November 19, 2013

Commentary on the Book of Genesis

By: Tom Lowe

 

Lesson I.E.1: A Law Concerning Animal Food and Blood. Gen. 9:1-7

 

Genesis 9.1-7 (KJV)

1 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.

2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.

3 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.

4 But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.

5 And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man.

6 Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

7 And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.

 

 

Introduction

God addressed the eight survivors of the Flood and gave them instructions concerning four areas of life. Though His instructions spans the first 17 verses, this section will only deal with verses 1-7. Though God addresses Noah and his family, these instructions are for all people in all ages and all places, and for all time. 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.

 

Commentary

 

1 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.

2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.

3 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.

4 But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.

5 And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man.

6 Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

7 And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.

 

When Noah came out of the ark he was like a “second Adam” about to usher in a new beginning on the 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.

It is clear from verses 1-3 that mankind now traces its origin to Noah, so the original charge to Adam is repeated (Ge. 1.28) with significant changes. Noah was a “righteous man, blameless among the people of his time” (Ge. 6.9), but the corruption around him had left its mark, if not on him, then on his sons. Though the “image of God” was still there (v. 9), it had been so marred, that man’s dominion would be marked by fear and dread (v. 2), and the outward sign of this was man’s use of animals for food.

God had told Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply, and replenish (fill) the whole earth” (Ge. 1.28), and he repeated that mandate twice to Noah and his family (vv. 1, 7). All of Noah’s descendents 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 fulfil Genesis 3.15[1] and crush the serpents head.

The word “replenish” is meaningful here because we know there was a civilization before the Flood, and now there is to be a civilization after the Flood. (When Adam was told to replenish the earth, we assume there had been living creatures—I don’t know what to call them—before Adam. They apparently were living creatures of God’s creation. Anything I could say beyond that, would be pure speculation.

When God established Adam and Eve in their garden home, He gave them fruit and plants to eat (Ge. 1.29[2]; 2.9, 16[3]); but after the flood, He expanded the human diet to include meat. Apparently man had not been a meat eater before the Flood. All animals were tame, and one is not inclined to eat an animal that is a pet. Remember that the animals came to Noah when the Flood was imminent; they seemed to have no fear of him at all. This grant of the animals for food fully warrants our use of them, but not the abuse of them by poor conservation or by cruelty. We ought to do nothing to make their lives miserable while they live, nor cause them pain when we take their lives away. The harmony in nature that Adam and Eve had enjoyed was now gone, since Noah and his family no longer had dominion over animal life (Ge. 1.26, 28). Now animals would fear humans and do everything possible to escape the threat of death at the hand of man. Since most animals reproduce rapidly and their young mature quickly, the beasts could easily overrun the human population; so God put the fear of humans in the animals. Cain was a farmer, Abel was a shepherds, 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 (v. 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 are 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.

Jesus taught that it was permissible to eat all foods (Mark 7.1-23), and both Peter (Acts 10) and Paul (1 Tim. 4.3, 4; Col. 2.16) reaffirmed this truth. However, the early church still faced disagreements over diets (Rom. 4.1-15.7). To keep Gentile believers from offending Jewish believers or seekers, the early Christians were advised not to be careless about the eating of meat (Acts 15.19-21, 24-29). Paul’s council was; receive one another, love one another, do nothing to make one another stumble, and seek to build one another up in the faith. The approach was love; the goal was maturity.

From instructing Noah about the shedding of animal blood, the Lord proceeded to discuss an even more important subject; the sheading 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 (Ge. 4.8), Lamech had killed a young man and bragged about it (Ge 4.23, 24), and the earth had been filled with all kinds of violence (Ge. 6.11, 13). God had put the fear of humans into the animals, but now he had to put the fear of God into humans so that they don’t destroy one another.

Those who kill their fellow human beings will have to answer to God for their deeds, because men and women are made in the image of God. To attack a human 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 is to take the place of God. The Lord gives life and he alone has the right to authorize taking it away (Job 1.21[4]). This also applies to suicide. It is written here, “Your blood of your lives will I require.” Our lives are not our own, therefore, we cannot end our lives at our own pleasure; because they are God’s, and it is up to Him to end it at His pleasure. If we do anything to hasten our own death we are accountable to God for doing it. Even the beasts must not be allowed to hurt the life of man.

But how did God arrange to punish murders 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 significance 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.

Under Old Testament Law there was no police force as we know it. If a murder was committed, it was up to the family of the victim to find the culprit and bring him to justice. There is a difference between murder and involuntary manslaughter (Ex. 21.12-14[5]), so the Lord instructed the nation of Israel to establish six cities of refuge to which an accused murderer could flee for safety (Num. 35.6-34; Deut. 19.1-13). The elders of the city would protect the accused until the case could be investigated; and if the accused was found guilty, the family of the deceased could proceed with the execution. Since the murderer had shed blood, the murderer’s blood must be shed.

Government was established by God because the human heart was evil (Ge. 6.5) and the fear of punishment can 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, and groups were allowed to deal with offenders in their own way, society would be in a case 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 (Jud. 17.6[6]; 18.1; 19.1; 21-25).

God instituted and established three institutions on this earth: marriage and the family (Ge. 1.27, 28[7]; 2.18-25), human government (vv. 9.5, 6), and the Church (Matt. 16.13-19; Acts 2). Each has its sphere of responsibility and one can’t be substituted for the other. The Church wields the sword of the Spirit (Heb. 4.12[8]), not the sword of justice (Rom. 13.4[9]; John 18.36); but if the government interferes with matters of Christian conscience, believers have the right to disobey (Acts 4.18-20[10]).

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 would 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, congressmen, and courts may say, God’s mandate of capital punishment begins with “whoever.” It was given by God to be respected and obeyed by all people. It is possible for murderers to escape detection and punishment in this life, but not in the next. God will discover concealed murderers and sentence them to spend eternity in hell.

Man is a creature dear to his creator, and therefore he should be dear to us; God puts honor upon him, let us not put contempt upon him. God’s image still remains upon fallen man, though it has been scarred by sin, therefore he who unjustly kills a man, defaces the image of God, and does dishonor to Him.




[1] And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."

[2] 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.

[3]  And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground--trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden;

[4] "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised."

[5]  "Anyone who strikes a man and kills him shall surely be put to death. However, if he does not do it intentionally, but God lets it happen, he is to flee to a place I will designate. But if a man schemes and kills another man deliberately, take him away from my altar and put him to death.

[6]  In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.

[7] So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."

[8]  For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

[9]  For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

[10]  Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard."

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