Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth, and on all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.
“But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.
“Whoever sheds human blood,
by humans shall their blood be shed;
for in the image of God
has God made mankind.
As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.”
Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”
So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”
In the last chapter we saw that the first thing Noah did when he got off the boat was to bless the Lord by building Him an alter. (Genesis 8:20) At the beginning of this chapter we see God blessing Noah. (Geneis 9:1-17) No one’s future is without trial however the surest way to continue in God’s blessings is to thank Him for those you’ve already received. God provides Noah protection from the animals of the earth, he approves the eating of meat as long as there’s no blood in it, and God blesses Noah with dominion over all the earth and everything in it. God makes a covenant with Noah, the animals, and all mankind — a covenant that came with a sign.
The Covenant is called the Noahic Covenant and there are three parts to to it: Menu, Government, and Mercy.
“But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.” (v.4) Meat is on the menu, though the blood is not to be consumed. It’s to be separated from the meat out of mercy to the animal, that the animal will not be consumed while still alive, and in recognition of it’s purpose in sacrifice. Noah’s life and our life is sustained by the life of the animal given for meat. Later when the law was given, the sacrifice of animals atoned for the sins of the Jews. And now that the blood of God’s Son has been given we can have eternal life, as long as we choose to receive Him.
And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being. (v.5) A study conducted by the University of Zurich found that “At the age of three, children were almost completely selfish.” (Nature News Article) No kidding? Anyone with children could have attested to that. Everyone of us is born into sin. In the last chapter we heard God say that every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. (Genesis 8:21) For this reason, in chapter 9, we see God declare what is the foundation for government from this point forward. He demands that “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind.” (v.6) Over the last ten years or so a number of studies have shown that capital punishment does in fact deter murders. In fact the recent studies “count between three and 18 lives that would be saved by the execution of each convicted killer.” (CBS News article)
The New Testament also acknowledges and endorses capital punishment. For Paul wrote, For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. (Romans 13:3-4)
Even if you don’t happen to believe that capital punishment is a deterrent we see the reason for it at the end of verse 6: “…for in the image of God has God made mankind.” Because man is made in God’s image, God demands the life of any man or animal that takes a human life.
“As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.” (v.7) Obviously in order for their to be government, there has to be people to govern so the Lord gives Noah the directive to be fruitful and multiply. I believe this directive still applies to us today. If you’re a follower of Christ, if you’re doing your best to be the salt of the earth, if you’re stable in your walk with the Lord then have kids! I heard about this movie where the intelligent people of the earth stop having children because they want to focus on their careers. As a result the earth becomes populated with morons. A cryogenically preserved man of average intelligence is then brought to life and is made to be president because of his dazzling intellect. Later in the movie the people remove him from office because every policy he wants to adopt can’t be understood by the people. Isn’t that what we do spiritually, when we selfishly decide to have 1.87 children? All else being equal, the more children we have the more we can influence the world for God’s kingdom!
“I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” (v.13) Here we see God’s mercy for he knows that every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. (Genesis 8:21) Yet He says, “Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.” (v.15) God’s kept that promise. There will never come another flood like this. Verses 8 through 17 cover God’s covenant, God’s promise to show mercy. Notice that this is the longest part of the Noahic Covenant. The first part dealing with menu. The second part dealing with government. And the third part dealing with declaration of His great mercy. This is the longest part of God’s Noahic Covenant because this is where God’s emphasis is. His emphasis is on His great mercy.
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.
He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.
He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
[Image via: ehfisher – Creative Commons]