God's Covenant Mercy Illustrated in Animals

Gen. 6:18-20 "But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee.  And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female.  Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive."

In the next few chapters we see that God used a listing of animals to illustrate his covenant mercy.  Elements of the covenant of redemption are illustrated each time the animals are listed.  The covenant of redemption is set forth in Rom. 8:29,30: "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.  Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified."  This covenant is set forth in five parts describing what God would do according to that covenant.  These five parts are: foreknew, predestinated, called, justified, and glorified. 

The first of the five parts of the covenant of redemption is illustrated in the above passage in the sixth chapter of Genesis.  In the covenant of redemption God foreknew (chose) a people before the foundation of the world to be the recipients of his covenant grace.  Similarly, God chose who would go on the ark and be delivered from the flood waters that would destroy all living things in whose nostrils was the breath of life. 

While it could be argued that God chose Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives because of the faithful obedience of Noah (this argument is not valid), yet no such argument can be made with regard to the animals God chose to come on the ark. 

First the animals could not have had a free will to choose to be saved from the flood waters.  The animals did not have the ability to choose at all.  The choice was all of God.  It was a sovereign choice of a sovereign God that God sovereignly chose the animals he would have to go on the ark.   This choice was not based on any good works the animals had done and it was not based on the faith of the animals chosen.  Likewise, God's choice of a people to be predestinated, called, justified, and glorified was just as much by the sovereign grace of a sovereign God.  The following verses prove this principle:

    1.  Eph. 1:4-6 "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved."

    2.  Rom. 9:10, 11 "And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)"

    3.  Rom. 11:5, 6 "Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.  And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work." 

    4.  Ps. 14:2, 3 "The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.  They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one."

From the above we conclude that God did the choosing before the world began.  Now we are left with the possibilities that God chose based on some goodness he foresaw in man or he chose based strictly on his grace.  Psalms 14 tells us that God did not chose based on some goodness he foresaw in man as he saw that there was none that did understand or seek God.  Further, God's choice was not based on works, either good or bad, as he chose Jacob and not Esau before they had done either good or evil.  Likewise, Romans chapter 11 tells us that election is strictly by grace and not by works.  Grace and works cannot be mixed.  If there is any work involved, then it ceases to be grace.  Furthermore, man had not the ability to choose God because of his depraved nature: he had not the ability to understand, seek God, or do good.

In conclusion, God's choice of the animals to go on the ark illustrates God's covenant grace in choosing his elect family to be finally glorified in heaven's glory world.

God's wrath towards sin & God's judgment

The following two passages in Genesis chapter 6 show us God's wrath toward sin and God's timely judgment of sin:

    1.  Gen. 6:5-7 "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.  And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them."

    2.  Gen. 6:11-13 "The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.  And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.  And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth."

As we have noted earlier in our studies of Genesis, Adam's transgression brought himself and all his posterity under the penalty of the law of sin and death.  Part of the law of sin and death is that our carnal nature was so corrupted that we became dead in trespasses and sins.  We became incapable of doing good or seeking God in our carnal nature.  Only by the miracle of the new or spiritual birth is a person capable of seeking after God, of doing good, of understanding the things of the Spirit of God, of fearing God, etc. 

While those who are born of the spirit of God are capable of walking uprightly, this does not mean that they always will walk uprightly.  They still have a sin nature.  The conditions of mankind had so denigrated that "every imagination of the thoughts of their heart was only evil continually.  The earth was filled with violence. 

Because of the pathway of sin and the effects of sin, the same God who created man and declared him to be good and very good is now ready to destroy all flesh because of the evil deeds of sin.  The scripture says that God repented that he had made man upon the earth.  The word repent in connection with God is not to imply that God did not know what was going to happen or to imply that God changed because of the actions of man.  It does teach us that God's action towards man changed because of the conditions that man brought about.  God made man upright and God declared him to be good and very good.  Now man's way is completely corrupted and God is set to destroy man because of his corruption.  God had every right as the judge of all the earth and creator of all things to judge all flesh to be worthy of destruction. 

The above passages also teach us that "it grieved God at his heart" to see the great sinfulness of man upon the earth.  Grief is a human quality that is often brought about because of very troubling conditions in our lives.  Thus, God is "troubled" by the sinfulness of man. 

God is not a whimsical God.  He does not do things haphazardly.  God cannot change.  The timely wrath of God is not poured out upon us for each sin that we may commit.  The condition of mankind in corruption had became so great that the only remedy was a timely destruction.  There are times in the scriptures where we see the condition of men's corruption to reach such a point that destruction is the only remedy.  The completely corrupt conditions of Sodom and Gomorrah is an example of this.  Likewise, the completely corrupt conditions of the nations that God destroyed before Israel in the land of Canaan are another example.  When society denigrates into complete corruption the remedy is complete destruction.  This teaches us that God will forbear the sinful corruption of a society only to a certain limit and only for a period of time. 

The justice and wisdom of God is borne out in the destruction of the pre-flood world as God made a new beginning with Noah and his family.  While some societies have denigrated themselves into complete corruption and ultimate destruction, yet the whole world has not corrupted itself as the world before the flood corrupted itself into "every imagination of the thoughts of their heart was only evil continually," and "violence filled the earth." 

Certainly, God never intended that all man would be destroyed without exception as this would have gone contrary to God's covenant of redemption.  God was gracious even in the midst of the destruction of the pre-flood world with a flood.