Episode 21 – Ch 9:1-17
Well thank you for joining me as we continue our study of the book of Genesis. I am your host Randy Duncan, and in this episode we are going to take a look at chapter 9, which picks up on Noah’s exit from the ark that we saw in the last episode. And I will warn you now, we are going to discuss a few topics in this episode that may feel like they are off the beaten path just a bit. With that said, I’m jumping right in!
9 -V1- And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.”
So God blesses Noah and his sons, and tells them to be fruitful and multiply. This underscores the divine blessing on humanity as they undertake a new beginning.
You know, many believers think about and consider at times the fact that we are all descendents of Adam and Eve. But rarely do they consider that we are all also descendents of Noah! In fact, since Noah was a descendent of Adam and Eve’s son Seth, we are descendents of Seth as well, and not Cain, who was a murderer, and whose descendents would have been wiped out in the flood. No, we are all descendents of Noah, who was considered a righteous man.
I have always found it interesting how hung up society is on race, and country of origin, and ancenstry. Whether people identify as African-American, Italian American, and so forth and so on, it is just interesting to me. Don’t get me wrong, learning your ancestry is neat, it’s fun, it’s interesting. And various cultures bring celebrations, customs, traditions, not to mention food. And so I think it is important in those regards. To know who you are, where you came from, and to have a certain amount of pride in your culture. But the reality is that if you keep going back far enough, we are all related through Noah. All of us. The farther back you go, the more those distinct lines of ancestry begin to blur, and eventually, they disappear, as you begin to realize that we are all related.
I have considered this more often after taking a graduate class in the origin of man, and his genetic journey in populating the planet. It is really something to stop and consider that those who you think are so much different than you, had their beginning in a similar clan as your ancestors did.
It is worth the time to do a quick study, for example, on where and how different races came to be. So for example, we have people in the Middle East, the cradle of civilization, the fertile crescent, probably brown skinned. Some of those people broke out on their own and traveled north, until eventually, they settled in Europe, where they experienced the harsh winters, and ice age, and where they would need to take advantage of any available sunlight. As a result, the genius of God’s biological design allows their genetics to respond, eventually resulting in a less pigmentation in their skin, and thus, a lighter skin color that would absorb as much sunlight as possible. This would aided in converting UV rays to much-needed Vitamin D
In the same way, but in reverse, those in the Middle East who traveleld and settled in a southern direction, say, deeper into Africa and more tropical climates, and so their need would have been just the opposite. They would develop more skin pigmentation, and thus, a darker skin color. The darker skin color is simply an adaptation to protect the body from the Sun’s harmful UV rays.
So in short, this explains why the people that migrated to more northern, colder geographic areas farther from the equator developed lighter skin color, and those who migrated closer to the equator, with the more intense UV rays, developed darker skin.
So these two groups of people, for example, now have a different skin color as a result of where they live, but how else are they different? Ok, so they may eat different foods, also because of where they live and what’s available. They may develop different customs and traditions. But how are they essentially different, in their humanity? The answer? They are not different.
Some of the people went north, some went south. They started out in the same place. They were created in the image of God then, and after their skin colors changed, they were still created in the image of God! And that is still the case today! And the sooner we all figure that out, the sooner we can live together in a more peaceful world, and in a society with much less racial tensions.
For everyone who desires to see peace in the world, and that is certainly a good and noble aspiration, just because there would potentially not be any official “war” or conflicts going on between countries doesn’t mean that people would not continue to be abused or killed. For example, after WW2, in the Soviet Union, approximately 50-60 million people were murdered in a so-called “ peace time”. There was no war going on, but that doesn’t stop an evil regime from killing its own people. Don’t be fooled. Especially if you are a Christian. And even though Christians, at least in the West in modern times, have enjoyed much religious peace, do not get a false sense of security. This time will not last. Scripture tells us so. Look around you at the trends you are seeing.Consider what Jesus said in Mat 16:2-3 – “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ 3 And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.” Folks, the first step in winning any war is to realize that you are in one !
But, in all transparency, I don’t believe we will acheive lasting world peace through political alliances, or economic policies, or peace treaties, electing more capable leaders, or through a focus on social justice. I believe that true and lasting peace will come only through the Prince of Peace, Christ Jesus. And if you are wondering how all of this turns out in the end, I will probably move to the book of Revelation after we complete Genesis. We can take a closer look at how the peace efforts of man turn out.
So, again, God tells Noah and his sons to be fruitful and multiply. This is essentially a command, or at least a blessing, to increase human life. We will see in a few verses that God enacts the death penalty for murder, and so the second law God gives is to eliminate those people who intentionally decrease human life. Notice that God did not change the penalty based on the skin color of the person.
Notice also that just as the Fall of Adam and Eve did not prevent God from still blessing them, here too, the judgment of the flood does not stop God from blessing them, and telling them to be fruitful and multiply
2 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. 3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. 4 But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.
“The fear of you and the dread of you” – this Hebrew word or phrase seems to be stronger than merely “to rule over”. In fact, it is a military term, and means exactly what it says, to have a sense of fear, dread, or terror. And it implies that the relationship between humans and animals is not going to be ideal.
And that may be partly due to the fact that God now declares that meat has been added to the diet. Remember, a strong case can be made that in the beginning, mankind was vegetarian, and we touched on that in one of the earlier episodes. But now, humanity has even more power of life and death over the animals.
However, God does add a caveat for the eating of meat, that they cannot eat animals that die of themselves. Later on, in Leviticus, we read that the covenant people are prohibited from eating an animal found dead.
But here also, blood is equated with life. Lev 17:11 tells us “for the life of the flesh is in the blood…”. And God is forbidding the eating of blood.
It has been pointed out that man has the right to nourishment, but not to life. And so the blood, which is the symbol of life, must be drained, returned God, who is the author of life
By forbidding eating the blood, this regulation instills a sacredness of life, and also protects against abuse of the animal.
It also forbids the eating of an animal while it is still alive. As cruel as it seems, and I honestly don’t remember where I have read this, that people would lop off an animal’s limb while it was still alive, cook it, and eat it. They did this because food was scarce ,and of the likelihood that the meat would spoil before they could eat all of it. So they kept the animal alive for as long as possible, eating it a little at a time. Well, again, God forbids this. He forbids eating flesh with its life.
Treating animals humanely is legislated or ordained in the Torah 10 times! Deut 25:4 (you can’t muzzle an ox while it is working in the field), Exodus 23:5 (obligates us to help an animal overwhelmed by a burden). And did you realize that they were even commanded to give animals a day of rest? That is part of the the 10 commandments in Exodus 20:10, to remember the Sabbath and keep it Holy. Even the animals were not to do any work
5 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.
6 “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.
So here, God outlaws murder. And in doing so, institutes capital punishment, the death penalty for committing murder. Even animals that kill a person are to be put to death
Now everyone knows the 10 commandments contain the commandment “You shall not murder”. But this is a long time before the 10 commandments. A very long time! Remember, there is no Israel yet. Israel is still very much in the distant future. This law is for everyone. It is fundamental to an ordered society.
Why does God implement the death penalty for murder? Because every human is made in the image of God. And an assault on a human is an assault on an image bearer of God.
Now some people argue against the death penalty for various reasons. One of the reasons is the belief that only God has the right to take life. But I want you to notice something here. Who does God specifically set up to execute the murderer? Other people. Whoever sheds the blood of man, BY MAN shall his blood be shed”. God expects human beings to take the life of the murderer.
It is interesting, when you look at other law codes from the ancient world, in several of them, money could ransom a murderer. IOW, some law codes offered murderers alternatives to the death penalty. So for example, the family of the victim could accept money from the murderer in return for a pardon. But allowing murderers to pay a bribe to the family gave a great advantage to wealthy murderers. Heck ,we still see this even today, where wealthy people are able to hire the best defense attorneys and receive reduced sentences, or even get off scott free.
But this practice of paying money to the family for a murder is in direct contradiction to what the Bible teaches. Numbers 35:31 tells us “Moreover, you shall accept no ransom for the life of a murderer, who is guilty of death, but he shall be put to death”
The death penalty for murder is instituted to preserve the sanctity of life. Because every human being is created in the image of God, murder is the ultimate crime. And so the Bible demands the ultimate penalty.
7 And you, be fruitful and multiply, increase greatly on the earth and multiply in it.”8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9 “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
So God establishes a covenant with Noah and his sons, as well as the animals. Notice also that this is a unilateral covenant. God is making this covenant by Himself. It is not a contingent arrangement. This covenant, this promise, is that God will never again destroy all life with a flood. Never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.
We may take this for granted, but think of how Noah and his family would have potentially felt after leaving the ark and after everything they had seen! Everything they knew had been wiped out. It would have been natural for Noah and his family to wonder how long would it be, how bad would humanity have to get, before God would once again bring judgment with another flood. So this was perhaps a way for God to put their mind at ease. They don’t have to live their lives looking over their shoulder so to speak, always fearful of the next judgment of humanity
God’s covenant says that ‘Never again will all flesh be “cut-off”. That Hebrew word for cut-off is karat (kaw-rath). It means to literally be cut-off, killed. I mention that only because it is interesting that this is the same word used in Dan 9:26, where Daniel gives his prophecy that the Messiah will be cut-off, karat, killed. BTW, Daniel lived about 600 years before Jesus. IOW, we have Daniel’s words recorded, in black and white, 600 years before Jesus was even born!
V12-17, and I am going to stop there in this episode, because there is a shift in the narrative, and it just makes for a good place to break. 12 And God said, “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: 13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”
So this is where God assigns the rainbow as a sign, or a token, of His covenant with Noah and the rest of life. Now, does this mean that God made a rainbow appear in the sky for the first time? Well, not unless the laws of physics were different back then. But there is no evidence that is the case. However, there are a few people, particularly in the young earth camp, who believe that this was the first time the rainbow was seen in the sky, and it was due to the speed of light slowing down from what it previously was, so that now the refraction of the light could be seen for the first time. But again, there is just no real evidence that the speed of light has decreased.
And just so you know where this argument that the speed of light was different in the past originates, it has as its primary supporters those who believe in a young earth, meaning, that the earth is less than 10,000 years old. They argue that the calculations concerning the vast and almost incomprehensible distances to stars and galaxies cannot be correct, because if they are, it is strong evidence for a very old earth and universe. These distances are so far that we don’t describe them in miles, but in light years, with 1 light year being the distance that light travels in one year, at the speed of 186,000 miles per second, which equates to around 6 trillion miles.
The bottom line is that if the speed of light has not changed, then distances are accurate and the earth and universe are very old. The earth being around 4.5 billion years old, and the universe approximately 13.8 billion years old. What is even more amazing for me to consider, is that God has been here the whole time!…and even before
But the problem for the speed of light slowing down as much as would be required to arrive at a universe that is only several thousand years old, is that it would have to slow down, not by a little, but on the order of a million times. The problem is that if it were a million times faster in the past, then Einstein’s famous equation from special relativity, E=MC2, which means that energy=mass times the speed of light squared, would have resulted in so much energy that it would have incinerated anything on the earth. Adam and Eve would not have been able to survive the kind of energy that would have been produced.
I think it is safe to infer that this was not the first time that the rainbow appeared on the earth. It was simply that at this time, God used it as a sign. The rainbow is designated as a sign of the covenant. God used this already common event, and infuses new and sacred significance
And the rainbow is an interesting symbol to use. The Hebrew word used simply means “bow”, and is the same word used for a warrior’s weapon, the bow. Same word. But it paints an interesting image. Think of the shape of a rainbow, it’s as if the warrior’s bow has been hung up, pointing away from the earth. Meredith Kline wrote that “As if the bow, this symbol of hostility, has been transformed into a token of reconciliation”.
But what makes any sign, any token significant, is not the object itself, but the meaning associated with it. And the rainbow has had many different meanings to people around the world, to different cultures, and groups throughout history. To different people, the rainbow symbolizes things such as hope, pride, good luck, new beginnings, peace, etc.
But in the Bible, God uses it as a sign for the promise that never again will he destroy the earth with a flood.
But I will leave you with this. In the book of Revelation, you may have heard of the Apocalypse, and the four horsemen of the apocalypse. These four horseman appear to represent angels of judgment, and a time, the likes of which we have never seen. But the first horseman appears riding a white horse, and initiates the judgment. And guess what he is carrying…..a bow.
Thank you so much for listening! And until next time, God bless