I have found a LOT of comfort in the covenant of grace these past couple of months. Barren times can be blind times. It can be hard for us to see that which is true. Thankfully, the reality and the everlasting nature of Christ's covenant with me is not based on my seeing the sign, but on His. God's vision is NEVER blurred. The darkness is as light to Him. He is always better than 20/20!
I thought it was interesting that, in the midst of Isaiah 54's discourse on the humiliation and exaltation of Zion, Noah comes up. Noah has been my good friend in my personal barren land. I've been encouraged and rebuked by his faithfulness to his God in the midst of the darkest of days. I've been reminded of the loneliness and isolation that he and his family faced due to their righteousness. I've been challenged to flee to the ark of Christ for safety in my own storm just as they fled to the ark of gopher wood for safety in theirs. Particularly, I have been granted peace from the words of Genesis 9 and the covenant of the rainbow. The flood has subsided. Noah and the animals have left the ark. One stage of the trial is over. The first thing built in the new world is an altar upon which to worship God. The call to "be fruitful and multiply" has gone out. Then God says:
"Now behold, I Myself do establish My covenant with you, and with your descendants after you..... And I establish My covenant with you, and all flesh shall never be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth." And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations; I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between ME and the earth. And it shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud, and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all felsh that is on the earth."
What has profoundly impacted me these past few months is the realization that the covenant sign of the rainbow isn't so much for us to see as it is for God to see. Sure, it has great benefit for us as a reminder of God's promise, but the text says "When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant." I know that sometimes in my dark days I lose the ability to see things as they are. Great doubts creep in. The covenant water of baptism have dried up - I can't see it. I can't feel it. I can't tell that it was ever there. BUT God can! In the same sense that the rainbow is placed there for God to look upon so has the sign of the covenant been placed on me to be viewed by my covenant keeping God. Even when I can't see that I am marked out, He can! Phillip reminded me recently that from the sky a rainbow is a complete circle, much like a wedding band. Our great Husband has the perfect view to see the sign of His marriage to His people.
I suppose the sweetness of that thought has made the reference to Noah in this chapter even more precious to me. Here are God's people feeling and looking barren, desolate, humiliated, and forsaken. But God reminds them of the steadfastness of His promises. Just as He swore to Noah, so He has sworn to His church. Remember verse 7-8: "For a brief moment i forsook you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In an outburst of anger I hid My face from you for a moment; but with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you." This promise is just as sure as His promise to Noah!
Our covenanting God goes on to say: "For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but My lovingkindnes will not be removed from you, and My covenant of peace will not be shaken," says the LORD who has compassion on you. Matthew Henry writes, "Mountains have sometimes been shaken by earthquakes and removed, but the promises of God were never broken by the shock of any event. When our friends fail us our God does not, nor does His kingdom depart. Whom God loves, He loves to the end. The covenant is immovable and inviolable, because it is built not on our merit, but on God's mercy, which is from everlasting to everlasting."
Oh Christian, does not your heart rejoice that it is HIS everlasting covenant to you and that is based on HIS merit and mercy? He sees the sign disconsolate one. Trust His vision and not your own!