rather, He only restores what had been taken away (at the time of the flood). Many other commentators, however, urge that in so far as man partook of flesh before the flood, he was exceeding the permission given by God and therefore guilty of Sill. This in view of the explicit statement at this point seems more probable. The Bible however, gives no clear-cut answer to our question.

Restriction is now placed upon man, when he makes use of animals for food. The flesh with the life, plainly identified as the blood thereof, is withheld. Later in Scripture we are warned against making too simplistic an identification between life and blood. Yet the close association of the two should not escape us. Here, undoubtedly, God wills to remind man of the great difference between mankind and the animals. While the latter rend each other to devour flesh still pulsating with warm flowing blood, such savagery in satisfying the appetite is strictly forbidden man. The purpose of this prohibition ought at once be clear. In all his dealings with animals man must remember that they are God’s creatures who must be treated with proper restraint and reverence for life which comes from the Creator alone.

Even more clearly is the restraining hand of God, as He seeks to order man’s life in this new world, evident in the next provision. Man, indeed, must be safeguarded among a multiplying number of animals who could turn upon and rend him; he must be safeguarded even more against his fellow-man. Thus this added provision commends itself especially against the dark background of the history of mankind before the flood. To be sure, there were then evidences of a developing civilization. But even more, as man multiplied upon earth he, by increasingly ignoring the Creator and His ordinances, filled the world with cruelty and violence. The line from Cain to Lamech demonstrated a horrible and horrifying declension in its lack of respect for human life. Now Cod as with a solemn oath (note the word surely) reveals Himself as the judge and avenger of all murder. This sin, seemingly before and above all others in what later was imbedded in the second table of his law, will incur His righteous indignation. He will require the blood of man slain by men and animals. God even announces in what manner He will bring punishment for this sin. He will use man himself as an executioner of His just judgment upon those who slay man. We cannot help but note how, by again speaking of man as created in the image of God, God clearly and consistently distinguishes the human race from all other creatures on earth. At no time and by no one may man ever be regarded as simply a highly-complex and -developed animal. To attack man wantonly is to raise a high hand of rebellion against God Himself who is the sole sovereign of life and death.

Now it becomes clear why this section concludes with a repetition of the promise-command concerning the fruitfulness of the race in the new world. In language which cannot be misconstrued God is addressing mankind as if to say, “You see that I am intent upon preserving and cherishing mankind. upon earth; do you therefore also attend to this.”

The promises of the Lord

What follows upon the rich blessing which God bestows on Noah and his family with its attendant responsibilities upon them is of the greatest consolation for the race.

Well might the patriarch have some cause for anxiety. With the coming of every heavy rain the memory of deluge would certainly have been revived. In addition, God had spoken in serious terms about the dangers which threatened the human race on every hand. Animals of all kinds would soon multiply upon the face of the earth, and by no means all of them were kindly disposed to man. Even more, Noah realized full well how soon violence akin to that which he saw on every hand in the old world could break out upon and destroy many of his descendants. And of this, too, God had spoken clearly. To be sure, there is no reason to suppose that he doubted either the goodness or the power of the God who had delivered him. But for the confirmation of his faith, God continues to speak to him and announces that he is making a covenant with him and his posterity. Included in this are all the living creatures upon the face of the earth.

For the first time, then, we read in Scripture of such a disposition or arrangement. Indeed, the words themselves are directed first of all to Noah and his family. Yet it clearly embraces all flesh for generations to come, since twice over God incorporates the term any more and adds for the sake of clear comprehension and consolation that it shall endure for perpetual generations. Nor is it without significance for the animals who, although they indeed do not consciously mark the words of the Lord, are to be both restrained and preserved by Him.

Specifically the covenant centers in the promise that the Almighty God who had brought the great waters of destruction upon the earth will not again send a flood to destroy the earth. Here, then, God voluntarily imposes a restraint upon the exercise of his retributive justice. Such a flood as the one through which Noah and those with him had but recently passed would never again be sent.

The term covenant (“berith”) signifies the solemn, binding form by which God arranges life under His word of promise. For God’s part of the agreement such a form, indeed, is quite unnecessary. All his words are tried and true. But the drawing up and announcing of promise in the form of a solemn compact is for the sake of man, so that he instead of doubting the goodness of the Lord may call it to mind and employ it as a sure pleading-ground in seeking the favor of God. Leupold explains, therefore, such covenants are not to be put on a parallel with human covenants in which two contracting parties meet on the same level and make mutual pledges. Divine covenants emanate from God—therefore the emphatic initial “‘ani,” as for me—He makes them, He fixes the terms and the conditions, He in sovereign freedom binds Himself.

The Significance of this new “arrangement” on God’s part for the earth and its inhabitants may not escape us. It is comprehensive in its scope, both with respect to its beneficiaries (all flesh) and its duration. In this respect it differs markedly from other covenantal-arrangements of which the Bible speaks. Here we do not read at all of any “conditions” which are imposed by God upon man. He will keep this word irrespective of the responses which mayor may not be given.

In this connection the question arises whether the preceding verses, wherein God has laid down ordinances by which men and beasts are to live, should be regarded as constitutive elements of the covenant. The structure of this section of Genesis would seem to preclude this. Let us remember that, first, we have Noah offering a sacrifice to the Lord which without doubt embraced prayers of thanksgiving and petition. To this God responded, when He said in his heart. Upon this follows an announcement of blessing from the side of the Lord which spoke of fear and dread placed upon the beasts and regulations for life upon the new earth. Only thereafter does the passage introduce God as the covenanting God. Yet there is an unmistakable connection between all that and what God now pledges in covenantal form. Shall the gracious promise of God to spare the world and its inhabitants from a catastrophe like the deluge be experienced as a blessing by men, then they must observe the divinely-imposed ordinances. But irrespective of their reactions, this covenant-promise shall stand until the end of time.

To this promise a sign is added by God for the purpose of confirming man’s faith in His word which cannot be broken. He speaks of it as His (my) bow in the cloud. How appropriate in view of the fact that the memory of the fearful Rood would live long in the minds and hearts of mankind. Now whenever the cloud comes upon the earth and the bow appears, men are to keep in mind God’s covenant between Himself and all flesh. Here God even condescends to speak of Himself as a covenant partner who will look upon it and bring to His remembrance the word of gracious promise.

All kinds of questions, perhaps, multiply within us as we reflect on these words. Was this the first appearance of a rainbow in the sky? Or did God make use of a sign which had been observed already before the flood by the sons of men? Is it true that the flood brought about such great changes in atmospheric conditions and climate, that this should definitely he regarded as a kind of new creation of the Lord? Should these words be attached to Genesis 2:5, 6, which speak of a time when it had not yet rained upon the earth? Did that original Paradisaic condition continue until the time of the flood? Commentators have differed sharply on this. Leupold believes the sign would be “comparatively weak” and its effectiveness “much impaired,” if rainbows had appeared before the flood. Yet he agrees that the text does not require that it is now seen for the first time. He suggests that, if such bows were seen before, they were perhaps far less striking than after the flood. Calvin considers such and similar arguments “frivolous,” urging that the significant matter in the account is the word of promise to which the rainbow is attached as a sign and pledge.

Of far greater weight is the question what this sign means to us and to our children. With this we ought to busy ourselves. Living as we do in a secularized world which boasts itself in scientific explanations and achievements, we take the rainbow too much for granted. How clearly, do we acknowledge and confess it as a sign of God’s perpetual faithfulness to the word which He has spoken concerning the world? We may smile condescendingly at the remembrance of our grandparents who still spoke of the thunder as God’s speech in nature and of the lightning as a token of His sovereign presence and power and of the rainbow as the sign of His faithfulness in preserving man and beast until the end of the ages. But who dare deny that they often felt and thought and spoke more Biblically than many of us in our generation?


1 – This section has altogether too much been neglected by Christi;m believers and scholars. In their haste to reflect on God’s dealings with Abraham and in him with the children of Noah, a most significant aspect of God’s mighty works unto salvation has been overlooked. The new beginning with Noah comprises so much more than simply his entrance upon a world which had been swept clean of its sin manifested in man’s unrestrained corruption and violence. God entered into a new relationship, firmly established by means of covenant. Here we would quote J. Van Andel: Gewijde Geschiedenis (Callenbach, 1903).

“With the new world a new time has come; God Himself with a mi.l!:hty hand seizes the reins of history. Firmly He directed the development towards Abraham, purposing to establish a covenant with this man, concerning his seed and, by its coming, to destroy the power of the serpent and to bring into being the rule of God . . .

“Although matters move more swiftly, they do not hasten themselves unduly. The covenant with Abraham requires another, previous covenant; one by which the earth will be protected from the consequences of man’s sin, for there can be place for God’s kingdom only upon an earth in which its continuity is at all costs assured . . .” (pp. 28, 29).

Here follows the argumentation which makes clear the relationship between these two covenants and the whole plan of God concerning the history of salvation.

2 – In several respects this chapter is one of the most basic in Scripture. Hence “notes” on all the matters to which it refers could be proliferated into volumes. Space will not permit; hence only a few arc inserted in the hope that discussion (and even more; further reflection and Bible study) will go far beyond the contents of this outline. Once again we warn against the prevailing tendency (also championed by neo-orthodox theology and infesting many who want to be fully true to Scripture in evangelical churches) of finding the beginning of so-called “salvation-history” in the Exodus, or possibly by a few with Abraham. Much Sunday school, devotional, and discussion-group material prepared for use in the churches is infected with this approach. It is, of course, in full harmony with the basic presuppositions and positions of neo-orthodoxy; it is clearly contradictory to those of the Reformed faith.

3 – From 9:4–6 the basic laws which they regarded as obligatory upon all men. These, therefore, had to be observed by all who lived within the borders of Israel, and especially by the proselytes. Later the number of these regulations was enlarged to as many as thirty. In the light of this, the discussion and decisions recorded in Acts 15 become more meaningful for us who live at such a distance in time from that early controversy.

4 – On whether we find here the actual institution of civil government or only preparations for it there has been much difference of opinion. Consult any sound commentary. Note also the “progressive” character of God’s revelation of His will to men as evidenced in His speaking about governments.

5 – One wonders at times just how much preachers and teachers, when instructing others on the animal world together with its relationship to and use by man, allow themselves 10 he controlled by what God says about putting fear of man upon the beasts. This authority or dominion comes not by any inherent right upon mankind; it is a gracious gilt which may never be abused. Where the Biblical teachings live in men’s hearts and minds, we see a concern and compassion lor animals which is often lacking among those who do not know God’s Word. However, it may well be asked whether such is still strong among professing Christians today, where animals of various kinds (both domesticated and wild) are too often regarded simply as commercial commodities. In om depersonalized, mechanized, and money-mad world we don’t seem to find much that reflects, for example, the compassion of a Hebrew shepherd for his sheep. Calvin reminds us that this “dominion” extends even farther:

“Therefore, the fact that oxen become accustomed to bear the yoke; that the wildness of horses is so subdued as to cause them to carry the rider; that they receive the pack-saddle to bear burdens; that cows give milk, and suffer themselves to be milked; that sheep are mute under the hand of the shearer; all these facts are the result of this dominion, which, although greatly diminished, is nevertheless not entirely abolished.” Commentary on Genesis (Eerdmans, 1948), vol. I, p. 291.

6 – In the Christian Reformed Church one cannot study this section of Scripture without immediately raising the whole matter of God’s common grace (gemeene gratie). Abraham Kuyper has too often been made a “scapegoat” by people who either completely misunderstand him or by those who haven’t read his De Gemeeme Gratie in 3 volumes, and his Pro Rege, also in 3 volumes. On several points, indeed, his views have been rightly challenged as in need of modification. What is regrettable is that so few even know about and have read his master-full explanation of why he was compelled to write as he did. The first articles (the material ran serially in De Heraut before appearing in book form) deserve to be read most carefully. To accuse him of minimizing the “antithesis” between believer and unbeliever and thus opening the church as the company of God’s people to the “world” is patently unfair. That some (perhaps, even many at times) have sought to justify their minimizing of the “antithesis” in the interest of compromising with the world may well be true. But such persons are not true to Kuyper’s positions; possibly haven’t even taken time to read his works. Before World War II the question was discussed frequently in the Christian Reformed Church, especially in De Wachter. We are not interested in raking the cold ashes of a controversy of nearly fifty years ago. But the “issues” are still with us. With a penetrating insight Kuyper showed what neglect of the issues would produce—either a “world-flight” and isolationism on the part of those who repudiated in every sense a “commoness” among all men, or an increasing accommodation tot he thought-patterns and practices of the unbelieving world. To discuss this in detail here is unwarranted. Yet is it possible that our silence on the “issues” involved has helped to produce a polarization within the Christian Reformed Church? Do we still hear about, confess, and practice a truly Biblical Reformed life—and world-view which is bound up with these “issues”? Much literature on this subject is still available in the Holland language, also that which corrects Kuyper on specific points. One of the finest contributions to this important discussion is the work of Dr. C. Van Til, Common Grace (Presbyt. Reformed Publishing Co., 1947) which has suffered too much the silent treatment by professors, preachers and people. Unless there is vigorous Bible study, discussion in depth, and that not by just a few professors or preachers but among people of all vocations who love the Reformed faith, it will languish by slow starvation. No wonder we hear so much criticism of preaching in our churches, witness a growing indifference to the principles undergirding the Christian schools, suffer from confusion when it comes to our Christian obligations in society, politics, labor and race-relations, the fine arts, etc. Too many don’t seem to know any more what they should believe with respect to the Christian’s and the church’s obligations as witnesses in this world. We need desperately in a confused and apostate age to know what we believe in obedience to the full Word of God. If this isn’t revived among us, all our institutions and organizations, our plans and our programs and our projects will fail. We still talk about covenant, church, and kingdom. Are these only traditional cliches which make us feel good and safe when we hear them? Or lire they convictions arising out of a loving understanding and obedience to the full counsel of God revealed in His inscripturated word?


1 – Compare and contrast the deluge with the final judgment. In what sense may the deluge be regarded as “type,” sign, and pointer to that final day?

2 – How would you explain that here we find the first mention of an altar? Why don’t we have altars in our public or private worship, as do, e.g., the Roman Catholics? Do we still have an altar? Explain Hebrews 13:10.

3 – Discuss what the Bible means by God’s curse. Mention and explain several Bible passages which speak of this.

4 – How would you explain the reason which God gives for His decision? (cf. 8:21, middle section)

5 – Does the command of 9:1 still hold? How about over- population? Discuss the article in The Banner on “ZPG needs . . . large families,” March 24, 1972, pp. 6–8.

6 – To what extent are animals delivered into our hands? Is hunting and fishing for sport permissible? Does the extermination of flies, rats, poisonous snakes, etc., conflict with reverence for life? What about spending millions on our “pets” for their food, shampoos, medicines, etc., while much of hum,lI1ity is in desperate need?

7 – Are the prohibitions of 9:4–6 still in force today? In which respects does the covenant with Noah differ from those made with Abraham and at Sinai?

8 – Why did God “protect” Cain after his evil deed, but order the shedding of the murderer’s blood here?

9 – Is “capital” punishment still mandatory? How about the Biblical law of love towards evildoers? Evaluate the present-day arguments for abrogating it.

10 – In what sense and to what extent are civil authorities instituted by God? How about cruel, unjust, and rapacious governments?

11 – May citizens ever rebel against the civil government? What does Calvin say about this in the last chapter of the Institutes? State your reasons why you agree or disagree with Calvin on this point. How about the Dutch and American wars for independence?

12 – How many “covenants” did God make with man? Are all of these “gracious” covenants? How do you define the term grace?

13 – What do you understand by the term “common grace” (gemeene gratie)? What were the Three Points of 1924? Why aren’t they referred to very often? Weren’t they important for the faith-understanding and faith-practice of believers?

14 -Should we speak of the rainbow as the “sacrament” of this covenant? What do you understand by a sacrament? Why did God institute such ordinances?