Genesis 9, God's Covenant

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Helen, Jun 8, 2002.

  1. Helen

    Helen
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    Chapter 9 begins with God blessing Noah and his sons. The blessing is to be fruitful and multiply! They are to increase in number and fill the earth.

    But then God says something which gives us a clue as to live BEFORE the Flood. God says the fear and dread of humans will fall on all the beasts of the earth and every bird of the air -- in fact, every type of animal which was saved on the Ark will now be afraid of human beings! That is amazing. The fish will also be afraid of us. At the same time, they are given over to us for food. Before the Flood men were to eat plant life; after the Flood they are to also eat meat.

    Why?

    Possibly because there was some kind of plant life which did not make it through the Flood which provided the necessary protein and amino acids for us. Is there any evidence of such plant life today? Yes, there is. Soy beans, for one. Also, when you put a legume (such as a bean) with a grain (such as rice), you have a complete protein for your diet. So yes, plants can, still, be enough. But evidently it simply wasn't the same, and so men are now to eat meat.

    Back in Genesis 1:30, God had also created all the animals as vegetarian. One of the common evolutionist challenges is "then why do the carnivores have teeth meant to rip flesh?" And although the teeth are shaped differently, I think about things like the walrus' tusks, which are used for digging food from the sea bottom, or the sharp teeth of the nut and grain eating rodents, or the elephant's tusks, and I realize that we really don't know what some of the plant life before the Flood needed in terms of teeth! What rips flesh today might have ripped fibrous plant life before. We can guess, but "I don't know" is a perfectly honest and acceptable answer.

    God puts a provision on the meat eating -- not with the lifeblood still in it. The animal could not be strangled, as that would infuse the meat with more blood. The blood had to be drained.

    We tend to look for health reasons, but God gives part of the reason here and part later when He sets up the sacrificial system for ancient Israel. Later we will see Him say that the life of the animal is in the blood. We also know that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. So the blood for at least symbolic reasons, is extremely important.

    Then God says He will demand an accounting for the death of a man by an animal, meaning the animal must be killed. This is repeated in the law which Moses gives Israel. It is here, also, that God institutes capital punishment for murder: "whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed."

    And God gives the reason for this, which has not changes through the millennia: "For in the image of God has God made man."

    The Biblical reason for capital punishment for murder then is to honor God, not to punish man! Granted, being executed is a punishment by anyone's definition, but that is evidently not the primary reason it is to be done. God's image -- man -- must be honored simply because he IS made in God's image. It gives a whole different meaning to the death penalty; albeit one that would never be accepted by the legal establishment or political system!

    There is something radically different about before the Flood and after the Flood on this point as well. Before the Flood, God protected Cain, a murderer. Before the Flood, Lamech boasted of killing and there was nothing for him to be afraid of in terms of punishment. Seeing this, and now seeing God's command regarding killing man or animal who kills a man, we can see that more than the physical world was greatly changed by the Flood!

    And then, for the second time, God tells Noah and his family to have many children and fill the earth.

    It is at this point God establishes a covenant with Noah. A covenant is NOT like a legal agreement which, through mutual agreement or a little maneuvering, can be nullified. A covenant cannot be nullified. It is a solemn and binding promise based on life itself. The marriage covenant reflects this with the phrase "until death do us part." Covenants were often established with a sacrifice involving the blood of an animal.

    Covenants were normally mutual.

    This covenant is not. God asks nothing of Noah. God makes the promise, calls it a covenant, and establishes this promise not just with Noah, but with all life on earth.

    Never again will there be another Flood like that one to cut off life and destroy the earth.

    Then, in that famous part, God refers to the rainbow as a sign of the covenant.

    Because of that, it is assumed that it never rained before the Flood. That may not be true. A rainbow is seen during the day when it is raining. One does not see a rainbow at night.

    Water evaporates during the day, and when enough of it evaporates and is together, clouds form. Cool off those clouds and rain will come down.

    There was a great deal of water on the earth before the Flood. The seas and the water seeping out of the earth that watered everything before the rain. If, at first, Adam and Eve had no clothes, tht means they were warm enough without them. And that means it was warm enough for water to evaporate. Day and night had been established since day 1, and without the warmth from the sun, the air and the earth cool off.

    There MUST have been some rain, at least over the sea, at night. This would still preclude a rainbow. One would not be seen in the sky. However, it is very possible that rainbows near the earth could be seen when the sun was shining through the mists rising from the earth.

    What we do know prior to this covenant was that Noah did not seem to question the concept of rain. When the Lord told him it would rain for forty days and nights, Noah did not say, "What's rain?"

    So what is the significance of the rainbow as a sign of the covenant? God tells Noah He has set His rainbow 'in the clouds' and that it would then be a sign of the covenant that God would not destroy the earth with a flood again.

    Before the Flood, if the earth's axis was not tilted in relation to the sun, there would have been no major winds, no seasons. Days and nights would have followed one another year after year in semi-tropical succession.

    But after the Flood there are seasons, and now there is a rainbow in the daytime. This means winds are now blowing over the earth. Remember the wind that started to dry up the Flood? Genesis 8:1 is the first time a wind is mentioned in the Bible.

    It is possible to connect all this. The rainbow would have been a sign of the axis tilt and the newly established seasons. That is because winds would now be blowing clouds over land in the daytime and rain would be a daytime occurrance. This was new. This was different.

    And the new axis tilt meant that the explosive thrust of the exploding waters was finished.

    Thus the rainbow as the sign of the covenant. It would not flood like that again all over the whole world.

    The Bible here states that it was from the families of Shem, Ham, and Japheth that all the peoples of the world came.

    And then comes the drunk incident with Noah. The Bible says he was a man of the soil, which meant he had been a farmer of some kind before. One of the things he did when he got a little established in the new world was plant a vineyard. Within a few years, when the grapes were enough, he harvested them, fermented himself some wine, and got roaring, falling-down passing-out drunk.

    Let's take a look at this for a moment. First of all, that was out of character for Noah! He was a righteous man, with whom God was pleased. He knew what the wine was; fermentation is no accident. When grape juice accidently ferments and someone drinks some, the first reaction is to gag and spit it out. Noah never would have gotten past the first sip on an accidental fermentation! So we can presume he knew what he was doing and made some pretty good wine.

    So why did he get drunk? If he knew about wine and how to ferment it, and since he was a righteous man, why get drunk?

    For those readers who have had a drink before, you may know or remember that alcohol at sea level has a much milder effect that alcohol a mile high. That is because of the difference in air pressure and thus of oxygen.

    If the air pressure had been higher before the Flood, then the same amount Noah could have quite safely drunk before the Flood would not have been safe after. This might have been what happened. It would explain why he did not stop when he felt a 'buzz'.

    In other words, Noah's drunkenness might have been another indication of a radical change in the earth after the Flood. We never read of one word of criticism regarding that event anywhere in the Bible.

    There is another point worth noting. Noah was naked inside his tent. If he had been drinking slowly and gotten warm, he might have taken his clothes off, but he would have discontinued drinking. So it's a reasonable guess that he was already quite warm when he started the wine. This also would make sense after the earth had been Flooded by waters which warmed it. The whole earth must have been warm and steamy.

    And so, inside his tent, in private, Noah strips and has some wine. It hits hard and it hits fast and he passes out.

    Ham sees him naked and tells his brothers. Was he laughing about it? We don't know. But we do know the brothers walked in backwards so they wouldn't see their father naked and covered him with a cloak.

    Noah wakes up. We don't know about a hangover, but when he learns what happened he is not in a good mood! However he does not curse Ham, but rather Ham's son, Canaan! Canaan will be a slave to his brothers. This has nothing to do with race, by the way. Canaan may well have been dark-skinned, but we don't know. Keep in mind that Noah was NOT a 'racist.' This was his grandson!

    All that aside, there are dozens of commentaries about this incident and Noah's curse, so if anyone is interested, I would encouraging looking up several and seeing what they say.

    Chapter 9 ends with a statement about Naoh's lifespan. He lived until he was 950 years old -- long enough to see the Babel incident as well as the division of the continents in Peleg's time.

    To people born after the Flood, Noah must indeed have seemed like a legend in his own time.
     
  2. tyndale1946

    tyndale1946
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    Helen said:
    Helen wouldn't you say that the rainbow has a two fold meaning? What is the significance of the rainbows in Revelation?

    Revelation 4:3 And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.

    Revelation 10:1 And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire:

    What are your thoughts on the rainbows in the book of Revelation as the one we see is for us on earth but the unseen one is in Heaven?... Brother Glen [​IMG]
     
  3. Helen

    Helen
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    God bless you, Glen! You are the greatest challenge! To be honest with you, I never thought of trying to compare the idea of the covenant rainbow with the rainbow around the Throne. It's a great idea. I like the way it seems to come together. Thank you for bringing it up! I'm sure we are not the first people to discuss it. If I have time after I do the Genesis 10 bit tonight, let me check the Bible commentaries I have and see what others have said. I'll ask Barry when he calls, too.

    Thanks!
     
  4. tyndale1946

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    Here is what I found from John Gill on the rainbow and its well worth reading.

    The rainbow is a reverberation, or a reflection of the beams of the sun upon a thin watery cloud; and the covenant of grace is owing to Jesus Christ, the sun of righteousness; it is he that has formed it, and filled it with blessings and promises; he is the Mediator, surety, and messenger of it, and who in Re 10:1 is represented as clothed with a cloud, and a rainbow on his head: the rainbow is of, various colours and fitly expresses the various promises and blessings, in the covenant of grace, and the various providences, both prosperous and adverse, with respect to soul and body; and as the rainbow was an emblem of mercy, peace, and reconciliation in God to man, after he had destroyed the world by a flood, so the covenant is a covenant of grace and mercy; it springs from it, and is full of it, and provides for the peace and reconciliation of the people of God, by the blood of Christ; whence it is called a covenant of peace: and as the rainbow is a security to the world, and the inhabitants of it, from a destruction by a flood any more, so the covenant is a security to those who are interested in it, from eternal destruction, and wrath to come; herein lies all their salvation, and this is the security of it: to which may be added, that God calls it my bow, as he often calls the covenant of grace my covenant, in distinction from man's; see Ge 9:12; and this being round about the throne of God, shows that the covenant of grace does, as it were, include and enclose God in his persons, and in his perfections; all the three divine Persons have a concern in it, and all the divine perfections are glorified by it; and it being around it, it is always in his view; he is ever mindful of it, and constantly remembers it for the good of his people, and faithfully keeps it; and it being in this form denotes, that in whatsoever way he comes forth unto his people, it is always in a covenant way, whether it be in things temporal or spiritual, in adversity or prosperity, with regard to the things of time and eternity; nor is there any coming to him with comfort, but as he is encompassed with the rainbow of the covenant; stripped of this, he is like the jasper and sardine stones, full of sparkling majesty, dread and terror, so that there is no coming nigh him; but being encircled with the rainbow, he may be approached as a covenant God, as the God of all grace, seated on a throne of grace, whither believers may come with boldness, freedom, and cheerfulness: and this rainbow was

    in sight like unto an emerald; the stone on which Judah's name was written, in the high priest's breastplate; this is of a green colour, which colour is the prevailing one in the rainbow; it is of an exceeding fine green, very delightful to the eye, and gives pleasure to the mind to look upon it: and what a lovely and delightful sight is the covenant of grace to a believer! to see God as a covenant God, Christ as the Mediator of it, the exceeding great and precious promises and blessings, both of grace and glory, which are in it, yields an unspeakable pleasure to such persons; the covenant of grace, like the emerald, is ever green, it is always new; its promises and blessings are always fresh, and, like that, it is durable; it is sure, and cannot be broken, and is more immovable than rocks and mountains: the emerald is very bright, clear, and transparent; it is reported of Nero {k}, that he could see in his emerald the combat of the gladiators in the theatre; in the covenant of grace, as in a glass, may be seen the glory of all the three Persons in the Godhead, for it is ordered in all things for the glory of each Person; as also all the perfections of the divine nature; here God appears abundant in goodness and truth; here mercy and truth meet together; and righteousness and peace kiss each other: to which may be added, that the emerald is said {l} to help and refresh the memory; now though God stands in no need of any thing to bring things to his remembrance, yet such is his condescension to men, that he sets the rainbow in the cloud, to look at, that he might remember his everlasting covenant; and so he allows his people to put him in remembrance, by making mention of the covenant of grace, and pleading the promises of it... Brother Glen [​IMG]
     
  5. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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