“This is like the days of Noah to me: as I swore that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you, and will not rebuke you. For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.”
– Isaiah 54:9-10 ESV
The book of Isaiah is chock-full of promises given to us by God that we can reflect deeply upon. Earlier this week, I studied this passage and was moved by the promise given in these two verses. The Lord recalls back to a familiar story—the tale of Noah—to impress upon our hearts his compassion and steadfast love.
In the days of Noah, wickedness abounded in the people, “for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth” (Genesis 6:13). Despite this wickedness, there was one man, “a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:9). Because God is holy and justice was due, God determined to flood the earth, pouring out His wrath upon the earth. God instructs Noah to build an ark for his family and livestock.
After the flood subsided and the earth was judged, God made a covenant with Noah, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done” (Genesis 8:21). God then gave a sign to Noah, a reminder of the promise given to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth” (Genesis 9:12-13).
The Lord harkens back to this story and now relates a similar promise to His people: I will not be angry with you; I will not rebuke you; My steadfast love will not depart from you; My covenant of peace will not be removed. How is this so? Are we not too wicked like the men and women in Noah’s generation? Have we not all turned aside and worshiped idols made with human hands? Is not our generation filled with sin? How can God’s anger be subsided?
Just like God gave Noah a sign, God has given us a sign in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Instead of a rainbow signifying God’s promise, we look to Jesus, the man of sorrows who bore our griefs and carried our sorrows (Isaiah 53:3-4). This God-man was crushed for our iniquities; He was pierced for our transgressions; the chastisement that He bore, brought us peace.
Therefore, God’s holy wrath has not simply been removed, it’s been absorbed. The full blow of God’s justice for God’s people has been placed upon the head of Jesus Christ. Bearing all what made us enemies of God, Jesus willingly and joyfully stands in your stead. This is why the Lord declares, “I will not be angry with you; I will not rebuke you.”
Now the promise of God is experienced for the believer, “My steadfast love will not depart from you; My covenant of peace shall not be removed.” Regardless of circumstances or backsliding, God’s covenant with us is unending. He has pledged His steadfast love to us. We can declare with Paul that nothing shall separate us from the love of Christ. God has sent forth His Son to die in our place, so that the promise given to us will always be for us.
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39