From Genesis 8-11
Noah has obeyed the LORD and has been saved from the flood (Gen 6.14-8.19). Afterwards the LORD makes a covenant with him and all the earth, vowing not to destroy the earth again (Gen 8.20-17). Today’s passage is a fresh beginning.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
Noah and his family have been saved from the flood. A little time later Noah worships and gives thanks to the LORD.
20 Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
21 And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. 22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” (Gen 8.20-22)
‘Took some of every animal’. We can assume Noah waited some time before making the offering. Otherwise he would have killed off several species of animals.
‘Burnt offering’, ‘clean’, ‘pleasing aroma’. Its not a sin offering. The same language is used for burnt offerings in Lev 1.1-17. I suspect whoever wrote Gen 8.20-22 imported these concepts into the account.
Noah worships the LORD and gives thanks for his deliverance.
‘Never again’, ‘every mans heart’. The LORD vows never again to destroy every living creature despite the fact that ‘the intention of mans heart is evil’. Noah is the exception (Gen 6.9; 7.1). Here is a word study on the heart.
9 And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.
2 The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered.
3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. 4 But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.
5 And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man.
6 “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image. (Gen 9.1-6)
‘Fruitful and multiply’. The command is prominent in Genesis (cf. Gen 1.28; 8.17; 17.20; 28.3; 35.11; 47.27; 48.4; Ex 1.7; Lev 26.9). To be fruitful (to prosper in life) and to multiply (to have lots of children). Quite necessary considering mankind’s near extinction.
‘Food for you’. Previously man was only permitted to eat fruit and vegetables (Gen 1.29). Here the LORD extends their diet to include meat, as long it does not still have blood in it.
‘Reckoning’. The permission to eat meat involves killing. The LORD includes a warning which is meant to discourage the murder of any man. If an animal or another man kills a person, then there will be a reckoning. The LORD will in turn demand their blood because man in made in God’s own image.
Being made in God’s image gives mankind value and dignity.
7 And you, be fruitful and multiply, increase greatly on the earth and multiply in it.”
8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9 “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth.
11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” (Gen 9.7-11)
‘Covenant’. The LORD repeats his command that they be fruitful and multiply. He also repeats his vow never again to destroy the earth. The vow is his covenant with Noah and his family and every creature of the earth.
12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”
17 God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.” (Gen 9.12-17)
‘Sign’, ‘rainbow’. The rainbow in the sky is a sign of God’s covenant never to destroy the earth. Signs usually serve to remind man of God’s promises. Here the rainbow reminds God.
Story of Israel
The author and audience of Genesis were familiar with covenants and the role they played.
Perhaps the closest concept to a covenant in our society is a legal contract. Both covenant and contract formalize an agreement. The agreement may involve stipulations for both parties or for only one.
Here the covenant is used as a means for God to formalize a pledge that he will not undo the blessing again. (Walton, J.H., 2001. Genesis, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.)
Story of Jesus
Today’s passage represents new beginning in which a covenant was issued. In the gospel Jesus inaugurates a new beginning and new covenant through his death on the cross.
26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (Mt 26.26-28)
What is the sign of the new covenant? Our faith in him.
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