Genesis 9


In Genesis 9, we are going to see what life was like after the flood. We all know that nobody is going to stay in a graveyard if they are sufficiently motivated. Nobody wants to be stuck in a cemetery, but everyone is. Noah and his family, when they left the ark, did not step into paradise regained, they stepped into a whole new world.

Think for a moment about Noah’s situation, I don’t think that when they stepped out of the ark that Noah’s family had the same feelings that Eve did when Adam gave her the first tour of the Garden. There’s no life on this globe except for 8 people and a relatively small zoo. What do you think it looked like?

Have you ever witnessed the aftermath of a flood?

It doesn’t look like a garden, all around them there are more reminders of death than of life. The trees they used to take shade in have been wiped away, the hills where they used to climb have been destroyed, the villages and the houses of the people they used to know have been swept away. And all around them as far as they can see, are the carcases and the bones of all of the dead things left by the flood. They’re not back in Eden, they’re after the flood.

How would you like to live in the world’s largest cemetery?

They are entering a much different and much more harsh creation than they have ever known. That’s one reason why the first thing Noah felt that he needed to do when he stepped out of the ark was to call upon God. And so back in Genesis 8:20 the Bible says that, ‘Noah built an altar to the Lord.’

We don’t need to wonder if worship has an effect, look at the next verse in Genesis 8:21, ‘The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma.’ Now of-coarse God doesn’t have a nose or a sense of smell, but the text is trying to tell us that God is moved by worship, God is responsive when we offer Him our sacrifices and our praise.

‘And God said in his heart: ‘Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood.’ Genesis 8:21. And so, at the altar, God announces an altering of the way He’s going to deal with man. He says, ‘The way I have dealt with him is not how I’m going to deal with him in the future, even though his nature is unaltered.’

In other words, the flood did nothing to solve the dilemma of man’s sin, the catastrophe forever changed man’s environment, but it didn’t change his basic nature. And so, the implication is here right in Genesis 8 is that post flood living isn’t going to be a picnic. What God does in Genesis 9 is issue some new rules for this new world, this isn’t going to be Eden.

God’s covenant with humanity

‘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, now give you everything. ‘But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.’ Genesis 9:1-4

God blessed Noah and his sons and told them to refill the earth with more people and it’s here we see the change of relationship regarding their diet, they were given permission to eat meat as well as vegetables, mankind was vegetarian up to this point, Genesis 1:29. However, they went permitted to eat meat with the lifeblood still in it.

The relationship with the animals also changed as they could now hunt, kill and eat the animals. The relationship between the animals and mankind also changed, this is the reason why God placed fear and dread on the animals, it was for self-preservation purposes, this is animal instinct.

Noah has just spent about a year in a very close environment with a small group of animals from God’s creation. And they have probably gotten fairly comfortable with each other, but God announces that that’s going to change, He says, ‘The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth’.

Since that’s how it has always been, we forget that’s not how it used to be. In Genesis 1 God said, ‘That He created the animals for the enjoyment of man.’ Genesis 2:20.

I’m not sure if there was some kind of level of communication with animals back then because Eve wasn’t surprised when the Serpent spoke to her, Genesis 3:1-4, but the animals weren’t for a covering because man was naked and had no shame, Genesis 2:25.

The animals weren’t for food because man was vegetarian back then and evidently in the beginning there was a wonderful relationship between man and the animals, which God created for His good pleasure. But God says, ‘It’s not going to be like that anymore, there’s a new factor that now has to enter in.’

Now He doesn’t include in this list, a group of animals He mentioned in Genesis 1 called ‘cattle and domesticated animals.’ Genesis 1:24.

In other words, there are going to be some animals that will not have a natural dread of man, that man will not be able to work with. But the fact of the matter is, that from that day forward to this very day, a typical animal will do all that it can do to avoid the approach of man.

After the flood God says, ‘animal flesh is going to be a part of man’s diet,’ back in Genesis 1 we know that before the flood man was vegetarian. Now God said, ‘that’s going to change and now I’m giving to you the flesh of animals as part of your food.’

Now I’m not sure why, but possibly one reason is that the flood so changed the soil of the earth that it wasn’t suitable for growing crops all over like it used to be. A lot people today are vegetarians and that’s not a problem, my problem with some vegetarianism is that behind it there is a lot of pantheistic theology. In other words, we don’t eat animals because animals are equal to man, animals have deity as a part of them.

God says clearly here that animals are not created for man, they are created for man and He says, ‘I have given them to you for food.’

He says in Genesis 9:3 ‘Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.’

And just as a side note right here we learn that the Bible teaches that food is a continuing gift from God and it is to be received with thanksgiving, that’s something else we mustn’t forget. Notice He gave Noah flesh to eat but He didn’t give him blood to drink.

‘But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.’ Genesis 9:4.

Now that was probably to teach two truths.

1. Although the flesh is given for food, the life of the flesh is to be given for sacrifice, and later in the Bible God teaches the children of Israel that the blood is the symbol of life and the blood belongs to God, it’s to be offered to God.

2. Life is God’s property and even the taking of animal life needs to recognise that God is sovereign and has authority over all life, it all comes from Him. Now that’s going to have some obvious implications for human life and for the taking of human life because God knows in this new world, that men are going to take human life.

The eating of blood

After having a discussion during a Bible study concerning ‘eating blood’, the discussion went on to speak about the eating of ‘steak cooked rare’ and ‘Black Pudding’, which for some became the subject of amusement and some thought it was hardly worth speak about.

That attitude, I believe, was a big mistake, because in the Scriptures, where blood is mentioned over 300 times, it’s never treated lightly or frivolously, and I think this will become evident as we look at some of passages of Scripture in which blood is mentioned.

Let’s first make clear what it is that we’re about to consider, because whilst most of us have heard about ‘Black Puddings’, very few of us will have given them a great deal of thought, and this, I suggest, it’s even true among the people who eat them!

Of course, blood itself is something we all take very seriously, after all, it has been described as ‘The Red River of Life’, and this is certainly an apt description, because we cannot live without it.

Our lungs supply oxygen to the blood, and our heart pumps the oxygenated blood throughout our body by means of the arteries, so that among its many functions, blood supplies vital oxygen and nutrients, it keeps us either hot or cool as may be necessary, it fights infections and it eliminates waste products.

Indeed, the importance of the role played by our blood may be judged from the number of times we are required by our doctors to undergo blood tests.

And the reason why blood is so important is revealed in Leviticus 17:14 ‘the life of every creature is its blood.’ No! We take ‘blood’ seriously. It’s the addition of the word, ‘pudding’ that changes our perception and introduces a note of levity into the discussion.

One can scarcely say, ‘pudding’ without raising a smile, but in answering the question posed at the beginning of this study, I think that we shall find that this black object, created by some resourceful butcher as he sought to make use of every part of the carcass on which he had been working, and then presented as an article of food, should not be treated lightly.

What are the ingredients of Black Pudding?

Well, in these days, in the different parts of our own country, and in other countries where it’s produce, the manufacturers change the constituents of the ‘pudding’, in order create their own special, or unique, recipe, but a Black Pudding originally and essentially consists of pig’s blood, which is heated and allowed to cool until it congeals, and then is stuffed into a piece of pig’s intestine.

Traditionally, it’s formed into fairly round balls, but in these days, it’s also sold in slices, as the makers attempt to attract a modern clientele. As to its food value, think about these facts; 3½ ounces of Black Pudding contains about 90 calories and provides; 1 gram of carbohydrates, 1 gram of sugar, 15 grams of protein, 680 milligrams of salt, 6.4 milligrams of iron, and 35 grams of fat.

This means that 1lb. of Black Pudding contains about 220 grams of fat. This hardly qualifies to be labelled a healthy foodstuff! But, even if Black Pudding is a perfect food, providing everything that our body needs, the question would still remain, is it something that a Christian should eat?

What the Scriptures reveal

There is no obvious mention of blood in the first three chapters of Genesis, although it’s apparent that, in providing a covering for Adam and Eve, the blood of animals was shed, sacrificed! Genesis 3:21.

And it was God Himself who provided the sacrifice. There is no mention of animals being slaughtered for food, because our first parents ate fruit and vegetables, Genesis 2:9 / Genesis 2:16.

They were not meat-eaters until after the flood, as we shall see in our study. The first use of the word, ’blood’, a word which occurs more than 300 times in the Bible, is found in Genesis 4:10, when God said to Cain, ‘The voice of your brother’s blood cries to me from the ground’.

God knew when blood had been shed and the consequence of that first murder was that the ground would, ‘it will no longer yield its crops for you’. Genesis 4:12.

In other words, the earth would no longer be as productive or as fruitful as before. This is the first indication of the importance that God attached to blood.

The Covenant with Noah. Genesis 9

It was after the flood had subsided and Noah and his family had emerged from the Ark that God spoke about the Covenant which was to be made, not merely with Noah but with ‘every living creature of all flesh’. Genesis 9:15.

Notice the terms that God used in speaking about the covenant, because they are both important and significant.

1. I establish My covenant with you and with your seed after you. ‘I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you.’ Genesis 9:9

2. My covenant. ‘I establish my covenant with you. Genesis 9:11

3. The covenant for all generations to come. ‘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.’ Genesis 9:12

4. A covenant between Me and the earth. ‘I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.’ Genesis 9:13

5. I will remember My covenant. ‘I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind.’ Genesis 9:15

6. The everlasting covenant between God and every living creature. ‘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.’ Genesis 9:16

7. The covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is upon the earth. ‘This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.’ Genesis 9:17

A covenant invariably consists of conditions and blessings. In the opening verses of this chapter, Genesis 9, we read that God blessed Noah and his sons and commissioned them to re-populate the earth.

‘Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.’ Genesis 9:1

The Hebrew word used for fill is ‘male’, which means ‘to fill’ or ‘fill up’. He then bestowed on Noah supremacy over every living creature, Genesis 9:2, virtually restoring to him the authority that had originally been given to Adam. Genesis 1:28. It was at this point that God made an addition to man’s diet.

‘Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.’ Genesis 9:3

Man became a ‘carnivore’, a meat-eater. But there then follows a condition, a prohibition.

‘But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.’ Genesis 9:4

It’s impossible not to see that this verse alone is sufficient to prohibit the eating of blood in any form whatsoever. From the earliest of times, the Bible reveals, God has emphasised the sacredness of blood, whether animal or human, and has hedged it around with very strict prohibitions.

Notice, also, that embedded in this covenant is God’s law relating to wilful murder.

‘Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind.’ Genesis 9:6

Blood under the Mosaic Covenant

The sacredness of blood was later revealed in the sacrificial system concerning which God gave instructions to Moses. I think that we who were never under the Mosaic Law and who, consequently, weren’t required to implement its commands relating to animal sacrifice, are inclined to treat what we read about it in a casual sort of way.

For example, this is how we often see it, a Hebrew, sins and brings an animal sacrifice as a sin offering, intended to appease an aggrieved God. Having offered his sacrifice everything is put right again! Or so we think! But it wasn’t so simple or straightforward!

The severity of sacrifice ritual

The ritual of animal sacrifice was never just a convenient and simple ceremony, because, in the first place, the animal which the sinner brought for sacrifice must be an animal which he himself had nurtured and for which he had cared.

In order to comply with the Mosaic Law, he must present the animal at the temple, where the priest would examine it to ensure that there was no flaw or deformity in it, since anything of that nature would render it unfit for sacrifice.

However, in later times it wasn’t uncommon for the priest to reject the animal on the pretext of having found some ‘imperfection’ in it, which meant that unfortunate worshipper was compelled to buy an approved animal from the priest.

There was, of course no provision made in the Mosaic Law for the purchase of animals for sacrifice. This form of ‘made easy and convenient’ was the invention of the priests, who, as we see when Jesus encountered them in the temple court, had created a profitable business out of the sale of animals for sacrifice, and, for their part, the people themselves had come to accept this convenient arrangement which said, in effect, “no need to take the trouble of bringing animals for sacrifice up to the temple. It can all be arranged at price!”

It is not surprising, therefore, that Jesus was made angry by this commercialisation of religion, and the blatant degrading of the God-given system of sacrifice. Why do you think Jesus cleansed out the temple twice? John 2:13-17 / Matthew 21:12-17.

Again, we often suppose that, on his arrival at the temple, the worshipper simply handed over his animal to the priest, who took it away, slaughtered it, and then applied the blood ‘according to the Law’.

But this also is a mistake, because, ‘according to the Law’ the guilty sinner must himself apply the knife to the throat of the sacrificial victim, his own lamb! which he had brought up! reared! And which the family may even have adored as pet! 2 Samuel 12:2-3.

In imposing these procedures, was God being severe? Hard? Insensitive?

Perhaps this is how it appears to us today, but it was in this way that God compelled the sinner to recognise the grave and painful, cost of sin!

Modern Judaism and its attitude to blood

In modern times, Judaism continues to strictly observe God’s prohibition placed on the eating of any form of blood. Animals intended for food are slaughtered in a manner which allows the blood to drain away, as God commanded.

Originally, this ritual slaughter would have been supervised by the Priests, but, because the Jews have now no priesthood the function has been taken over by the Rabbi, who monitors the procedure to ensure that it is ‘kosher’, a word which means, ‘correct, genuine or legitimate’ and, therefore, producing flesh fit for food, because it has been prepared according to the laws found in Leviticus 11, the which identify the clean and the unclean animals, that is, those fit for food and those that are unfit.

Along with this chapter, we should read Leviticus 17, and Deuteronomy 12, also passages where God specifically prohibits the use of blood as food. Leviticus 17:10 states that God would ‘I will set my face against any Israelite or any foreigner residing among them who eats blood, and I will cut them off from the people.’

Leviticus 17:11 explains that ‘the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.’ See also Leviticus 17:12.

Leviticus 17:13 declares that ‘any Israelite or any foreigner residing among you who hunts any animal or bird that may be eaten must drain out the blood and cover it with earth.’

And Leviticus 17:14 reiterates what has already been stated, ‘the life of every creature is its blood. ‘You must not eat the blood of any creature, because the life of every creature is its blood; anyone who eats it must be cut off.’

The Hebrews generally obeyed these laws, and exceptions were rare. The prime example of a case of disobedience is found in 1 Samuel 14, where, having defeated the Philistines in battle, King Saul’s soldiers killed the animals they had captured from the enemy and, after slaughtering them, ate the flesh without allowing the blood to drain from the carcass. When Saul heard this, he told his men, ‘Look, the men are sinning against the LORD by eating meat that has blood in it’. 1 Samuel 14:33

Blood in the New Testament. Acts 15

After the first Gentiles obeyed the Gospel and had been admitted to the fellowship of the church, an important meeting was held in Jerusalem, when the apostles and elders met together to discuss the extent to which the Gentiles might be required to comply with the Mosaic Law.

The issue was raised by Jewish Christians who, still ‘zealous’ for the law, mistakenly believed that Gentile must first submit to the Law of Moses before they could become Christians, and the rite of circumcision was expressly mentioned.

The conclusion reached by this meeting was that the Gentiles should not be troubled by such pressure, but, out of regard for the sensitivities of their Jewish brethren, they should be advised to, ‘abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from BLOOD.’ Acts 15:20

And this was the instruction which went out to all the congregations where non-Jews had fellowship, Galatians 4:4-5. Until, ‘the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, to redeem’, redemption, forgiveness of sins, wasn’t possible. The Hebrew writer tells us this when he wrote, ‘It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.’ Hebrews 10:4.

In the Old Testament the Hebrew word for Atonement is ‘kippurim’ simply means ‘a covering up’. In other words, sins weren’t blotted out, cancelled, or washed away, because the blood of an animal couldn’t suffice to deal with the sins of a man. The lesser couldn’t die in the place of the greater.

Even that solemn ceremony on the Day of Atonement, the most solemn and important day in their year, didn’t offer the Jews forgiveness. God accepted the sacrifice as a confession or acknowledgement of the nation’s sins, and ‘covered them’ for another year, always looking forward to the time when the sacrifice would be made which would effectively atone for sin.

This is why the Scriptures tell us that ‘those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins.’ Hebrews 10:4. The burden of the nation’s guilt was rolled forward, carried over for another year, but think of the ‘rivers of blood’, which flowed during Old Testament times! Sacrifices were offered every day in the temple, morning and evening. Personal sacrifices, national sacrifices, sin offerings, thank offerings.

Yet none of these provided the assurance of forgiveness. They all pointed forward to the time when God Himself would provide the sacrifice that saves from sin.

Only in the New Testament do we read of redemption, remission, forgiveness, because the shedding of the blood of Christ did something that animal sacrifices could never do, John 1:29 / Hebrews 9:26.


Does this prohibition on the eating of blood apply today?

We must recognise that some of God’s Laws were dispensational, and therefore temporary in their application. There were the ceremonial laws, relation to worship at specific periods in Old Testament history.

The particular sacrifices about which we have spoken are examples of a ritual which belonged to the Old Mosaic Law, which Paul says, ‘Jesus took out of the way, nailing it to His cross’. Colossians 2:14

That is, He treated it in the manner in which a cancelled debt was treated in ancient times. The cancelled bill was nailed to a place where all could see that the debt had been paid.

Others were moral laws, which are permanent and which, never change, but remain valid for all ages. Murder, for instance, has always been condemned by God. From the beginning, God decreed ‘that a man should leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife’. Genesis 2:24 / Matthew 19:5.

Jesus tells us, His law relating the sanctity of all kinds of blood belongs to this category of law.

A brief summing up

1. It’s important to recognise that the law prohibiting the use of blood for food doesn’t come from the Mosaic Law. It preceded the law and existed in the Patriarchal Age, as Genesis 9 clearly proves.

2. This law wasn’t given to Hebrews, Israelites, or Jews alone, because the passage makes clear that the Covenant that God made, was made with the all mankind, as a ‘generation to generation covenant’ the sign of which remains with us even today, the rainbow!

3. All that we read in the Scriptures relating to blood must be considered in relation to God’s plan for the redemption of mankind by means of the shedding of the blood of His own Lamb.

For this reason, God declared ALL blood to be sacred! This includes the blood of the animal which oozes out of those steaks cooked rare, this includes the blood in which Black Pudding is produced and eaten. Even animal blood mustn’t be shed wantonly, and the wanton shedding of human blood should be dealt with severely, even animal, human or divine.

We describe the blood of Christ as ‘divine’ because Paul urged the elders of the Ephesian church to, ‘Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.’ Acts 20:28

The abstaining from blood, wasn’t a part of the Mosaic Law, it was a part of the covenant made with Noah and the whole earth and applies to every one of every generation, this law wasn’t nailed to the cross.

Is it acceptable to God to eat rare cooked steak? Is it acceptable to God to eat Black Pudding?

Based on the above texts, the answer is surely obvious!

‘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.’ Genesis 9:5-7

Remember the very first death on this planet was a murder, Genesis 4:1-16 and God knew there would be many more. God says, the flood didn’t change man, ‘every inclination of his heart is evil.’ Genesis 6:5 / Genesis 8:21.

The curse on Cain, the flood, these things didn’t deter man from his continual thirst for violence. But Scripture tells us that God deems Himself violated, in the violation of persons because it says in verse 6, ‘For in the image of God has God made man.’

It’s very important for us to understand that God said, ‘even after the fall, even after the flood, even though man has been marred by sin, he still bares my image, ‘he is still in my image.’

And the reason God is so harsh when it comes to murder is because God says, ‘murder displays a contempt towards Me’, because it’s a deliberate denunciation of the inherit dignity that My image grants to a person.

God said to Noah, ‘I want you to be like producers and not like takers.’, and so, God announces a new rule for this new world. He says in verse 6, ‘Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.’

By the way did you notice that human life is so precious to God, He didn’t just demand an accounting if a man takes a man’s life, He demands an accounting if an animal takes a man’s life.

So, what is God doing?

Capital punishment was practised here in Britain many years ago and I know it’s a very controversial issue. I think it’s important to realise that unlike other ancient cultures, the Bible never imposes the death penalty for crimes against property, only against persons.

But it’s also important to realise that the Bible doesn’t just grant the right, the grants the responsibility to put murderers to death.

Now I believe that this short little passage is ordaining human government and the necessity for this government to practice capital punishment in this new world. Now God isn’t speaking here about family revenge, He’s stressing that all men are responsible to see that life is protected and justice is executed. Some people say, ‘well now we need to let God take care of the murderer, God may strike the murderer down.’

Notice that little phrase, ‘by man shall his blood be shed,’ every time it’s used in the Old Testament it’s used of human action and not divine action.

Now let me give you my view of capital punishment, I’m for it and I’m against it. I’m for it because I believe that God has commanded it here, that human life is so precious that the murderer should be put to death.

And against it in the sense that it is handled by governments that are unjust and consequently capital punishment too often is dished out to the person who is poor and can’t afford the best justice or they are the wrong colour.

Now if Government can be just, then I think capital punishment is the right and even the responsibility granted by God. Now I can’t do anything about governments that behave unjust and the Bible is full of examples. If governments are unjust God is going to judge those governments.

But God does say that, life is this new world is going to be so violent, that I am ordaining government to be the instrument for helping man live with his neighbour.

Nowhere in the Bible does it say that, if someone offends you, you have the right to go out and strike them down. But the Bible does ordain that the government does have that right and there was some poor government, 1 Peter 2:14. And probably the clearest teaching is in Romans 13:1-4.

I believe capital punishment is bad, but I believe Genesis 6 is worse, life where there is chaos, life where there is anarchy, life where human life is cheapened and devalued is worse. It’s significant by the way that both Jesus and Paul when they are on trial. They acknowledged the right of government to execute but they challenged the legitimacy against the particular charges made against them.

One of the greatest arguments for capital punishment especially by evangelicals is ‘because capital punishment is deterrent against crime.’

I want you notice there’s nothing in the Bible about that, especially here in Genesis 9. In fact, the text maintains murder isn’t due to the lack of proper threats and penalties, it’s due to the persistent wickedness in man’s heart.

The purpose of capital punishment isn’t to deter crime, it’s to teach the sacredness of persons, due to their creation and their sovereignty of the creator. We hear sometimes that God is ‘Pro-life’, I prefer to say that God is ‘Pro-person.’

God is for people and every single person bares His image. And only God gave them that image and only God has the right to take that life away and God is deeply concerned to let us know that He is ‘Pro-person.’ And He wants us to know that we are His special interest and He didn’t leave us without revelation in this new world.

‘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.’ Genesis 9:8-12

Notice that this covenant has nothing to do with faith, and this covenant was made by God with not only mankind but all life, including animal life. The promise was that God would never again destroy the earth with water.

‘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.’ Genesis 9:13-17

Notice how over and over God just repeats Himself, ‘never again, I’m going to establish, I’m going to remember, never again, I’m going to promise.’

Now I don’t think God is repeating Himself for His benefit, I think it’s for Noah’s benefit. Imagine what Noah has been through, sometimes by the time we get to read the story about Noah and the flood, we make it sound like it was a nice little sail with a bunch of cute cuddly little animals.

This has been the worst year of Noah’s life, he’s been through an absolute ordeal, everywhere he looks when he comes out of the ark, he sees signs of death.

Now what do you think he would do, the next time the earth thundered, if he didn’t have this promise?

Even though God knows the world is going to get wicked again, God says, ‘Noah I am never again going to put anybody through what I have just put you through.’

He says to Noah, ‘you can depend on the regular order of nature not being destroyed again on the universal scale.’

That’s why back in Genesis 8:22 He says, ‘listen it’s going to be seed-time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, never again on a universal scale Noah, am I going to put anyone through what I have just put you through.’

Notice God didn’t demand any pledge of obedience in response to this covenant, the entire initiative is taken by God.

‘I now establish, I am making, I have set, I will remember, I will see it.’ There’s only one word to adequately describe a covenant like this, and that’s the word grace. Man hasn’t changed, man deserves a flood every year. But God says, ‘no’ and binds Himself to a pledge, and God put the sign for all of life to see, to remember this pledge.

I remember driving up to Scotland with my family one time, when the heavens opened, and the rain just poured down. And when it was over, there was this amazing rainbow going from one side of a field to another and in between there were some cows and sheep in the field, and I thought to myself, God’s art is so much better than mans.

Now there’s something going on here that we miss in English, but the Hebrews would have noticed. The word here for ‘rainbow’ is the same word for ‘bow’, the bow that the hunter uses, the bow that the warrior uses. What God is saying is, ‘as a sign of my offer of grace and peace to you, I’m going to hang my bow up. I’m going to hang my bow up as a visible sign that, I don’t want judgement, I want relationships.’

Now we don’t always see the rainbow when the storm comes but God does. He always sees it, He always remembers, and when we see it, we should always remember that He is patient with this new world.

Lessons from God’s covenant

We’ve learned that we should see the necessity of human government because of how life is going to be after the flood, because man is so given to evil, we see that we need government. Government is God’s gracious emergency provision for the protection of life in a fallen world.

Now God doesn’t endorse a particular kind of government, Britain happens to prefer democracy, but the form can vary the need that is established in Genesis 9. And I want to say that Christians can react in two extremes to Government and they are both unbiblical.

1. Is to think that we have no obligation to submit to government.

Now I heard where people say that, because we’re Christians, we are part of a different kingdom, we to pay taxes, we don’t have to obey, we shouldn’t have to vote, we don’t have no relationship to human government. I think it’s important that not one single Old Testament or New Testament saint ever actively rebelled against government.

In fact, this is what Paul says our relationship should be like in 1 Timothy 2:1-2 ‘I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone–for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.’

I know sometimes we get frustrated with government, but what I need to do regardless of my thoughts is honour my leaders and pray for them. And by the way when Paul says, ‘pray for your government,’ he’s in a time when the government was very anti-Christian, but he still said, ‘they are God’s instrument.’

2. Some Christians err in the opposite extreme and expect government to solve man’s most ultimate problems, they can’t do that. What we see in the text is that man’s ultimate problem is that he’s got a corrupt heart.

Government can prescribe, and government can enforce penalties, but government cannot develop morality.

God has established another institution to deal with man’s heart and it called, the church, and so, we support government and we pray for government, but we don’t expect government to come up with an answer for man’s greatest need, that’s got to be Jesus.

3. We should see in this text the evidence for divine commitment.

In other words, this world has deserved more floods than could be counted. And it has been spared not because of man but in spite of him.

Why hasn’t there been another flood? Why hasn’t there been another universal judgement?

Somebody asked Peter that question one time and he said in 2 Peter 3:9, ‘God is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.’

That is Peter’s only explanation for why the world is still turning. Every time you see that bow up in the sky still hanging there, you need to hear the sermon God is gracious. And we need to hear the same message every time we see the cross because like the bow, the cross is a symbol of judgement but it’s also an offer of peace.

4. We need to see the foreshadowing of universal judgement.

God said, ‘Never again by water.’

So, all the way back in Genesis 9 the next judgement is foreshadowed. And judgement is going to come because man is not going to change. And so, Peter said a little bit later, 2 Peter 3:10-11, ‘But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives’

Peter likes to call us, ‘aliens and strangers in the world,’ and over and over the Scripture tells us that you are living on an orbiting graveyard. Nobody likes to be stuck in a cemetery, but everybody is but the word of the Scripture is, don’t get too comfortable, don’t get too complacent, don’t get too at home in this place.

And so, in the very next verse Peter says, ‘As you look forward to the day of God and speed it’s coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this.’ 2 Peter 3:12-14

And just let me stop there and ask you, are you? Are you looking forward to that absolute dilation of the earth? Are you looking forward to the day when God sets this cemetery on fire?

Well I can tell if you are because if you are, you will ‘make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.’

You see you can be at peace with God, the bow is still on the wall of the heavens, there’s still time to make peace with God. Now the message of the Bible is, your living on an orbiting graveyard, God has hung up the bow for now and He has offered us peace.

But you’ve got to wash the death off and keep it off, that’s why we confess our sins, we don’t want the death to cling to us. We got washed in Christ, we got baptised in Christ and we put on new clothes, we don’t want to put those old clothes back on.

We confess our sins so that the blood can just keep washing the death off. We want to be holy and spotless on the day when this world burns up.

The sin and curse of Ham and Canaan

‘The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) These were the three sons of Noah, and from them came the people who were scattered over the whole earth. Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s naked body. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father naked.’ Genesis 9:18-23

From the text here, we see that Noah was a farmer, like Cain and it’s in this text we find the first mention of wine and sadly it’s used in the negative sense as Noah gets drunk. The chances are that this new fruit of the vine was probably unknown to Noah and his family, and because he drunk too much, possibly unaware of its strength, his actions led to some pretty bad consequences.

In his drunken state he lay naked, exposing himself, which later God would say is sinful, Leviticus 18:5-19 / Leviticus 20:17-21. Ham seems to make a joke about his father’s nakedness and proceeded to tell his brothers. Shem and Japheth were wise enough not to have a look at their father’s nakedness for themselves and were very careful to cover their father up. Ham, whether he looked intentionally or not is about to be cursed.

‘When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, he said, ‘Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.’ He also said, ‘Praise be to the LORD, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem. May God extend Japheth’s territory; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be the slave of Japheth.’ After the flood Noah lived 350 years. Noah lived a total of 950 years, and then he died.’ Genesis 9:24-29

When Noah sobered up or woke up he realised what had happened and as a result Ham, the father of Canaan, was left without a blessing, but Canaan was specifically cursed to be the servant of his brethren.

The result of Ham’s sin was the Canaanites are going to reap the consequences of Ham’s sin. The character of Canaan is shown in the nature of his descendants, remember they became an immoral people who eventually became a curse to the Israelites, it was the Canaanites and their gods that became the sign of moral filth and rebellion against God.

God blessed Shem and his descendants who established a moral lineage throughout history, they were to have mastery over Ham. The blessing of Japheth resulted in them having the largest share of the world, Europeans, this was fulfilled when Rome ruled the world.

Noah was blessed to reach the ripe old age of 950.

Go To Genesis 10



"Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ."

Romans 10:17