Summary: In this sermon we examine God's covenant with Noah and it's implications to us today.
Genesis (Pt. 18) (The Covenant with Noah)
Text: Genesis 9:1-17
By: Ken McKinley
Just in reading that text, I see three things or three messages or lessons that we can learn from this passage. First of all, we’re reminded of the sanctity of human life. Then in verses 8 – 11 we are reminded of the covenant that God made with Noah, and then in verses 12 – 17 we see the sign of the covenant. And so what we’re going to do is look more closely at those three things and see what they mean for us today.
First; verses 1-7, we see the original creation ordinances that were given to Adam and now they are being recounted to Noah. We see the ordinance of procreation and dominion, and Noah’s being reminded that man is being made in God’s image. And Noah is entering into this… almost new world that has been cleansed by the judgment of the flood, and here God is telling him the same things that He told Adam. God tells him to be fruitful and multiply, and then God goes on to say that Noah will have dominion. But something has changed as well. If you remember back in Genesis chapter 1:29 God had said, “Behold I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of the earth and every tree which has fruit yielding seed. It shall be food to you.” But now; here in chapter 9:3 God says, “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs.” You see up until this time, the Bible makes no mention of eating animals. It tells us that they were used for sacrifice, and for clothing, but this is the first time we see them mentioned as food. Now some commentators say that the Bible implies that man ate animals… remember Abel was a keeper of sheep. Maybe he kept them for the purpose of wool and for sacrifices, or maybe they were eating them. The Bible never specifically says. But I just wanted to point this out to you, how God is now specifically saying we can eat meat. And thank God for that!
But notice that God also makes a provision here. In verse 4 He says, “But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.” Now we’ve got to understand the historical context and the Biblical context here in order to get what this means. Historically; pagans often drank blood in connection with their rituals and ceremonies. They thought that by drinking the blood of an animal, or even of their enemies they could gain the strength of whatever it was they killed. They thought it would keep them young and strong. So in one sense… a twisted sense; they understood that the life was in the blood. And it’s interesting when you look at history and you see this transcend cultures and time.
So I guess we could say that vampires were around a long time before Bram Stoker wrote Dracula. But God says, “Don’t do it!”
Biblically, or theologically speaking, God is preparing man to understand the connection between the blood sacrifice and atonement. Turn with me to Leviticus 17:10-14 (Read). Now it’s interesting here because God is making a covenant with Noah, and if you remember… last Sunday we took Communion, and I told you what Jesus said in Luke 22:20 during the Last Supper. He said, “This cup is the New Covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.”
Ok; let’s move on here.
In verse 5 we see that because man is created in the image of God, human life is precious.
Whether it’s an animal that kills a man, or another man that kills a man, God will require it from them. This is where we get the idea of Capital Punishment. Look at that 1st phrase of verse 6, God says, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man, his blood shall be shed.” This is a statement of directive, a directive to establish order in the world after the flood. But it also shows us that even though man is a fallen creature, we still are image bearers of God.
Now it’s important that we understand in a NT context. In Acts chapter 15 we read about the Jerusalem Council where the question was brought up whether or not the gentile converts to Christianity had to follow the ceremonial laws of Moses, and if you remember, the answer was – NO! But if you read down a bit there in Acts 15, verses 28 and 29 the council said, “The only things we and the Holy Spirit would have them do is abstain from things sacrificed to idols, and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication.” So just like the creation ordinances, we see that this ordinance is still important for us today.