May 22, 2005
Good Morning! Today we are returning to our study of Genesis, the book of beginnings. To remind you, we are studying this book from a fundamentalist, literalist perspective. We are taking on faith that it is inspired or “God breathed” and literally a true record for the events as they occurred. Last time we left Noah and his family obeying God’s command to leave the ark.
Genesis 8:15-19. Read.
So they have just set foot on a new earth, one scoured of sin and sinful man by the judgement of God. Just as we stand at a crossroads once we have received God’s free gift of salvation through the blood of his Son, Jesus Christ, humanity stood ready to choose how they would live from then on. Noah made the right decision to begin with…
Genesis 8:20. Read.
Now we know several things. First what our response to salvation should be. I quote MacDonald:
"Noah responded to God’s saving grace by building an altar. Those of us who have been saved from the wrath to come should likewise bring to God our heartfelt worship. It is as acceptable and pleasing today as it was in Noah’s day."
Is God pleased?
Genesis 8:21. Read.
Yes, the sacrifice for which he had provided extra animals, remember there were more than two of all the clean animals, pleased the Father. We read here what he said in his heart. We dare not assume anything but that this passage and indeed the whole of scripture is inspired by God, as it claims to know his very thoughts. If this is not literally true, than it must be a lie and our faith is without foundation.
He once more states as he did back in Chapter 6, verse 5 that man’s heart is intensely evil. But I want us to notice the differences between the two passages. In Chapter 6 there was no sacrifice and the only possible outcome was judgement. Here we see God’s mercy instead because there is a sacrifice.
Now, not only does God show mercy, he breaks into song! Or, at least, poetry, and the poetry is God’s promise:
Genesis 8:22. Read.
We now begin with the next of God’s Covenants with his Creation. This study is not a focus on the Covenants, nor is it an apology for the doctrine of Dispensations, nor is it within our scope to go into the controversy between Covenant and Dispensational theology. As you may be aware, there is a movement afoot within fundamental and evangelical circles to compromise between the two. Even such formerly staunch Dispensational seminaries such as Dallas Theological are now speaking of a modified form of Dispensationalism. A study of these issues would take weeks and draw us far afield from an expository study of Genesis. In the future we may do that, starting perhaps with Col. Scofield’s book, Rightly Dividing The Word Of Truth, but for now, let us take the Covenants as we find them.
Let’s begin in Chapter 9…
Genesis 9:1-7. Read.
We see several things happening here. One is the establishment of human government. Why does God find this necessary? Dr. Boise says that like the Law given somewhat later, it was to restrain human passions. He quotes Martin Luther who stated, “God establishes government and gives it the sword to hold wantonness in check, lest violence and other sins proceed without limit.” Another is the creational change that was to take place in the animal kingdom.
Genesis 9:2,3. Read.
MacDonald and others argue that this marks the first time that it was acceptable for humans to devour flesh. And verse 3 does seen to suggest that. But the idea of the dread and fear of man is new also. This may be because man will now begin to hunt them for food. After all, with the horrible change that came about with the Fall, they were certainly preying on mankind. And certainly we are seeing today that as the misguided animal rights advocates have stopped hunting, predators such as mountain lions and bears are attacking humans with more regularity. Yet there seems to be more to God’s statement than this. He seems to have placed this dread of man on most animals. Some have become easily domesticated, but most fear humans and flee from them. Elk, for instance, if left in the wild, will always try to keep three hilltops or ridges between themselves and people. Elk hunters call this the “three ridge rule” and it explains why you had better be in good physical condition to hunt them in the mountains.
There is also a survival need here. With their newfound fear of man, the wild creatures fled away from the ark before they could be driven to extinction by the death of only one creature. They obeyed God better than man did and spread to the furthest edges of the giant continent that had raised above the waters.
We also see that God takes the blood of any creature very seriously. We already know from the story of Cain and Abel that it “cries out” to him from the ground when it is spilled. We look forward to his commandments where he will state, “The life of the flesh is in the blood and I have poured it out upon the altar for you for your sins.” The shedding of blood is no small matter. God expressly forbids the consumption of the blood of animals. They are to be bled when slaughtered. I think part of the reason for this is to keep the awareness constantly with us of the price that has to be paid for our sins. MacDonald says of this passage, “Eating of blood was forbidden, however, because the blood is the life of the flesh, and the life belongs to God.”
I would point out also that this passage precludes any claim that any group may have that God intending for us to be vegetarians. Choose only to accept part of God’s provision for us if you will, but do not delude yourself into thinking that rejecting his gift of meat makes you somehow more in his will. If you give a relative a present out of love for him and he tosses it aside, do YOU feel closer to that person, or do you feel that you are being rejected somehow along with the gift?
Lastly, we see in these verses the establishment, as Martin Luther explained, of human government. The provision of capital punishment assumes that authority. Having this power in the hands of the government prevents chaos. We live in a day where sinful man thinks he knows better than God and that is he capable of more mercy than God is. What an abomination! And what hypocrisy! Those who would refuse to execute murderers and child molesters at the same time encourage the slaughter of pre-born innocents and even fight for the right to starve debilitated invalids to death for the simple crime of existence. They somehow believe they are proving the value of life, when actually they are cheapening it. The politician and author William F. Buckley, Jr., certainly no claimant to Christian holiness, states: “The value we as a society place on human life is best indicated by the severeness of the sanctions we visit upon those who take it. As, there is no more severe sanction than the death of the offender, no sanction better defines life’s sanctity.”
God’s assumption for the need for capital punishment continues in Romans 3:14 where Paul says of the government, “…he does not bear the sword in vain.”
Genesis 9:8-17. Read.
We have a creator who did not just make matter, he made signs for the creatures he loved. Later, with Moses and Pharaoh we will see miraculous signs, but this one will be something special. Jesus, our Lord, was a carpenter. It is interesting that the word translated “carpenter” in the New Testament carries with it a much broader meaning. It might also apply to a stone mason or stone dresser. He was a builder and craftsman. As the One who did the work of the original creation, he created here on earth as well. And back in this time he made one very special sign, the rainbow. Did the rainbow exist before the flood? Possibly not. The composition of the great vapor canopy, the “firmament above the firmament” may have prevented it. We do not know.
Who was this covenant with, by the way?
Genesis 9:8. Read.
So we know whom God spoke to. Noah was God’s man, his prophet. Noah was the one who offered the sacrifice, but God spoke specifically to his sons also. Why did he do that?
Genesis 9:9. Read.
This covenant is not just established with Noah, nor just his sons, but with his SEED. Who is Noah’s seed? The Jewish people? No, not just them, that division would not come until Abraham. WE are Noah’s seed, each one of us here all of humanity. No person walking the crust of God’s footstool is exempt from the promises of this covenant. Or it’s requirements. Which again, is why it is wrong to forbid capital punishment, this agreement belongs to us, too. And as Dr. Boise points out, it is UNILATERAL, we didn’t negotiate it with God, he stated it and it is so.
But the covenant wasn’t just with Noah and his seed.
Genesis 9:10. Read.
That’s correct, God established his covenant with animals! This is for his creation. ALL his creation. Do you wonder that Jesus told the Jewish elders that if his people didn’t sing his praises the very stones would cry out? The animal kingdom had been devastated by the flood as well as the human, and God here tenderly cups his creation in his hand. I remember watching as a boy on the farm, my father’s delight at finding a young calf asleep in the pasture. He would kneel down and stroke it and talk softly to it as it awakened and then laugh for joy when it exploded to its feet and bounded away looking for it’s mother. My father’s love for that creature was a faint shadow of the Creator’s love for all of his.
Genesis 9:11,12. Read.
My points earlier are proven. Scripture is its own best commentary. God’s promise is shown not to be just to Noah and his son’s and not just to the creatures who shared the ark with him but to all seed both human and animal, down to this very day.
Genesis 9:13-17. Read.
I want us to contemplate for a moment what terror the first rain that fell after the flood must have been to Noah and his family. There had never been rain up to that time. Their first experience of it concluded with the destruction of their world. Every friend and acquaintance perished with the beginning of that new experience, rain. What proof did they have that the horror would not be repeated? When the rain passed, there was God’s promise, bright in the sky, with a soft loveliness that stood in contrast to the ugly destruction of the first great rain. But there are deeper meanings too. Scofield says:
Typically, the bow seen upon the storm clouds of judgement has been thought to speak of the cross where judgement, never to re repeated, has been visited upon the believer’s sins.
In the last generation we have seen too, though our experiences with space flight even more. From space we have, as it were, a God’s eye view of the rainbow, where he remembers his covenant. The spectrum of light we see as a bow, he may see as a circle, a frame of beauty around the creation below. Our limited view of God’s promises and love are enough for mortal man now, but as promised, while now we see “as through a glass, darkly” some day it shall be face to face.
It seems that no great story is without some tragedy and this one is no exception.
Genesis 9:18-23. Read.
It took so little time. In the short span of years after the flood that it took for Noah to establish the cultivation of grapes, he also was able to make wine. Make no mistake, it was not a sin for him to grow the grapes. It was not a sin for him to squeeze them into juice and ferment it into wine. Indeed, in an era without refrigeration it was the only way to preserve grape juice. It was not a sin for him to drink of the wine. Scripture will later describe it as “the gift of God that gladdens the heart of man.” The sin came as Noah drank to the point of drunkenness and passed out naked in his tent. For those unfamiliar with drunkenness, let me assure you that there are several things that frequently happens. The drunkard becomes nauseated and often loses bladder control and then his clothing is fouled and he crawls out of it and shoves it away and lays there in his filth.
But the sins of the father carry on and here they are compounded first by the father, then by the grandson. Ham’s sin was disrespect. He apparently thought his father’s condition was humorous and rather than cover his father’s shame he went to tell his brothers and his son about it so they could see too. His sin was bad enough, but his example was followed by his son as we shall see. Shem and Japheth reacted properly. Rather than ridicule their father, they draped a robe over their shoulders and walked backwards into the tent and covered him. But it was too late, the father’s sin had already been compounded.
Genesis 9:24-27. Read.
Verse 24 tells a dark story. First of all, the Hebrew wording here likely means “grandson” as well as son. So from the first Noah is speaking to Canaan. Next, the verse says that Noah knew what had been done to him when he awakened. It appears that Canaan had committed a vulgar act against his grandfather. It might have been a crude practical joke, or something much worse. But it was obvious and the judgement was swift. It resulted in Ham being left almost completely out of the picture in his own family and his son becoming a slave. Such are the wages of sin. Such is the nature of God’s judgement “even unto the third and forth generation” of them that hate him.
We parents have such a deep and vital need to be good examples to our children. A lie casually told, words said in haste and anger can cut a child like a knife and result in worse treatment by them of their children and so on. We understand why we must bring every word into submission of God’s will and never speak in rage or ridicule. May God forgive me for the times I’ve indulged in those behaviors.
Genesis 9:28,29. Read.
And thus ends the saga of Noah. It does not end with Noah as the holy prophet, the great man of faith, it ends with a night of drunken debauchery and shame and the pronouncement of a curse. When people look back at my life when I come to its end, how will they remember my last days? The behaviors I choose now will decide.