GENESIS 7 – 9
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Then the LORD said to Noah, ‘Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation. You shall take with you seven each of every clean animal, a male and his female; two each of animals that are unclean, a male and his female; also seven each of birds of the air, male and female, to keep the species alive on the face of all the earth. For after seven more days I will cause it to rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and I will destroy from the face of the earth all living things that I have made. Genesis 7:1-4
The Lord told Noah, Come into the ark. As we have already noted, in the midst of judgment God always makes a place of refuge for those who are his own. As you have it in the following scriptures:
...you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. I Thessalonians 1:9b-10
But God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by his blood,we shall be saved from wrath through him. Romans 5:8-9
The nature and timing of God’s approaching judgments, in relation to our day, can be a bit complex. So, just let me briefly summarize them for you.
First, the Rapture of the Church will occur (when Christ will literally extract all true believers from off the earth and take them to their new home in Heaven).
After that world-altering event, there will come seven years of wrath called The Tribulation. The last three and a half years of that period is called The Great Tribulation. It will consist of a series of intense judgments from God, the like of which the world has never before seen.
The climax of the Great Tribulation will be Christ’s literal return to Earth to rule and reign here for a thousand years. That is called The Millennium.
After that one thousand years, the fiery destruction of the entire universe will take place. I will not comment further here concerning these time periods and judgments. A detailed discussion of them can be found in my commentary on Revelation.
Coming back to our text, the question arises … How did Noah know which animals were clean and which were unclean? The answer is, He didn’t. Not until all the animals came to the ark for loading. Those who arrived in groups of seven pairs were the clean ones and those who came in single pairs were the unclean. Also, notice that all of the birds came into the ark in groups of seven pairs each. In the “for what it’s worth” department, the book of Exodus lists the clean animals that God designated under the Law.
And Noah did according to all that the LORD commanded him. Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters were on the earth. So Noah, with his sons, his wife, and his sons' wives, went into the ark because of the waters of the flood. Of clean animals, of animals that are unclean, of birds, and of everything that creeps on the earth, two by two they went into the ark to Noah, male and female, as God had commanded Noah. And it came to pass after seven days that the waters of the flood were on the earth. Genesis 7:5-10
Back in verse 4, God said … after seven more days I will cause it to rain on the earth forty days and forty nights. Here, in the 10th verse, we read that is exactly what happened. The Flood didn’t begin after six days, nor did it wait until the eighth day, it came exactly seven days later, just as God said that it would. I mention this to emphasize that God’s word is always true and precise and is always carried out to the letter. What God says God means. His word is his bond. Everything God has ever said has come to pass, or will yet come to pass, exactly as he has said. As Jesus put it in John 17:17 … Thy word is truth. The detailed and precise fulfillments of hundreds of prophecies in the Bible are more than adequate proof, by the way, that the Bible is the Word of God and that God always means and does what he says.
In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was on the earth forty days and forty nights. Genesis 7:11-12
The first thing to note here is that we are reading history. We are given the exact day when the Flood began. From our previous discussion of the age of the earth, you will remember that it occurred around 2520 BC (Gen.11:10).
Now, just a few hours of extremely heavy rain can have disastrous consequences. I was in south Texas once when we received eight inches of rain in a single day. It turned the whole area into one giant lake. Only the roads, which were elevated two or three feet above the surrounding farmland, remained above water. It was an eerie sight. Driving down the highway felt like you were driving across a lake! Here, in Genesis 7, we are told that, not only did flooding rain come, but it came simultaneously over the entire face of the earth and, also, in conjunction with the opening up of all the fountains of the great deep. I believe that is a reference to unprecedented volcanic activity that occurred at that time ... on a scale never seen before nor since in Earth's history.
I recently watched a PBS special on volcanic phenomena. It made the point that, in Earth's past history, there have been outpourings of magma that far exceeded mere volcanism. Some were so extensive that the magma covered literally hundreds of square miles and even large portions of entire continents. They stated that the only explanation for this was that the earth's crust must have fractured, resulting in outpourings of magma on an unimaginably gigantic scale. I believe that this is exactly what is referred to here by this expression ... all the fountains of the great deep were broken up.
The fracturing of the earth's crust resulted in massive changes in topography and, no doubt, significantly raised the level of the seas that existed on Earth at that time. The evidence of these massive extrusions of magma from the earth's core can be seen almost everywhere on earth where one travels today. And, there has been no observable repetition of it in the modern era. This great judgment by water from above … combined with the great fountains of the deep being broken up from below … brought swift and devastating annihilation of all animal and human life on earth. Furthermore, it continued, non-stop, for forty days and forty nights. For nine hundred sixty consecutive hours, the entire surface of Earth was pounded with torrential rain accompanied by massive outpourings of magma from the earth's core. The utter devastation that resulted can only be imagined. As the Apostle Peter put it, The earth that then was perished. The wording here, clearly speaks to the fact that the Genesis Flood was a universal one and not the small local flood that many would like to have us believe.
On the very same day Noah and Noah's sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and Noah's wife and the three wives of his sons with them, entered the ark; they and every beast after its kind, all cattle after their kind, every creeping thing that creeps on the earth after its kind, and every bird after its kind, every bird of every sort. And they went into the ark to Noah, two by two, of all flesh in which is the breath of life. So those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him;and the LORD shut him in. Genesis 7:13-16
Again, please be reminded that all the creatures came to Noah of their own accord and then entered the ark simply because their Creator was directing them to do so. Noah didn’t have to gather them up. All he had to do was have an ark ready to receive them. There are many questions and objections to the details that are given here in Scripture of this unprecedented event. I will not attempt to answer them all. Usually, a careful reading of the text dispels most of these objections, as they are simply based on wrong assumptions.
For example, some would object that most of the animals were dangerous to humans and to each other and therefore such a gathering of them all together in one place would be highly dangerous and inevitably result in chaos and death. However, the Bible states that all the creatures of this ancient world were tame and friendly to man at that time. This is brought out in the Noahic Covenant (9:2). Also, we have already been told that all the creatures of this ancient world were vegetarians (2:29-30). There were no carnivores. As I recall, evolutionists make a big deal about the fact that lions have stomachs similar to that of a cow, proving that they once ate grass and that they evolved. I agree. Nevertheless, they were always lions.
Finally, notice that it was the Lord who shut the door of the ark. For Noah, his family, and the creatures aboard the ark … when that door rumbled shut ... it meant safety, security and refuge. For all who were left outside, however, it meant certain and irreversible doom.
May I chase a rabbit here for a moment? There always comes a point in time when it becomes too late for a lost, Bible denying and unbelieving sinner to be saved. The door clicks shut to them. There comes a time when it is too late to repent ... too late to come to Christ ... too late to do anything but perish. For some, that irreversible moment may come years before their actual physical death when they hard-heartedly blaspheme the Holy Spirit who, for so long, has so patiently and lovingly been pleading with them. It is that certain point in time when they say to him a final and emphatic, "NO, I DO NOT BELIEVE YOU!" … which is, in effect, calling God a liar. In my opinion, that emphatic and total rejection of the Holy Spirit's pleading is inevitably followed by the solemn click of a forever shut door. This is what Jesus was referred to in Matthew 12:31, when he said,
Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.
The unforgivable sin is unbelief … the stubborn and adamant refusal of the truth. The Bible says today is the day of salvation (Hebrews 4:7). No one knows if they will have a tomorrow. When God closed the door of the ark … it meant total safety of those within … but it meant destruction for those who were without. For a hundred and twenty years, God had been calling out to men and women, through his Holy Spirit and through Noah’s preaching (II Peter 2:5), but all turned a deaf ear. Then, one ominous, dark and cloudy day, the door of the ark was shut by the hand of God and the long-suffering of God had come to an end. Jesus said,
I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. John 10:9
When Jesus uttered those words, it wouldn't surprise me if his mind went back to the day when he shut the door of the ark, 2550 years before. Jesus, God’s Door, is open for you and me today, friend. Have you entered in? Come to him. In prayer, ask him to save you. He is the ark of God's safety for all who will enter in. Get on board before it’s too late. As you have it in the book of Romans,
For 'whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.' Romans 10:13
Now the flood was on the earth forty days. The waters increased and lifted up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. The waters prevailed and greatly increased on the earth, and the ark moved about on the surface of the waters. And the waters prevailed exceedingly on the earth,and all the high hills under the whole heaven were covered. The waters prevailed fifteen cubits upward, and the mountains were covered. And all flesh died that moved on the earth: birds and cattle and beasts and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every man. All in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, all that was on the dry land, died. So he destroyed all living things which were on the face of the ground: both man and cattle, creeping thing and bird of the air. They were destroyed from the earth. Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark remained alive. And the waters prevailed on the earth one hundred and fifty days. Genesis 7:17-24
For the second time here, we are told that the flood of waters persisted for forty days and forty nights. It was devastating. The word, prevailed, means that the waters continually increased, minute by minute, higher and higher. For the ark, however, this was not a problem. Designed and preserved by God, it had not been made to go anywhere. It was simply a huge barge. All it needed to do was float. And, float it did … drifting about on the surface of the waters.
By the way, I believe the earth’s topography, in Noah’s day, was very different from what it is in our day. There is a great deal of evidence that Noah's world was a low, hilly, lush paradise. And, that the high mountain ranges we see today are the results of the Flood. They did not exist in the previous world. This would answer to the often brought objection that, There couldn’t have been enough water to cover Mount Everest! Nevertheless, if Mount Everest did exist in Noah’s day, you can rest assured that it was no problem for God to put it under water. Our text says that, at the peak of the Flood (verse 22), the highest hill, or mountain, on Earth was twenty-two and a half feet under water and all that was on the dry land, died. Many of the water creatures, of course, survived.
Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters subsided. The fountains of the deep and the windows of heaven were also stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained. And the waters receded continually from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters decreased. Genesis 8:1-3
It is significant to me that God was not just concerned about Noah. Notice that he was also concerned about all life that had survived the flood as well as the animals inside the ark. Proverbs 12:10 says,
A righteous man regards the life of his animal, but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.
God is a righteous God. He cares about his creatures. Psalm 84:1-3, says,
How lovely is your tabernacle, O LORD of hosts! My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the LORD; My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young; even your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God.
Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. Matthew 10:29
The fact that so many animals perished in the Flood should not detract from these truths. No doubt, God had a higher purpose for the removal of all the land creatures of that first world than just the preservation of their short lives. I believe that one of his purposes had to do with the dinosaurs. God wanted all those fossils created so man could observe them in the ages to come and be accountable for how he analyzed and interpreted them. The question is …would the paleontologists and geologists believe God’s Word concerning the massive evidence set before them from that previous world that God destroyed? Or ... would they foolishly make up some other stubborn and completely unscientific explanation? I guess we know the answer to that. However, the time will come when God's Word will be completely vindicated and its history be undeniable.
Now, concerning the different time periods during the Flood, we are given the figure of 150 days, during which the waters completely covered the earth. Adding to that is the initial 40 days of rain and subterranean emissions … bringing the total to 190 days. Then, we are given an additional 150 days during which the waters subsided from off the earth. This brings the total number of days of the entire Flood event to 340 days. Sound like a local flood to you?
... 40 days of rain and subterranean emissions.
... 150 days, during which the waters completely covered the earth (brings the total to 190 days).
... 150 days, during which the waters subsided from off the earth. (brings the days of the total event to 340 days).
Then the ark rested in the seventh month, the seventeenth day of the month, on the mountains of Ararat. And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month. In the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains were seen. Genesis 8:4-5
The area in which the ark came to rest is known today as modern Turkey. In fact, there is a high mountain in Turkey named Mount Ararat. Several expeditions have been launched there to search for the remains of the ark and some have claimed some success. Because of the political instabilities in the region, however, gaining permission from Turkey’s Islamic government and local officials for these expeditions has always been difficult. The possibility that Noah's ark coming to rest on that particular mountain, however, is probably slim. Our text says it came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. That is a general area that is given to us, not an exacting location. Nevertheless, it is in that general area of northeast Turkey that the ark came to rest.
Our text says that the Flood began in the 600th year of Noah’s life, in the second month and the seventeenth day (7:11). Here in chapter 8, we read that the ark ran aground on the seventh month and the seventeenth day (8:4), and that it sat there until the first day of the tenth month, when the waters had abated enough for the tops of the mountains to be seen (8:5).
So it came to pass, at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made. Then he sent out a raven, which kept going to and fro until the waters had dried up from the earth. He also sent out from himself a dove, to see if the waters had receded from the face of the ground. But the dove found no resting place for the sole of her foot, and she returned into the ark to him, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took her, and drew her into the ark to himself. And he waited yet another seven days, and again he sent the dove out from the ark. Then the dove came to him in the evening, and behold, a freshly plucked olive leaf was in her mouth ; and Noah knew that the waters had receded from the earth. So he waited yet another seven days and sent out the dove, which did not return again to him anymore. Genesis 8:6-12
Ravens are scavengers. They are members of a select group of creatures that are eaters of dead meat. There is mounting evidence that Tyrannosaurus Rexwas a pre-Flood scavenger in the animal kingdom. At any rate, it was natural for a raven to come and go from the ark, after feeding on the dead flesh that it had found. A dove, on the other hand, wouldn’t land on a floating carcass to feed. So, when it finally returned to the ark with an olive leaf in its beak, it was a true indicator that the earth was drying out. Finally, the dove didn’t return at all and Noah knew that his first impression had been verified. Keep in mind, however, that these experiments were generated by Noah to simply salve his own curiosity. He had no intention of leaving the ark until his God told him to do so.
And it came to pass in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, that the waters were dried up from the earth; and Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and indeed the surface of the ground was dry. And in the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dried. Genesis 8:13-14
In the 601st year of Noah’s life, the first month, the first day, the door of the ark was removed and the waters were seen to be completely abated (8:13). Notice, however, that no person or creature left the ark. Nearly two months went by, after the covering was removed. Only when Noah received word from the Lord … would they leave the ark. On the second month, twenty-seventh day … the earth was dried.
Then God spoke to Noah, saying, ‘Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons' wives with you. Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you: birds and cattle and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, so that they may abound on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.’ So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons' wives with him. Genesis 8:15-19
I can’t help but think of Isaiah 40:31, here,
But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
Think about it. The door of the ark had stood open for nearly two months. The ground was dry. Yet, Noah stayed put. He waited for word from the Lord. As you have it in Romans 8:14,
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
And again, in Psalm 37:23,
The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, and he delights in his way.
God had told Noah to get on board the ark and, until Noah heard otherwise, that’s where he would stay. Noah was an obedient servant. He knew what it was to walk with God. He had been walking with God the entire year he had been on the ark. He knew what God expected of him. One of the greatest problems we saints have in our walk with the Lord … is waiting on him, is it not? If God tells us to do something or be somewhere, we shouldn't anticipate his will to leave that ministry or place until we hear otherwise. Like soldiers in an army, we have our orders. Our job is to follow. His job is to lead. When the time is right, God will give us any new orders he has for us. Don’t anticipate God’s direction for your life. Moses comes to mind here. He tried to jump the gun on the will of God by thinking he knew best when to deliver the people of Israel (Acts 7:23-29). But, in God’s timing, that didn’t come about for another forty years. Do you wait upon the Lord, dear saint? We are invited to walk with him, you know, not ahead of him.
Coming back to our text, can you picture the utter delight of all those occupants of the ark when they finally got word from the Lord to get off that ark? In total, they had spent over a year in there. It must have been quite a celebration when the ark was finally emptied out. We can only imagine all those animals’ joy at being free to roam again.
Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the LORD smelled a soothing aroma. Then the LORD said in his heart, ‘I will never again curse the ground for man's sake, although the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done. While the earth remains, seed-time and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease.’ Genesis 8:20-22
It is significant that the first thing Noah did, after getting off the ark, was to worship God. He built an altar and presented sacrifices. For over a year, Noah had undoubtedly missed worshiping the Lord at an altar. His heart must have been overflowing with thanksgiving for the great salvation he, his family and all the animals had received and, also, for the new, clean and wonderfully different world that now lay glistening before them.
Now, there were only seven pairs of any one clean animal that had entered the ark the year before. I suspect, however, they may have procreated and increased in number while aboard the ark. In any case, Noah didn’t hesitate to offer some of them as a sacrifice. Noah knew his God and he knew that putting the Lord first came before everything else. As a result, we read that the Lord smelled a soothing aroma. Of course this expression is another anthropomorphism. God doesn’t have nostrils. God is a spirit. The Lord often accommodates his wording for us by using human expressions to communicate with us.
May we step aside here for a moment? The Mormons often use these anthropomorphisms to try and prove that the God of the Bible is really just a highly evolved human being. They believe that God has always had a human body. They have a saying … As man is now, God once was. As God is now, man soon will be. How utterly foolish this is. In a famous debate, a Mormon was challenged by a verse from the Psalms that says … Under his wings we safely abide. The debater then asked … Is your god also a giant chicken? I relate this somewhat amusing point because it brings up another very important principle of interpretation we need to use when we interpret Scripture. It’s the principle of accommodation. God often accommodates his terminology in order to better communicate with us. When someone does not recognize this about the Bible, they can come up with some pretty strange views about God ... like the Mormons have.
Coming back to the text … notice, the Lord purposed in his heart that he would never again curse the ground for man's sake ... He meant, as he had done with Adam and then, again, with Cain (4:12). That kind of judgment would never be used by the Lord again. Also, it says … while the earth remains, he would never again destroy every living thing. For what it is worth, a great many men and creatures will be destroyed during the Great Tribulation. However, it will come in gradual stages … with many people being delivered (See: Rev. 7:20) before the final day of the dissolving of the universe by fire comes.
Finally, I believe that verse 22, is a very important verse concerning the nature of the new world in which Noah and the animals found themselves. Notice, it was at this point in Earth’s history that seasons were instituted. Apparently, during the Flood, God caused a tilt in the earth’s axis causing it to begin to wobble in its orbit around the sun. So, from that time on, the earth began to experience distinct seasons that it had never experienced before. Gone was the uniform climate that was so taken for granted prior to the Flood. The institution of seasons was, no doubt, the final nail in the coffin for the dinosaurs.
So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man's brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man. And as for you, be fruitful and multiply; Bring forth abundantly in the earth And multiply in it.? Genesis 9:1-7
We come here to the first covenant that God made with man. Theologians call it the Noahic Covenant. It is very important to note that this covenant is still in effect today. Nowhere in the Word of God is any part of this covenant said to have been set aside or fulfilled. There are six parts to it. God said:
1. ...Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.
During my college days, I took a course called Population Problems. It was presented by the Sociology Department at New Mexico State University. The gist of it was that the earth is basically overpopulated and we need to take drastic measures to confront the problem. However, the professor also pointed out that, as far as actual space on our planet is concerned … humans only take up a minute fraction of space. He illustrated his point by demonstrating on the blackboard that if you dug a hole one mile square and one mile deep, you could put every living human being on Earth at that time in that hole and still have room left over! The population of the earth today is approximately 7 billion and my professor’s calculations still pencil. There are many different aspects to the debate about overpopulation. I would simply point out two things.
a. First, the earth is designed by God to completely accommodate man and all his needs ... far in excess of what we might imagine. Food surpluses that have been produced by U.S. farmers alone are evidence of this fact.
b. Second, wherever there is starvation in our world today ... it is primarily due to politics, war, greed and evil men. It is not due to the lack of resources or size of the population. The Catholics have it right on this point. They say that man was commanded to be fruitful and multiply and that’s exactly what they intend to do until God tells them otherwise. That is the first tenant of the Noahic Covenant and a point well taken.
2. ...the fear and dread of you shall be upon every beast...
The second tenant of the Noahic Covenant was for God to put into the hearts of animals, birds, fish and creeping things ... the fear and dread man. Up until that time, man, and the animal kingdom, lived in harmony and without fear. That had been so from the days when Adam first named the animals. This goes a long way in explaining how the animals were so manageable during the days in which they were in the ark, does it not? But, why put the fear of man into the hearts of animals, birds and fish now? Might I suggest it was so that ... now that they were a God given source of food for man ... it would go a long way toward preserving them? I think so. If all had remained docile and friendly to man like it was in the pre-Flood world, I suspect that just about all of them would now be extinct.
3. ...Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs.
Not long ago, one of my granddaughters came to me and said that her friend wanted to know if there was anywhere in the Bible that said it was all right to eat meat. I sensed that it was her question as well, since the majority of her liberal teachers in the public school system of Oregon were constantly pushing the animal rights agenda and its companion, vegetarianism. This third tenant of the Noahic Covenant runs completely counter to these popular, unbiblical views of our day. Their premise, that man is just a higher form of animal ... animals have the same rights as humans ... hamburger chains should be put out of business ... we must lobby Congress ... etc ... all run contrary to the Word of God. In the Noahic Covenant, it was God himself who gave all the living creatures over to man for food. The Apostle Paul speaks to this issue as follows,
Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. I Timothy 4:1-5
This is right where we live today, is it not? Notice, in the above scripture, that the meat that we eat is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. In other words, all meats are for our eating because the Word of God says so. That right and freedom, I might add, was born here in Genesis 9, in the Noahic Covenant. Jesus himself ate meat (John 21:10-13).
4. ...But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.
The fourth tenant of the Noahic Covenant forbids the eating of raw flesh with its blood. When the early Church at Jerusalem sent out a message to its new Gentile believers, it instructed them to abstain from the eating of blood.
But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and fornication, and things strangled, and blood. Acts 15:20
This was in deference to the Jewish believers who would have been greatly offended by such a practice as it was forbidden in the Mosaic Law. However, they were also correct in their admonition in that it adhered to the Noahic Covenant as well ... a Covenant which was still in effect at that time, even as it is today.
Clearly, blood is precious and special in the eyes of God. The Scripture says that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:22). The animal sacrifices that Noah brought to God, as well as all the sacrifices that were later offered under the Mosaic Covenant, depicted the shed blood of the coming Savior, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, that would be shed on the cross one day. I believe that eating or drinking of blood should be avoided by believers if at all possible.
5. Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man.
The fifth tenant of the Noahic Covenant was the institution of capital punishment. There is a great deal of confusion among Christians and non-Christians alike about this subject today. And, it is only clarified if we accept God’s Word on the subject. God is the one who delegated to man (through government) the obligation and commandment to execute murderers. The argument is often brought up that capital punishment is simply murdering a murderer! The reasoning goes like this … When you kill a murderer, you are no better than they! How can two wrongs make a right? Not! When murderers are executed, they are executed by the direct will and commandment of God … an obligation which he has delegated to man through human government. Notice the reason that God gave that murderers should be executed. It is because they wantonly destroyed another human being who was made in the image of God himself. Humans are very special in God’s eyes. Each one is made in his own image. Therefore, man has been given the responsibility to avenge all who have been deliberately murdered. It is very important that they carry this out. As you have it in Romans 13:1-4,
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.
Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying: ‘...and as for me, behold, I establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you: the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you, of all that go out of the ark, every beast of the earth. Thus I establish my covenant with you: never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.’ And God said: ‘This is the sign of the covenant which I make between me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set my rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember my covenant which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.’ And God said to Noah, ‘This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.’
6. ... never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.
This is the final, yet core tenant, of the Noahic Covenant. Namely, that God would never again destroy the earth with water. Let’s step aside here for a moment and look once again at the evidence that the Flood was not just local, as so many liberal critics have proposed.
First, if this were merely a local flood, there could never have been another following it, according to God’s Word in the Noahic Covenant.Obviously, however, that has not been the case. There are floods all the time. So, God couldn't have been referring to a local flood.
Second, God’s sign of his Covenant with Noah, from that day forward, was the rainbow. This seems ridiculous to men today. I recall in college that it was roundly debunked in favor of the scientific explanation … namely that a rainbow is merely the refraction of light through the prism of water droplets resulting in the colors of light becoming visible, following the curvature of the sun. For the believer of the Bible, however, a rainbow is far more than the scientific explanation of it. I believe a rainbow had never before been seen by man prior to the Flood. You will remember that before the Flood, the earth was not watered by rain. Hence, there were no clouds as we know them. The earth was watered subterraneously (2:5-6). The first rainbow was a new and wondrous phenomenon to Noah and his family.
However, also keep in mind that the sign of the Covenant (the rainbow) was not given primarily for man to see. It was for God to see (9:16). Does God need reminding? No. But, he wants you and me to know that he is faithful. So, for our sakes, he assures us that at all times he will keep a visible representation before him of his promise never again to destroy the earth by water. You may have noticed that, from an airplane, rainbows are completely round. Let me ask you a question. How many rainbows do you suppose exist right now, right this very second, around the world? I should think hundreds, if not thousands. And, our omnipresent God looks upon each and every one of them. He even has one that is perpetually above his throne in Heaven (Rev. 4:2-3). The point is … God will keep his word. Never, ever, again will mankind and all of Earth’s land creatures be destroyed by water. God’s rainbows are his ever present reminders of that promise in his Noahic Covenant with us.
Now the sons of Noah who went out of the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. And Ham was the father of Canaan. These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the whole earth was populated. And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. Then he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father's nakedness. So Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done to him. Then he said: ‘Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants he shall be to his brethren.’ And he said: ‘Blessed be the LORD, The God of Shem, and may Canaan be his servant. May God enlarge Japheth, and may he dwell in the tents of Shem; and may Canaan be his servant.’ And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years. So all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years; and he died. Genesis 9:18-29
I would like to comment on three things here:
Noah's predicament brought out the nobility of Shem and Japheth.
They honored their father’s predicament by not entering into whatever Ham did. Ham’s sin was crass, perverted and disrespectful. Possibly, he just made fun of his father's nakedness and took others to see. However, the text indicates that he may have done more than that. Shem and Japheth, however, would have no part of it. By their actions, they fulfilled one of the Ten Commandments, not yet written … namely … honor thy father and thy mother. They acted righteously and went to their helpless father’s aid by covering up his nakedness and they did so without so much as actually looking upon him themselves.
Noah’s curse on Ham and his lineage was prophetic and appropriate.
The age in which Noah lived was the age of the Patriarchs. Noah was a Patriarch. The Patriarchs were men who were both priests and heads over their families. Their word was law and was so honored by God. Having said that, however, let me say that it is sad that many have taken this curse from Noah out of context. Some have said that all of Ham’s descendants are cursed forever. They twist the Scripture here, saying that it refers to the Black race, seeking biblical support for their racism. That is utter nonsense! This curse was long ago fulfilled. It ended with the Canaanites. It began to be fulfilled when the Canaanites were subjected under Abraham, and the curse was finally and historically fulfilled under Joshua when the people of Israel entered the Promised Land and completely subjected the wicked Canaanite descendants of Ham that they found there.
Noah may not have been at fault for becoming drunk.
The new world that greeted Noah and his sons had many unfamiliar aspects. I suspect that the fermentation process, or the timing of it in that new environment, was one of those new unfamiliarities. So, Noah may not have been familiar with the potency of what he was drinking.
Finally here in this chapter, we come to the death of one of God’s great saints. We are told that Noah died at the ripe old age of 950.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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