As we saw last week, the end of chapter 8 in Genesis closes with God making a solemn promise in his heart upon smelling the pleasing aroma of Noah’s sacrifice once he had disembarked the ark: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done. 22 As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”[1] Having made this solemn promise with his creation, in chapter 9 of Genesis we see a teasing out of the covenant God promised to establish with Noah prior to the flood when he first said to him, as recorded in Genesis 6:

17 I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. 19 You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. 20 Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. 21 You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them. 22 Noah did everything just as God commanded him.[2]

Now whereas Genesis 6 told us about the “before” of God establishing his covenant with Noah, these past two weeks we’ve been looking at the “after.” For,

having delivered Noah and those with him from evil by way of the flood;

and having then had Noah bring out of the ark “every kind of living creature” that they might “multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number on it” as he had had them do when he first created them;[3]

in chapter 9 we see God turning his attention from blessing the animals to blessing Noah and all humanity to come.

Notice how the chapter opens with God reinstituting the creation mandate originally given to Adam and Eve.[4] As we read beginning with verse 1, “Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.’” Again, as the animals had been brought out of the ark so that they could repopulate the animal creation,[5] so, too, Noah and his sons were to repopulate the human creation. However, although the creation mandate given to Adam and Eve was reinstated with Noah, post flood we see that a couple of changes have been made. First, after giving Noah and his sons his blessing to fill the earth, God said to them, as stated in verse 2, “The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth, and on all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; they are given into your hands.” The fear and dread of humans falling upon the animals is a new element that hadn’t existed previously for in the case of Adam, God brought the animals to him to see what he would name them;[6] and even in the case of Noah, prior to the flood the animals that were to be saved came to him.[7] But now, having brought the animals out of the ark in order that they might increase and multiply,[8] the formerly submissive animals would be filled with the fear and dread of humans.

The second change that occurred upon reinstituting the creation mandate is that whereas at the time of Adam and Eve only the green plants were given both to them and the animals for food,[9] now, as stated in verse 3, Noah and his family were given the animals for food as well: “Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.”[10] No reason is provided for this development but verse 4 states an important stipulation placed upon this provision: “But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.” Blood, even that of an animal, is understood to be sacred and therefore must not to be consumed. As stated later in the book of Leviticus, “the life of every creature is its blood.”[11]

Starting with verse 5, the sacredness of human life in particular becomes evident as God told Noah, “And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal.” If any animal, even if from fear and dread, took a human life, it would have to pay the consequences. Later, during the time of Moses, this stipulation became part of the code of laws. As we read in the book of Exodus, “If a bull gores a man or woman to death, the bull is to be stoned to death, and its meat must not be eaten.”[12] Human life is understood to be so sacred in the eyes of God that even if an animal should kill a human, that animal’s life must in turn be taken.

And the reason why God sees human life as sacred is stated in verse 6: “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind.” Despite the fact that since the time of the Fall “every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood,”[13] not even the Fall was able to blot out the divine image from the humans God had made bearing his very own image. Though human nature had drastically changed in its orientation from seeking to live before and for God to seeking to live away from God and for itself, the image had not been lost. For we see how post-flood God ordained that human blood must not be shed for he had created all of humanity in his very image. Therefore those who shed human blood would have to account for that evil with the shedding of their own. Again, since human nature had not changed after the flood, humans were provided this command as a deterrent to their acting upon that fallen nature. If anyone she the blood of another, they would do so with the full knowledge that their blood, in turn, would be shed. And we know that later, of course, “Thou shalt not murder” was one of the commands the LORD gave to Moses.[14] As one commentator notes, “to murder another human being is to murder what is most like God, and is thus implicitly an attack on God himself.”[15] Another similarly states, “In killing a human being, a murderer demonstrates contempt for God.”[16] Therefore here we see God promising to defend human life for the creation mandate bestowed upon humans not only the authority to act in his stead as rulers over nature but also instruction by which humans were to rule and govern themselves. And, again, such rules, such instruction, were necessary because the Fall resulted in human inability to properly love God, other humans, and creation at large.

Now positively, verse 6 of Genesis 9 tells us how closely God identifies with those who are his. Having been made in the very image of God, humans are tied and related to God in a unique and exclusive manner that isn’t true of any other part of God’s creation. What makes humanity sacred is its very connection to its Maker so if mistreatment of others is akin to mistreatment of God, so, too, to treat others well is similarly akin to treating God well. An example of this truth is found in Proverbs 14 which states “Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.”[17] How we treat God’s image-bearers is an extension of how we treat God. Is it any wonder that Christ Jesus, who was God in human flesh and form, similarly identified with those who are his? For as we’ve noted in the past,[18] Jesus taught that to give food—or drink—or clothes to a brother or sister in Christ; or to invite in a brother or sister—or look after them when sick—or visit them in prison is as if we were doing these things for Jesus, our King, himself.[19] This is also why after he died and rose from death when the risen Jesus Christ appeared to Paul (who at the time was called Saul) he asked him why he was persecuting him when Paul had in fact been persecuting Christians.[20] Again, the point is that verse 6 of our passage—and Proverbs—and the Jesus’ teachings, all highlight how deeply and profoundly and intimately God loves, cares, and identifies with those who are his. Following this teaching in verse 7 God then re-stated the creation mandate for Noah and his sons to carry out: “As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.”

Now beginning with verse 8, we see that the stipulations of the covenant God had originally promised Noah prior to the flood are now developed as “God said to Noah and to his sons with him: 9 ‘I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth.’” Just as part of the creation mandate God gave to Adam and Eve included their stewardship of the animals, so now God’s reinstating of the creation mandate with Noah and his sons similarly included their stewardship over all the animals that had been on the ark with them. From the beginning of Genesis we’ve seen the close ties that exist between humanity and God’s creation for

when Adam disobeyed God, the ground was cursed;

and when God destroyed those who were evil by way of the flood, the animals over which they were to care were also destroyed;

And thousands of years later the apostle Paul, in looking forward to the new creation that is yet to come, noted how “the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed”[21] as he then went on to state, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”[22] From the beginning of God’s creation to its final consummation, God has made this world so that the fate of all creation is tied to that of his image-bearers. Therefore we can appreciate the import here of the LORD again reassuring Noah in verse 11 as he had at the end of chapter 8,[23] saying, “I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

The final details of the covenant God made with Noah are found beginning with verse 12. Perhaps knowing that humans need encouragement and reminders, God provided a sign that symbolized his covenantal promise saying,

This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.

As we noted last week, for God to remember means that he will act on behalf of his creation. And beginning at this time, the rainbow would take on a new meaning. Hereon in a rainbow would represent God’s covenant, his promise, his agreement never again to destroy all life—despite human wickedness. For upon seeing it both God and humans would ever be reminded that though God once delivered righteous Noah (declared righteous for believing God and acting on his Word) from evil by using a flood to destroy the wicked, violent, corrupt people living at the time—along with the animals over which they should have cared—he would do so never again. From this moment on the rainbow became a visible sign and reminder of God’s covenant commitments. For life after the flood provided a second chance for humanity; life after the flood provided humanity a new beginning. And the rainbow was designated by God to be a sign of his covenantal promise. As stated in verse 17, “So God said to Noah, ‘This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.’”[24]

Dear brothers and sisters, God is a God of second chances. He is a God of new beginnings. He wants nothing more than to shower his unfailing love—and peace—and compassion—upon those who are his if we would but let him; if we would but turn to him; if we would but be willing to receive him. And the means he has provided for second chances and new beginnings is his Son. As the author of Hebrews teaches,

13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!…. 22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.[25]

But forgiveness of sins can be found through Jesus Christ, God’s Son. Through him and him alone we have not only a second chance, but a third, and a fourth, and an endless number of chances for as we heard read for us earlier, “God made him who had no sin to be a sin offering for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”[26] In Christ we, too, can be righteous for it is only through Christ that we are given his Holy Spirit to indwell[27] and conform us into his image.[28] Because of the new beginning our heavenly Father has given us in his Son and through his Holy Spirit, “from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.”[29] Though once we may have viewed Jesus as being just a man, now we know that he is also God and that he sacrificed his life on the cross in order that we might never experience separation from God who made and loves us. For to be in Christ means that “the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”[30] This is why need not fret when we fail him—and others—and ourselves. This is why in and through Jesus Christ we are given not just a second chance but seventy times seven chances[31] if we but turn to him and ask his forgiveness. For we are his and he will never let us go.[32] He has bought us.[33] The old is gone. The new creation has arrived.

As was later revealed to John, Jesus has made us his temple: “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[34] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away…. I am making everything new!”[35] Jesus offers us not a cup of water, but his living water.[36] As he goes on to state in John’s revelation, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.[37] To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.”[38] And just as God delivered Noah from evil, so one day all who know Christ Jesus will be delivered from evil for Jesus goes on to say, “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”[39] Tragically this will be the fate of all who turn away from God and go their own way; this will be the fate of all who deny in word and deed that human life is sacred, that it is connected to God, that it should be consecrated and devoted to him.

Let us take these words to heart and be eager to carry out the ministry of reconciliation given us in and through Jesus;

Let us be eager to tell others how in Jesus and Jesus alone God is reconciling the world to himself, not counting people’s sins against them;

Let us, indeed, be Christ’s ambassadors as though God were making his appeal through us;

Let us ever implore others on Christ’s behalf and say to them: Be reconciled to God;

Let us tell them about how God made him who had no sin to be a sin offering for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.[40]

Let us pray.

 

[1] Genesis 8:21–22.

[2] Genesis 6:17–22.

[3] See Genesis 1:20, 22: 20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky….”22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.”

[4] Genesis 1:28: 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

[5] Genesis 8:17: Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you—the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground—so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number on it.

[6] Genesis 2:19: Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.

[7] Genesis 6:20: Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive.; Genesis 7:8–9: 8 Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, 9 male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God had commanded Noah.

[8] Genesis 8:19: All the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birds—everything that moves on land—came out of the ark, one kind after another.

[9] Genesis 1:29–30: 29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.”

[10] Emphases added.

[11] See verses 11 and 14 of Leviticus 17:10–14: 10 “‘I will set my face against any Israelite or any foreigner residing among them who eats blood, and I will cut them off from the people. 11 For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.12 Therefore I say to the Israelites, ‘None of you may eat blood, nor may any foreigner residing among you eat blood.’ 13 Any Israelite or any foreigner residing among you who hunts any animal or bird that may be eaten must drain out the blood and cover it with earth, 14 because the life of every creature is its blood. That is why I have said to the Israelites, ‘You must not eat the blood of any creature, because the life of every creature is its blood; anyone who eats it must be cut off.’”

[12] Exodus 21:28a.

[13] Genesis 8:21.

[14] Exodus 20:13.

[15] Crossway ESV study Bible note on Genesis 9:5–6.

[16] Zondervan NIV Study Bible note on Genesis 9:6.

[17] Proverb 14:31. See also Proverb 17:5: Whoever mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker; whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished.

[18] See sermons preached on Matthew 25 on June 14, 2015, Sheep and Goats and November 26, 2017, How Do We are for Christ?

[19] Matthew 25:35–36, 40: 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me….’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

[20] Acts 9:1–5: 1 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” 5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied.

[21] Romans 8:19.

[22] Romans 8:22. See the broader context in Romans 8:18–25: 18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

[23] Genesis 8:21–22: Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done. 22 As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.

[24] In Isaiah 54 we see how years later the Isaiah sought to encourage God’s people not to be afraid by reminding them, “your Maker is your husband— the Lord Almighty is his name— the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. 6 The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit— a wife who married young, only to be rejected,” says your God.” Then he went on to share words of the LORD their Redeemer saying, “For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. 8 In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you.” And then the LORD underscored the truth of what he was saying by hearkening back to Noah: “‘9 To me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth. So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again. 10 Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”

[25] Hebrews 9:13–14, 22

[26] 2 Corinthians 5:21.

[27] 1 Corinthians 3:16: Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?

[28] 2 Corinthians 3:18:  And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.; Romans 8:28–30: 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

[29] 2 Corinthians 5:16.

[30] 2 Corinthians 5:17–18.

[31] See Matthew 18:2–22: 21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

[32] Hebrews 13:5–6:Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”[Deuteronomy 31:6] 6 So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”[Psalm 118:6,7]; Deuteronomy 31:6: Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.; Psalm 118:6,7: The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies.

[33] 1 Corinthians 6:18–20: 18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

[34] Quoting Isaiah 25:8: he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The Lord has spoken.

[35] Revelation 21:3–5.

[36] John 7:37–39: 37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

[37] Revelation 1:8: “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”;  Revelation 21:6–8: He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”; Revelation 22:12–13: 12 “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”

[38] Revelation 21:6–7.

[39] Revelation 21:8.

[40] 2 Corinthians 5:16–21: 16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be a sin offering for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.