Identify The 4 Areas Of Life God Gave
- Multiplying Life (Gen. 9:1-7)
- Sustaining Life (Gen. 9:2-4)
- Protecting Life (Gen. 9:5-6)
- Enjoying Life (Gen. 9:8-17)
Though given initially to Noah and his family, these instructions apply to all people in all ages and all places. They are permanent ordinances from God for all humanity, and they must not be ignored or altered. Life is precious, and it must be handled with care.
God Confirms His Covenant
Then God blessed Noah and his sons and told them, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth.
Genesis 9:1 (NLT)
Now be fruitful and multiply, and repopulate the earth.
Genesis 9:7 (NLT)
When Noah came out of the ark, he was like a “second Adam” about to usher in a new beginning on earth for the human race. Faith in the Lord had saved Noah and his household from destruction, and his three sons would repopulate the whole earth.
God had told Adam and Eve to “be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth”, and He repeated that mandate twice to Noah and his family. All of Noah’s descendants were important to the plan of God, but especially the line of Shem. From that line Abraham would be born, the man God chose to found the Jewish nation. From that nation would come the Redeemer who would fulfill Genesis 3:15 and crush the serpent’s head?
In Scripture, children are described as a blessing, not a curse; and to have many children and grandchildren was evidence of the favour of God.
Many people today don’t seem to have that attitude toward children. Starting with the Revolutionary War, in nearly 200 years of American history, 1,200,000 military personnel have been killed in nine major wars. But in one year in the United States, 1,600,000 babies are legally aborted.
See Precious in His Sight: Childhood and Children in the Bible, by Roy B. Zuck (Baker, 1996), 71. This book ought to be read by every parent, pastor, children’s worker, and teacher of children.
In biblical times, Jewish couples wouldn’t have considered aborting a child, no matter how difficult their circumstances or meager their resources. Life was God’s gift and children were a heritage from the Lord, treasures to be protected and invested for His glory.
Every living creature of the earth and every bird of the sky will be terrified of you. Everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea are under your authority. 3 You may eat any moving thing that lives. As I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.
But you must not eat meat with its life (that is, its blood) in it.
Genesis 9:2-4 (NET)
Prior to the fall, man ruled the inferior animals by love and kindness, for then gentleness and docility were their principal characteristics. When God established Adam and Eve in their garden home, He gave them fruit and plants to eat (Gen. 1:29; 2:9,16); but after the Flood, He expanded the human diet to include meat. The harmony in nature that Adam and Eve had enjoyed was now gone, for Noah and his family didn’t have “dominion” over animal life (1:26, 28). Now the animals would fear humans and do everything possible to escape the threat of death. Since most animals reproduce rapidly and there young mature quickly, the beasts could easily overrun the human population, so God put the fear of humans into the animals. Cain was a farmer, Abel was a shepherd, but Noah and his sons were now hunters.
However, God put one restriction on the eating of animal flesh: the meat must be free of blood (9:4). God stated concisely to Noah what He later elaborated through Moses: the life is in the blood, and the life must be respected, even if you’re butchering an animal to eat at a feast. (See Lev. 3:17; 7:26-27; 17:10-14; 19:26; Deut. 12:16, 23-25; 15:23.) In this restriction, God revealed again His concern for animal life. The life is in the blood, and that life comes from God and should be respected. Furthermore, the blood of animals would be important in most of the Mosaic sacrifices, so the blood must be treated with reverence.
“And I will require the blood of anyone who takes another person’s life. If a wild animal kills a person, it must die. And anyone who murders a fellow human must die. If anyone takes a human life, that person’s life will also be taken by human hands. For God made human beings in his own image.
Genesis 9:5-6 (NLT)
From instructing Noah about the shedding of animal blood, the Lord proceeded to discuss an even more important topic: the shedding of human blood. Thus far, mankind didn’t have a very good track record when it came to caring for one another. Cain had killed his brother Abel (4:8), Lamech had killed a young man and bragged about it (vv. 23-24), and the earth had been filled with all kinds of violence (6:11, 13). God had put the fear of humans into the animals, but now He had to put the fear of God into the humans lest they destroy one another!
Those who kill their fellow human beings will have to answer to God for their deeds, for men and women are made in the image of God.
According to the Law of Moses, if an animal killed a human, the animal was to be killed. If the animal was known to be dangerous but wasn’t penned up, then the owner of the animal was in danger of losing his life. See Exodus 21:28-32.
To attack a human being is to attack God, and the Lord will bring judgment on the offender. All life is the gift of God, and to take away life means to take the place of God. The Lord gives life and He alone has the right to authorize taking it away (Job 1:21).
But how did God arrange to punish murderers and see that justice is done and the law upheld?
He established human government on the earth and in so doing shared with mankind the awesome power of taking human life. That’s the import of God’s mandate in Genesis 9:6. Human government and capital punishment go together, as Paul explains in Romans 13:1-7. Government authorities carry the sword and have the right to use it.
Government was established by God because the human heart is evil (Gen. 6:5) and the fear of punishment can help to restrain would-be lawbreakers. The law can restrain but it can’t regenerate; only the grace of God can change the human heart (Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 8:7-13). But if individuals, families, or groups were allowed to deal with offenders in their own way, society would be in a state of constant chaos. Human government has its weaknesses and limitations, but government is better than anarchy and people doing what’s right in their own eyes (Judges 17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25).
God ordained and established three institutions on this earth: marriage and the family, human government, and the church. Each has its sphere of responsibility and one can’t substitute for the other. The church wields the sword of the Spirit (Heb. 4:12), not the sword of justice (Rom. 13:4; John 18:36); but if the government interferes with matters of Christian conscience, believers have the right to disobey (Acts 4:18-20).
Opponents of capital punishment ask,
“Does capital punishment deter crime?”
But does any law deter crime, including parking laws and speed laws?
Perhaps not as much as we’d desire, but the punishment of offenders does help society to honor law and justice. Nobody knows how many people learn about convictions and think twice before they disobey the law. The law also helps to protect and compensate innocent people who are victims of lawless behavior.
Not everything that’s legal is biblical. Regardless of what philosophers, parliaments, and courts may say, God’s mandate of capital punishment begins with “whomever.” It was given by God to be respected and obeyed by all people.
All life is sacred. Human life is especially so. Protecting it is of utmost importance to God. He takes this so seriously and personally because He made humanity to reflect Him. We are His earthly representatives, made in His image. To murder another person is to mount an attack on the One who created him.
Then God told Noah and his sons, “I hereby confirm my covenant with you and your descendants, and with all the animals that were on the boat with you—the birds, the livestock, and all the wild animals—every living creature on earth. Yes, I am confirming my covenant with you. Never again will floodwaters kill all living creatures; never again will a flood destroy the earth.”
Then God said, “I am giving you a sign of my covenant with you and with all living creatures, for all generations to come. I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth. When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will appear in the clouds, and I will remember my covenant with you and with all living creatures. Never again will the floodwaters destroy all life. When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth.” Then God said to Noah, “Yes, this rainbow is the sign of the covenant I am confirming with all the creatures on earth.”
Genesis 9:8-17 (NLT)
This section is what theologians call “The Noahic Covenant.” Though God spoke especially to Noah and his sons, this covenant includes all of Noah’s descendants and “all generations to come”. The covenant doesn’t stop there, however, for it also includes every living creature and “all living creatures of every kind”. Humans, birds, beasts, and wild animals are encompassed in this wonderful covenant. In this covenant, God promised unconditionally that He would never send another flood to destroy all life on the earth. As though to make it emphatic, three times He said “never again”. He didn’t lay down any conditions that men and women had to obey; He simply stated the fact that there would be no more universal floods. Prom that day on, Noah and his family could enjoy life and not worry every time the rain began to fall.
A Covenant With Creation
At least four times in this covenant, the Lord mentioned “every living creature.” He was speaking about the animals and birds that Noah had kept safe in the ark during the Flood. Once again, we’re reminded of God’s special concern for animal life.
When the Apostle John beheld the throne room of heaven, he saw four unusual “living creatures” worshiping before God’s throne, each one having a different face (Rev. 4:6-7). The first had a face like a lion, the second like a calf, the third like a man, and the fourth like an eagle. These four faces parallel the four kinds of creatures with whom God made this covenant: wild beasts, cattle, humans, and birds (see Gen. 9:9-10). These creatures are represented perpetually before the throne of God, because the Lord is concerned about His creation. They remind us that all creation worships and praises the God who provides for His creatures and rejoices in their worship.
A Covenant Sign
Whenever people saw the rainbow, they would remember God’s promise that no future storm would ever become a worldwide flood that would destroy humanity.
Rainbows are caused by the sunlight filtering through the water in the air, each drop becoming a prism to release the colors hidden in the white light of the sun. Rainbows are fragile but beautiful, and nobody has to pay to see them! Their lovely colors speak to us of what Peter called “the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10).
When we see a rainbow, we are seeing a resemblance of the glory of God in heaven. How many people see this without a clue that they are looking at the glory of God!
Let’s pursue that thought.
If the rainbow reminds us of God’s faithfulness and grace, then why do we fret and worry?
God hasn’t promised that we’ll never experience storms, but He has promised that the storms won’t destroy us. “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.“ (Isa. 43:2). When the clouds appear and the sun is hidden, we have nothing to fear.
Let’s think about the bow. A bow is an instrument of war, but God has transformed it into a picture of His grace and faithfulness, a guarantee of peace. God could certainly turn the bow of judgment upon us, because we’ve broken His law and deserve judgment. But He has turned the bow toward heaven and taken the punishment for us Himself! When Jesus died on the cross, it was the Just One suffering for the unjust (1 Peter 3:18) and bearing the suffering that rightfully belonged to us.
Rainbows are universal; you see them all over the world. God’s many-colored grace is sufficient for the whole world and needs to be announced to the whole world. After all, God loves the world (John 3:16), and Christ died for the sins of the world (1 John 4:10).
But the rainbow isn’t only for us to see, for the Lord said, “I will look upon it” (Gen. 9:16). Certainly God doesn’t forget His covenants with His people, but this is just another way of assuring us that we don’t need to be afraid. When we look at the rainbow, we know that our Father is also looking at the rainbow; and therefore it becomes a bridge that brings us together.
The God of creation is the god of salvation. Trust Jesus Christ and you can then truly sing, “This is my Father’s world.”
DECLARATION OF FAITH
God has abundantly blessed me with good things of every kind.
God created me to live and walk in dominion.
The Lord has provided to me all of the resources in the earth. All things are His, and He has made me a steward of His riches in this earth.
I pray this declaration of faith in Jesus’ name, Amen.