Scriptures

Life Straight After The Flood!

Introduction

Open your Bibles to Genesis 9, we are going to look at Noah 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. You see Noah and his family, when they left the ark, did not step into paradise regained. They stepped into what I call, A grave new world.

In fact, just 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 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. I mean 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 carcasses 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?

You see 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.”

Now all of you who wonder if worship has effect, you need to look at the next verse in Genesis 8:21, “The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma”.

Now of course God doesn’t have a nose or a sense of smell. But it’s trying to say 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.”

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 did not change his basic nature. And so, the implication is here right in Genesis 8 is that post flood living is not going to be a picnic. And so, what God does in Genesis 9 is issue some new rules for a grave new world. This is not going to be Eden.

First of all, man’s relationship to animals is going to be different in the grave new world.

Genesis 9:1-4 “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 upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. “But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.”

Now remember that 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 is going to change. He says, “The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth.”

You see since that is 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.”

I’m not even 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. But the animals weren’t for a covering because man was naked and had no shame.

They 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.”

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.

Now have you ever seen any Disney films?

In every Disney film there are about 5 or 6 little animals that are just so cute and so lovable and just love to be with the star character. Except for one, which is actually more Biblical, have you ever seen Bambi? And in the film Bambi, although a human never appears, it is very clear that they are the enemy. Whenever humans show up, animals have dread.

And that’s a very Biblical portrayal. That’s how God says it going to be. And one of the reasons is because now 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. Now 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 has a part of them. And we don’t believe that.

“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 must not forget.

Jesus taught us to pray for our “Daily bread”. And Paul said in 1 Timothy 4:3, “That food is a gift from God and it should be received with thanksgiving.”

And that’s what He teaches Noah here in the very beginning. And getting this food isn’t always going to be easy. Now the ground has been cursed and now God says, “The animals are going to be afraid of you.”

Now notice something else. He gave Noah flesh to eat but He did not give him blood to drink.

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

Now that was probably to teach 2 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 is 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 the grave new world, that men are going to take human life.

So, that’s the 2nd area where He prepares Noah for what life is going to be like.

Genesis 9:5-7 “And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man. “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man. As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.”

Remember the very first death on this planet was a murder and God knew there would be many more. God says, “The flood didn’t change man “Every inclination of his heart is evil.”

The curse on Cain, the flood, these things did not deter man from his continual thirst for violence. But scripture affirms 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.”

That’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 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 grave 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?

Well were going to talk about something that used to be done here in Britain many years ago. Capital punishment, and I know it’s a very controversial issue. So, you just take what I think for what it’s worth.

I think it is 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 grave new world. Now God is not speaking here about family revenge. He is 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.”

But 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 cant 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 behalf unjust and the Bible is full of examples. If governments are unjust God is going to judge those governments. But God does says that, “Life is this grave 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 says, “To governors, who are sent by him (God) to punish those who do wrong.”

And probably the clearest teaching is in Romans 13:1-4 “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.”

I believe capital punishment is bad but I believe Genesis 6 is worse. Life where there is chaos, life where 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 is to teach the sacredness of persons, due to their creation and their sovereignty of the creator. We here some times that God is “Pro-life”, well 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 grave new world.

Genesis 9:8-17 “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 cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.” And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”

Now notice 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 for His benefit, I think it’s for Noah’s benefit. You see I want you to 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.

I want you to know that 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.” “You can depend,” He says to Noah, “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 seedtime 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.”

And I want you to 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, “Grace.” Man, has not 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 filed. 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 judgment, 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 a grave new world.

Let me show you 3 quick applications from this text

1. 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 is 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. If someone asks me what do I think about capital punishment?

“I think everybody at the capital ought to be punished.”

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.”

Here’s another wrong attitude towards government.

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.

2. 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 judgment?

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 by the way you need to hear the same with every time you see the cross. Because like the bow the cross is a symbol of judgment but its also an offer of peace.

When Louise 12th was made king of France, his enemies put him in prison before he became king. And when he was in there he made a list of all his enemies and behind each name he put a red cross. But when his enemies found out about that were terrified of him and they ran in fear, not knowing that when he put that cross beside their names he did it as a reminder that just as Christ forgave him, he needs to forgive his enemies.

And so what they interpreted as a sign of judgment was really an offer of peace. The cross is God’s offer of peace when judgment is deserved. And all men need to seek it while they still can.

3. We need to see the foreshadowing of universal judgment.

God said, “Never again by water.” So, all the way back in Genesis 9 the next judgement is foreshadowed. And judgment 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.”

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 loved ones; 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.

 

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

Acts 4:12

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