This is a Bible study on Genesis 9:1-17.

Source: The Outlook, 1980. 3 pages.

Genesis 9:1-17 - After the Flood

When the flood had come to an end, the life and goal of every creature on the earth had to be reestablished. It is no wonder that we read of commands given to man which are very similar to the commands given at the beginning of time. The human race now has Noah as its father.

God's Blessing⤒🔗

God's blessing rests on Noah and his sons. They had been blest so abundantly when their lives were spared at the time of the flood and the divine blessing will also be upon them in the time to come. They are to be fruitful, they are to multiply and thus replenish the earth. The flood has left but eight people on the earth and the Creator wants the earth repopulated.

The animals, both wild and domesticated, out­number men by a tremendous margin. There might even be the danger that the life of man would be jeopardized by the greatly larger number of ani­mals. However, God has placed a fear of man in the animal. This is a phenomenon which can be seen throughout the ages. Even wild animals are afraid of man and will attack him only under conditions of danger for itself.

Food Provided←⤒🔗

It is again made clear to man that everything on this earth is here to serve him. Man's place in the created order is again empha­sized. Every animal and bird and fish is given to man for food. Plant life had been given as food for man to Adam.

It is difficult to say whether or not man ate animal flesh before this time. It is known that the skins of animals were given him for clothing. What did he then do with the animal meat? However, no direct word is spoken by God concerning this matter before this time but from now on man has the divine permission to eat the animals which he kills.

Nothing is here mentioned about clean and un­clean animals. It had already been made clear that he was to sacrifice only the clean, but clean and un­clean animals for food were not yet differentiated. Although man may eat the animal flesh, he must do so as the image of God. He may not eat the flesh with the blood. He may not, as was done in later times by some wild tribes, eat a part of a living animal. The animal must be slain and the blood drained before man eats it.

Man's Life Precious to God←⤒🔗

The life of man is precious in the sight of the Creator. He has extin­guished the breath of life in many people at the time of the flood. But, He has kept a remnant alive and that remnant He will protect. Therefore, even though the fear of man is placed on every animal, there is still the possibility that the life of a man may be taken by an animal. He will require the blood of man from such an animal, i.e., such an animal has forfeited its life. The danger of the shedding of human blood is found not only in the animal world, one man may also rise up against his fellow man and slay him.

God will also require the blood shed from the one who has shed it. This is made very clear in verse six. "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed." This leaves no doubt concerning the enormity of the crime committed and the punish­ment which is to result. These words have been de­bated many times. Do these words already look for­ward to the time when there shall be a governing body and thus an authority to carry out this punish­ment? We believe that one then reads too much into the text. The text leaves it very general. This is necessary because it will be many years before there is a constituted authority in the sense in which later times have known it. The punishment for mur­der will not wait until man is so organized. There­fore, by man shall his blood be shed. The clear words of Scripture will not allow an interpretation which forbids capital punishment! Many have tried to ex­plain the words of verse six away, but then we are not being true to the Scriptures!

Made in God's Image←⤒🔗

Are the words: "for in the image of God made he man" to be understood as the reason for capital punishment? We believe they should so be understood; but, these words do not refer only to the matter of capital punishment — but to all the words which precede. In other words, the fear of man is on all animals; all things have been given to man; all other creatures are for his food; and his life is protected from animal and man for he is made in the image of God! Now the command is repeated to be fruitful and multiply, and there is ad­ded, bring forth abundantly.

As man is now standing at the beginning of a new era in which the earth is to be populated by the de­scendants of Noah there are certain rules and regulations which he must observe. The first seven verses of this chapter are given for that purpose. Not only is man to begin anew but care must be taken that he will not again fall into the same errors as those who perished in the flood. These rules must be observed for man's own welfare.

God not only gives man rules to live by, He also gives His promises. The very fact that God speaks to man is grace! He now reveals to man that He will make a covenant with him. Notice: He makes the covenant.

It is very true that in all covenants there are con­tained two parts, but God makes the covenant. That covenant-making never proceeds from man. This covenant is an agreement which He makes. Later, with Abraham, He makes a covenant of grace and that covenant usually receives all the attention. But, He now also makes a covenant with Noah and his sons. Not only will they benefit by this covenant; no, every living creature is going to receive the benefits of it. It is a covenant which will include many more than the covenant made with Abraham at a later date. No living creature will be outside the bounds of this covenant. This is a covenant which consists of His promise only and the accompanying sign. Noth­ing is said concerning a demand made on man.

The promise which He makes, and which He gives covental status, is that He will not destroy all the earth again with the flood. Localized floods and other disasters will strike the earth in many places over the course of the centuries, but never will there be another flood to destroy all living things. Is God sorry that He caused the flood to come in Noah's time? Some have thought so and that this is the reason for this promise. However, that is read­ing into the text what is not there. He takes delight in His creation and gives the promise that such a flood will never occur again as long as the world stands.

Whenever the flood waters rise in a locality man can always be assured that it will not again destroy all the life on the earth. This is a promise of tre­mendous importance. It is a promise which gives man assurance. Even the unbeliever has this prom­ise and he doesn't know it. The fact that no such earth-destroying flood has come again since the days of Noah causes the unbeliever to wonder whether it ever occurred and makes him complacent concerning the prophecy of the total destruction at the end of the ages. God's promise stands and His people worship the God of this covenant!

The promise which God gave Noah concerning the fact that He would never again destroy the world with a flood should be enough. His word is truth. His word shall stand. Why should anything be added to the word which He has spoken? It would seem that any addition would be unnecessary. However, God knows the weakness of man — even of His own peo­ple. To make the promise unmistakably clear, He adds a sign, a token, to the promise which He has made.

The Rainbow←⤒🔗

Not only does God make the covenant — He also chooses the sign. The sign chosen is the bow in the cloud — the rainbow.

Now the question arises: Was there such a thing as a rainbow before this time? Some even ask a prior question: Did it rain before the time of the flood? We read that "there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground" (Genesis 2:6). Did this form of irrigation continue from the time of creation until the time of the flood? Others contend that if it rained before the time of the flood the rain­bow must also have been present at times because a rainbow always appears when the sun shines against drops of rain.

The text, of course, does not inform us whether there was a rainbow before this or not. Is it important? To some it is very important because the sig­nificance of the rainbow as a token of the covenant would be diminished if there had been a rainbow before this time. This, we believe to be a mistaken notion. The elements which the Lord uses in the New Testament sacraments were not created for that purpose but were already there and they lose no significance because of it. In this instance God takes a natural phenomenon, the rainbow, and ex­alts it to be a token of His covenant. The wording itself permits either "I do set my bow in the cloud" or "I have set my bow in the cloud."

The wording used to show the significance of the rainbow as a token of the covenant is such that it makes it crystal clear to man. Not only is human lan­guage used but God virtually places Himself in a position as a man so that it will be unmistakably clear to the one with whom He is making His cov­enant. Whenever He sends a cloud over the earth (the bearer of flood waters) the rainbow will appear in the cloud. When He sees that bow, God will re­member the covenant which He made with all living creatures! It is repeated once more — as though He might forget! Marvelous is the word which so stoops to the needs of man!

Not only does God see that rainbow in the clouds to remind Him of the covenant which He made with man, but man also sees that bow. He is thereby reminded of the fact that this is not a mere natural phenomenon, but that it speaks to him of the prom­ise of his God! He places the token of His covenant right in the carrier of destruction!

God Who visited the earth with such awful de­struction now shows Himself most gracious to those who were spared. Let them continue in obedience and so answer His gracious promise.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Is a lion or tiger afraid of a man? Explain.
  2. Do all things exist for man or do other things have purpose in themselves?
  3. Why must man be careful not to eat the blood with the meat?
  4. Is capital punishment commanded by Scrip­ture? If so, for which crimes and by whom must it be carried out?
  5. Is it much comfort that no flood shall again destroy all living when hundreds or even thousands perish in a flood? Explain.
  6. Do you think it rained before the flood? Give reasons.

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