Continuing the theme of the Noahic covenant Kuyper turns his attention to the distinction between its content and purpose.
Its content is the natural life and not the eternal and applies to all including animals. He summarises its content thus:
that until the end of the world, the surface of our globe will not again be in a position to be disturbed, but will remain as it is now. (33 - emphasis Kuyper’s)
The spiritual significance is expressed in its purpose. Its purpose “lies with the elect” (34):
this purpose is to be sought in Christ, in his people and their future, and through Christ in the glorification of the Lord’s decree and name. (34)
Sadly the Noahic covenant has been neglected in theological discourse. Kuyper notes that Calvin grasped it in his commentary on Genesis, but after him it has become neglected.
The rainbow is a sign of God’s covenant. Kuyper briefly discuss if this was the first time a rainbow appeared. Nothing that for Lutherans it was but for the Reformed not. Though he admits:
“We cannot resolve the question as to whether the rainbow appeared for the first time then, or whether the already familiar rainbow was simply made into a sign at that time.” (37)
He makes a good point regarding our attitude to the rainbow:
“Every Christian shortchanges the honor of God when, as the rainbow appears in the clouds, he does not remember the faithfulness of his God, and does not recognize in that rainbow the sign of the covenant. He is acting like the pagans and unbelievers who observe nothing but a necessary phenomenon of nature, and a beautiful spectacle. Our God has emphatically testified that, as often as he displays the rainbow in the clouds, he is our God, and that he would ‘see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth’ [Gen. 9:16].” (38)
A clear understanding of the pre- and post-flood situation is important for Kuyper. Before the flood humanity were allowed to indulge in sin without restraint, with disastrous consequences; after the flood “another order of things … emerged” (40). There were changes in the earth and in the animals, such a change now meant that there would never be another flood. God’s mercy extended to nature and to humans. This is picked up in the next chapter.