Life after the Flood

Genesis 9:1-17

Alan Lewis
Elon, North Carolina
January 2015

We come to a very interesting chapter in God’s Word. It is fascinating. It begins with a COVENANT. It ends with a CURSE It covers a period of 350 fifty years. When Noah gets off of the ark in Genesis 8, he is 600 years old. At the end of this chapter, Noah dies at the age of 950. We have the first covenant in the Bible here, the Rainbow Covenant.

This chapter gives us life after the flood. Noah gets off the ark and there are only eight people on the planet.  There are eight billion on it today.

After the Flood, God makes a covenant with man.  He gives rules for man after the Flood. There are some things in this passage that is controversial. Animal rights activists don’t like this passage, because it sanctions the killing of animals for food.

Others may not like it because it supports capital punishment. There are many people, even some people of faith, who are opposed to the death penalty. It is clearly taught in this chapter.

A New Commandment after the Flood

This chapter deals with four things: commandments (rules for man after the Flood), a covenant (Rainbow Covenant), a crime and a curse. We will deal with the first two today. We will look at the next two next week.

I want to begin by looking at the covenant that God made with Noah. Let’s read is found in Genesis 9:11-17. The word covenant occurs seven times in this chapter (9:9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17). It is a legal agreement.

It is called the Noahic Covenant. Genesis 6:18 mentioned God making a covenant with Noah. God says to Noah “I will establish my covenant with you.” There are many covenants in the Bible (Mosaic Covenant, Davidic Covenant, and The New Covenant). This is the first covenant that is mentioned in the Bible. It is different from all of the other covenants in Scripture in several ways.

1. It is a gracious covenant

Notice what this does NOT say. This covenant has nothing to do with salvation. It has to do with God not killing people with a worldwide flood. God does not promise never to send a flood. He did not promise never to send a flood which would kill anyone.

He did not promise never to judge anyone for sin. He wiped out Sodom and Gomorrah. God says that he will never send another worldwide flood that will kill everyone. That is infinite grace on God’s part. Why did He send the Flood the first time? Man was wicked. Guess what? He has not changed.

God said in Genesis 8:21, “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done” (NIV).

This is a covenant of grace. That is what the rainbow symbolizes. In the midst of a terrible storm is the sign of God’s grace. We do not realize this but a bow is a weapon. It is used in hunting, in archery and, in the ancient world, it was used in war. This bow is not pointed towards earth. A rainbow is pointed towards heaven.

God says “never again” will He send another worldwide flood In fact, He says “never again” three times. He says it twice in Genesis 9:11 and once in Genesis 9:15.

No matter how much man deserves to be destroyed, no matter how bad man gets or how many atrocities he commits, God will NEVER send a flood like this on the earth. That is grace on God’s part. It is not based on anything that man does and there is nothing man does which can change it.

2. It is a universal covenant

This covenant is all-inclusive. It includes everyone. It includes Jews and Gentles. The Mosaic Covenant was a covenant that God made just with the Jews. This one includes everyone. In fact, it is so inclusive, it even includes animals and even to the earth itself (9:13). Three times God says that this covenant is for “every living creature” (9:12, 15, 16).

The sign of the covenant is universal (a rainbow). It is not a national or local sign. You can imagine their fear when the first thunderstorm stuck. All they had to do was look up in the sky for the sign. It is just a sign. It does not keep the water from coming down. It is a reminder that God will never do this again.

3. It is an eternal covenant

This covenant does not just cover all people and animals in Noah’s day, it includes all people and animals for all of time “for all generations to come” (9:12). This covenant lasts forever. It is eternal. It is called “an everlasting covenant” (9:16 NIV).

It is not a temporary covenant, like the Mosaic Covenant, which was abolished by the death of Christ. The NT says that Jesus is the end of the law for righteousness.  It does not say that he is the end of the Noahic Covenant.

4. It is an unconditional covenant.

God promised not to ever flood the earth again with no strings attached. There were no conditions to that promise. This promise is not based on anything that Noah does or any of his descendants do. The Mosaic Covenant was a conditional covenant. It said, “If you obey me, I will bless you. If you disobey me, I will curse you.” This covenant is completely unconditional.

When Noah and his family get off of the ark, they are in a brand new world. The old world is gone and man gets a fresh start, a new beginning. There are many ways in which Adam and Noah are similar. I did not realize this for until recently but Adam and Noah have some interesting parallels.

Parallels Between Adam and Noah 

1. Both lived about a thousand years.

Adam lived to be 930 (5:5). Noah lived to be 950 (9:28). Noah was the third oldest person to ever live.  Methuselah lived to be 969 (5:27). Enoch’s dad Jared lived to be 962 (5:20). Noah lived to be 950 years  old.

2. Both were married.

Both had wives (2:25; 3:8; 6:18; 7:7; 8:16). We know who Adam’s wife was (Eve) but we are not told who Noah’s wife was. She is nameless. She was not Joan of Arc. We do know a little about her from Jewish tradition. According to Rabbinic Judaism, her name was Naamah,[1] the same name in the recent Noah movie.

According to another Jewish tradition, her name was Emzara (Jubilees 4:33). The Book of Tobit 4:12 says that she was one of his relatives. Jubilees 4:33 says that she was the daughter of her father’s brother. Unfortunately, there is no way to verify the accuracy of this tradition.

3. Both had three sons.

Adam had Cain, Abel and Seth (4:1-2,25). Noah had Shem, Ham, Japheth (5:32; 9:18). Jesus was a descendant of one of Adam’s sons (Seth) and one of Noah’s sons (Shem), according to Luke 3:36, 38.

4. Both were the father of the human race.

Everyone on the planet is a descendant of Adam (Acts 17:26) and
everyone is a descendant of Noah (10:32).

5. Both were told to be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth (1:28; 9:1, 7).

6. Both were gardeners.

God placed Adam in the garden to dress and keep it (2:15). Noah planted something as well. He was a man of the soil as well. He planted a vineyard (9:20). They shared the same profession.

7. Both walked with God.

The Bible says that Noah walked (6:9) with God but so did Adam. He walked with God in the garden (3:8). He met God regularly in the cool of the day.

8. Both had a prohibition dealing with food.

Adam was told not to eat the fruit from a particular tree (2:16-17).Noah was told not to eat the blood found in meat (9:4).

8. Both had a fall.

Both had a fall and the fall was similar. They both sinned by eating. Adam ate the forbidden fruit (3:6) and Noah became drunk with alcohol (9:21).

Both had a weakness for food. They had a similar stumbling block. Noah had a weakness for alcohol. Adam was judged for his sin but Noah was not for some reason. The one who is judged is Noah’s grandson  Canaan.

9. Both were found naked after they sinned.

The sin of Adam resulted in the exposure of his nakedness (3:7, 10). Noah’s nakedness was uncovered because of his sin (9:21, 23). They both experienced shame after they sinned.

10. Both received a covering for their nakedness.

Adam was covered by God with animal skins (3:21) and Noah was covered by two of his sons Shem and Japheth (9:23).

[1] Genesis Rabbah Midrash (Bereshit Rabba 23:3); Jashar 5:15.

New Commandments after the Flood

1) A New Commission (9:1, 7)

What is the commission Noah and his family was given? Reproduce, multiply and fill the earth. Keep in mind that when Noah got off of the ark, he was living in a completely new world. There were only eight people in it. God wanted the earth to be full of people and He did not want them all to stay in one place. He wanted them to repopulate the world and to spread out over the entire planet.

2) A New Relationship (9:2)

After the Flood, there was a new relationship between animals and man. Before this, they had a loving relationship. Now, it was a relationship of feat on the part of animals, as people start to hunt animals. They are afraid that man might eat them. Animals act by instinct. When they become objects of prey, they naturally flee from their predator. Love has been replaced by fear and dread.

There is only one problem. God said, “The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon EVERY beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon EVERYTHING that creeps on the ground and ALL the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered.” Some animals do not flee from man but attack him.

Domesticated animals are pets. Genesis says that EVERY beast would fear man. Is this an error? No. Even Genesis recognizes this fact. It recognizes that some animals kill people (9:5). It is a generalization. There are exceptions to this but the exceptions only prove the rule.

3) A New Diet (9:3)

God says, “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything” (ESV). This is the first time that God said that it was okay to eat meat. People before this time probably ate meat. They did a lot of things they were not supposed to before the Flood but this was the first time God gave man permission to do this.

He didn’t command it. If people want to be vegetarians, they have that freedom but God says that you are allowed to eat meat. Even Jesus ate meat. Jesus was not a vegetarian. He ate fish (Luke 24:42-43) and he ate lamb (Luke 22:8-15). Jews eat lamb at Passover. You have the permission of God and the example of Jesus to eat meat.

4) A New Restriction (9:4)

Genesis 9:4 says, “But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.” God says, “You can eat meat, but you have to drain the blood out first.” Why? Blood is sacred. It has symbolic significance. God says not to eat raw meat. He does not say to do this for medical reasons but for religious reasons. This prohibition is not for health reasons but because of what blood represents (a beating heart). Respect for life means abstaining from blood.

Does this command still apply today to us? Is it still binding today? Do we need to avoid rare stakes? I believe that this command does still apply today for two main reasons. One, this command goes back to Noah. It was given long before Moses. It predates Moses. It is not limited to the Jews. Two, the NT imposed this rule on Gentiles at the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:20, 29). If that no longer applies today, then neither do the rules against idolatry or sexual immorality.

5) A New Punishment (9:5-6)

Here God gives man a new punishment for crime. Genesis 9:5-6 says, “And FOR YOUR LIFEBLOOD I WILL REQUIRE A RECKONING: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. WHOEVER SHEDS THE BLOOD OF MAN, by man SHALL HIS BLOOD BE SHED, for God made man in his own image.” Now this is new. Cain killed someone and God did not require his lifeblood. Now He does.

Now God is the only one who can take life. He created life and He is the only one who can take it away but here God gives man the authority to legally take the life of another man who kills someone. That is very significant.

After the Flood, God establishes the death penalty for murder. He says that He will exact punishment for murder and authorizes people to execute people who commit this crime. When they do this, they act as his representatives, His servants. We see this in Romans 13.

In fact, they are even called “ministers of God” (KJV) or God’s servants’ (13:4, 6). That is very interesting. They may not know they are God’s servants. They may not even be saved but God calls them his servants. They do his will when they protect citizens and punish criminals. God calls Police officers ministers.

They are not ordained ministers but they are still ministers. They have a ministry from God (the ministry of government or law enforcement). They are God’s ministers for justice. In fact, Paul uses the word διάκονός in Romans 13:4 for servant. It is the same word that is used for the office in the church.

Government leaders are God’s servants. Was Hitler God’s servant? Was Saddam Hussein God’s servant? Yes. They were in the position of government. Positionally, they were God’s servants. That does not mean that they are good servants. There are some righteous servants and wicked servants. Some servants are abusive. Some governments are abusive.

They abuse their authority. Paul knew about the abuse of political authority. Paul’s head was cut off by a Roman sword. Jesus was crucified by Roman soldiers. People can abuse their authority. A parent can abuse his or her authority. The police can abuse their authority. A pastor can abuse his authority but they still have an authority given to them by God.

After the Flood, God instituted the death penalty for murder. It does not give us a lot of details. It does not tell us how they are to be killed or what evidence is needed to convict them. It does give us a reason. “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, FOR GOD MADE MAN IN HIS OWN IMAGE.”

When you kill someone you destroy the image of God. When you kill someone, you are attacking the image of God. It’s an indirect attack on God Himself. It demonstrates the value of human life. Human life is sacred. This command has never been rescinded. Jesus never annulled it and Paul affirmed it in Romans 13.

Critics of the death penalty raise some objections to the death penalty. They say that it is not a deterrent to crime. It is true that in many cases execution is not a deterrent to crime. They are right but that is not the reason given here for capital punishment. In fact, in this passage, animals who kill people were to be put to death (9:5). That certainly would not deter animals from killing people in the future.

Critics again argue that this is a contradiction. How can you be pro life and support the death penalty? Killing a murderer actually upholds the value of life. It says that the crime is so serious that it warrants the ultimate penalty that society can impose and protects society from deadly predators.

Would Jesus support the death penalty? Of course, he would. It is biblical. Jesus was under the Law of Moses. The Law of Moses clearly taught the death penalty. He could not have taught anything contrary to the Law of Moses. He was born under the Law. Remember Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill them”.

Other critics would say, if he supported the death penalty, then why did he not support the death penalty for the woman taken in adultery? He did. He said, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone”. He didn’t say that no stone should be cast. He didn’t say that this is a barbaric practice. No one should ever be executed for any reason.

He simply didn’t enforce the penalty in this case because it was clearly a set up. They said that they caught the woman in the very act but only brought the woman and not the man before Jesus. It takes two people to commit adultery. The OT Law said that both were to be stoned. Not only was the woman set up but the question was designed to trap Jesus (8:6).

People ask the question: Would Jesus pull the switch? What is the problem here? The Jesus that many envision would not do this. Many picture Jesus as completely passive, gentle, harmless, peaceful and non-violent. He would never hurt anyone. He accepts everyone. He doesn’t judge anyone.

That is not the Jesus of history. It is not the Jesus of the Bible. The Jesus of the Bible will return one day to earth on a white horse. His eyes are blazing like fire. He is angry. He returns to makes war. When he returns, people die. A with a sword comes out of his mouth and He kills people. That doesn’t sound very meek and mild.

Others would say that the Law of Moses may teach the death penalty but we are not under the Law. The NT clearly says that the Law has been abolished. That is true but the death penalty does not go back to Moses. It goes back to the time of Noah. God gave that command to Noah, along with some other commands and these commands are still in effect today.

6) A New Institution (9:5-6)

What is the new institution? Human government. Genesis 9:6 says, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, BY MAN shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.” (ESV) We are not given a lot of details here. Which men will do the executing? How will they do it? What evidence will they use to convict the guilty?

We are not told any of that information. All we are told is that for the first time a group of people will function as judges to punish criminals. If they can punish greater crimes (like murder), they can punish lesser crimes as well. This is where government begins.

It was created by God. It was his idea. Man did not invent government. It is not a social contract, like John Locke and Thomas Hobbes taught. That is the secular view. Government, like the family is a divine institution. The family, the church and the state are all God-ordained authority structures in the world today. If government is created by God, it must be good.

Anarchy is bad. Anarchists want to live in a world without government. You can do what you want. You do not have anyone telling you what to do. That means no one can give you a ticket for speeding.

It means you don’t have to pay your taxes. Total freedom sounds good but in a world with no government and no law enforcement, there is also no safety and no order. Everyone does what is right in his own eyes. There is no protection form crime.

Government is created by God and is good. That does not mean that God approves of everything that people do in government. It does not mean that governments have absolute power and can do whatever they want.

Government is not God. It only has power that God gives it but the idea of government is good. It is ordained by God. It is established by God, according to Romans 13. It started in Genesis 9. That passage does not tell us everything about government. It doesn’t tell us what is the best form of government.

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